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Author: Somya Lohia

Front page of June 26, 2024, issue of Shootin' the Breeze — Jasper and Jameson Patrick, dressed in Indigenous grass dance regalia, carry a yellow flage with red Napi Friendship Association logo and orange Every Child Matters flag, open Indigenous Peoples Day powwow at Kootenai Brown Pioneer Village in Pincher Creek.

Shootin’ the Breeze – June 26, 2024

There are great celebrations and activities planned for Canada Day in Pincher Creek and Crowsnest Pass — get the scoop on page 12!

This week’s headlines:

Pincher Creek honours Indigenous Peoples Day with community at the heart

Demonstrating cultural pride

Walk and powwow honour Indigenous culture and heritage

Teens successfully complete Fire Academy

Crowsnest council to curb corner visibility obstructions

Editorial: Jaunty Journo Jargon

Local Co-op gets a new look, continues to invest in community

Opinion: Town of Pincher Creek ARO responsibilities

Opinion: Bully for the blackbirds: inspiration from nature

Naheed Nenshi elected new NDP leader

Marigolds and sunflowers, Part II

Thank you, Crowsnest Pass Medical Clinic

The life and times of frontiersman Charles Vent

Tim Isberg to kick off Fort Macleod’s 150th

Obituary: Melvin Toews

Obituary: Rocky Blakeman

Plus local events, contests, concerts, community notices, job opportunities, service directory, Coffee Break puzzles and general information for Pincher Creek, Crowsnest Pass and Piikani Nation.

Snodgrass Funeral Home organizes annual flower barrel competition to encourage community engagement.

Snodgrass kicks off annual flower barrel contest with dogs as special guests

As summer begins, Snodgrass Funeral Home has begun the third edition of its annual flower barrel competition. “This was actually a brainchild of Jamie Judd, our business manager. He started this competition three years ago,” explains funeral director Grace Kastelic. “We place flower barrels outside our funeral home and invite local non-profits and businesses to participate. We cover the cost of the flowers, which are generously supplied by the Blue Mouse Greenhouse, and the groups plant the flowers in the barrels.”

The goal of the competition is to encourage community engagement. “We wanted to show that the funeral home does not have to be a daunting place,” Grace says. “It is a way to build relationships with local businesses and bring people together.”

To encourage more participation, organizers have made the voting process more accessible by inviting people to vote in person, by phone, or online via the Snodgrass Facebook page.

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Visitors can head down to 1101 Main St. to admire the planters and cast their votes. In-person voting gives participants two entries into a draw for a chance to win their favourite planter, while online and phone votes grant one entry.

“This year, we are running the survey through an online link, which has definitely boosted engagement. Social media has made it easier for people to vote and spread the word,” Grace says.


Also read | Heritage Acres Victory Garden grows hope for another year


At the end of the month, a lucky winner is drawn, and they get to take home the planter of their choice. 

“We will deliver that to their location so that they can enjoy the flowers for the rest of the summer,” she says.

The planter with the most votes earns its creators a special prize, adding a bit of friendly competition to the event.

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To add a special touch to the contest in its third year, the funeral home has collaborated with Pincher Creek Humane Society. 

“We had some of their people bring out dogs for photo ops with our planters,” Grace says. “These photos were used in our promotional materials and have been popular on social media.”

So far about 50 people have voted in the contest.

The event has not only brightened up the town but also fostered a sense of camaraderie. 

“There’s always a bit of friendly competition,” Grace says. “People want to see their favourite planter win, which brings out a fun and competitive spirit.”

Ace of spades card on ad for Chase the Ace at the Pincher Creek Legion

As June progresses, staff at Snodgrass Funeral Home are actively promoting the event — from the flyers on community bulletin boards to regular updates on social media to keep the momentum going.

For those unable to visit in person, the phone and online voting options offer convenient ways to participate.

The contest’s charm lies in its simplicity and the joy it brings. It is more than just a competition, it is a reminder to everyone that beauty can indeed grow in the most unexpected places.

Farley Wuth, a moustached man wearing a bowler hat, shows an historic image.

Pioneers with business and homesteading origins

Pincher Creek’s historical landscape is dotted with an array of early pioneers and their contributions, many in the commercial and agricultural realms. Here are a couple of their stories. 

Marion Millar Kew

Early businesswoman and community activist Marion Kew had pioneer roots in both Pincher Creek and Stavely. Her maiden name was Millar, and she was born in Merrickville, Ont., in the late 1890s. She was one of three children, two daughters and one son, born to Mr. and Mrs. William Millar.

Her brother, Harry, resided in Ontario all his life but the two sisters wandered west. The first to arrive in Pincher Creek was her older sister, who married Dr. J.J. Gillespie, a medical doctor who set up shop here. They resided in the former Schofield Family home on what was then Bridge Avenue.

Upon the passing of Marion’s mother, just prior to the outbreak of the First World War, William Millar and his second daughter moved out to Pincher Creek, where they resided with the Gillespies.

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Marion Millar quickly became involved in Pincher Creek’s social life. She took an active interest in both the Alexandra Rebekah Lodge No. 8 of the Oddfellows and the Capt. McPhail Chapter of the Imperial Order of the Daughters of the Empire.

She also was a local captain of the Girl Guides and sang regularly in the Pincher Creek United Church choir.

A big change in her life came in early 1926 when accepted a job offer as manager of the James H. Brand store in Stavely. A few months later, on Sept. 16, Marion Millar and Wilson L. Kew were united in marriage. Kew was the editor of the Stavely Advertiser, that community’s weekly newspaper.


Also read | Pioneer doctor Edward Connor began career in Pincher Creek


She continued to be active in her new home town and transferred her Rebekah membership to that community.

Marion Kew took ill and passed away in June 1934.

Archie and Jessie McKerricher

Archie and Jessie McKerricher had a long commercial history with Pincher Creek, but their original connection with the area was agricultural.

Archie Douglas McKerricher was born in Plantagenet, Ont., in January 1878. He was the fifth of seven children — three sons and four daughters — born to Daniel and Annie Stuart McKerricher. Archie was raised in nearby London, where he went to school.

His wife, the former Jessie Florence McColl, was born in nearby Glanworth, Ont., on April 11, 1879. The couple married in 1906 and were blessed with three children.


Also read | Frontier chronicles of the Fugina family


Their daughter Annie was born in September 1907 here in the Pincher Creek area. As an adult, she became Mrs. S. Holden of Calgary.

Son Duncan was born just over three years later, in October 1910. Years later, he resided in Devon, Alta.

Their youngest child, Lexie, passed away on Oct. 1, 1915, at the age of 20 months.

By the late 1960s, there were four grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren in the McKerricher family.

Archie McKerricher had moved to the West in 1902, first establishing a homestead in the Chipman Creek district. It was located five miles east of Pincher Creek and immediately west of the Piikani First Nation reserve. He farmed there for a full decade.

In 1912, the McKerricher family moved into Pincher Creek, where Archie began a career working for local businesses. His first posting was at the Fraser-McRoberts Store, which as of 1916 was housed in a two-storey brick structure at the corner of Main Street and Police Avenue.

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Later he worked for the Betterway Store, located in the late 1940s in the old Scott Block on the south side of Main Street. The business was later re-established in a building east of the Oddfellows Block.

He retired from work in 1952.

Both Archie and Jessie McKerricher were active in the Pincher Creek Baptist Church. Jessie had received her teacher’s training at normal school in London, Ont., and taught school before coming out to the Pincher Creek area. She combined her church and education interests by teaching Sunday school here.

Jessie was a member of the Alexandra Rebekah Lodge, while Archie was active in the Oddfellows.

Archie McKerricher passed away on Jan. 21, 1967. Jessie followed on Aug. 30, 1969. Both were aged 90 and were buried in Pincher Creek’s Fairview Cemetery.

Councillor Sahra Nodge, left, spoke with residents about taxes and assessments.

