By Richard White,
Recently we were travelling the back roads of Alberta from Calgary to Lac La Biche and needed a place to stop and stretch our legs. We came upon Meeting Creek in a picturesque valley and Miss B thought this would be a good place to stop. But I wasn't convinced as it didn't look like much, however Miss B insisted and I am glad she did.
We saw a relatively new looking church and thought it would be a good place to stop and check out. Soon we were headed over to an strange looking abandoned industrial building that had lots of character. Here we discovered a strange patio with domed roof and old picnic tables and an auction notice - entire building for sale, minimum bid $100,000.
Then we noticed the quaint train station next to the two grain elevators all looking as if they were still operational. It was eerie as there was nobody around, yet the train station was in good shape, grass cut and the grain elevators also looked as if they could operate. We wandered over and yes there are tours if somebody is available. It was July 1st, Canada Day so I guest everyone was off celebrating.
Found out Meeting Creek is an Alberta Heritage Site and there was enough Information that we could piece together some of the history.
The Meeting Creek depot was built by the Canadian Northern Railway in 1913 to a "Standard Third Class" plan issued by the company. The building provided passenger, freight and telegraph services on the main floor and living quarters for the company representative and his family above.
This typical branch line operated until 1977 when the last elevators between Steller and Camrose were closed and the line was abandoned. A short section of the original railway line remains preserved, along with the board walk, the Depot and two grain elevators.
In 1915, there were 15 grain elevators on this branch line with a capacity to handle 505,000 bushels of grain. By 1930, 51 elevators were located at 22 points between Vegreville and Drumheller and were handling 2.1 million bushel and by 1954, grain elevators grew in size enabling the line to handle 3.1 million bushels.
The number of grain elevators was a benchmark of a town's economic importance, much like a skyscraper is for a city, or a big box retailer for a smaller city or town. An area had to produce 35,000 bushels to be considered as a site for an elevator.
Meeting Creek is a visual artist's paradise. It would make for a great artist's colony. I could see the abandoned industrial building transformed into studios for sculptors, painters, ceramic artists and photographers. It would be a great spot for a music festival. I couldn't resist trying my hand at some creative photography.
Imagine, I didn't want to stop at Meeting Creek? Upon getting home I found out that the name "Meeting Creek" is attributed to the fact that during buffalo hunts the nearby creek was once a meeting place for the Cree to the north and the Blackfoot- speaking people to the south. Perhaps in the future it will be a meeting place for artists from the northern and southern Alberta.