The cattle are lowing in the distance.
There’s not much more activity along Scollard Road, aside from the city girl poking around the neighbourhood.
Flanked by two small and very much lived-in houses, the Scollard United Church stands as a testament to another time.
Another time that remains a mystery. There’s little to no information about Scollard on the web, our efficient resource, but I’m hoping we’ll glean some learning out of a book.
A book, you say! Yes, a book. To go old school, I’ve ordered Country Roads of Alberta from Amazon and it will, hopefully, provide some historical information about some of the villages I find along the way.
In the meantime, judging by the Victorian-style architecture, the Scollard church was likely built in the early 1900s, probably the teens, when the Badlands were bustling with rail traffic.
People in Big Valley, north of here, say Scollard was as big as their town but most folks just up and left — the same way the rail did.
And they left the church as it stands today, hymnals resting in the shelves of the pews, the altar adorned with candles, The Holy Bible left open on the pulpit and a potbelly stove awaiting the spark of a fire.
I unlatch the door and step inside the foyer. It’s infested with hornet nests, pigeon poop and mice dung.
The main door to the interior is locked tight and there’s no one in the area to let me know if they have a key. I can only peer into the dust-covered window and wonder how it is we can leave behind such magnificent structures and the memories they hold … the paint blistering under the hot Prairie sun, the wood rotting from the moisture of the snow.
How many baptisms, communions, weddings and funerals took place within these walls?
And do the souls of many remain, whispering of the celebrations that may never occur again?