A sneak peek into our wintry agenda

Ernie POOL

As we embrace these wintry months like Ernie Pool in the feature photo, delivering bread in Highlands and Beverly for McGavin’s bakery in 1931, the Highlands Historical Society would like to extend a warm invitation to our first and upcoming speaker series of 2019!

Feature Photo courtesy: City of Edmonton Archives (Photo EA-160-1451) and the Highlands Historical Society (My Heart’s in the Highlands by Ken Tingley)

Join us on Wednesday, February 27 at 7 pm in the Program Room of the Highlands Public Library with author, Ken Tingley, of “My Heart’s in the Highlands,” who will speak on “100 Years Ago. The Spanish Flu Hit the Highlands.”

Beverly Speaker

Photo Courtesy: Ted Smith, taken at our last speaker series, “Coal Mining in Highlands and Beverly” hosted by the Highlands Historical Society and Olde Town Beverly Historical Society

Ken Tingley was Edmonton’s first Historian Laureate and we have the pleasure to travel in time with him as he reveals to us the Spanish flu when it hit the Highlands 100 years ago. For those of you who have not yet had the chance to enjoy our speaker series, we look forward to meeting you!

Admission is free for members and $5 for non-members. You will have the opportunity to purchase your membership for 2019 at this speaker series. Free admission to our speaker series is just one of the many perks of being a member!

Furthermore, the Highlands Historical Society is excited to host the Highlands Pub Night on Friday, March 15, 2019! We look forward to meeting members of the community along with new and past HHS members! The theme is green as we march into an evening of Irish celebration and live music!beer

We look forward to updating you with more events planned for this year.

Stay tuned for more!



It’s A Jolly Time of Year!


Photo Credit: Johanne Yakula

This will be my final blogpost as a board member and current “web master” of the Highlands Historical Society. It’s been a fun 14 years and I’m so pleased to have met so many people that share my values around the preservation of heritage buildings and the importance of shared stories and histories. No organization does this better at a local level than the HHS.

On behalf of the board members of the HHS we wish you all  a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from our Families to yours.



AGM 2018 Report

AGM 2018 Group

(Photo credit Ted Smith)

We had an intimate setting for our 2018 AGM. Although we had to compete with the Grey Cup, and other seasonal events, there was a good turn out!

The agenda was full. Johanne served as our MC welcoming attendees and introducing Laurel Erickson, our president who shared all the highlights of the year.

What A Great Year!!

Elections saw 6 returning board members and 2 new volunteers joining the board. We look forward to introducing them to you in the New Year.


AGM Presentation

The business meeting was followed by coffee, charcuterie and sweets. Next was the James Bond Steele presentation. Board member, Bill Pick (a.k.a. James Steele), read juicy excerpts from our recently published book. Very entertaining!

Bill Pick as James Steele

( Photo credit Ted Smith)

If you missed this opportunity to renew your membership, you can still do so online at HHS Membership . You will want to renew because we have many things planned for our members for 2019. More details to come!

p.s. Do your holiday shopping at Mandolin Books in the Highlands where you can buy all of our books! See  HHS Publications for more information.

A Friendly Reminder of our AGM


It’s that time of year again – the time when we share all the exciting things that the HHS has been part of over the last year.  Come and join us on Saturday, November 24th, from 1-3 pm  at the Community League hall at 6112 113 avenue.

If you love history and are curious about what we do, please consider becoming a volunteer – even a board member! We are always looking for people who share our passion for the Highlands and it’s a great way to meet kindred spirits.

There’s no better way to learn how to be involved than by attending the Annual General meeting! See you there!

In Flanders Field, the Poppies Grow…


One of the most emotional and poignant experiences of our trip to Belgium this June was a guided tour of the town of Ypres, Menin Gate, the Passchendaele Museum and Flanders Fields… where poppies still grow.

I’m sharing several photos with you that I took on our trip of these WW1 battle sites – pictures that still move me to tears – and even more so – as Remembrance Day approaches.


This photo shows a much sanitized version of what the trenches looked like during the war. The bags you see are not original, having deteriorated long ago. These are made of cement. Imagine hundreds of men huddled here. The War Museum web site says this about the conditions in these trenches:

Rats and lice tormented the troops by day and night. Oversized rats, bloated by the food and waste of stationary armies, helped spread disease and were a constant irritant. In 1918, doctors also identified lice as the cause of trench fever, which plagued the troops with headaches, fevers, and muscle pain.”


Dug outs like this one protected men and guns from bombs – but with all the conditions mentioned above.


This is photograph of the town of Ypres taken at the end of WW1. It had been completely demolished. Some towns in Belgium were built anew, using contemporary styles and materials. Others, like Ypres were rebuilt to replace what was originally there before the war.


This shows what Ypres looks like today from the same vantage point. It was rebuilt in the ancient styles of its past. There is much information available online, and of course in books, about the various battles that took place in and around Ypres, and I have to admit to not knowing a great deal about their specific history so, rather than make a mistake I invite you to do some of your own research.


Visible for several miles from its site beside the main road from Ypres to Bruges, the impressive Canadian Memorial at St. Julien stands like a sentinel over those who died during the heroic stand of Canadians during the first gas attacks of the First World War.”


This memorial was by far, for me, the most moving of all. It towers over the countryside and the grave sites. It is called “The Brooding Soldier.”

The sculpted figure at the top of this tower of granite is the head and shoulders of a Canadian soldier in his steel helmet. His head is bowed and his hands are resting on the butt of his rifle in the position of “reversed arms”, that is, with the rifle barrel pointing down. The ceremonial custom of reversing the order of things occurs at military funerals and is believed to have been done for the first time at the funeral of the Duke of Marlborough in 1722.”


This cemetery, the Tyne Cot Cemetery, is the largest Commonwealth War Graves cemetery in the world. It is also the most important reminder of the Battle of Passchendaele from 1917, the third battle of Ypres. Canadian graves are sprinkled throughout, proudly showing the maple leaf on their headstones.


This is the plaque at the base of the statue.


A Canadian son died for his country.


This young man lied, as many did, about his age in order to do his part in defending the Commonwealth. He has the distinction of being the youngest soldier to be buried in this cemetery.


Lest we forget, young German men were killed too. Far too many were barely 18 years of age. The Nazis filled their heads with the idea of glory in dying for the Motherland. Vladslo Cemetery is one of only four First World War German cemeteries in the Flanders region. In the whole of Belgium there are 13 First and Second World War German military cemeteries.


“The Vladslo Cemetery also contains a pair of statues – The Grieving Parents – by Kathe Kollwitz, a noted German sculptress. She made the statues in the 1930s as a tribute to her youngest son, Peter, who was killed in October 1914 and is buried in the cemetery. The eyes on the father-figure gaze on the stone directly in front of him, on which Kollwitz’s son’s name is written.”

The statues were originally somewhere else and were set further apart but later were placed in this cemetery as shown. This distance between the statues signifies the parents’ separation in grief, rather than their support of each other.


And finally we visited the “hospital” (dugouts into the ground with ceilings less than 6 feet, without light) where Canadian doctor John McCrae tended to the many wounded soldiers. It was here that he wrote that famous poem, “In Flanders Field.”

When the world is in chaos, and the news is filled with stories of our inhumanity to others, it’s especially important to understand the need for compromise and peace. Nothing is made clearer than when you visit these war memorials.

I hope you enjoyed this lengthy blog and visit the sites yourself someday.