Intro text and photos © Robert Barry Francos
Recently, I went on a two-day road trip through southern Saskatchewan in search of ghost towns of photograph, with my friend John Penner. There will be more on this, including tons of pictures, to come in future blogs.
In one town, I found a vacation diary that I have transcribed below. This is a family of four: the mom (unnamed author), dad (Maynard), two daughters (Trina, Sam), and a son (Ben). They lived at that time (still?), gathered from the information within, in Brandon, Manitoba. In early July of 1995, the family headed to the Rockies in Alberta on a camping trip, and to visit friends and family along the way.
At the beginning of the book, there is an accounting of both cash and credit spending on the trip, which I have not included as tables and tabs are apparently not a blog feature (as far as I know).
Please note that I transcribed the handwritten text as it is (with the exception of some capitalization), including spelling errors (e.g., quit = quite) and mistakes in grammar (e.g., than = then). After the entry, my comments will be bracketed, and in italics. Also, I put the entry date as the mom has it for each notation. – RBF, 2010
July 3, 1995
We left Brandon this morning, the drive was pretty good. We stopped at Binscarth for lunch. We had hamburgers and hotdogs over an open fire.
The kids played at the park, than we continued on to Yorkton.
We went to K-mart, bought some fishing hooks and swimming suits for the girls.
For supper, we went to McDonald’s, spent the night at the Holiday Inn.
We went swimming and the kids, even Trina enjoyed the water slide.
[Binscarth, Manitoba, is 167 Km/104 miles from Brandon. Yorkton, SK, is an additional 120 Km/76 miles]
This morning we left Yorkton going to Shell Lake. It was fairly cold this morning. But the afternoon has turned out to be quit nice.
We stopped in Lanigan, Sask for lunch and groceries. We picnicked at the Lion’s park. And it costed 2.00 just for stopping for lunch.
We got to Shell Lake around 5:00 pm Saskatchewan time. The kids were excited at seeing Grandpa and Grandma.
Trina was scared of poor old Husky. It’s kind of was hard to tell which one was more scared of who? Husky or Trina?
After supper the kids went down to the barn. Each had a ride on the new mare that Grandpa has. The mare sure has a nice foal.
Benny is in seventh heaven being out here! So much so, he doesn’t want to continue on.
[Yorkton to Lanigan is 204 Km/127 miles; then from there to Shell Lake is 270/168 miles Km]
July 5 1995
Well we had breakfast, cooked by hand (Maynard) and we packed the car to continue on to Alberta.
Well we got as far as Mundare, and we camped over night. The campgrounds were clean and nice complete with really nice showers.
Maynard so far has been taking quit a few videos, with his baby (the camcorder).
I forgot to write about the ferry crossing yesterday afternoon. It was a first for me and the kids. It actually spooked me! But the kids and Mayn enjoyed it.
[Shell Lake, SK to Mundare, AB is 460 km/286 miles]
July 6, 1995
We had breakfast and packed up, to continue on to Lorna’s.
We got to Lorna’s without getting lost. Now you can drive thru Edmonton on a main through road.
Lorna wasn’t home at first, so we had lunch down at Alberta beach. It seemed to be nice and kept up. But they charged 5.00 for an armful of wood.
When we got back to Lorna’s, Lorna and the kids were back. Lorna and Brenda had taken three kids camping for two days.
We’re going to be spending tonite and tomorrow nite, at Pat and Lorna’s.
Lorna’s house is a 3 level split. It’s a nice open layout for a home. The bathrooms and the bedrooms are just huge.
[Lorna’s address in the back of the diary is listed as Carvel, which is on the west side of Edmonton, which means they will need to back-track some. Mundare to Carvel is 125 Km/78 miles.]
July 7, 1995
Well this morning Maynard went into town. He went to buy a car topper.
Well it sure is a nice thing. All the blankets and the foam mattress fits up on it.
Brenda and her kids and Uncle Buddy, Kevin came out for supper. Rayne and Tam were inseparatable. They’re quit a pair. One as opposite as the other.
But they played so well together.
Kevin is all grown up. It sure makes a person feel their own age.
Well tomorrow we start out again and it will be much nicer driving now. That was a good idea, to buy the car topper, it holds so much and so now there is a lot more room in the car. Much more comfortable to ride in.