Pincher Creek council hosts open house, connecting with residents on top-of-mind issues

Pincher Creek town council hosted its first open house of the year on June 12. According to Mayor Don Anderberg, the town sought to connect with residents on a variety of topics by having each councillor speak to the public at a different station.

The event also highlighted the new Clean Energy Improvement Plan, launched roughly a month ago. This plan provides a low-interest loan to any resident looking to make improvements to their home to increase energy efficiency or sustainability.

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This open house also launched a survey that allows residents to offer feedback on how the town communicates information. The survey can be found online at and is open until June 28.


Councillor Sahra Nodge, left, speaks with a resident. | Photo by Mia Parker
Councillor Sahra Nodge, left, speaks with a resident. | Photo by Mia Parker


Councillor Sarah Nodge, left, spoke with residents about taxes and assessments, explaining how mill rates are calculated, the town’s revenue sources, and how that revenue is invested into the community.

Nodge says one recurring concern raised at her station was franchise fees, which are at a maximum in Pincher Creek.


Councillor David Green with Pincher Creek Community Early Learning Centre board chairwoman Christy Gustavison, left, and secretary-treasurer Caitlin McKenzie.
Councillor David Green with Pincher Creek Community Early Learning Centre board chairwoman Christy Gustavison, left, and secretary-treasurer Caitlin McKenzie. | Photo by Mia Parker


Councillor David Green spoke about daycare with Pincher Creek Community Early Learning Centre board chairwoman Christy Gustavison, left, and secretary-treasurer Caitlin McKenzie.

Most questions about daycare were related to the Sage facility, which shut down for a few months due to insufficient staffing, but reopened recently. Gustavison says most community feedback was very positive, with residents wondering how Sage is doing now.

The three were happy to share the news that Sage is thriving, though they continue to look for more staff.


Councillor Brian Wright, left, and recreation manager Adam Grose.
Councillor Brian Wright, left, and recreation manager Adam Grose. | Photo by Mia Parker


Councillor Brian Wright, left, and recreation manager Adam Grose talked to the community about recreation, upcoming events and programs. They heard questions from residents about plans for the new curling facility, as well as questions about how the hockey rink can be used for more opportunities.


Councillor Wayne Oliver and fire Chief Pat Neumann talked to citizens about emergency services. Many residents were curious about plans for the new fire hall, for which land has been purchased near the RCMP detachment on Hunter Street, north of Highway 6.
Councillor Wayne Oliver and fire Chief Pat Neumann talk to citizens about emergency services. | Photo by Mia Parker


Councillor Wayne Oliver and fire Chief Pat Neumann talked to citizens about emergency services. Many residents were curious about plans for the new fire hall, for which land has been purchased near the RCMP detachment on Hunter Street, north of Highway 6.


From left are Councillor Garry Cleland, town CAO Konrad Dunbar, Mayor Don Anderberg and Councillor Mark Barber.
From left are Councillor Garry Cleland, town CAO Konrad Dunbar, Mayor Don Anderberg and Councillor Mark Barber. | Photo by Mia Parker


Councillor Garry Cleland spoke to the community about housing and development. Many were curious about residential developments. Cleland anticipates seeing 50 new rental units in the next three years.

CAO Konrad Dunbar and Mayor Don Anderberg walked around the event, fielding general questions. Anderberg says this event was important as a way to answer questions directly, since “most people come because they don’t have info.”

Councillor Mark Barber spoke about operations, including the winter survey results on snow-and-ice management. The survey found that while a slight majority were satisfied with snow removal on priority one roads, few were satisfied with removal on residential streets.

Complete snow removal, unimpeded by another snow event, takes operations about 72 hours. While many survey respondents would like to see greater efficiency, only 18 per cent would support raising taxes to improve these services.

PCWESA president Nicole Buret giving her opening remarks during the annual general meeting.

Pincher Creek women’s shelter highlights donations and strategic growth at Annual General Meeting

The Pincher Creek Women’s Emergency Shelter Association held its annual general meeting June 12, marking another year of dedicated service and support for women and children facing domestic violence. During the event, board members and employees reviewed the past year’s accomplishments and celebrated a substantial increase in donations from the community.

Executive assistant Lisa Dupuis highlighted in her report that the shelter received donations of $36,949.37 in the year 2023-24. This was a notable increase from the $13,312.62 in donations reported in 2022-23. “Throughout the year we require funds to cover budgetary items that the (provincial) ministry, our main funder, does not fund. This year we were extremely fortunate to receive unsolicited individual and business cash donations of $36,949.37,” Dupuis noted. “We received cash donations from over 86 donors. We are fortunate to have such wonderful donors supporting us year in and out.” 

Dupuis thanked community members and businesses for contributing food, household items, personal-care items and toys to the shelter throughout the year.

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In her opening remarks, board president Nicole Buret expressed deep gratitude to the pioneers who established the shelter in 1997 and to all those who have continued to support and operate it over the years, providing a safe place for women and children fleeing violence.

“Thank you to every one of you, for your dedication and your generous time giving to a cause that, unfortunately, is still very much in the forefront of our basic human needs,” Buret said.

“We have started to create a strategic plan, which will need to be completed within the next year, and revised or updated every year following,” she said.


Also read | Sage reopens, emphasizing the importance of child care


Buret also mentioned the annual review of bylaws and policies to ensure the shelter remains effective and responsive to the needs of its clients.

Executive director Lori Van Ee highlighted the organization’s achievements over the past fiscal year, noting it had served 85 women and 69 children in the residential program.

She also addressed several challenges faced by the shelter. 

“As an organization, we have encountered significant challenges this year, particularly in supporting women struggling with addictions and mental health issues. Additionally, many women have had to stay longer than the typical 21 days due to the lack of affordable housing,” she said.

Pig roast at wedding venue — the Cowley Lions Campground Stockade near Pincher Creek in southwestern Alberta.

“We have also worked with clients to gain immigration status, which can take extended lengths of time. While waiting to attain status in Canada, these women are unable to find housing or attain financial assistance.”

Van Ee further highlighted the successes of the outreach program, which served 39 women and 55 children over the past year. 

“The purpose of the outreach program is to provide support for women and children who are survivors of domestic violence,” she said.

She noted that it offers education, transportation to medical appointments, referrals, emotional support, basic counselling and advocacy for clients. It meets clients where they are in their lives and assists in empowering positive change.

The program typically runs for six months but can be extended depending on client needs, recognizing the complex challenges faced by individuals experiencing domestic violence, she added.

PCWESA past-president Elizabeth Dolman honoured secretary Bonita Bourlon, who is serving her final year with the association. Members expressed their gratitude for Bourlon’s dedicated service.

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The AGM also celebrated the extension of Stephanie Collins as director for another two years, and the nomination of Daniel Pard as vice-president, highlighting the continuity of strong leadership within the organization.

Jim Welsch, the new MD of Pincher Creek councillor, takes his seat at the table, representing District 4, his born-and-raised home.

Meet Jim Welsch, the new MD of Pincher Creek councillor

On May 2, the Municipal District of Pincher Creek welcomed a new councillor, Jim Welsch, for Division 4. Taking over a seat previously held by Harold Hollingshead, Welsch was the sole candidate at the close of the nomination period and took his oath of office at a special meeting on May 7.

“I lived in my division my entire life, and it’s just an opportunity to give back a little bit,” says Welsch.

Welsch has been involved in the municipal planning committee for six years, including time as chair, and presently chairs the Chief Mountain Gas Co-op board. He has also been chair of the 4-H beef committee, president of Porcupine Hills Stock Association and a member of the youth justice committee and the Community Auction Sales Association.

“All the boards and committees I’ve been on are kind of like a prerequisite for this councillor job,” he says. “You learn so much from that, and you can bring all that to this position.”

Table setting of wedding venue — the Cowley Lions Campground Stockade near Pincher Creek in southwestern Alberta.

