I’ve lived in Alberta for my whole life.
Granted, I might be biased, but I love it here. It’s beautiful … like the beer commercial says, “Canada has more square feet of awesomeness per person than any other nation on earth.” (Is it bad that a beer commercial makes me feel patriotic? I don’t even LIKE beer.) We don’t have earthquakes or hurricanes, and rarely are tornadoes a concern. Sure, there’s a lot higher percentage of winter than in some places, but right where I live we have a marvelous phenomenon known as a Chinook. When a chinook hits, we get a 20 degree warm up and a magical removal of impressive amounts of snow in the space of a day. Heck, in Alberta, we don’t even have any rats!
I’ve always had an interest in the history of the region. I loved learning about John Ware in school. When my grandma was a little girl they lived in his family house. When they moved it, they found Mrs. Ware’s lost wedding rings underneath the foundation. I saw the rings a couple months ago in the museum … it’s so much more fun to learn about history when there is a connection that means something to you!
When I wanted to write a time travel novel, I chose to set it in Calgary, and had my main character,14 year old Stella, travel back in time 100 years, to 1910. It was fascinating to read about the early history of the city, and while I very much enjoyed writing Stella’s adventure, by 1910 Calgary was a full fledged city, and it’s the earlier days that are interesting me now.
Between 1881 and 1891, the population of the area now known as Alberta grew by 17,000 people. 17,000! When the first train came into Calgary on newly laid tracks on August 11, 1883, the population of the city doubled in a single day as CPR set up it’s headquarters there to continue the expansion of the railway.
Next on my reading list is a book about the North West Mounted Police and their march west, and this summer I’m planning a trip to Buckingham House, the first Hudson Bay Company outpost in Alberta, built in the 1790’s.
I was driving to work the other day, and looked over at the city to the east of me. The ski jumps at Canada Olympic Park were silhouetted against the pink of the rising sun, and I wondered what the landscape would’ve looked like back then. Would I recognize that big, square hill if I was dropped into the past, or would everything be unfamiliar?
I think it’s safe to say that there are stories set in the Alberta frontier in my future.