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  • Writer's pictureKatherine Matiko

Foothills Excursion Four: Plummers Road Pastoral

Millarville General Store is located in the heart of Alberta ranch country. Fittingly, owner Tim Babey has decorated the store with antiques and photographs that reflect this heritage.

After checking out some of the decor, I am off to explore the ranching community along Plummers Road, a few kilometres northwest of Millarville.


It is a peaceful late-September evening. As I drive west along Plummers Road, I decide for some reason to turn south on Priddis Valley Road. And look who I spot enjoying a bedtime snack! This black bear will soon be hibernating—he barely looked my way when I stopped to snap this picture from my car, so intent was he on bulking up for the winter.

The foothills around Millarville have been cultivated, fenced, and populated with cattle, horses, and people for almost 150 years, yet wild animals—the original inhabitants of this land—still roam freely among us. Encountering this beautiful bear with my camera at hand is one of the highlights of my summer.


This relic on Priddis Valley Road might be the remnant of a homestead long faded from memory. The evening sun and warm fall colours help make this place feel a little less lonely.


Fences define a rural landscape. They parcel out, protect, proclaim ownership. On a night such as this, they are nothing if not photogenic.


Red barns abound on Plummers Road. The ranches and farms in this community reflect pride of ownership passed down from generation to generation. I catch this scene as the wind sprinkles thistle fluff into the barnyard. The dozing horse is immune to the spectacle.


I meet a family of friendly horses along the way. This guy, obviously leader of the pack, is first to saunter over for a little love. Sorry fella, no carrot today.

When the mare trots over to say hello, she is admonished in no uncertain terms. Stay back!

Isn’t she pretty when she pouts? Soon, a youngster appears from over the hill. What’s happening?

Adults! Can’t they get along? The teenager nudges for a carrot, shrugs, and goes on with her evening.


My journey has taken me all the way to Square Butte. The Square Butte Community Hall is a well-kept building with an imposing view of the valley and mountains to the west. I can just imagine the cowboy welcome to all who enter here.


As I head back to Millarville, I stop for a final gaze at the mountains, framed by autumnal glory.


And as the light leaves the land, the animals—many horses, perhaps a bear or two—find a safe place to dream away the long dark night.


Until next time,


photos copyright Katherine Matiko

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