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Monday, August 17, 2015

A dark and stormy Cowley Cemetery Tour

Toni Lucas

The Pincher Creek and District Historical Society hosted a graveyard tour of Cowley Cemetery on Friday night, August 14.  The event was led by Kootenai Brown Pioneer Village (KBPV) curator Farley S. Wuth. Lightning flashed and thunder boomed during the event, cutting short a few dramatic historical readings portraying the lives of those interred. Some folks headed for their cars to leave, others waited in their vehicles for the rain to pass before they ventured out to hear more. The weather reminded those on the tour that the lives of the pioneers resting at this cemetery included dealing with real hardships. Their stories reminded us they were real people with hopes, dreams and obstacles.


KBPV Curator Farley Wuth

Around 20 people came out on the moonless night to hear volunteers portray pioneers of the Cowley area. Pioneers are special people. It is one thing to go where the path is broken, the trail made, and success has already been measured. It is another to have the bravery and fortitude to make your own way. These men and women created the Village of Cowley and the surrounding area, started businesses and raised crops, livestock and families. They sent their children to wars halfway around the world, not knowing if they would ever see them again. They had christenings, weddings, funerals and dances marking the milestones for themselves and the young community. They faced loneliness fear and triumphed as early settlers on the Alberta prairies.

Author and KBPV Education Coordinator Gordon Tolton
Troy Hasselman, KBPV summer staff
The focus was on the pioneers of the late 1800s and early 1900s. KBPV Curator Farley Wuth traditionally holds a moment of silence at the end of the tour to honour the memory of the people who have been here before us. The weather changed that plan, as it probably did for our forebearers so many times in the days when the mode of travel was horse and wagon. So, as one of the volunteers who ventured out on that dark and stormy night, I ask you to contemplate the many lives it took to build our communities to what they are today, and reflect on what lives were like then. The horse was the common mode of travel. Telegraphs and letters were transported by men on horseback or wagon, instead of the convenience of a phone you can carry on yourself at all times. Cross country trips were on the railways instead of a sleek jet. A trip into town was not in the cab of a climate controlled vehicle safe from the weather but in a wagon or on a horse out in the elements. Entertainment was created by the people themselves instead of delivered on a screen. Clothing was often hand sewn, even if the fabric was purchased from a bolt of cloth. Many died of disease cured now by penicillin or other medicines. How many ways the essence of our lives have changed, yet much remains the same.

Cowley Cemetery Tour 2015
We meet people and make friends throughout our lives. We fall in love and raise our families. We find jobs where we can support ourselves and adapt to changes around us. We find ways to face challenges daily, just as those pioneers that broke the ground before us did.

Francis and Colleen Cyr with hot chocolate for those on the tour
Over 20 historical tales were told about people during the frontier days on the Canadian Prairies of southwestern Alberta. Whether you were a direct descendant, a person interested in history, or someone looking to challenge themselves by being at the graveyard at the witching hour, everyone who came got something special and unique from this tour.

It's a safe bet Farley will lead a similar expedition into our past in the near future.


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