In a piece for the CBC’s feature series Calgary at a Crossroads recently published, author Aritha Van Herk compared the identity of her city to the character of some of the world’s best known and, often, overblown metropolises. She wrote, “London resides in its stately imperialism, New York swaggers on size. We’re neither, not nearly as staged or as venerable. Our fantasies are local, delicate in their unfolding. We think of neighbourhoods and dynasties smaller than cultural megaliths or empires.”
The protagonists in our stories are small compared to those heroes of Europe’s grand histories. The prairies are founded by the struggling merchant with keen business savvy, sweat-browed ranchers and farmers living a life of subsistence, settlers stumbling ass-backwards onto producing land. Drumheller is not founded as a result of some great battle for territory eventually named for the winning king – Drumheller was named after a simple coin toss between two simple men.
Our European prairie narratives are young and still developing, most no more distant than a paltry one hundred years – our beginnings are often not much older than our first buildings. Our history and the buildings it developed in are, unlike the remaining ruins of other, more ancient civilizations, still present and essential in understanding our roots, our history, and our direction.
Cataloging the history of our prairies is of the utmost importance, and this historical project is looking for assistance from the people of Drumheller in keeping and recording our all too fragile historical record.
Century 21 is continuing the work of earlier local historians in a blog on their website, “Sto- ries Behind Downtown Drumheller Buildings,” which aims to keep a record of the stories and developments tied to Drumheller’s earliest buildings located in the downtown. It continues the work of local historian Michael Gaschnitz, who published a