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GLEICHEN

In the Province of Alberta, Canada.

A COMPARISON BETWEEN 1959 AND 2009

Gleichen was a rail town, built on the Blackfoot Indian reserve.
For some time, in the late 1800'S Gleichen was the end of the rail. With a railway turntable, and a large roundhouse, it was a booming community.
It would have been what Calgary is today except the natives wanted too many concessions and the water supply was insufficient to support a larger population.
The nearest river is seven miles to the South.
After the rail pushed, 90 Kilometers, to the West, Calgary was established and Gleichen began to die.
Today the streets all have names. I don't recall any street signs in 1959.

(Gleichen, endless fields with small buildings on the horizon.)
CITY SKYLINE
THE WATER TOWER STANDS ABOVE THE TREES
APPROACHING GLEICHEN FROM THE EAST
ON THE TCH (Trans Canada Highway)
(Gleichen, endless fields with small buildings on the horizon.)
SOUTHERN APPROACH THROUGH THE RESERVE
MANY MORE HOMES AND BUILDINGS THAN IN `59
(Gleichen, modern highway intersection.)
NORTHERN INTERSECTION WITH THE TCH (2009)
(Gleichen, intersection of gravel roads.)
IN 1959 THERE WAS A GENERAL STORE AT THE INTERSECTION

On weekends my father would take us to the general store for a treat. My sister and I would have a slice of cherry pie with a scoop of chocolate ice cream.

HASKAYNE AVE.

In `59 Haskayne Ave. ,(I'm sure it didn't have a name back then) was gravel. My friends and I would pedal our bicycles, North, past the general store, to an irrigation ditch where we could escape the summer heat in some cool water.
The priest, Father Violini, whom we called Father Fiddle, was a lover of animals and his rectory was a virtual zoo.
Often, his rabbits would get out and we would round them up for a reward of 25 cents a head.

If you knocked on the door a small dog would start barking, a voice would be heard, "Come in, come in."
When you opened the door you would be met by a large dog. The small yappy dog would be between the feet of a St. Bernard.
The voice was that of a parrot behind the door. No one was home.

It is said that when he finally retired his successor only spent one night in the rectory and then moved to Calgary until the place had been fumigated.

(Gleichen, paved roadway.)
LOOKING NORTH TO THE TCH
(Gleichen, Arch entrance to cemetery.)
THE LOCAL NATIVES WOULD DECIMATE OUR
GRAVE YARD BY KNOCKING OVER TOMBSTONES.
(Gleichen, Arch entrance to cemetery.)
THIS WAS IN RETALIATION FOR US BREAKING INTO
THEIR GRAVES AND STEALING SKULLS ON HALLOWEEN NIGHTS
(Gleichen, grass, trees and concrete arch.)
NAMED AFTER LORD GLEICHEN
GLEICHEN WAS ESTABLISHED IN 1883
(Gleichen,  bison statue.)
(Gleichen, water tower.)
THIS WATER TOWER IS CLASSIFIED AS AN HISTORIC MONUMENT
(Gleichen, street and water tower.)
(Gleichen, old wooden church.)
THE CATHOLIC CHURCH DOESN'T LOOK
LIKE IT HAS BEEN PAINTED SINCE `59
(Gleichen, paved street lined with trees.)
(Gleichen, old boarded up building.)
(Gleichen, buildings at intersection.)
INTERSECTION WITH MAIN ST
(Gleichen, garage and back of house.)
BACK OF 117 7th AVE.

7th Ave.

