Jack Serna’s roots in East Coulee run deep, and although the 78-year-old left the Valley to attend college as a teen, it keeps drawing him back.
Serna was surrounded by friends and residents at the East Coulee School Museum on Sunday, June 25, to unveil a recent research project he took on, the history of the place names in the valley.
A few months ago he took it upon himself to do some research into how the different communities in the valley got their name. He completed the work by using the Alberta Archives, Ernest Hlady’s book Valley of the Dinosaurs, and good ol’ word of mouth. He came up with five pages exploring place names, had them mounted and they are now on display at the East Coulee School Museum.
“I have a degree in history, so I thought rather than sitting in my chair, and I don’t have much to do in my waning years. I think of all these things to do, and this one just stuck in my head,” said Serna.
This is not the first time he has undertaken such projects celebrating the history of the valley. In 2015, he and another, Bill Nimmo unveiled a map of East Coulee from the 1940’s, which is also hanging in the School Museum.
Through his research, he learned a few things he never knew before, including the fact the Town of Drumheller now encompasses all of these communities.
While some of the place names, such as Drumheller and Nacmine were easy, others still elude him. He said he never learned where the name Wayne came from, although he said the community was initially known as Rosedeer.
He still has fond memories of growing up in East Coulee.
“My old house is still there, I left in 1957, and I go down to visit East Coulee at the Breakfast on Sundays during the summer time. A number of us go down at the end of June,” he said. “From that, these little projects come up.”