Photography by Royce Howland


Away For the Winter

Peace Country is dotted with the remnants of old farms and homesteads. As I drove along a country road near Fairview, getting on towards sundown, I came across a wide field presided over by an old log structure. Part of a sign still hangs above the entry, but all I can read on it is “THE”. Was this the home of a farming family decades ago? Whoever they were, they’ve definitely left the north prairie winter behind. Copyright © Royce Howland. All rights reserved.

Twilight of the Off-Season

As evening turns to night, stars begin to emerge in a clear sky over the Prince of Wales Hotel at Waterton. The off-season hasn't yet ended, so there's hardly anybody in town; none at all are staying at this hotel since it closes for the winter season. Tonight, even the characteristic wind gusts are absent, so everything is quiet and still. I take advantage of the unoccupied state of the hotel to light it with a powerful flashlight, revealing the classic details of its wooden construction, wrapped in the deepening dark. Soon the off-season will be over, and this place will be busy, full, and bright once more. Copyright © Royce Howland. All rights reserved.

Racy Little Number 4

You find interesting things, driving around country roads. On a blustery spring day, not far from Pincher Creek, I came across this antique manure spreader from the Cockshutt Plow Company. I don’t know the top speed of this model #4, but brightly painted in something like the original color scheme, it looks like a Hot Wheels take on old farm equipment. I had to smile & laugh, and gave the photograph a racy angle. Copyright © Royce Howland. All rights reserved.

Old Prairie Church & Storm Front

Lamont County, east of Edmonton, apparently has one of the highest densities of churches in North America. And not just any churches, but some of the most amazing examples of previous century western prairie architecture. One stormy spring day, I made a special trip with my wife to see this one, found near the small town of Mundare. Built in 1924, now closed and falling into disrepair, this is the Transfiguration of our Lord Ukrainian Catholic Church, also referred to as Spaca Moskalyk. It’s a fading but still beautiful example of Byzantine-styled, metal-clad wood construction. Built on land of the Moskalyk family who settled here, presumably in the late 1800’s, it replaced a previous chapel built in 1904 which subsequently burned down. Looking at the church decades later, as it sat bathed in sunlight breaking through overhead storm clouds, I could clearly appreciate the skill and care which the early Ukrainian pioneers dedicated to the creation of their prairie community’s place of worship. At the same time there was a bittersweet feeling at the sense of silence & end of purpose enwrapping this place now. Copyright © Royce Howland. All rights reserved.

Til the Cows Come Home

East of Medicine Hat and north of the Cypress Hills, the prairies of Alberta seem to stretch as far as the eye can see. But this is anything but empty country. Threads of human presence crisscross the land… roads, rail tracks, fence lines, power poles. It’s ranching country, so trails mark the passage of livestock across the range. Overhead, wind pushes cloud streamers and storm fronts, while the grasslands below are textured by swatches of vegetation and the occasional line of trees along some stream. This is a big space… but not an empty one. I could happily explore it until the cows come home. Copyright © Royce Howland. All rights reserved.

Til the Cows Come Home

East of Medicine Hat and north of the Cypress Hills, the prairies of Alberta seem to stretch as far as the eye can see. But this is anything but empty country. Threads of human presence crisscross the land… roads, rail tracks, fence lines, power poles. It’s ranching country, so trails mark the passage of livestock across the range. Overhead, wind pushes cloud streamers and storm fronts, while the grasslands below are textured by swatches of vegetation and the occasional line of trees along some stream. This is a big space… but not an empty one. I could happily explore it until the cows come home. Copyright © Royce Howland. All rights reserved.

Withstand the Winds of Time

With over 500 windmills at one point, Barbados had the second highest density of windmills per mile of all countries, following only Holland. The trade winds that reliably swept over the island made wind power a natural source of energy, and a foundation of the sugar industry from the late 1600's onward. Wind-powered mills crushed the sugar cane harvested nearby on each plantation. Now, only a single functioning windmill remains on the island; most are essentially gone. But in places one can still find a tower base, its limestone blocks still withstanding both weather and the winds of time. Copyright © Royce Howland. All rights reserved.

Withstand the Winds of Time, Barbados

With over 500 windmills at one point, Barbados had the second highest density of windmills per mile of all countries, following only Holland. The trade winds that reliably swept over the island made wind power a natural source of energy, and a foundation of the sugar industry from the late 1600's onward. Wind-powered mills crushed the sugar cane harvested nearby on each plantation. Now, only a single functioning windmill remains on the island; most are essentially gone. But in places one can still find a tower base, its limestone blocks still withstanding both weather and the winds of time. Copyright © Royce Howland. All rights reserved.

Waves Breaking Over the Prairies

I believe that, out on the prairies, cloudy skies are like our ocean. The atmosphere is full of air currents and other forces, and they interact visibly with clouds to produce an ever-changing and often-fascinating display. The call of prairie skies to me may be understandable in that way to those who love coastal views. The ocean analogy seemed highly appropriate one breezy summer day as I came across this formation of clouds in a standing wave pattern. All that was missing was the crash of surf on a rocky shore to complete the illusion. Copyright © Royce Howland. All rights reserved.