Once Upon a Christmas at Heritage Park

Several times this year we’ve shared progress reports on our quest to complete our geocaching “Days of the Year” grid. And in March we described GC43F3 – Brass Cap Cache, one of our all-time favourite virtual caches. On Saturday, those two things came together and we headed out on a quest to find BCP317 – the Heritage Park Replacement location for the Brass Cap Cache.

We had a few reasons for going after that particular geocache location…

  1. Somehow, we ended up with a pair of passes granting us free admission to “Once Upon a Christmas” at Heritage Park. They expired Sunday, and since we hadn’t been to Heritage Park since it was re-done a few years ago, Mrs. GeoK wanted to take advantage of them;
  2. We needed to find a geocache on Saturday to eliminate yet another big fat zero on our “Days of the Year” grid; and
  3. Our nearby Bisset Wetlands cache was in need of some owner maintenance.

So despite the chilly weather, we set out for Heritage Park late Saturday morning. The roads were clogged with vehicles with fogged up windows, transporting people determined to finish their Christmas shopping. Friday night’s skiff of snow made for treacherous corners and difficult stops, but we eventually made it safely to the expansive parking lot where we were surprised to see a lot more vehicles than we expected, given the weather (approx. -30C / -22F with windchill taken into consideration).

The new entrance to the park is quite impressive. The Canadian Pacific railway station is a beautiful stone building (housing a casual restaurant) and the old-style gas pumps lining the walk just inside the gate would make the guys on Canadian Pickers drool. A half-dozen enormous bronze animal statues stared down at us from the hillside just to the left of the walking path.

Five very large sculptures have been installed along the berm that protects the long walkway from winds coming off Glenmore Reservoir. This standing grizzly towered over me, backlit by the weak winter sun.

Five very large sculptures have been installed along the berm that protects the long walkway from winds coming off Glenmore Reservoir. This standing grizzly towered over me, backlit by the weak winter sun.

We soon veered off from the hordes of visitors making their way to the Wainwright Hotel for a buffet brunch or to the Alberta Bakery to purchase brown shopping bags full of tasty treats.

Our GPSr zero’d out a short distance south of the windmill, in a spot not very consistent with the written description of where we would find the brass survey marker. So while Mr. GeoK scoured the hint area with the handheld metal detector, Mrs. GeoK used a good, old-fashioned leg sweep to clear off the snow from the area the GPSr pointed to. She soon uncovered a likely location and Mr. GeoK came over to check it with the metal detector. The distinctive vibration suggested it was a good time to get out our hand trowel, and just a few seconds later the scratched-up cap was revealed.

Mallon Windmill

This windmill was built in 1920 by Mr. William Mallon. The mill was used to grind rye and wheat into flour and animal feed, and to saw fire wood. It was constructed entirely of local wood, including the cog wheels, mechanism, gears and nails. The grinder stones were selected from the North Saskatchewan River, chiseled and ground down by hand. The small backpack in the foreground is within a couple meters of the survey marker we wanted to photograph.

After taking the requisite photo and shutting down all our devices, we made a quick tour through the park, stopping just long enough to buy some sausage rolls and snap a few photos. Enjoy!

Wreath on the front door of the Rectory, built in 1899.

Wreath on the front door of the Rectory, built in 1899.

Santa's Mail Box

Direct postal service from Heritage Park to Santa Clause, for those children waiting to the last minute before sending their wish list to Santa.

The Conklin Lakeview Amusement Park takes visitors back to the days when amusement parks were just beginning to evolve as a form of entertainment. The amusement park at Heritage Park features a beautiful carousel and two Ferris wheels. Children can rock themselves on the one-of-a-kind Boat Swings, which originated in Czechoslovakia in the 1920s, while bigger kids can ride the German-made Dangler swings, also from the 1920s. One of the most popular rides 100 years ago was the slightly scandalous Caterpillar where young courting couples could steal a private moment away from watchful eyes under the concealing green canvas hood. Thrill seekers would flock to the Whip which, as its name suggests, whips guests around an oval-shaped track — a far cry from today’s thrilling rides!

The Conklin Lakeview Amusement Park takes visitors back to the days when amusement parks were just beginning to evolve as a form of entertainment. The amusement park at Heritage Park features a beautiful carousel and two Ferris wheels. Children can rock themselves on the one-of-a-kind Boat Swings, which originated in Czechoslovakia in the 1920s, while bigger kids can ride the German-made Dangler swings, also from the 1920s. One of the most popular rides 100 years ago was the slightly scandalous Caterpillar where young courting couples could steal a private moment away from watchful eyes under the concealing green canvas hood. Thrill seekers would flock to the Whip which, as its name suggests, whips guests around an oval shaped track — a far cry from today’s thrilling rides!

A beautiful Christmas wreath adorned every window of the impressive Prince House, built in 1894.

A beautiful Christmas wreath adorned every window of the impressive Prince House, built in 1894.

The Gasoline Alley Museum   is open all year long. A separate admission fee applies if you don't have a pass / ticket for the Historical Village. The Museum features vintage cars, gas pumps and other oil and gas-related artifacts.

The Gasoline Alley Museum is open all year long. A separate admission fee applies if you don’t have a pass / ticket for the Historical Village. The Museum features vintage cars, gas pumps and other oil and gas-related artifacts.

This illuminated eagle is the topper for an old-fashioned American Eagle gas pump on display in the lobby of the Gasoline Alley Museum.

This illuminated eagle is the topper for an old-fashioned American Eagle gas pump on display in the lobby of the Gasoline Alley Museum.

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3 thoughts on “Once Upon a Christmas at Heritage Park

  1. How lovely to take your family out and enjoy the winter beauty around you even when it’s so cold. We’re spoiled by warm weather here (+38C on 23/12 was a bit much!) but we’re still slouching around in a Christmas fog of food and drink. I’m going to go and find out some more about geocaching now…happy Christmas

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    • Mr. GeoK and one of the GeoKids would just about melt if the temperature reached +38C. I guess that’s one of the reasons we live in Alberta! I keep meaning to update our blog to include a little backgrounder on geocaching and your comment is a good reminder that I need to do so. Wishing you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

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