Darlene Foster's Blog

Posts Tagged ‘Prairies

I am fascinated by graveyards, always have been. The older the better. I visit them wherever I go, including Canada, the US, England, Spain, Holland and ancient sites in the United Arab Emirates and Malta. I love to wander the site and think about the individuals buried there. I don’t find them spooky, but rather peaceful, often sad and full of stories. When I was visiting my granddaughter in southern Alberta last summer we went for a drive in the prairies and discovered a well-kept, old cemetery not too far from her place. There were only about a dozen gravestones but what we found was amazing. This was the final resting place of my great-great-grandmother on my father’s side, Juliana Wegner Frisch.



We found my great-great-grandmother buried here in the Eagle Butte Little Plume Cemetery




German translation – Mother Juliana Frisch, born Wegner, born Jan 27, 1852, died Sept 17, 1927, Age 75 years, 8 months and 21 days

I have written quite a lot on this blog about my mother’s side of the family but we don’t know as much about my father’s side (Frisch) except that they were also German people who immigrated to North America from south Russia. They arrived in the late 1800s and many settled initially in the United States. My brother and my dad’s cousin have done some research and from what they discovered, Johann Frisch and his wife Juliana Wegner were both born in south Russia in an area what was, at the time, called Bessarabia.  They emigrated from Hamburg, Germany on April 20, 1898, arriving in New York on May 6, 1898, on a ship named “S.S.Scotia.”  With them were all seven of their surviving children, including my great-grandparents, John Frisch and Sophie (Schlect), who had already met and married in Russia. Johann and Juliana homesteaded in southern Alberta and later moved into the town of Irvine to set up a livery stable business and later a mail delivery business.

After retiring to the city of Medicine Hat, they split up in 1917.  Julianna lived the remainder of her life with her daughters until she passed away in 1927. Johann moved to the US where he passed away in 1928 on a “poor farm” in Portland, Oregon where he is buried. I can´t help but wonder why they went their separate ways.


It was an awesome feeling to be there, at the place where my roots in Canada began. But even more amazing was the reaction of my seven-year-old great-granddaughter who was totally aware of the significance of the place. She was very serious and solemn and asked good questions. This woman was eight generations from her and resting only ten miles from where she lived!

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Standing beside the grave of her 5 times great-grandmother and feeling emotional

All the graves, although old, were in good repair. Apparently, other members of the family are buried there as well, some without gravestones.





Always sad to see a baby’s grave.

There was a church nearby and I assume the congregation must look after the graveyard.


And in amongst the dry grass, I found little flowers blooming and it made me think of how life is created and carries on no matter what. How a woman with seven children arrived in a new country, thrived and is responsible for so many descendants. I looked at my great-granddaughter and thought of how her legacy lives on.DSCN0193

The only picture of Juliana I could find was in the Frisch Family Tree book, painstakingly compiled by my dad’s cousin, Reuben Frisch. In the book, nine generations are documented and 1153 people listed (including spouses). In the front cover he wrote,  Thanks to these two people, Johann Frisch and Juliana Wegner who came to Canada, with their children, we get to live the good life.


Thank you, Juliana Frisch. May you rest in peace.


It is hard to miss this towering edifice as you drive through Medicine Hat, Alberta on the Trans-Canada Highway. Medicine Hat is my home town and I have driven past this landmark many times. This summer my trusty assistant, (also known as my 12 year-old grandson) and I decided to drive up to the Tepee and have a better look. I have no idea why I had not done this much sooner.


Originally constructed for the Calgary 1988 Winter Olympics, the Saamis Tepee is a tribute to Canada’s native heritage. The colours of the structure are symbolic, white for purity, red for the rising and setting sun and blue for the flowing river. There are ten round story-boards built into the tepee depicting native culture and history. It is the World’s Tallest Teepee standing over 20 stories high, weighing 200 tonnes and capable of withstanding 150 mph winds. It was brought to Medicine Hat by local businessman Rick Filanti in 1991.


We were both fascinated by the storyboards inside the Tepee, all hand painted by various First Nations and Metis artists.


This one, The Legend: How Medicine Hat Got Its Name, by Joseph Hind Bull, depicts one of the legends of how Medicine Hat got its name,


This one, called Circle of Unity-Multiculturalism by Nona Foster. portrays the different races  by different coloured hands.


This one called, The Plains Indians, by Manybears, shows the relationship between man and nature’s survival.


This storyboard represents Treaty 7, signed at Blackfoot Crossing in 1877, painted by Henry Standingalone.


The storyboard on the left, The Blackfoot Confederacy, by Henry Standingalone, and the one of the right, Plains Cree Way of Life, by Nona Foster, depict the two major groups that populated the area and the things that were important to each.

Each storyboard comes with a detailed interpretation by the artist and represents a variety of influences and history of the First Nations heritage.

There was something magical about standing inside the large Tepee on a hot, sunny, prairie day. It made me realize what a rich cultural heritage my country has. I used to think of it as a young country with not much history. I realize how wrong I was.



It has been 24 years since I left the Canadian prairies for the west coast of BC. I try to get back once or twice a year to visit my Mom, my son and his family and many old friends. My daughter and I made a visit to our home town of Medicine Hat, Alberta at the beginning of July. It is not often that I get to be with both my kids at the same time.  Here are a few highlights of the trip.

Sister and brother visiting around the fire.

Sister and brother visiting around the fire.


Grandson playing a giant game of chess near the library

Grandson playing a giant game of chess near the library

With Grandson at the HooDoos near Drumheller

With Grandson at the HooDoos near Drumheller

Visiting the scary dinosaurs at Tryrroll Museum

Visiting the scary dinosaurs at Tyrroll Museum


Aunty and nephew at the Pioneer Village

Aunty and nephew at the Pioneer Village


Mom with her great great granddaughter

Mom with her great great granddaughter

Son with his grandchildren

Son with his grandchildren




Medicine Hat, home of the world's largest TeePee

Medicine Hat, home of the world’s largest TeePee

Watch for more about this trip and the adventures I had with my twelve year old grandson later.







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