[“Into town” most likely Edmonton; the “car topper” is a an large sealed rectangular case, usually plastic, that fits on top of the car. They paid $160 for it.]
Saturday, July 8/95
We left Lorna’s this morning around 10:30 am. It was quit nice having more room in the car. The topper holds so much.
We stopped at Sylvan Lake and we brought lunch at Cobbs groceries, made a nice lunch in one of the parks and then took the kids swimming. The beach was awesome and so many people!
The kids had a ball and so did Maynard. They were playing tag in the water. It was a perfect afternoon. We stopped at the Diary Queen after for ice cream, and then back on the road. We’re stopped just outside of Calgary.
The girls fell asleep during the rest of the drive, and Ben was good company. But the camp site at Balzac is the pits. No fees, the wood is 2.00 plus tax for an arm load, but at least the bathroom and showers look good.
Mayn’s been trying to get hold of Karen and Lee, but so far no luck. We’ll have to try again tomorrow morning.
Tomorrow we are off to the zoo at Calgary. The kids should get a real kick out of that. I am really looking forward to it. I have never seen or been to a real zoo that I can remember.
[Carvel to Sylvan Lake is 200 Km/124 miles. Sylvan Lake to Balzac is 146 Km/91 miles.]
July 9, Sunday
This morning we went to Calgary, and went to the zoo. I’m not sure why any one would want to live in Calgary. From a distance, it looks like a bunch of rocks on hills, there are so many houses and complexes. And they’re so close together.
But going to the zoo was exciting. We saw animals from Austrail, some were pretty creepy looking. We saw elephants, tigers, monkeys, apes, bears, horses, polar bear. It was great. But there’s so much we missed, its takes much more than one day!
We then went onward to Banff. We stopped at the campgrounds by Canmore (Bow Valley Prov. Park). And it’s really nice. The campsite we have is beside the river with spectacular view of the river and the mountains.
We had to buy wood at 3.00 a bundle but the bundle is a nice size. I think the camp fees were 12.00 a nite.
Tomorrow we are onto Banff. We’re roughly ~17 km away.
[Balzac to Calgary is 21 Km/13 miles. Calgary to Canmore – where I got married, FYI – is 100 Km/62 miles.]
July 10, 1995
This morning we left our tent at the campsite at Bow Valley Prov Park and drove to Banff. The scenery is unbelievable and so are the prices. 8.00 to go into Banff a day.
We went up the Norquey Mountain road and could only go so far, because the road was blocked off. But the view was great.
We then went to a museum, which displayed animals that were trapped for the museum, back between 1890 to 1930. They had bufflo, lynx, wolves, mountain sheep, fish, birds. It was quit interesting. It was well worth seeing. It costed 5.00 for the family rate. We than went to see the falls. The Bow River Falls. Now that was different. The water was going at a real speed.
The whole town of Banff is something to see. It completely aimed at the tourist but what an experience. Even the playground for the kids are grand scale. I think the kids gave it a 10. So we know it was impressive. We had lunch by the playground and then we tried to go see the Indian Museum. But it was getting to be too long of a day for the kids.
So we came back to our campsite. Trina and I took a nap and Maynard took Ben and Sam to the park again. This morning Mayn took all three to the playground while I was sleeping. Trina and Sam went off the slide the wrong way and Trina’s teeth went into her bottom lip and she has some scraps on her chin. But so far that’s our only incident. Well tonight we showered up the kids. The showers here are excellent. Well that’s all for tonight the kids are in bed, and no asleep, but time for coffee.
[Canmore to Banff is 25 Km/15.5 miles. The fee for a family to enter Banff is now $19.60. Norquey is spelled Norquay. The museum is most likely the Banff Park Museum and National Historic Site, which is now $9.80 per family. That is the way she spelled buffalo.]
July 11, 1995
This morning we packed up camp and drove thru the Banff Park. The view of the mountains are something that you really appreciate their beauty is amazing and the lakes in the mountains are so clear the water is a brilliant green, instead of blue.
This morning in the park we saw some young mountain goats. They were the only real wild life we saw.
Then as we continued our driving we stopped at Lake Louise Mountain lifts Gradola Lifts. We were up to the tips of the trees. An experience never to be forgotten, being on top of a mountain. The kids enjoyed it. I was some shakey. When we got to the top, down at the bottom they had captured hawks and owls out on perches to view.
It started raining when we were coming down the lifts, and during our drive thru the mountains.
