By Jamie Rieger
A number of years ago I wrote an article about the homestead built by one of my great-great grandfather that is still standing in the Cypress Hills area. Around the same time, some family members had the old home declared a provincial historical site.
I have always had an interest in learning more about my roots, particularly about the descendents before their arrival to southeast Alberta and along the Saskatchewan border (the Northwest Territories then).
While I don’t have time these days to be doing any research, my brother has and has discovered information and documents dating back to the 1600s, at least for one branch of my family tree. It is fascinating to read about these old trailblazers as they landed at Ellis Island (some of them) and the ships that carried them across the ocean. Also interesting was how many settled in North and South Dakota before coming to Canada.
Last weekend, my brother took our mother to some of the old cemeteries in the Cypress Hills and found many gravesites of family. Man, I wish I could have been with them for that day trip!
Along the way, they stopped at the old homestead still standing at the south slopes of the Hills and found it to be in need of repair. While over the years, the home had been boarded up and tended to to preserve its historical significance, somebody has been going in and taking some of the old boards for whatever reason. I presume it is going to people for crafting their works of art out of old lumber. At one time, it was only treasure-seekers we had to worry about. (Any artifacts would have been removed many years ago!)
When I heard about this, it bothered me a lot. It is one thing to take old pieces of wood, but to remove planks from a homestead that is a designated historical site is absolutely wrong and I don’t care how badly you need the wood to build your picture frames.
If you had taken the time to learn about the structure you were pulling apart, you would have learned it was over a century old and its historical status. Mind you, that would have required you to actually ask the property owner for permission first. Something else you likely did not do.
What you did was stealing and disfiguring a historical site. Just because it was done in the name of art does not make it okay.
Repairing the old home will take some doing and it will lose its historical integrity as soon as boards that are not the original are nailed on the frame.
So, you may now have your boards for your artwork, but a little piece of history is being lost. If you would ask any farmer out there, I am sure they would have had some old boards laying around that they would have given you or sold to you for a minimal cost.
Instead, you have chosen to be a thief and a vandal and this girl is not happy about it.