(Gleichen, front of house.)
117 - REMODELED AND REFACED SINCE `59
(Gleichen, street with trees.)
LOOKING NORTH ON 7th AVE.
(Gleichen, front corner of house.)
232 7th AVE. PAINT LOOKS FRESH
BUT THE ROOF HASN'T BEEN TOUCHED SINCE `59
(Gleichen, wall of trees.)
232 7th Ave. CORNER OF GRIESBACH ST.
(Gleichen, R.C.M.P. red brick building.)
R.C.M.P. OFFICE AND RESIDENCE - 1959
(Gleichen, park with swings.)
THE OLD WOODEN SWINGS HAVE BEEN REPLACED
WITH METAL AND BELTING.
I IMAGINE BELT SEATS HURT A LOT LESS
WHEN THEY HIT YOU IN THE BACK OF THE HEAD.
I REALLY DON'T WANT TO EXPERIENCE GETTING HIT
WITH A WOODEN ONE AGAIN.
(Gleichen, street with trees.)
LOOKING SOUTH ON 7th AVE
(Gleichen, front of school.)
IN `59 THE SCHOOL ONLY WENT TO GRADE 8.
FOR GRADE 9, AND UP, YOU HAD TO GO TO CLUNY
THE NEXT TOWN TO THE EAST

One of my first jobs was working as a janitor in the school

(Gleichen, R.C.M.P. red brick building.)
R.C.M.P. OFFICE 2009 4th Ave. AT GRIESBACH
(Gleichen, street with yards and trees.)
GRIESBACH ST.

MAIN ST.

When I was 14 I took a silver dollar to the CIBC and opened my first bank account, no ID required, if I could sign my name.
I also got my driver's learners permit at that age. All I needed was an eye exam and a letter of permission from a parent.
In those day natives were not allowed booze. They could neither go in a liquor vendor nor a bar.
They would shop at the Red and White and try to buy vanilla extract. They would always choose a big bottle. My mother would ask them what they were going to do with it.
They would reply, “Bake a cake.”
My mother would take the big bottle away and hand them a small bottle, “You don't need that much to make a cake,”

(Gleichen, CBC red brick bank building.)
NOTE THE NAME ACROSS THE TOP - CBC
click here for a history of the CBC to CIBC
THE LARGEST BANK CHAIN IN THE WORLD
(NOW REQUIRES A DNA SAMPLE TO OPEN AN ACCOUNT)
BUT YOU CAN OPEN A `SWISS' ACCOUNT
IN ONE OF THEIR BRANCHES IN THE CARIBBEAN
(Gleichen, metal sided building.)
A NEW EDIFICE REPLACES THE OLD WOODEN STRUCTURE
THAT HOUSED THE `RED AND WHITE' STORE
WHERE MY MOTHER USED TO WORK
(Gleichen, street with stores.)
(Gleichen, modern concrete building.)
A CONCRETE BLOCK OF ELECTRONICS REPLACES
THE WOODEN STRUCTURE WHERE MY SISTER WORKED
AS A TELEPHONE OPERATOR
REMEMBER WHEN YOU ACTUALLY TALKED TO A PERSON?

RESERVE

The Blackfoot Indian Reserve is the largest Indian Reservation in the world.

(Gleichen, red brick bank building.)
AFTER INTERSECTING WITH MAIN ST.
HASKAYNE AVE. GOES OVER THE TRACK AND INTO THE RESERVE
(Gleichen, metal sided building.)
(Gleichen, street with stores.)
A BLOCK WEST OF HASKAYNE AVE.
THE STREET RAN SOUTH PASSED THE INDIAN HOSPITAL
TO THE INDIAN SCHOOL
(Gleichen, modern concrete building.)
A TYPICAL (GOVERNMENT BUILT) NATIVE DWELLING
SITS WHERE THE HOUSES FOR THE STAFF AT THE HOSPITAL
USED TO BE
(Gleichen, street with stores.)
THE INDIAN SCHOOL, FORMERLY RUN BY
THE ANGLICAN CHURCH, IS NOW A COLLEGE
(Gleichen, modern concrete building.)
BETWEEN THE HOSPITAL AND THE SCHOOL
WERE TWO GOVERNMENT HOUSES,
NOW JUST A PATCH OF DARK GREEN FOLIAGE

The Northern of the two houses was occupied by the supervisor of the hospital. The Southern house was our domicile. On cold winter evenings I would put on my father's snowshoes and join my neighbour in his rounds, delivering the `Calgary Herald' to the school and a couple of Indian houses on Haskayne Ave.

We always looked forward to delivering to the Chief's house as his wife would have cookies, hot out of the oven, waiting for us.

END

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