Postcard from Beverly, Alberta


My grandfather built this house in the early 1940s, I believe, when he moved with his family from Drumheller to Beverly, now part of Edmonton. There was another small house behind this one, purchased from the Prins farm, for $200, and moved to this lot. I have a file containing all the receipts  for materials used in the construction of this house, as well as the bill of sale, handwritten, for the smaller house, and it was odd to look at the place this morning, my granddaughter in the car, trying to think of the way a landscape holds us in the plain details as well as the grand ones.  Five generations and a river between my Ukrainian-speaking grandfather and a little girl singing of trains.

6 thoughts on “Postcard from Beverly, Alberta”

  1. I *so* love this photo plus what you’ve written about it. My idea of a rich family heritage–receipts and bill of sale! And that you can still visit the house that emblemizes the generations and passing of time with the newest generation singing in the car. (I also think that all you can do when taking a picture of snow at this time of year is tilt it. Nudge it to melt.)

    1. I remember sleeping in the little house when we visited — I couldn’t figure out if it had been turned into a garage or if that is a more recent construction. But the park kitty – corner to the house, the big trees nearby – many memories of those. And this will figure in some current writing, along with future material from Ukraine this coming September. I feel rich.

  2. You are fortunate to have those records, and for the house and park to still be there as anchors to your memories. The part of Edmonton that I lived until the age of 11 was redeveloped in the 70s, and then again more recently. A block away, the old houses exist, but “my” block is consumed by one or two tall buildings. It’s a hard place to find memories.

    1. I didn’t know you’d lived in Edmonton! But yes, I feel really fortunate. We thought of Beverly then as a place outside of Edmonton but now of course it’s just another neighbourhood, though built over a honeycombed complex of old mines. And what before that? A winter village site? Near the river…

      1. We were in Garneau near the UofA. My mother hated Edmonton – the winters, the lack of spring and the hot dry summers. She could not do the kind of gardening she liked, and it didn’t help having 5 kids in 7 years. But we soon started spending the summers on San Juan Island where my dad did his research, and eventually moved to Victoria.

        Beverly looks like a pretty good place to find archaeological sites – the river appears to have been depositing in that area, rather than eroding (except on the west side). I don’t know much about settlement patterns in the prairies, so would probably be at a loss to know where to look for sites, even in plowed fields! I would likely start with old river terrace edges in the valley, and the upper edges of ancient bluffs and escarpments. The steep edges on the west side are new, eroded by the river, and probably the sites have gone in the past few hundred years. As to winter villages – it is more likely they split into small mobile groups that were constantly on the move, and worked different territories in different years since game could be difficult to come by and susceptible to over exploitation. But, I could be completely wrong about all of this. I don’t understand the traditional role of bison on the northern prairies, and perhaps there was the ability to store enough food to allow overwintering in one place with lots of other people.

  3. Interesting stuff to think about. Garneau, eh? My son teaches at the UofA so we see a bit of that area when we visit. (He and his family live in Strathcona, in an old house among other old houses, by the Mill Creek ravine.) The cold is certainly the thing that would stop me from living there, though my son and his wife (who grew up out near your parents, near the ferry) have adapted really well and thrive in Edmonton. I’d miss growing roses and figs and all the slightly vulnerable things that love this west coast climate. On another note, will you email me at some point (no hurry) because I want to ask you about the thing you do in summer. It’s all booked up for this year but we are thinking of next…

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