The farmhouse themed room tells the story of an Argentine who is new to the Prairies.  |  Maria Johnson photo

Rural escape house offers visitors history and mystery

The Alta. business is set in an old home and incorporates the area’s early agricultural, military and coal mining history in its theme rooms


NAMAO, Alta. — When is a clock not just a clock? Or a lamp not just a lamp? These are clues to cracking the code and resolving the riddle when working against a timeline to be set free in Locked. The escape house, set in an old home in this central Alberta hamlet, incorporates the […] Read more

Dave Brand is director of Community & Protective Services with Red Deer County. | Maria Johnson photo

Alta. firefighters practice grain entrapment rescue

RED DEER — Grain can be deadly. In mid-October of 2015, three young sisters northwest of Red Deer died in a farm accident when they became buried in canola seed. Earlier that same autumn, a teenaged boy and his grandfather suffered the same fate on a farm in southwestern Saskatchewan. Dave Brand, director of Community […] Read more

Left, the theatre as it looked in 1930. The Majestic Theatre in Bashaw, Alta., looks almost the way it did when it was built in 1915.  | Friends of the Majestic Theatre, Maria Johnson photos

‘Boomtown’ theatre enjoys long life

Concerned residents formed an organization in Bashaw, Alta., in 1998 to save the historic building from demolition

BASHAW, Alta. — The more things change, the more they stay the same. This adage has proven true when it comes to the 104-year-old Majestic Theatre in the central Alberta town of Bashaw. The exterior of the plain clapboard 1 1/2 storey structure looks almost identical to when it was erected in 1915. In the […] Read more


Trudie and Jac Theelen prepare tulips for market. Jac gathers 10 stem bundles and Trudie wraps each in a plastic sleeve. The flowers are then conditioned by standing in water to ready them for market.  |  Maria Johnson photo

Tulip farm offers signs of spring in winter

On the Farm: Jac and Trudie Theelen import bulbs from the Netherlands and grow them into budding flowers

RED DEER — It’s a frigid white world out there. Leafless trees border snow-covered hills and fields. Nature seems at a standstill. So the warmth, colour and earthy aroma of new growth that permeates the air at Jac and Trudie Theelen’s Tulip Farm offers a welcome surprise. The couple is in the business of flowers. […] Read more

Crystal Regehr-Westergard has made the chocolate and peanut bar to be as similar to the original as possible, while continuing to follow Canadian Food Inspection Agency guidelines.  |  Maria Johnson photo

Candy bar rescued from oblivion

An Alta. couple buys the rights to the Cuban Lunch, which was discontinued in 1991; that turned out to be the easy part

CAMROSE, Alta. — An Alberta woman’s foray into the candy industry began with noble intentions. Regehr-Westergard wanted a suitable gift to bring to her mother, Elfie Regehr, 85, when visiting her in a Camrose senior’s facility. “There’s so little I can buy her.” Regehr-Westergard recalled that the Cuban Lunch was her mom’s favourite chocolate bar […] Read more


The Hamill family, which run Red Shed Malting on their farm near Penhold, Alta., now includes three generations: Matt, left, John, Susie, Daelyn, Joe and two-year-old Isabella. They are standing in front of the company’s malt roaster.  |  Maria Johnson photo

Alta. family malts, markets their own barley

On the Farm: The Hamills’ decision to get into the malting and marketing of barley took them half way around the world

PENHOLD, Alta. — The Hamill family are accustomed to taking risks. After all, they’re farmers. So when they made the decision to tap into Alberta’s burgeoning craft beer scene by malting and marketing their own barley, they knew there were no guarantees. Little did they know that their “barley to bottle” journey would take them […] Read more

Ellen and Andries Boersma prepare the goats for the day’s second milking at 5 p.m., which takes about three hours. Andries built the milking parlour with the help of family and friends. Because the couple did so much of the hands-on work of converting the cow dairy barns to be suitable for goats, they are confident they’ll be able to do a lot of any necessary fixing. | Maria Johnson photo

Empty cow barns filled with milking goats

On the Farm: Buying dairy goats proved to be much more affordable than dairy cows for this young Alberta couple

MORNINGSIDE, Alta. — When Andries and Ellen Boersma direct newcomers to Boersma Goat Dairy, they are sure to tell them to turn into the laneway with the Holstein cow painted on the sign. People have been known to drive on by, which is an understandable mistake. The Holstein sign was painted by Ellen’s father, Cor […] Read more

The mill sits on a high hill and can be seen for miles. | Maria Johnson photo

Grist for the mill

This grist mill, located on Mike and Dawn Williams’ Mill Tower Ranch east of Ponoka, Alta., is estimated to have been built between 1910 and 1920 by Ole Craft. The mill, which held a big windmill on top, was used to grind grain into flour, porridge and animal feed as well as saw wood, pump water and generate electricity stored in glass batteries for Craft’s nearby home. Craft was born in Norway and moved to Alberta in 1898 after farming in Minnesota and North Dakota. | Maria Johnson photos


This grist mill, located on Mike and Dawn Williams’ Mill Tower Ranch east of Ponoka, Alta., is estimated to have been built between 1910 and 1920 by Ole Craft. The mill, which held a big windmill on top, was used to grind grain into flour, porridge and animal feed as well as saw wood, pump […] Read more


Mary Jean and Jack Mulder visit their seven-year-old Quarter Horse stallion, Rebel Laico Doc Bar, with two of their grandchildren, Eli, 1, and Annalee, 2. The weathered building behind is the remains of a house that Jack’s grandparents lived in for about a year in the mid-1960s while their new home was being built elsewhere on the property.  |  Maria Johnson photo

Adversity turns focus onto important things

On the Farm: A serious accident and loss of a job encouraged couple to pursue what they love — horses and music

LACOMBE, Alta. — People sometimes take circuitous routes to where they want to be in life. At times, they incur bumps along the road. It’s been that type of journey for Jack and Mary Jean Mulder. The couple own Hawks’ View Ranch on a quarter-section that Jack’s father and grandfather farmed. Jack and Mary Jean […] Read more

Matt Cole shrink wraps a large boat in the bright spacious shop that used to be a dairy barn.  |  Maria Johnson photo

Farm diversification takes an unusual turn

On the Farm: When grain farming wasn’t enough, this Alberta family expanded into boats, and then shrink wrappings


BENTLEY, Alta. — Ongoing uncertainty around changes to the Canadian dairy system influenced Dennis and Laurie Duncan’s decision to sell their 70 dairy cows at their third generation farm. “We sold five years ago due to the threat of losing quota to trade negotiations,” Dennis said. “Now we’re just grain.” Coulee Ridge Farms grows canola, […] Read more