The Power of Geography

Hello, and welcome to my blog. This post is about all the adventures and all the learning we have discovered about geography, and what shapes the west in geography. We went on a trip to Alberta to learn more about it. We made a book to explain all the places we’ve been to throughout the trip. In the next sections of my blog I’ll include some of the most historical places.


The first place I’ll show right now is going to be memories from “The Last Spike”. he Last Spike was the final and ceremonial railway spike driven into the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) track by company director Donald Smith on the morning of 7 November 1885. The ceremony marked the completion of the transcontinental CPR and was a muted affair at which a group of company officials and labourers gathered at Craigellachie near Eagle Pass in the interior of British Columbia. One of about 30 million iron spikes used in the construction of the line, the Last Spike came to symbolize more than the completion of a railway. Contemporaries and historians have viewed the Last Spike — as well as the iconic photographs of the event — as a moment when national unity was realized. It was definitely a place for memories.


Another historical place we visited was The franks slide. The Frank Slide was a massive rockslide that buried part of the mining town of Frank in the District of Alberta of the North-West Territories, Canada, at 4:10 a.m. on April 29, 1903. Around 44 million cubic metres/110 million tonnes (120 million short tons) of limestone rock slid down Turtle Mountain Witnesses reported that within 100 seconds the rock reached up the opposing hills, obliterating the eastern edge of Frank, the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) line and the coal mine. It was one of the largest landslide in Canadian history and remains the deadliest, as between 70 and 90 of the town’s residents were killed, most of whom remain buried in the rubble. Multiple factors led to the slide: Turtle Mountain’s formation left it in a constant state of instability. Coal mining operations may have weakened the mountain’s internal structure, as did a wet winter and cold snap on the night of the disaster. The railway was repaired within three weeks and the mine was quickly reopened. The section of town closest to the mountain was relocated in 1911 amid fears that another slide was possible. The town’s population nearly doubled its pre-slide population by 1906, but dwindled after the mine closed permanently in 1917. The community is now part of the Municipality of Crowsnest Pass in the Province of Alberta and has a population around 200. The site of the disaster, which remains nearly unchanged since the slide, is now a popular tourist destination. It has been designated a provincial historical site of Alberta and is home to an interpretive centre that receives over 100,000 visitors annually.


A very special place we have visited was Head-smashed Buffalo jump. The buffalo jump was used for 5,500 years by the indigenous peoples of the plains to kill bison by driving them off the 11 metre (36 foot) high cliff. Before the late introduction of horses, the Blackfoot drove the bison from a grazing area in the Porcupine Hills about 3 kilometres (1.9 mi) west of the site to the “drive lanes”, lined by hundreds of cairns, by dressing up as coyotes and wolves. These specialized “buffalo runners” were young men trained in animal behavior to guide the bison into the drive lanes. Then, at full gallop, the bison would fall from the weight of the herd pressing behind them, breaking their legs and rendering them immobile. The cliff itself is about 300 metres (1000 feet) long, and at its highest point drops 10 metres (33 ft) into the valley below. The site was in use at least 6,000 years ago, and the bone deposits are 12 metres (39 feet) deep. After falling off the cliff, the injured bison were finished off by other Blackfoot warriors at the cliff base armed with spears and clubs. The carcasses were then processed at a nearby camp. The camp at the foot of the cliffs provided the people with everything they needed to process a bison carcass, including fresh water. The bison carcass was used for a variety of purposes, from tools made from the bone, to the hide used to make dwellings and clothing. The importance of the site goes beyond just providing food and supplies. After a successful hunt, the wealth of food allowed the people to enjoy leisure time and pursue artistic and spiritual interests. This increased the cultural complexity of the society.In Blackfoot, the name for the site is Estipah-skikikini-kots. According to legend, a young Blackfoot wanted to watch the bison plunge off the cliff from below, but was buried underneath the falling animals. He was later found dead under the pile of carcasses, where he had his head smashed in.


Cave and Basin, one of the historical places we visited. Human habitation in this area can be traced back to 10,700 years BC with the retreat of the last great glaciation, and it is unlikely that the hot springs escaped being noticed. The first recorded reference to hot springs here is by James Hector of the Palliset Expedition in 1859, followed by Joe Healey in 1874 who found the Cave and Basin site in 1875. But it was Canadian Pacific Railway workers William McCardell and Frank McCabe who brought national attention to the Cave and Basin. In 1883 they descended through the skylight entrance into the cave using a felled tree, and the following year constructed a small cabin nearby with the intention of commercializing the Cave and Basin site. Conflicting claims by other parties prompted intervention by the Canadian government headed by John A.Macdonald, and in 1885 an order-in-council reserved 10 square miles (26 km2) around the Cave and Basin, the Banff Hot Springs Reserve. This was the genesis of Canada’s national parks system. In 1886 the Canadian government held an inquiry into the various private claims to settle on compensation.In 1886 an artificial tunnel was driven into the Cave and Basin to aid visitation. In 1912 bottled water from the Cave and Basin site was sold for its alleged curative powers. In 1914 a naturally heated swimming pool was opened to the public and continued to operate until 1994.The Cave and Basin was formally declared a National Historical Site in 1981. Canada’s national parks system celebrated its centennial in 1985, on the anniversary of the order-in-council that established the original reserve around the Cave and Basin. On 20 August of that year, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh and consort of the Queen of Canada unveiled the National Historic Site plaque.


Thank you for having a look at my blog. I hope you enjoyed.



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