Priorities emphasized in his campaign include road maintenance, more comprehensive law enforcement and vigilance to combat rural crime, and better coordination of firefighting with protection against undue cost for ratepayers.

He also stresses the importance of water with developing drought conditions, and the importance of renewable energy projects being done in a balanced manner.


Also read | MD to apply for funding for drought preparedness


Though Welsch has run for MD council before, he attributes the success of this byelection to campaigning more and connecting with people more. 

“I thought I knew everyone in my division. I lived there my entire life, but I was in for a big surprise,” he says. “There were a lot of people that I didn’t know.”

Welsch campaigned at about 60 houses and found the process very interesting.

“They appreciate the time and effort it takes to come and talk to them, and I think they reflect that on election day,” he says. 

Since joining council, Welsch has felt embraced by the environment and appreciates the work they do together. 

“Everyone’s been so warm and welcoming, the council and staff alike,” he says. “I’ve received a very warm welcome and I’m very appreciative for that.”

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As a born-and-raised District 4 resident, Welsch comes to council with deep roots in the community and stakes in local and agricultural issues. 

“I love my job as a rancher and I like everything that goes along with it,” he says. “All the people and the whole big picture.”

According to Health Canada, Paxlovid stops the Covid-19 virus from multiplying.

Health Canada ends Paxlovid coverage, Albertans to pay over $1.4K per treatment

During the Covid-19 pandemic, Paxlovid, a drug for immunocompromised individuals diagnosed with Covid, was covered by Health Canada on an emergency basis.  While private insurance may cover some of the cost, Albertans could now have to pay around $1,450 for the five-day supply of the drug, according to Alberta Health and confirmed by Pincher Creek Pharmasave.   As of the end of May, the Public Health Agency of Canada has discontinued coverage, now making the drug a provincial responsibility. 

Health and pharmaceutical care in Canada is a joint venture between federal and provincial levels, with federal agenda setting and provincial implementation. 

The Government of Alberta will cover the cost of Paxlovid for Albertans who have a government-sponsored drug plan, are immunocompromised and Covid-positive, according to a media response from Andrea Smith, Alberta Health’s press secretary.

Aerial view of the Cowley Lions Campground on the Castle River in southwestern Alberta

The coverage is listed by Alberta Blue Cross as restricted benefit with special authorization, meaning provincial plans for seniors would cap the patient’s cost at $25, with plans like income support and child and adult health benefits still seeing full coverage.

Some employer-sponsored plans may provide partial coverage, but depending on co-pay could still see patients paying large amounts for the treatment.

According to Andrea Smith, pharmacists were only notified of this change on May 24, and physicians on May 30. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a person’s immune response to having Covid can protect them from reinfection for several months, but protection decreases over time. 

Those with weak immune systems may have a limited immune response or none at all. This can result in hospitalization due to severe illness, and even death.

New variants can bypass existing immunity and increase infection risk.

Although rare, reinfection can occur as early as several weeks after a bout with the virus.

Pincher Creek resident Shannon Peace is recovering from her third run-in with Covid. The first was in 2022, while the latter were contracted in March and May of this year.

With her immunity weakened by a daily dose of a chemotherapy drug that treats a rare blood disorder, Peace has done what she can to avoid contracting the virus since the onset of the pandemic. Asthma is a further complicating factor for her.

In 2022, she was treated with Paxlovid at the onset of symptoms.

According to Health Canada, Paxlovid — brand name for a combination of  nirmatrelvir and ritonavir — stops the virus from multiplying. Once treatment begins, a patient’s symptoms should not get worse as the drugs help the body fight the viral infection.

Paxlovid treatment was relatively new at the time and Peace was advised not to take any pain relievers or decongestants. She felt miserable for about two weeks but believes it would have been worse without the drug.

Fast-forward to the spring of 2024 when fever and chills knocked Peace out of commission and a home test was positive for Covid.

“My daughter reminded me that it was a rough go the first time so I consulted with 811 a number of times before choosing to forego a trip to the ER requesting treatment,” Peace says.

“I monitored my oxygen level and temperature, and promised the RNs I spoke with to go in if I went past certain thresholds.”

She wound up spending three full weeks in bed, sleeping up to 20 hours a day. Symptoms gradually subsided but fatigue and some breathing changes persisted.

“It was a complete shock to test positive again only two months later,” she says. “I hadn’t fully recovered yet when I got sick again in May.”

After conferring with 811 and her local physician, Peace was referred to the Covid Treatment Centre.

“At each step of the consultation, it was stressed that I would be responsible to pay for the Paxlovid prescription and to confirm with the pharmacist what that amount would be,” Peace says. “This was the first I heard that the drug was no longer being covered by Alberta Health.”

Fortunately, the prescription was filled the day before the change came into effect so there was no charge for the medication.

“While it was awful and I was still slow to recover, it was night and day compared to what I went through in March,” she says. “The medication absolutely makes a difference for me.”

Peace contacted pharmacist Amber Shepherd at Pincher Creek Pharmasave to find out what the medication would have cost and was astonished to learn that the five-day treatment would be more than $1,400 the next time it is needed.

“Amber was great with getting things looked after for me when it came to filling the prescription and helpful in providing a look at what will happen the next time I catch Covid,” Peace says.

“She ran a test with my group insurance, which is through the Alberta Chambers of Commerce, and was able to tell me that half of the amount will be covered.

“This will leave me with a big decision if I get sick again — do I forego treatment or fork out more than $700? That’s a tough question,” she says.

“What happens when we don’t have the option to afford treatment?”

This is a concern for her and for others, especially as there has been no public notification of the change.

Shepherd has not yet seen new prescriptions after the change in coverage, but worries about what this will mean for local patients.

“If they’re not covered it’s a big impact because you have to decide between eating and whether or not you get the medication,” she says.

“It’s certainly going to make people think twice about accessing the medication and potentially going without to make sure they can still live, basically.”

Shepherd encourages anyone with questions or concerns about coverage to reach out to any pharmacy to confirm accessibility of the drug to them.

“It’s just going to be a case-by-case basis,” Shepherd says. 

Peace acknowledges that the Covid-19 pandemic has had a hefty price tag for everyone but is concerned that the cost of treatment skyrocketing for those who are immunocompromised will have a different expense in terms of severe outcomes.

For more information about Covid-19 outpatient treatment with updated eligibility criteria for Paxlovid, visit

Filipino community in Pincher Creek celebrating Philippines Independence Day

Filipino community celebrates Philippines Independence Day in Pincher Creek

The Filipino community in Pincher Creek and surrounding areas came together to celebrate the 126th anniversary of Philippines independence on Saturday.

The first Philippines Independence Day Heritage Festival was organized by local Filipino residents to commemorate the country’s independence from Spain on June 12, 1898. The inaugural event drew attendees from nearby communities including Fort Macleod, Crowsnest Pass, Lethbridge and even Calgary.

“It’s an annual celebration of our freedom and independence as a nation,” says John Lazo, one of the organizers. “We want to extend the culture and values of Filipinos by sharing it through food, fun and different festivities.”

The event was attended by distinguished guests, including representatives from the Philippines consulate and other Filipino associations. The town’s mayor, Don Anderberg, also attended.

The festival began at 9 a.m. in Town Hall Park and continued until the evening. It featured traditional Filipino dances and songs that highlighted the unity and cultural richness of the Filipino people.

“We started off with a mini volleyball tournament to bridge the gap between Filipinos and non-Filipinos,” says Lazo. 

He notes there are about 200 officially registered Filipinos in Pincher Creek, but the actual number, including unregistered residents, workers and students, likely exceeds that figure.


Also read | Snodgrass kicks off annual flower barrel contest


He expresses gratitude for support from the Town of Pincher Creek and local businesses for helping in organizing the event successfully. 

“The Town of Pincher Creek has been very supportive, especially the recreation office, which provided us free access to their facilities,” he says. “We had two weeks to prepare for this. It was a last-minute thing, but we managed to get the word out.”

