Trail could be complete for summer
Turner Valley: Volunteers hope Jack Bowman interpretive project begins this season
Wednesday, Mar 15, 2017 03:58 pm
Historical facts about the area’s oil and gas industry will become part of the scenery on a Turner Valley bluff.
Volunteers are making plans to install interpretive signs, as well as benches and picnic tables, at three sites along the paved pathway on the west-facing ridge overlooking the Turner Valley Gas Plant and Sheep River valley.
It will be named the Jack Bowman Interpretive Trail, honouring former gas plant superintendent Jack Bowman, and is a collaboration between the Town of Turner Valley and the Turner Valley Oilfields Society.
“This is a great enhancement to the gas plant tours to be able to go up and look at it from a different view after you tour the plant,” said project leader Rod Mumby. “It’s a great opportunity to draw visitors to the area, to enhance the gas plant tours and also for the residential people to have another place to walk and look at the fantastic view.”
The Jack Bowman Interpretive Trail will commemorate the discovery of oil in 1914 that helped start the development of the oil and gas industry in Alberta.
The Turner Valley Gas Plant was the first petroleum processing facility west of Ontario. It operated on the banks of the Sheep River before closing in 1985 and now serves as a designated federal and provincial historic site.
Last year, more than 850 people toured the historic Turner Valley Gas Plant.
John Bowman said his father, the late Jack Bowman, served as the superintendent of the Turner Valley Gas Plant from the 1960s to 1980s. He also played an important role in the operations of the Turner Valley Golf Club, which the interpretive trail will border.
“He worked his butt off at the golf course,” said John.
“He put in spare time on weekends and days off to make sure things got done and done right at the golf course.”
John said his father was instrumental in such projects as the irrigation system and putting in new greens.
He was also an avid volunteer and member of the Royal Canadian Legion Turner Valley Branch.
“I’m glad that he’s being recognized,” he said. “There are a million things he did in this community he should be recognized for, too.”
Okotoks resident Ron McLaren spent his youth working at the Turner Valley Gas Plant. He was hired by Jack Bowman as an operator in the propane plant during summer vacations in high school and university.
McLaren is the project coordinator for the interpretive trail.
“It will be a place where people can bike through, walk through and jog through,” he said. “You can have a small picnic there or just sit and reflect and look at the beautiful view of the Rocky Mountains and learn a little bit about the Turner Valley oilfield and the Turner Valley Gas Plant.”
McLaren and other volunteers have determined it will cost about $50,000 to complete the project, including installing six interpretive plaques, purchasing four benches and three picnic tables with commemorative plaques, landscaping and installing about 65 metres of fencing along the ridge.
The plaques cost $1,700 to $6,000, depending on size, and will contain historical information about the gas plant and wells.
The benches range in price from $1,400 to $1,600 for a choice of cedar or recycled plastic and the picnic tables range from $1,800 to $2,200 for a choice of rectangle or square cedar or recycled plastic.
McLaren said donations from residents, organizations and businesses are needed to purchase the benches and picnic tables.
To complete the first phase of the project, he said they require about $20,000 to pay for fencing, a bench and a historical plaque at each site.
Two benches have already been purchased by donors, he said, and the Turner Valley Oilfield Society contributed $5,000 to purchase plaques.
That leaves about $10,000 to collect in grants and donations the next few months to get the first phase of the Jack Bowman Interpretive Trail completed this summer, McLaren said.
“We’re hoping that by May or June we would be in a position to get things going and have phase one completed by sometime this summer,” he said. “This is something additional that will really help with those tours that they run (at the gas plant) plus it will give people who don’t know the history the opportunity to get a bit of a history on the Turner Valley oilfield and the Turner Valley Gas Plant. It’s going to be a great recreation resource for that area.”
For more information or to make a donation contact Rod Mumby at 587-586-7088 or email@example.com