We had lunch in the car. We drove to Crimson Lake prov park. The fees were 15.00 a night. And the playground rates more likely an 8 on the kids’ scale and the wood rates a 7 on Dad’s scale.
Well tomorrow we continue homeward. We’ll hopefully enjoy the beach, before we leave, weather pending!
[Banff to Lake Louise is 59 Km/37 miles of some of the most stunning scenery imaginable. Gradola = Gondola. Lake Louise to Crimson Lake is 250 Km/155 miles. The camping fees for Crimson Lake are now $22 to $28 per night.]
July 12, 1995
Well this morning after a gourmae breakfast cooked by Dad, we then we took the kids down to the Beach. Well, the water was on the nice side. Would have been nicer to have been there in the afternoon with more heat. Benny really enjoyed the water. The girls found it too cold.
Dad stayed at the picnic table and I did the water thing with the kids. We than went back to camp and had a quick lunch and packed up to go to Lorna’s and Pat’s.
It was a nice drive to Lorna’s and we got there around supper time. Spending the night and going back to Shell Lake in the morning.
* * *
I won a free pick on the plus number tonight.
[Crimson Lake Provincial Park to Carvel, AB is 195 Km/121 miles.]
July 13, 1995
Well the drive to Shell Lake was alright. We seen baffolo along side the road. We stopped and took some pictures of them. One was hidden pretty good in the bush.
We stopped in Lloydminster for groceries and we ran into my cousin Helda, cousin of mine on my Moms’ side.
We had a catch up coffee at Smittys and than continued on to Shell Lake.
We got to Shell Lake around 6:30-7:00 and the kids were happy being back at Grandma, Grandpas’.
We’re going to camp in the yard and stay for a couple of days.
[Carvel, AB to Lloydminster, SK is 290 Km/180 miles, and then to Shell Lake, SK, is another 290 Km, for a total of 580 Km/360 miles. Yes, that is the way she spelled buffalo]
July 14, 1995
This morning Benny was up quit early. In the trailer with Grandma and Grandpa. It’s a nice morning. Grandpa has to ready the horses for Haydays tomorrow in Shell Lake.
Benny, Tammy, Trina, Grandpa, and Maynard went for a buggy ride this morning, the kids especially the older two loved it.
Well it rained most of the afternoon. The tent the girls and I are in didn’t get wet. But Ben and Mayn’s did.
Brenda and the kids got out here at 9:00ish. Tammy was excitted to see Ryne and Dianne and Keylo came down around 5:00ish.
Tomorrow is Haydays.
[Shell Lake Homesteader Hey Days: www.shelllake.info/heydays.html]
July 15, 1995
Well today is the parade in Shell Lake. Haydays. They kids are all excited about going. Grandpa will be taking a team in.
* * *
The kids had a great time riding on the wagon with Grandpa in the parade.
We came back to the house put the kids down for a nap. Then we went to the supper. Just as we got our plates it rained. So it was a quick scramble into the hall.
We came back and celebrated Debbie’s birthday.
July 16, 1995
Maynard, Grandpa, Keylow, Allan, Damien, Ben went fishing. I took Tom, and Trina with me, up to Meeting Lake, to the Thiessien’s family get together.
We all had a full day. The kids are sure wound up.
July 17, 1995
This morning my tooth and jaw was giving me great grief, so I ended up going to Stoon to have it removed. The oral surgeon had to put me to sleep.
Maynard drove me in and the kids stayed with Grandma and Grandpa.
The kids went swimming. Had a blast.
It was Brenda’s 33rd birthday today. We have cake and ice cream.
[Stoon = Saskatoon. Shell Lake to Saskatoon is 145 Km/90 miles each way.]
July 18, 1995
Karen, Lee, Chrissy, and Allan left at noon. Brenda had left around 10:30 am Dianne left at around 1:00 oclock and Grandma and I went to P.A. to play Bingo.
Grandma won 9.50 and I won 100.00.
[P.A. = Prince Albert, SK. Shell Lake to Prince Albert is 96 Km/60 miles.]
July 19, 1995
Maynard, Grandpa, Ben and Tom went fishing today. They had a great time.
Trina, Grandma and I went into town, and then when we got home we puttered around in the garden while Trina napped. We had a good talk!
It rained off and on all day.
But it was a good day all around.
[This is where the diary ends.]