Have you ever wanted to sell everything you own and just "take off?" Travel the country's back roads, paddle down a meandering stream, experience breath-taking mountain views, walk among 100-year old trees, and just marvel at America's beauty? That is the dream that my partner, Betsy, and I decided to make a reality. This blog describes our adventure. The food we eat, people we meet, sights we see, and the enjoyment we find in traveling.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Ain't No Beer Wagon in Cardston, Alberta

Sometimes we find ourselves in some unusual places.  Ahh, and the things we learn.  Like the other day when we were wandering around a Mormon temple - the first of its kind built outside of the United States.  What were we doing there?  Well, we came to Cardston, Alberta to see the Remington Carriage Museum – an impressive facility with the largest display of horse-drawn carriages in North America (but more on that in a minute, back to the temple) – and ended up driving by the Alberta Temple.  The towering grey granite stone temple is hard to miss as it shines in this rural setting of rolling hills and ranches.  

The temple is constructed of white granite quarried from a site near Kootenai Lakes in Nelson, British Columbia and
every stone was hand-hewn. 

So, us being ones that like to explore, we pulled into the parking lot and strolled up to the entrance.  Quickly we realized our wardrobe of shorts, Life Is Good t-shirts, and Chaco sandals were not the appropriate dress.  The other visitors were decked out in summer sun dresses and suits and ties.  We were not deterred...and proceeded anyway to an "Information Centre" and found a welcoming place that greeted people just like us - non members of the church.  It turns out that only advanced Mormons are allowed to enter the temple so they constructed a visitor center that all are welcome in.  We were greeted by 2 zealous Mormons, but especially nice.  They had been married 58 years, and of course the Mormons believe that you are married for eternity (not just until death do you part), so here's hoping they still get along in their after lives!  We actually learned a lot more about Mormonism, took photos, collected our Book of Mormon that they gave us free of charge (we like freebies) and meandered around the grounds. 

Just so happened we were there when a wedding was taking place; hence, the well-dressed folks.
The announcement to build the temple occurred in 1913 and is only one of three temples worldwide that has no spires.
Our "interpreters" Arlene and Ed.  They were great.
Back at the RV park I started reading my pamphlet on the Prophet Joseph Smith (I wasn't ready for the big blue book yet) and was very intrigued with the story.  I have known Mormons before but was not very familiar with their beliefs or history.  One thing I was familiar with is that they do not drink alcohol or caffeine.  The caffeine I am o.k. with but the alcohol was dampening my spirits since I was out of wine and there were no liquor stores in this predominantly Mormon town.  Oh well, no wine that night but I did have beer.  Our RV park neighbors invited us to go to a live theater production of Annie downtown (put on by the Mormons because they say the actors are really good) but we decided to stay at the campsite, toast the Mormons with beer, and enjoy the campground!  I wonder if “The Book of Mormon” is next up on the marque.
In front of the museum and paddock is a statue of George Woolf .
He was a famous jockey who rode "Seabiscuit" into the record books.

The Museum is named after Don Remington who
donated his personal collection to start the museum.
Now let me return to the carriage museum I mentioned earlier and the real reason we came to this tiny southern Alberta town.  This museum is quite an incredible array of horse-drawn carriages that come in all sizes and shapes ranging from surreys, sleighs, hearses, milk wagons, stagecoaches, “cabs”, and everything in between.  There are over 250 specimens displayed in the 65,000- square-foot museum.  The museum opened in 1995 yet still maintains up-to-date interactive exhibits, videos, artifacts, a working restoration shop, and stables to house a band of horses that draw the carriages.  The museum starts visitors off with an informative movie about the history, use, construction, and operation of horse-drawn transportation.  It even elaborates on the filth and stench that came along with a city full of horses pulling carriages.  There
was even a water carriage built to clean the manure and urine from the streets.  Sorry, I just had to throw that in.

As you meander through the museum you get the feel of being transformed back to a time when ladies wore long skirts, men wore top hats, and transportation was slow and not all that comfortable.  A far cry from today when we buzz down the highway comfortably sitting in air conditioning or, like us, living in our oversized “carriage.”

This "Hotel Coach" (built in 1866) was used to transport guests arriving in Stowe, Vermont from the station to the mountain resort.

Of course, the chuck wagons and sheep wagons would be included in this museum.

It seems the most elaborate carriage is ridden by those who don't even care what it looks like.
The hearse!
Personally, I think these school wagons (the green and black ones on the left) look more like paddy wagons than something used to transport kids to school.  But I'm o.k., with that.
Cardston was settled by Mormons (Charles Ora Card to be exact) in 1887 who came north from Utah in one of Americas' last large wagon migrations and ironically it is the wagon (or carriage) museum that keeps the heritage alive.




1 comment:

  1. The Mormons do know how to build their temples. We've been to the one in SLC, as well as the one in Maryland and on Oahu in Hawaii, and stopped by a couple of smaller ones during our travels ... each has been very impressive.

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