My Red Deer River Memories
A six-mile drive from our farm along Highway 27 east lies a deep river valley surrounded by hoodoos, sandy soil, catcti and natural grasses. A significant contrast to the rich, fertile soil atop the hill where farms thrive.
The Starland Recreation Area and campground, nestled northwest of Drumheller, is encompassed by jagged badlands with a lazy dirt road winding down to the Red Deer River. Flowing at a snail’s pace, this stretch of the river contributes to generations of our family’s memories.
My maternal grandparents, Emy and Ted Davis, stopped here in the late ’50s to let their children stretch their legs and explore, while embarking on a road trip to Drumheller. (Here are 10 more Canadian road trips worth taking.)
In June 1976, my parents Donna and Bernie (above) spent their honeymoon here, snuggled in a pup tent alongside the river. As they began welcoming children, the rocky riverbed, hoodoos and campground became a place for family day trips. (Don’t miss these 10 must-see attractions in Alberta.)
My older sister Ashley—“Ash” for short—(in red, above) loved climbing the hills, guiding me and our younger siblings Jamie and Matt with expertise, pointing out cacti, animal tracks or dangerous caverns to avoid. Occasionally, we’d bring bikes along, criss-crossing over wooden bridges and leaping over dry spring beds that wound throughout the campground.
Many afternoons were spent puddling along the banks of the river. Ash scavenged for the flattest rocks; shifting her weight, she modelled how to achieve the most skips, then carefully guided our younger sister and brother, Jamie and Matt, to a quiet pool in search of water beetles and clam shells. These treasures were later haulted home with pride.
In late July, Grandma Milan (my paternal grandma) and Mom would guide us along packed riverbank trails in search of ripe saskatoon berries. With an ice cream pail tied securely around her waist, Ash gently plucked the purple berries, stopping occasionally to pop a few in her mouth. A full bucket meant baking juicy saskatoon berry pies with Mom later.