Alberta’s Ghost Towns

Several years ago, I took a trip with a friend of mine to see if we could locate some of Alberta’s ghost towns. After a lot of driving and a long day, I came home with some of my favourite Alberta photos.

Last weekend, myself and two photographer friends decided to do the journey again. Thankfully, since 2009 I’ve acquired a smartphone, which makes it immensely easier to locate derelict towns when all you have are GPS coordinates.

After a few hours of driving, we came across our first stop, Nemiskam. There weren’t many buildings left behind, apart from what looked like it was once a schoolhouse, and the boarded up remains of a general store.

My favourite part of the little site was an old sign which read, “Future Home of K-Mart.” Staked in the ground along a decaying sidewalk, the store was obviously never built, but stood as a reminder for the dreams the past residents must have had for the town.

We continued on our journey and made our way to nearby Orion. This was the standout town from 2009 and not much had changed on this visit. At the very least, the creepy doll was now missing (surely off scaring others out of their skin), but the creepy bear bank was still residing on the mouldy couch.

This time around, the church was easily accessible. Inside, bits of paper gave the date: December 1966. The church was in decent shape, the walls still bright white, a thin layer of dirt covered everything.

As the day was getting later and since we had a long drive ahead of us, we decided to make one last stop. We drove up to Conquerville. This little site had something really amazing: an old high school. The halls no longer filled with teenagers, but instead with lots and lots of birds (who were quite disgruntled at our presence).

By far the filthiest place we’d visited, my favourite part was an old tape reel recorder in the corner of one room, nestled beside a blue Ford Galaxie 500.

Across the road, a small house was barely standing. The kitchen still held an old stove and fridge, its linoleum floors having almost completely crumbled away. There wasn’t much else to see and we were all tired and dirty from exploring these little gems, so we packed up and began the journey home.

However, not far away from the remains of Conquerville, Stephen spotted an old boarded up church. We had found St. Anthony’s Church with its small cemetery tucked in behind it. Though the last person buried there had passed away in 1990, the grounds were still neatly kept.

As with all the other sites we visited, it seems someone comes by once-in-awhile to make sure the grass is mowed and in the case of the cemetery, the headstones are cleaned. It’s nice to know there are those out there who still care about the fate of these nearly lost places. Modern ruins need just as much love as ancient ones.

All of the photos I took that day are in the slideshow below:

* Please note: it seems that most of the ghost towns in Alberta are now private property. If you’re planning on making your own journey, please be respectful of that fact. Secondly, these places have become homes to the wildlife in a lot of cases and are pretty filthy. Keep your health in mind an stay safe. The buildings are mostly unsound and a layer of animal waste covers most things.

2 Replies to “Alberta’s Ghost Towns”

  1. Fascinating, Jillian. And wonderful photos. One thing you guys might want to note for future visits. There are quite often wells somewhere around these old buildings. Wooden covers rot away and become partially hidden by long grasses. Just be aware where you’re stepping.

    1. Definitely a good point, Jamie! In general, there are always hazards underfoot when wandering around any ruin. Keeping an eye on your footing is important!

Leave a Reply