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Junkins

Bow River over Shaganappi area of Calgary, Alberta, ca. 1886-1889. View from present [1985] Wildwood area. The first black pioneers settled in the Wildwood area, about 85 miles west of Edmonton. Geographic and social isolation provided its own challenges, but the settlers also faced giant bullflies, swamps, and the timber that covered the area and would need to be cleared. If supplies from Edmonton were needed, the journey would take a day in either direction. So, as in other rural communities, local game, berries, and fish provided the settlers' primary source of nourishment, along with family vegetable gardens. Medical and other kinds of outside help were too far away to be utilized, but in its place the community developed its own independent and unifying institutions, beliefs, and traditions.

The Baptist church was one of the first institutions established at Junkins. Once a year, on 1 July, the congregation held an annual picnic that included not only sporting events and a dance, but also songs, plays, and recitations.

However, the isolated sort of life in Junkins meant that many of its young people left to find work elsewhere, often in Edmonton or back in the United States. There are now only a few black families still farming in the area, which is now called Wildwood.

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            For more on the history of settlement in Alberta, visit Peel’s Prairie Provinces.