It’s easy to imagine the Village of Alliance back in 1937, the year my grandfather began teaching school there. Alliance is currently described by the town website as “a spirited community where neighbours and friends are like family. You’ll always be greeted with a smile and a cheerful hello”. I perceive that nothing has changed.
Young children riding their bikes greeted us with a happy hello and began a conversation about what we were doing there. They cheerfully gave us directions to the museum and the Library, our primary destinations.
Alliance is located in central Alberta, near the Battle River. I discovered three claims to fame for this little village:
1) The longest straight section of railway in Western Canada begins here at Alliance.
2) Another surprise discovery was that of a ski hill nearby, complete with chairlift. A ski hill… on the prairies!
3) We came across an old Bandstand that had been relocated from main street to the local playground. The King of England, King George VI accompanied by Queen Elizabeth visited Alliance during a 1939 Royal Tour of Canada! At least that’s what the library book asserted. Cool!
After touring the village, which took all of ten minutes, we fortuitously parked in front of the town office, where we engaged the help of the young lady behind the counter. A local woman, filling out forms, overheard our conversation and quickly determined that the home our helpful assistant rented was, in fact, the old teacherage! We learned all about the history of the school, that it had burned down in 1925 and was rebuilt. The NEW school was where my grandfather taught.
My grandfather, in his memoirs, tells this story: “One day, the young hotelman asked Connie, (my mom) age 4, if her Dad drank beer. She told him to mind his own business. I guess Connie didn’t think I was doing my part by not getting drunk like the other fathers. Finally, she saw me one night getting drunk and she proudly went to the hotel and told them that Daddy really got drunk last night!”
Unfortunately, we couldn’t find anyone who actually knew my grandparents anymore. I imagine they did make a difference in this little hamlet.
ON THE ROAD AGAIN – SMALL TOWN ALBERTA