Words by Tom Jackson. Photos by Dax Justin.

Sacred spaces, ancient places

Feeling the spirit of the Canadian Badlands through its land and its history

Bindloss, Alberta

BindlossThe Bar Diamond Ranch… where the Red Deer and the South Saskatchewan rivers meet and become one.

There is a 200-year-old sacred site here. The Blackfoot & Peigan Indians met on one side of the Red Deer and the Saulteaux and the Cree met on the other. For all the times they came to this site, they never crossed the river to meet each other.

There is an essence of the land and the people who have lived here. Ancient medicine wheels, talking stones, buffalo stones, teepee circles and cactus. There are many other sites to discover but none as unique as this.

My dear wife Alison and I walked the hallowed ground under the dry sun. In its silence, the land sounded like fresh snow beneath our feet. We stood barefoot for a moment of eternity. We cried, and knew we would never be the same.

Jim shared how his morning went watching the elk, deer, pheasants, geese, antelope, and prairie chicken pass through the beautiful meadow below and the majestic ridges above. And he shared his story of living here and being the steward of this land since 1971.

His lodge is built from logs that broke loose from a barge in 1903. To this day, you’ll find cabins lining the Red Deer River, with logs salvaged from the river. Years later, the logging company, trying to reclaim the logs were told: “Sure come and get ‘em”.

“I take care of the 3,600 acre-ranch, and she takes care of our guests and I,” he says, speaking endearingly of Carol, his wife. Married 43 years, they met as he’d just finished riding a bull in the rodeo and she, sat on the fence.

Jim says Carol has a different story but you’ll have to ask her. Carol says she is very happy having been a school teacher and principal.

Lots of spark left in the eyes of these two charmers

May 17, 2016

Pictured here is the first Antelope I've ever seen. Such a gorgeous specimen! Hern Ranch, AB #mybadlands

Red Rock Coulee Natural Area, near Medicine Hat, Alberta

Red Rock Coulee.

Some things are left behind or misplaced. To me, these were the tops of hoodoos with no bottoms. Maybe they fell out of the creator’s pocket?

Finders-keepers I say. Maybe lost, but not forgotten. Unforgettable…but you have to see it for yourself.

Dinosaur Provincial Park, Brooks, Alberta

I boldly ask strangers what draws them here, to Dinosaur Provincial Park. The statement and question are all the same: “Can’t you feel it?!” I didn’t have to wonder – I only had to wander but that said, I didn’t know for how long. This place makes you lose time and creates indelible memories. The image of the Dino is the gateway to an ancient passage in a child’s imagination. It removes the confinement of tech gadgets that preoccupy emotion. I met a man and a woman who said they came here to remember the glory of their children. What they learned from their child is this: “When you dream you can take Dino rides!”

May 29, 2016

Renegades in the Badlands! #mybadlands

When you get to where time stands still, you discover that the Hoodoos protect space by providing hard rock umbrellas of stone. The sand erodes below but does not dissolve the footprints. For many, the sand gets into their blood and removes any desire to be somewhere else.

June 6, 2016

Over time, under pressure. @instagram Dinosaur Provincial Park, Alberta, Canada #mybadlands #explorealberta

There are mighty bones of creatures that, in their day, had been tattooed by the teeth of a scavenger by balancing nature… 3 seconds in time 3 million years ago.

You can journey to the Valley of the Castles to see 35-million year old sandcastles. Sculpted by the calloused hands of grandfather time. Wander amidst the petrified parade of graveyard floats and then settle in for a romantic moment standing on the plateau in “The Valley of the Moon”.

June 13, 2016

Can't say I wasn't warned! #mybadlands

For me this was love at first sight. From a distance, the most stunning model I have ever seen – as a fool falling in love will do, I got closer. The closer I got, the more stunning she became. The closer I got, I could swear she wore no make-up – just natural beauty! There was no pretense; just the raw strength of female power.

Tom Jackson
Tom Jackson is an actor, singer, producer, activist and fundraiser. He is known for the Huron Carole, and roles on North of 60, Star Trek and Law & Order. He is a passionate advocate of Canadian food banks and disaster relief efforts, as well as an Ambassador for the Canadian Red Cross. His mantra of being in service to others is secured with his choice to engage if it’s good business, good for the world, and good for the soul.