The success of the event has set a precedent for future celebrations as the organizers are planning to continue it as an annual event.

“This is the first and for sure it won’t be the last,” Lazo says. “We just hope to involve everybody in Pincher Creek and our neighbouring towns to extend the culture and values of the Filipinos.”

The Philippines Independence Day Heritage Festival celebrated the Filipino community’s heritage and strengthened bonds within the diverse Pincher Creek community. With such enthusiastic participation and support, the festival promises to be a cherished annual tradition.

Anna Welsch, president of the Oldman River Antique Equipment and Threshing Club, prepares for another year of growing food at Heritage Acres to support the community and bring people together through volunteering.

Heritage Acres Victory Garden grows hope for another year

On March 5, 2020, Anna Welsch woke up at 4:35 a.m. to her house burning down. In a time also defined by Covid lockdowns, layoffs and mass uncertainty, hope could be hard to come by. Seeing the struggles of others, while trying to manage her own, Welsch had an idea — victory gardens. 

Victory gardens were a wartime initiative that encouraged Canadian families to use green space to grow hearty food to send to troops overseas and to support their own homes during tumultuous economies. 

Welsch, now president of the Oldman River Antique Equipment and Threshing Club, which operates Heritage Acres Farm Museum, decided to bring this concept to the community, establishing a garden on a portion of the land in the agricultural museum in the MD of Pincher Creek.

Similar to the wartime mentality, the idea was “How can we help ourselves?” as the community faced job losses and grocery insecurity during the pandemic.

“We have found that the community has been super receptive of it,” Welsch says.

Volunteers would help grow food, and it would be donated to the local food bank, Napi Friendship Centre and the women’s shelter, where the food would directly help the community.


Also read | Pincher Creek volunteer restoring vandalized plaques


In 2020, the garden produced 1,000 pounds of potatoes and 300 pounds of carrots. Through 2020, 2021 and 2022, the garden produced well over 2,500 pounds of potatoes and 600 pounds of carrots.

This success came with the help of a strong group of core volunteers, according to Welsch. It was the perfect pandemic social activity — outside, six feet apart, planting and weeding to feed the community. 

“It could be a safe space for people’s mental health,” Welsch says. “You come play in the garden, play in the dirt, you can distance yourself safely at the time and still have a conversation.”

The garden encountered some challenges and did not produce in 2023. In 2024, the clay loam soil was too packed down and needed mulching. 

Heritage Acres made a request to MD council to provide assistance, which was granted and is now underway. 

“Our ultimate aim is to produce food,” Welsch says. “Agriculture centres around feeding the world.”

As part of an agricultural museum, this garden also created the opportunity to use historic equipment, like the early 1900s digger that’s used to plant, and teach the community more about food production. 

In the future, Welsch would like to expand to include rhubarb and fruit trees in the garden. 

Heritage Acres is always looking for more volunteers to help weed, plant and maintain the garden. If you are interested in getting involved, email

Samantha’s son Joel Bonwick raising Pride flag

Pride flag at Pincher Creek Library targeted for second year

The Pride flag at the Pincher Creek and District Municipal Library was lowered by unknown miscreants last week. Library staff found the flag down upon arrival at 11:30 a.m. Saturday to open the library. This incident marks the second year in a row the flag has been tampered with during Pride Month.

Samantha Bonwick, outreach co-ordinator at the library, shared details about the incident. “The flag was still in place when I left at 2 p.m. on Friday. On Saturday, when I came in to work, the Pride flag was lowered, so it must have happened overnight,” she said. 

Bonwick took immediate action. “I just got a ladder, and I went and put it up again myself,” she said. 

Library staff crafted a social media post to inform the community members about the incident and encourage kindness within the community. Upon opening the library today, Saturday, June 8th we noticed that the Pride flag had been lowered. We would like to remind our community that the library is a safe and welcoming place for all people, no matter what your beliefs or feelings on any subjects.  But, hate speech and acts of hate will not be tolerated. Please let us all learn to show respect to EVERYONE and remember that we all have differences, and that is ok,” the library posted.

The incident was followed by an anonymous phone call where a person accused the library of promoting an inappropriate agenda.  “This Friday, we received a phone call expressing concern about our Pride display which showcases all the different Pride flags and explains what each one means,” Bonwick said.

“In her opinion, it was part of an agenda and we were trying to shove inappropriate things into children’s minds. So, she was really concerned about that.”

Bonwick, who handled the call, explained to the caller that the library’s Pride display was meant to educate and include all community members.


Also read | Kootenai Brown Pioneer Village seeks community support to preserve Pincher Creek’s firefighting heritage


“She said that she would probably not come back to the library because of it,” Bonwick said. “On this, I apologized and said that we would welcome her if she ever comes back.”

Although the library has not reported the incident to local authorities, Bonwick did inform the Pincher Creek recreation office as a precaution.

This incident echoes a similar event last year, when the flag was removed soon after it was raised in June. According to Adam Grose, manager of recreation services, the miscreants removed the flag and placed it in an irrigation box, only to be found in September.

Earlier this year, the library experienced another act of vandalism when a small Pride emblem was taken off the door and thrown into a box placed for returning books.

“We found the emblem in the box and we put it back on the door,” Bonwick said.

Asked about the community’s reaction to the incident, Bonwick praised the support from members.

“When we posted about the incident on Saturday, we received a lot of support from the people,” she said.

However, this was not the case when the announcements about Pride events were posted.

“We organized two events for Pride month. Every time a post about our Pride events goes up, there are negative comments,” she said.

The flag was raised on Thursday to mark Pride Month, followed by a presentation of Queer 101. Another event was organized for June 11, where Mitchell Hall presented Pride in the Prairies.

Despite this, Bonwick said she remains optimistic, noting the constructive dialogue that has emerged.

“We have been very surprised that there are a lot of members of the community engaging in the positive conversation happening around the topic. It is not all one-sided,” she emphasized.

“It is really beautiful to see that not all of it is negative, that there is lots of healthy conversation as well,” she added.

Undeterred by the recent happenings, the library remains steadfast in its mission of inclusivity.

“Libraries have a history of celebrating all sorts of things, and this is not going to stop us from going forward,” Bonwick said.

The library plans to continue its diverse celebrations, including upcoming events for National Indigenous Peoples Day, underscoring its role as a neutral ground where everyone is welcome.

As Pincher Creek and District Municipal Library moves forward, it hopes to foster an environment of respect and acceptance, reflecting the community’s diverse values and cultures.

Historical Dodge D600 fire truck, which had served both the Pincher Creek and Cowley fire departments before being retired and sold multiple times over the years.

Bring It Home: Kootenai Brown Pioneer Village seeks community support to preserve Pincher Creek’s firefighting heritage

Kootenai Brown Pioneer Village is seeking support from the community to fund its new project, Bring It Home. This project will repurpose an existing building to house a new fire hall, showcasing the region’s rich history of firefighting and emergency services. The journey began in October 2022 when Dylan Yanke, a firefighter from Pincher Creek, stumbled upon a significant piece of local history — a Dodge D600 fire truck for sale near Sundre. Originally purchased by the Pincher Creek fire department in 1967, it had served both the Pincher Creek and Cowley fire departments before being retired and sold multiple times over the years.

Recognizing its historical significance, Yanke decided that the truck had to return to its original home. He contacted fellow firefighter Will Thorpe, and soon after, senior firefighter Lynn Roberts joined the effort. Together, they purchased it in January 2023.

“I have always wanted to get an older truck,” shares Roberts, a seasoned firefighter with 30 years of service in Olds and Pincher Creek. “When we found this truck, which is an original Pincher Creek fire truck, my partners and I felt it was important to return this classic piece of equipment to its home,” he tells Shootin’ the Breeze. Reflecting on the truck’s historical features, Roberts describes its versatile capabilities: “The front-mount pump is quite significant. You could suck out of a dugout with it, or hook up to a hydrant and flow water.”

