Seeking Paul Hiebert’s Carman

Sometime in the summer of 2020, Andrew and I decided to investigate Carman, and see if we could see any evidence of its famous author, Paul Hiebert, having once lived there.

We began, as faithful readers of this blog might expect, at the cemetery.

We didn’t really know where to look for his headstone, so we spent a fair bit of time wandering around, and that’s when we noticed this strange arrangement:

Why are the headstones back-to-back? Some face east, some face west. I thought all cemeteries, at least those serving largely Christian populations, always faced east, as per the rising sun, in expectation that that’s where Jesus will return, so that way they’re facing the right way at the chosen time. Have you heard of this? Every time I visit cemeteries, I think about it, and they always face east. But not in Carman I guess.

Anyway, we then DID find Paul Hiebert’s headstone, by this very lovely old evergreen.

I then directed Andrew toward some greenery and lo and behold, a pretty creek snakes its way through the heart of this nice little town. I’m very jealous of communities that have creeks winding through its middle, because the creekbed and banks stay wild as they are prone to overflowing. Its path does not get straightened. I think that’s wonderful.

This led us to a discovery — Paul Hiebert Drive!

Around the bend, we found this little plaque dedicated to the author.

If only these two authors could have met.

The plaque says: “Dr. Paul Hiebert (1892-1987) was a chemistry professor who became a nationally recognized author. He won the Stephen Leacock Award for Humour in 1947 with his first book, Sarah Binks, a Canadian bestseller. He wrote its sequel, Willows Revisited in 1967. He was one of Canada’s major humorists with his tongue-in-cheek humour that satirized prairie life & social pretension. Some of his other books include Tower in Siloam, Doubting Castle, and Not as the Scribes. He built his house on this site in the 1930s, using it as a cottage until retirement, when it became his permanent home.”

Then, we discovered King’s Park, where there is a little open air museum of sorts, with a collection of historic buildings. When I recently posted about having read Paul Hiebert’s Doubting Castle, Edward Krahn sent me a scan of an article about Paul Hiebert, written by renowned poet Di Brandt. I will forever be entranced by the idea of a young Di Brandt stumbling upon an aged Paul Hiebert here in a building at this park’s little museum — one on the cusp of her literary career, and the other nearer to the conclusion. It’s just fascinating and haunting to think of… a chance meeting, whereupon she recognized him as a famous author and struck up a conversation. This makes me think of all the other remarkable chance meetings we have, or we miss, every day.

The plaque explains that George Sexsmith built this cabin in 1875. It was donated to be moved and rebuilt here but many logs could not be saved so they used logs from the Henry Morgan log house. So, logs from two cabins. What a tiny old cabin, though! Maybe next time we visit it’ll be open and we can see inside. We will have to plan our day trips better.

Then we explored a bit more in Carman. For a little prairie town, this place has some pretty cool buildings!  I was impressed. Some might say I’m easily impressed. That’s maybe another post. I enjoy being impressed by history and whatnot. I don’t think there’s much fun to be had in not finding things interesting. End rant. (That’s a short one, for me!)

This building was built in 1896, to house the Union Bank. Today, it’s the Carman United Church.

The Carman post office was built in 1914 and has a clock tower!

The building below says “Memorial Hall” at the top, it was built in 1919. I think this is probably town hall today. (I clearly don’t know much about Carman.)

Probably only Carman-folk will know what this is below:

I once saw people talking about it on a Facebook page I follow… it’s a fascinating old place, but I can’t recall the history now. I worry it was beyond saving and may not exist anymore.

We were concluding our time in Carman but we had one last stop to make…


Syl’s Drive-In is probably one of the biggest attractions in Carman. Or, maybe it only is for those of us that really like food a lot. We sat and enjoyed our very delicious supper as the sun set on our time in Carman. We were pleased at finding more Paul Hiebert stuff than we had anticipated, and plan to return to explore a bit more, when the museum is open.

(I should explain my disheveled appearance on the feature photo — a little muddy and not smiling. We had been adventuring and had decided to make an impromptu stop in Carman so I was tired and messy. Ha.)