Secrets of Athabasca

The Athabasca region is rich with history and interesting people. From Athabasca’s dalliance on the world pottery stage to the outdoor public pizza oven, this quirky section of the local newspaper reveals little-known stories from the Athabasca region, gleaning from current events and local folklore.

What’s Cooking in Wood Heights

Photo and story by Joel Watson, Athabasca Advocate

Slightly hidden behind a fence on the corner of Poplar Lane and Wood Heights Road you can find it standing there.

Upon first look you might think it is a nest sitting on top of a tower of circular concrete slabs, but what your really looking at it Athabasca’s very own community pizza oven.

Built in 2012, the pizza oven – or cob oven – is made mostly of material found in Athabasca: about 40 bricks from an old farm house’s fireplace, one-third a bail of hay, 80 pounds of sand, and 90 pounds of clay from the creeks and rivers in Athabasca County.


Behind the Bars

Photo and story by Joel Watson, Athabasca Advocate

Deep in the basement of the Verhaeghe Law Office, you’ll find two pieces of Athabasca’s old town office facilities.

At approximately 80 inches tall, two sets of heavy iron doors and barred windows comprise the old jail cells, still standing strong with a few names scratched on walls from former temporary guests.

“When people see them, they are amazed at how solid they are,” said Tim Verhaeghe, partner in the firm. “They also comment on how cool it is in the basement and how dark they are. They probably think that it would not have been very enjoyable to be housed there, even if only for a night or two.”


The Meanook Mysteries

Story and photo by Allendria Brunjes, Athabasca Advocate.

In a dark corner of a back room in the Athabasca Archives, you will find a synchronome clock. Under dust and fingerprints, a cylindrical pendulum hangs limply behind a glass door.

In its early days, the clock sat at the Meanook Magnetic Observatory, a timekeeper for its data collectors. Today, the clock is one of the few artifacts at the Archives from the observatory’s turbulent, internationally significant history.

It’s where Canadian meteor science was at its zenith, where the US Navy invested in Cold War research, where researchers came to study watersheds and wildfires.


These stories are just a few of many published by the Athabasca Advocate about our region. Should you have any interesting stories from the past that might make a Secrets of Athabasca feature story give their editorial department a call  780-675-9222.


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