After the truck’s restoration, the trio approached KBPV, offering to donate it. The Pincher Creek and District Historical Society, which oversees the museum, saw this as an opportunity to provide a comprehensive exhibit highlighting the evolution of firefighting in the area, so that it could be seen and appreciated by others. For this, the society has proposed building Fire Hall No. 1. This will display the fire truck as the centrepiece, as well as a range of other firefighting artifacts.

The Dodge pumper will join a 1900s-era original horse-drawn ladder truck and hose reel, and other uniforms, tools, and artifacts to tell the story of emergency services and the history of firefighting in Pincher Creek, says Gord Tolton, education co-ordinator at KBPV. “Fire has played a significant role in shaping the history of Pincher Creek, with numerous landmark fires affecting the community over the years,” Tolton says. “From the early days of volunteer firefighters responding to calls with horse-drawn equipment, to the modern full-time fire service, the exhibit will trace the evolution of firefighting techniques and technologies.” 

The exhibit will also highlight the dedicated individuals who have served as fire chiefs and firefighters, many of whom were volunteers, he adds.

The project is set to be a focal point for community engagement and education.


Also read | Wildfire safety procedures from AltaLink


“The goal is to create an immersive and educational experience that brings to life the history of firefighting in Pincher Creek,” Tolton says.

To make Fire Hall No. 1 a reality, the historical society has already begun fundraising efforts. It has planned several events and opportunities for people to participate and support the Bring It Home project.

The fundraising kicks off with a major event planned for Father’s Day on June 16. Fire Drill will feature EMS-inspired relay races open to all members of the community.

In this event, teams of five have been invited to a timed relay race based on activities that a firefighter may have to perform during an emergency. It will include a bucket brigade, a target to knock over with water from a pressurized hose and other challenges. 

The entry fee for a team is $50. Participants are divided into two categories: youth (10 to 15 years old) and adults (16 and older).

“Anyone can enter a team. The funds raised will go towards the development of Fire Hall No. 1 and the exhibit,” Tolton emphasizes.

In addition to the Father’s Day event, the historical society is hosting an outdoor concert at the KBPV on Aug. 10. Award-winning country music entertainer Trevor Panczak will headline the show.

The aim of the concert is to generate additional funding for the proposed structure, and the society invites the community to support it in several ways. Purchasing a $35 ticket to attend the concert is one way to do this.

Additionally, the society is seeking sponsorships from businesses.

“We are asking for a $250 donation to assist us with covering all expenses associated with the concert. You will be issued a tax receipt and two tickets to the concert in appreciation of your donation,” the society states on its website.

Individuals can also contribute by purchasing a brick for $250. The brick will be inscribed with the purchaser’s name and placed permanently in Fire Hall No. 1.

People can also buy 50-50 tickets for $5 each.

“This draw will run until December. Interested persons can buy tickets at the events or the museum,” the society says.

Bring It Home represents a significant step forward in preserving and interpreting the history of Pincher Creek. By creating this dedicated exhibit, Kootenai Brown Pioneer Village is ensuring that future generations will have the opportunity to learn about and appreciate the vital role that firefighting and emergency services have played in the community.

This project not only preserves the past but also keeps Pincher Creek’s history relevant and engaging. As the fire hall exhibit takes shape, it promises to be a testament to the community’s resilience and a celebration of the men and women who have dedicated their lives to protecting it.

Farley Wuth, a moustached man wearing a bowler hat, shows an historic image.

Pioneer doctor Edward Connor began career in Pincher Creek

The history of the Pincher Creek area was blessed with a number of pioneer medical doctors who worked hard to improve the general health of our frontiersmen. Often working without good facilities, these individuals dedicated themselves to the betterment of the settlements they served.

One such individual was Dr. Edward Connor, who practised medicine here for four years, mostly at the old Memorial Hospital, located north of the creek.

Edward Lawrence Connor was born in January 1881 in Windsor, Ont., and was raised in a family of five children. He had one brother and three sisters.

He showed early interest in pursuing a medical career, and following his public schooling he studied medicine in the United States. This was followed by postgraduate work in Vienna, then a significant cultural centre in the Austrian-Hungarian Empire that dominated much of the European map prior to the First World War.

Further studies were taken at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., where the frontiers of medical science were constantly being pushed back.

Early years in Pincher Creek

Dr. Edward Connor launched his first medical practice here in Pincher Creek, arriving in the autumn of 1911. He set up his office in a small frame building on the south side of Main Street, just east of the old Hudson’s Bay Co. store and west of St. John’s Anglican Church.

This structure, noted for its bright windows facing out to the street, served him well for conveniently receiving patients in the centre of town.

Connor also practised medicine in the two-storey Memorial Hospital, architecturally noted for its eye-catching veranda. Located in the north part of Pincher Creek on what was to become John Avenue, the community’s premiere hospital facility was named in honour of the three local casualties of the South African War of 1899 to 1902.


Also read | Frontier chronicles of the Fugina family


Robert Kerr, Fred Morden and Thomas Miles were amongst about 30 local fellows from this largely British ranching settlement who voluntarily enlisted to defend the interests of the mother country in this geographically far-removed war.

When the trio did not return, the community constructed this hospital in memory of their supreme sacrifices. Remotely located and little more than a generation removed from its 1878 establishment, this frontier settlement had scarcely received rudimentary attention from the medical profession up to that point.

Connor worked as a doctor at the hospital for four years, until 1915. One of the nurses he worked with was Rose Husband, who later married Lionel Parker, a homesteader from east of town.

Hospital and medical practices, although primitive by today’s modern standards, would have been quite up to date for a rural ranching settlement nestled in the far western reaches of the Canadian Prairies during the 1910s.

Surgery, still in its infancy, was performed only in the most serious cases. Ailments that were treated included everything from broken bones and injuries from nearby coal mining and railway industries to contagious diseases such as tuberculosis and pneumonia.

Long hours and hard work were the call of the day.

Other medical work and social affairs

During the second year of the Great War, Connor resigned his position at Memorial Hospital and took on medical work in Lethbridge.

Much of his surgery work would have been done at Sir Alexander Galt Hospital, a two-storey brick building at the west end of Fifth Avenue South that overlooked the prairie-sculpted Oldman River Valley. That impressive structure now houses the city’s museum and archives.

Connor’s practice expanded quite significantly in this urban setting, to a point where his health was seriously impaired. In spite of the latest medical attention, including several surgical procedures, he developed a lingering illness. Sadly, he passed away on Jan. 31, 1929, having just turned 48.

Connor’s wife was Lena Florence Connor. She was nearly seven years his junior, having been born in November 1887. The couple wed in 1910, and two daughters were born to this union.

Florence passed away on March 22, 1976, aged 88.

Both Dr. and Mrs. Connor were active members of the St. John’s Church of England parish during their four-year stay here.

Socially, they were close friends with the Dobbie family, connected with the prestigious Arlington Hotel on the north side of Main Street; public school teacher Miss Mary Bull (1870-1941); Henry and Elizabeth M. Hyde, who were known in local banking and political circles; and businessman Charles Hart, who with his brother-in-law operated the Montgomery and Hart Ford dealership garage, which dated back to 1914.

Two Australian shepherd dogs are ready to perform trick demonstrations for the audience during Pet Valu Walk for Dog Guides event in Pincher Creek

Pincher Creek hosts annual Pet Valu Walk for Dog Guides to support Lions Foundation

The annual Pet Valu Walk for Dog Guides took place Saturday in Pincher Creek. “This event spans across Canada to raise money for the Lions Foundation of Canada Dog Guides,” said Barbara Tomik, organizer of the local walk. “The foundation has a dog guide school in Oakville, Ont., and this yearly event is crucial for funding the breeding, training, care and placement of dog guides with their eventual owners.”

Notably, the Lions Foundation of Canada receives no government funding, relying solely on charitable donations and events like the Pet Valu Walk for Dog Guides. This year, 20 dog walks are scheduled in Alberta alone, including the one in Pincher Creek.

