Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Driving the Peace

This a picture I took where Highway 49 comes down to cross the Smoky River at Watino Alberta. I hope the picture shows the fascinating low cloud that caused me to stop and take the picture. I was on my way from Grande Prairie to Peace River to meet with Bishop Fraser Lawton about arrangements for my presence at their Diocesan Synod in October (a meeting that went very well, by the way.)

I also squeezed in a meeting with the Director of Evangelization and Catechesis for the Catholic Archdiocese of Grouard McLennan while I was in Peace River, but I wanted, in this post, to comment on some of the highlights of my drive itself. Other than scenery such as pictured above, a highlight for me in driving the Peace Country are the farms along the highways . They seem to be endless; yellow fields of canola or green fields of hay, and, in the fall, golden fields of wheat, stretching as far as the eye can see away from the highway. I remember my Dad, whenever we used to go for a drive, commenting on farms along the way. He grew up on a farm in Southern Ontario during the depression, so always liked to see a prosperous looking farm. "There's a good looking farm," he would say, when we passed one that seemed to be doing well, with a nice house and a well-kept barn. He would have loved driving around many parts of Alberta.

I took a bit different route to Peace River this time, heading east out of Grande Prairie, then north on Hwy 733 at Bezanson. A ways up that highway I saw a sign pointing east to, "Straw Church Historical Site," so I determined to find it on my way back, which I did. It is about 7 km off the highway via the dustiest gravel road I have ever seen. Even in that short distance I passed a  couple of large trucks coming in the opposite direction and they raised so much dust I had to slow down almost to a stop til I could see again.

In any case I followed the signs to this Straw Church. The first building I saw, thinking it was the church, turned out to be an abandonded community hall of some sort, with a long-unused baseball diamond behind it. I wish now I had taken a picture of it, because I find it rather poignant thinking of all the activity, laughter and fun that once must have take place there, but now all that remains is a forlorn-looking backstop in an overgrown field, with a single bench overturned behind it that once must have served as the bleachers.

This, however, was not the church. I Googled, "Straw Church," and found it described as stuccoed, whereas this building was clapboard. It turns out the the church was right next door. I hadn't seen it because of a stand of trees between the two buildings.

The building was open (I'm not sure it was supposed to be) so I was able to get inside. Here is a link to a site describing it, including pictures of outside and inside. It has been designated a historical resource because of it's unique construction of straw bales. I also found its full name interesting, (Bad Heart Straw Church.)  I have visited a number of churches named, "Sacred Heart," but none so far called, "Bad Heart."

Just sayin'.

Blessings,

John

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