Northern Exposure

Recently, I took a 10-day vacation in northern Alberta’s Peace River country. It was a part of the province I’d never seen, and I wanted to explore at least some of it. Considering the historical aspects of the places I visited, I also did some location scouting for future investigations.

Hines Creek

IMG_9238IMG_9229 Hines Creek is a strange little village. Entering main street off the highway, I immediately felt as if I’d entered a land forgotten by time. There were no people on the streets, and of the few stores there were, most were closed. A few vehicles drove past on occasion, but otherwise, the village seemed empty.

Hines Creek – named after a fur trader named Jack Hines – first settled in the mid-1880’s as a trapping area for traders trading with the Northwest Company. The village was the furthest point north and west that the Canadian National Railway extended to across the prairies, and eventually became known as the “End of Steel”.

Sadly, due to the covid situation, I was unable to explore the pioneer village. All of the buildings were closed, and the entry gates were closed and locked. But, the energy of the area invites investigation, and I’m hoping the team will be able to do that next year.

Lac Cardinal

IMG_9289 Originally named Bear Lake, the area was renamed Lac Cardinal in 1912, after a local homesteader, Louis Cardinal. The area was a hidden gem I discovered on the way to Hines Creek.

In 1956, the area was given provincial park status and called Lac Cardinal Provincial Park. It was renamed again to Queen Elizabeth Provincial Park in 1978, after Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip visited the park.

As with Hines Creek, due to the covid situation, the Pioneer Museum and its buildings, as well as the entry gates, were closed and locked. But the area is beautiful and serves as a protective habitat for a variety of song and water birds. I’m hoping next year will allow the team to at least visit the museum.

Blueberry Mountain

IMG_9409 This area was really interesting. First of all, it was actually quite difficult to find, even following the map. Secondly, there were only two buildings: The church shown here, and a large, old community hall directly across the road. There is nothing else – nothing. Just forest and empty fields. Even the gravel road was showing signs of being taken back by nature. Both buildings were locked; there was no access to either one of them.

The energy of the area was interesting. There was a palpable sense of waiting – as if the land was waiting for something undefined. It was very calm, though, and very peaceful, and though it was challenging to find the area, in my personal opinion, I felt the result was well worth the effort.

Spirit River

IMG_9358 This large village/small town was a treat to explore. Sadly, the covid situation has affected this area, too; the pioneer museum and outbuildings, as well as the entry gates, were closed and locked up. Even the little book store was closed. But, I’m hoping next year will be better, and a visit to the museum will happen.


IMG_9390IMG_9248 This was, by far, my favorite location. The area has a huge fur trading history, and the provincial park was absolutely stunning. The famous Dunvegan Bridge – Alberta’s longest vehicle suspension bridge – was, of course, the major attraction, but the entire location was a real treat. The provincial park itself contains the rectory and St. Charles Mission church; on the other side of the bridge, there are historical buildings and even a cemetery to explore. Unfortunately, the covid situation saw the same closures and lock-ups as the other areas I explored, so I wasn’t able to do much more than take some pictures. But next year… Here’s hoping next year will be better.


IMG_9335 The town of Fairview was originally named Waterhole and settled 6km south of where it is now. It was moved to its current location because the railroad bypassed Waterhole. It was incorporated as a town in 1959 and became a regional center for the agriculture industry.

Fairview offers several interesting places to explore, including a pioneer museum. Of course, the museum, its outbuildings, and the entry gates were closed and locked, but Cummings Lake was quite a beautiful park to explore. If you want to see the stars at night like you’ve never seen them before, that’s definitely the place to go. The Big Dipper, Little Dipper, Cassiopeia, Orion’s Belt, the Milky Way… All are laid out before the eyes like giant spotlights. It’s absolutely breathtaking.

The time I spent exploring seemed to pass by very quickly. I felt a sense of incompletion because I wasn’t able to at least visit the pioneer museums, but I’m hoping next year will see those buildings open again. They offer so much more history of the entire Peace River region, and provide insights into the lives of the early settlers.

When I arrived at the Fairview Inn, I experienced a completely unexpected, very palpable sensation of sentience. It was as if the building itself was breathing and alive. I’ve never experienced anything like it before, so I decided to conduct a recording session in my room that first night. I conducted a second session the following night. A video has been put together and is almost ready to be put on YouTube for public viewing.

I want to extend my deepest thanks and gratitude to the owners of the Fairview Inn. Their kindness, help, generosity, compassion, caring, and overall friendliness was unlike anything I have ever experienced at any hotel or motel anywhere I’ve ever been. Harry and Ranjina, you have a customer for life, now. 🙂

What do you think?