The goal for donations this year across Canada is set at $1.6 million. While Barb did not have an exact expectation for the day, she was hopeful for a successful turnout. “Last year, the Pincher Creek walk raised $7,025. We are hoping to raise even more this year to contribute to the cause,” she says.

The walk started from a central location at the multipurpose facility on Main Street and proceeded north to the creek, offering participants a flexible route. Barb noted that people could walk as far as they wanted along the creek path, and turn back whenever they chose.

The event also featured hotdogs and refreshments, adding a communal aspect to the charitable endeavour.

The event was a joint effort by the Pincher Creek Lions, Cowley Lion and Pincher-Cowley Roaring Lions that included fun-filled activities. Members of the Southern Alberta Working Herding Dog Association came with their pets to support the annual walk and provided performances and demonstrations.


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The dogs did sprinters (timed races) and tricks with help from Terry Stickel, Louann Killoran and Deb Golding, and also demonstrated sniffology.

“The dogs had to search for a particular scent through some obstacles. So it’s pretty involved,” said SAWHDA director Judith Snowdon.

The group also organized a rock scramble, with prizes awarded to human participants who found one or more of 14 hidden rocks.

Besides these activities, Terry and her Australian shepherd also performed trick demonstrations for the audience.

The Lions Foundation of Canada Dog Guides was established in 1985, with its founding program, Canine Vision Canada, to serve people with visual impairments. Later, it added six other distinct programs, including hearing, seizure response, service, diabetes alert, autism assistance and facility support for people living with disabilities.

“Raising and training a guide dog costs approximately $35,000 and the dogs are provided at no cost to those who need them,” Barbs says.

“The comprehensive training program includes an initial period in family homes for obedience training before moving to specialized training at the Oakville school when the dogs are between one year and 18 months old.”

The Pet Valu Walk for Dog Guides in Pincher Creek exemplifies the community’s spirit and dedication to supporting those in need through the power of service dogs.

Pincher Creek welcomes a new face in its medical community Dr Helen Dion

Dr. Helen Dion embraces rural health care with compassion and dedication

Pincher Creek welcomes a new face in its medical community: Dr. Helen Dion, a dedicated and compassionate family physician with over a decade of experience in the medical field. Dr. Dion’s extensive education and diverse professional background make her a valuable asset to our town. She began her practice June 3 at Pincher Creek Health Centre’s ER and the Associate Clinic.

Educational journey and professional expertise

Dr. Dion holds a postgraduate certificate in family medicine and a postgraduate diploma in pediatric emergency medicine, both from the College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland.

Her journey in medicine has been marked by her commitment to providing comprehensive family medicine in various settings, including university-affiliated hospitals, clinical environments and rural family medicine units. This diverse experience has equipped her with the skills to offer holistic and patient-centred care.

In her practice, Dr. Dion integrates essential patient-supporting services such as home care, social services, public health, immunization clinics and mental health services. Her commitment to community-based primary care enables her to provide ongoing support to patients of all ages, ensuring that their diverse health-care needs are met comprehensively.

Canadian experience and special interests

In Canada, Dr. Dion has enriched her medical practice through clinical observerships and clinical assessments in family medicine in Ponoka and Brooks, Alta. These experiences have solidified her dedication to serving rural communities, where she passionately provides patient-centred care.

Dr. Dion is particularly interested in women’s health, having completed specialized courses at the University of British Columbia in contraceptive method administration and other aspects of women’s health. She offers procedures such as skin biopsies, Pap smears, IUD insertion and suturing, ensuring comprehensive care for her patients.


Also read | Scholarship encourages students to pursue careers in health care


Scholarly contributions and professional recognition

Her scholarly contributions include co-authoring top-tier scientific publications, such as:

—Strategic Frameworks for Sustainability and Corporate Governance in Healthcare Facilities; Approaches to Energy-Efficient Hospital Management (Benchmarking: An International Journal, 2024).

—Hospitals Management Transformative Initiatives; Towards Energy Efficiency and Environmental Sustainability in Healthcare Facilities (Journal of Engineering, Design and Technology, 2023).

Dr. Dion is a licentiate of the Medical Council of Canada and has volunteered with the Canadian Red Cross in Ontario, showcasing her dedication to both her professional and humanitarian roles.

Life outside the clinic

When not working, Dr. Dion enjoys staying active and embracing the outdoors throughout the seasons. She loves spending time with her family, walking her dogs and immersing herself in the beauty of nature.

Dr. Dion lived in Calgary for several years and spent time with her family in Toronto, where they lived in Oakville. While in Alberta, Dr. Dion and her family enjoyed visiting the beautiful landscapes of the Rocky Mountains, including Banff, Lake Louise and Waterton Lakes, as well as many cities like Cochrane, Okotoks and Edmonton. While living in Toronto, they visited many places around Ontario and Montreal, often driving by car to enjoy the stunning spring and fall scenes.

Dr. Dion is supported by her husband, Dr. Martin Evans, PhD, a professional engineer registered in Canada (both Alberta and Ontario), the United States and the United Kingdom. Dr. Evans holds a master’s in civil engineering from the University of Calgary, an MBA from Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, and a PhD in project management from the University of Bolton, Greater Manchester, England. He shares Dr. Dion’s commitment to community integration and professional excellence.

Choosing Pincher Creek

Dr. Helen Dion chose Pincher Creek for its diverse population, rich culture and warm, welcoming people. Her presence in Pincher Creek is more than just that of a health-care provider; she hopes to be a vital part of the community fabric, dedicated to improving the health and well-being of all residents.

Dr. Helen Dion’s integration into the Pincher Creek community signifies a commitment to enhancing the quality of health care and fostering a supportive, inclusive environment for all residents. Her expertise, passion and compassionate approach to medicine are sure to make a positive impact on our town’s health-care landscape.

Crowsnest Pass CAO Patrick Thomas with the Award of Excellence from the Society of Local Government Managers

Crowsnest Pass CAO Patrick Thomas recognized for service and dedication

Patrick Thomas, chief administrative officer for the Municipality of Crowsnest Pass, was recently honoured with the prestigious Award of Excellence from the Society of Local Government Managers. Above all, the award recognizes the positive contributions a society member makes in their community. The society is the governing body of the profession, regulating the practices of local government managers. “It’s definitely an honour and quite humbling to have been selected amongst peers from across the province,” says Thomas. “It’s a prestigious award and it’s truly special to have been selected.”

Continued pursuit of education and professional development as well as exemplary service to the local community are some of the factors that were considered in Thomas’s recognition.

Crowsnest Pass Mayor Blair Painter contributed to nominating Thomas and highlighted how hard-working and diligent he is. “We’re very proud that he was selected for this award,” says Painter. “It recognizes exemplary service and dedication to local government and to our government in particular. Patrick works very very hard for us.”

One of the emerging themes for Thomas’s nomination was his deep care and love for the local community. “Patrick and his family just love our community,” says Painter.

Council is grateful for the clarity and attention to detail in the documents and recommendations Thomas prepares for it. Painter notes that he often includes recommendations that council may not have otherwise considered. “He really cares and he really puts a lot of effort into being the best for us.”


Also read | Pincher Creek girl shines as youngest finalist in inaugural Analog Prize


Painter also notes that Thomas cares a lot about building a strong administrative team, which then serves to lead the council and the community.  “It’s a very tough award to get,” says Painter. “I know this means the world to Patrick.”

Deputy CAO Kristin Colucci was also involved in nominating Thomas for the award, highlighting not only his contributions to the community but also his volunteer work with the local government management society helping communities with emergency preparedness.  “One of the main things that differentiates him is his deep passion for the Crowsnest Pass,” she says.

Colucci explains that though many Albertan CAOs don’t last long in their communities, Patrick has been with the municipality for over 10 years and is a permanent fixture. “That kind of dedication can really improve an organization because you have that consistency from year to year,” she says.

Thomas has been CAO for seven years, since 2017, and worked previously in C.N.P. administration, with a background in engineering. He is described as providing good advice, being the go-to person for questions, and being very trusted by the council.

According to Colucci, winning the award also puts Crowsnest Pass on the map for other CAOs of Alberta, showing that positive things are happening in the area.

Farley Wuth, a moustached man wearing a bowler hat, shows an historic image.

Frontier chronicles of the Fugina family

Readers of our column from a few weeks ago will recall our look back at the flood of 1942 and how it took away the old Fugina bridge at the far west end of Pincher Creek. Further research has unearthed additional historical details on the Fugina family, who farmed nearby.

The Fuginas were a pioneer agricultural family from the Pincher Creek area who are only partially remembered from the pages of our local history. Their farmhouse was a landmark for several generations.

The family patriarch, Francis Joseph Fugina, was born in Independence, Wis., on April 22, 1880. His wife, the former Anna Cecelia Dugan, was born some three years later, on Sept. 11, 1883, in Carrington, N.D. Both were raised in their respective rural American West settlements, where they received a traditional education grounded in the Three Rs.

It is believed that Francis Fugina immigrated to Canada in the early 1900s, eventually settling at Pincher City. In 1908, Anna Dugan followed suit, also settling in this railway and ranching settlement. Francis and Anna were married that year. 

Agricultural heritage

Some three years later, in 1911, the Fuginas moved to a farm located on the northwestern outskirts of Pincher Creek. Situated on the north side of the creek and accessed by the pre-First World War traffic bridge constructed to bring into town traffic from the rural communities of Mountain Mill and Beaver Mines to the west, the farm was ideally located to offer the best of both worlds.

Agriculturally, the farm’s proximity to the creek and one of its tributaries to the west ensured a fairly regular water supply, essential for Francis Fugina’s head of cattle and the varied crops with which he experimented. The area was fairly sheltered from the prevailing westerly winds, which aided the farm’s success.

The property’s proximity to town ensured the family had easy access to commercial and religious services.

Francis and Anna were regular grocery shoppers at the Main Street Fraser-McRoberts and White Hall stores, the latter operated by the Allison family. History tells us that the Haltons’ horse-drawn rig service delivered groceries as far west as the Fugina residence.

Roman Catholic in faith, the family worshipped regularly at St. Michael’s Church on the south hill.

The dwelling that Francis and Anna Fugina constructed was an impressive two-storey frame structure with a wrap-around veranda that faced east. This architectural feature provided the family an eye-catching view of the farm and nearby creek. The house dated back to the pre-First World War era and included a massive parlour and dining room on the main floor.

A working kitchen was added onto the house’s west side many years later. An array of outbuildings stood further west still. The house, sitting on the north side of the creek, was situated directly opposite the old Bossenberry dwelling and the two were in some ways similar in function and design.

Retirement and descendants

Francis and Anna Fugina resided on their Pincher Creek farm for over 35 years. In 1947, they retired, sold the property and moved to Creston, B.C. Folklore indicates that the couple particularly enjoyed the climate in this new setting.

After a decade’s residence there, Francis passed away at Creston Valley Hospital on Jan. 19, 1957. He was in his 77th year. His widow, Anna, remained in the community for another 11 years, and then in 1968 moved farther west to Nelson to be closer to family. She passed away on Nov. 25, 1970, at the age of 87.

As adults, the five Fugina children had connections to British Columbia and the United States.

Mary Margaret was the Fuginas’ eldest daughter. Born Aug. 10, 1909, she first attended St. Michael’s School in Pincher Creek, followed by a business education at the Lethbridge business college. Several years’ employment was secured at the Montgomery and Hart Garage, the local Ford dealership established at the corner of Main Street and Police Avenue back in 1914. In 1936, Mary married Dennis Bush and the couple moved to Cranbrook, B.C., later settling in nearby Kimberley. Sadly, she passed away on April 11, 1949, after a lingering illness.

The Fuginas’ second daughter, Frances C., became Mrs. Leroy Drew, residing south of the border in Bremerton, Wash. She was born Sept. 25, 1914, and passed away Oct. 29, 2014, having just reached the impressive age of 100 years. As an adult, she attended normal school and taught for several years in a one-room school, where she found rural life isolated.

Another daughter, Anne Cecile, became Mrs. Brady and resided in Nelson, B.C. She was born Oct. 26, 1917, and passed away Dec. 28, 1976.

The fourth daughter, Mrs. James Brooks, resided in Vancouver.

The family’s son, Joseph, resided in Kimberley, where he was active in the garage business. In January 1947, he was united in marriage with the former Lucille Edith Hamilton, a highly respected school teacher from Trail, B.C. His birth dated to Oct. 2, 1910, and he passed away March 16, 2006, having celebrated his 95th birthday the previous autumn.

As of 1970, there were 11 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren in the Fugina family.

Research sources for the Fugina family history included old newspaper clippings and the Find a Grave database. A special thanks goes out to the Creston Museum in B.C. for its research assistance.

Penny Warris of Analog Books in Lethbridge, presents a certificate to Sawyer Jones of Pincher Creek who was a finalist for the 2024 Analog Prize.

Pincher Creek girl shines as youngest finalist in inaugural Analog Prize

Pincher Creek’s own Sawyer Jones has emerged as a finalist in the inaugural Analog Prize — a program by a Lethbridge bookstore to celebrate excellence in short story fiction writing. The competition, tailored for high school students across southern Alberta, aims to inspire and uplift young literary voices.

“The story was very delightful with elements of comedy and warmth,” says bookstore co-owner Penny Warris.

Sawyer, a 14-year-old homeschooler from Pincher Creek, was the youngest of the finalists and secured the position for her composition The Best of Intentions. The whimsical tale revolves around a seemingly mundane scenario — an empty tube of toothpaste — that sets off a chain reaction of comedic misadventures within a family. Despite the chaos that ensues, the story ultimately celebrates the bonds of family and the joy found in shared laughter.

Sharing her experience with Shootin’ the Breeze, Sawyer says she thoroughly enjoyed participating in the contest. 

Reflecting on her creative process, Sawyer acknowledges the role of feedback from peers in shaping her final submission.

“I loved the process of refining my story, incorporating suggestions to clarify certain aspects,” she shares.

Sawyer’s affinity for storytelling dates back to her early years. 

“Sawyer has always been captivated by the stories. When she was in fourth grade, her teacher saw her interest in stories and told her that she can paint pictures with her words,” says her mother, Lana.

“The teacher’s words clicked in Sawyer’s mind and since then she has been writing. With time, her writing has developed a lot.”

Asked about her future literary aspirations, Sawyer excitedly says, “I really hope that one day I can get a book published.”

Creating a winning literary entry is a good first step toward that goal.


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Penny recounts the genesis of the Analog Prize, tracing its roots back to the success of the Bridge Prize, which is presented by the School of Liberal Education at the University of Lethbridge.

“We have been involved with the Bridge Prize. It’s a short story writing competition for university students across Canada. The competition was initiated by university chancellor and alumnus Terry Whitehead,” says Penny.

“The chancellor suggested we start a similar competition for high school students in southern Alberta. So, we decided to go ahead with that.”

The Analog Prize was launched in November 2023, heralded by a comprehensive outreach campaign. 

“We launched it by sending a package with posters to every high school in southern Alberta with the information and then emailing all the principals. Also, we put out social media posts about the contest,” she states.

“The response to the Analog Prize exceeded our expectations,” she shares, adding that 42 submissions were received from students in grades 9 to 12.

The contest’s selection process involved a rigorous evaluation by a panel of jurors.

“We had a group of jurors who diligently scrutinized each submission and awarded points to them. This is how we found our four top stories,” Penny says.

Stevie Sander, a student at Catholic Central High School in Lethbridge, won the first prize for her short story Of Hardened Flesh. She will receive $500 in prize money.

Finalists Maxwell Edwards from Chinook High School, Eleah Klassen from Winston Churchill High School, and Sawyer have each won $100 Analog Books gift certificates.

All four will be felicitated at a ceremony June 17 at Analog Books.

Currently engrossed in crafting a murder mystery, Sawyer Jones epitomizes the boundless potential of young literary talent.

Read the story here:


Like all embarrassing things, it happened totally out of the blue. You never know it’s coming, a most annoying habit of these things. Like a death in the family, it was completely unexpected and until it happened the day was completely uneventful.

Julia, like most people in the morning, was brushing her teeth, her husband, Will, flossing beside her. Julia, who some described as OCD, always did a “once over” on her teeth. That included re-pasting her brush and setting the timer on her phone for precisely ten minutes. A number that caused her family no end of amusement.

This was, of course, the moment fate chose to intervene in the form of an empty tube of Clinically Clean Minty Fresh toothpaste, Our Name Isn’t The Only Mouthful!

Will, the more easy going of the pair, made the kind but terribly naive suggestion of skipping the critical routine. This was not taken necessarily as well as it should have been. But can we blame her? Imagine, if you will, that you had a routine. One that you followed so precisely that to not do it felt like spitting in the face of tradition … if you can call over brushing a tradition.

It was decided, after much debate, that Julia would use Will’s toothpaste. A generic tube of average blue paste. Hers, Julia’s, was a tube of toothpaste that would look more at home in a NASA laboratory than in a jar by the sink. It was white, with a red label and neat black letters and it was one of those things that gave you anxiety just looking at it. She had to special order it from a website that even the best hacker would describe as sketchy.

But nonetheless the package arrived at their door once a month, in brown paper wrapping that looked like someone had assembled it with an inordinate amount of tape and hope. Fortunately, Julia had, in fact, thought that something like this might happen, and she had had the foresight to order a new tube. She would only have to use Will’s toothpaste for a day or two. Not so bad.

Oh but it was. It was so much worse than she ever thought. I suppose it started when her son Ben came downstairs later that morning with the air of unfortunate news to follow, trailing him like the wake of some doomed ship. Though like all tragedies it was only looking back on it that it became clear. Anyway, there was no crash of thunder, no faraway sound, nothing to signal the events to follow, but nonetheless it was the beginning and now like the first act of a play in some grand hush theater, we begin.

When Ben marched down that morning, his mom, like most reasonably good mothers, paused what she was doing and turned to face her son. “Good morning,” she smiled. “I have a weird thing on my leg,” Ben replied, brushing his sleep tangled hair out of his eyes. Julia frowned thoughtfully at Ben. “What do you mean weird?” “I don’t know, just …” he shrugged, “weird.” “Weird bad?” she asked carefully “or weird good?”

Though is anything proclaimed as weird by a recently woken child ever good? She should have known the answer. It is a well known fact amongst mothers that when faced with a situation in which your child has placed you, a situation that you don’t necessarily want to deal with, you call for your husband. This is what Julia did. In doing this, there is also the added benefit of added entertainment for the mother. “Let’s take a look at that leg of yours.” Will said cheerfully as he knelt in front of his son. Ben gingerly extended his leg for inspection, helpfully pointing to the general area in question. Will leaned in closer . . . and his smile dropped. “Jules?” he said, his eyes wide.

It took Julia and Will ten minutes to reassure Ben that it wasn’t skin cancer. “So I’m not dying?” he asked, his face filled with relief. It then took five more minutes of frantic googling to find out that it was worse. Ben had ringworm.

“It will be okay,” Julia said, reassuringly, to herself. “What will be okay?” asked Sofie, (who had appeared in the kitchen with perfect timing as usual) looking from her parents to her brother quizzically. Ben, who was feeling waaay better by now grinned at his sister and waved his leg wildly in her direction. “I have ringworm!” he declared with relish. “Ewwwww!” Sofie leapt away from her brother, shaking her hands like she was trying to take flight. Once she deemed that she was far enough away from her contagious, germ-ridden brother, Sofie leaned in and with all the malice and glee of a triumphant sibling, whispered quietly, “you’re rotting!” Then with a wide, unnecessary berth around Ben she was gone, as quickly and as dramatically as she had come. Ben watched her go silently, then turned slowly and deliberately towards his parents, who were apparently trying to have a silent argument. “Ahem.” They looked at him like people coming out of a trance, dazed and confused. Ben smiled, “should I tell Sofie that she has ringworm too? I saw it on her arm.” He was met with dead silence.

Needless to say, Sofie did not take it well. “It’s all his fault!” she shrieked pointing at Ben, who sat blissfully unaware in a corner of the living room. “He never showers!” She dragged out ‘never’ a bit too much. Even she knew that, but like all good actresses, Sofie played the victim card well. It’s July and I can’t wear t-shirts!” Ben chose that moment to unhelpfully chime in, “you could cut one sleeve off a long sleeve shirt, you know, to cover up your ringworm.” His suggestion was met with a pillow to the head.

“Do I have to?” Will complained. “Yes,” said Julia firmly. “Can you come? It’s so embarrassing.” Will said, pulling on his shoes. “Get over it.” was her only response. So it was Will who went to the Pharmacy. Will who wandered the isle’s like a ship with no compass. Will who finally found the cream in its white tube and red label, and it was Will who endured the cashier’s snickers at the till. But in the end he was triumphant.

Like all returning victors, Will imagined his return with the ringworm cream as one might imagine Heracles returning from slaying the Hydra or Lancealot returning to Camelot. A welcome including fanfare and cheering, maybe even confetti. Instead as he climbed the stairs to his house he was met with the now familiar package of toothpaste looking, as always, like someone had used it for a ball in a particularly intense game of soccer. He scooped it up and opened the front door. Inside, the house was dead quiet.

“Hello!” Will called. Silence. Will then did what anyone would do when faced with a silent house. He called hello again. This time he heard a giggle, Julia’s, and it made him smile to hear her laugh like that. He saw them then, through the screen door of the back porch, sitting in the golden evening glow, golden themselves in that magical light. They were laughing together, the ringworm forgotten, a temporary truce that would remain unspoken, but understood by both sides. His family. How lucky he was to have them.

These moments when we are unseen observers fill us with love. This is how Will felt, overwhelmed by affection, as he went upstairs to put the toothpaste in the jar by the sink, to surprise his wife when she went to brush her teeth that night. Then he went on to the bathroom his children shared, to place the ringworm cream in a prominent location for them to find, imagining their smiles when they did. When he was done, Will went downstairs, and joined his family in that magical evening glow. Toothpaste and cream forgotten. For now.

Two weeks later

Julias teeth had never felt so clean. Her relief at seeing her toothpaste had been surprisingly overwhelming. The restoration of her routine. The foundation of her morning was back. So it was with joy that she got up that morning, bounding out of bed with a spring in her step. She squeezed some toothpaste onto her brush. Julia had noticed one small change. The toothpaste smelled less minty. Probably nothing, a formula change perhaps? A bit more clinical, a bit more clean. Oh well, it was back and that’s all that mattered.

I suppose it is fitting then, that it was Ben who was the final piece of the puzzle. Ben bearer of bad news in the past, would bear it once more.

In a surprising parallel to the fateful morning of the ringworm, Ben came down, arriving in the kitchen with a look in his eyes like he was older than he was and weary of the world. “Good morning.” Julia said, smiling. “It hasn’t gone away, and the cream is making it green.’’ was Ben’s response. “ Green?” Julia asked, incredulously. “Yeah, and it smells minty.” “Minty?” she repeated, thinking uh oh. “ What kind of cream did Dad buy anyway?” asked Ben.  The wrong one.’’ said Julia “Hold on.’’ she called over her shoulder as she ran out of the kitchen. On her way upstairs she ran into Sofie. “How is your ringworm?’’ Julia asked breathlessly “Eww! Why?” “Just tell me, Sofie.’’ “It’s still there. But I’m still waiting for … but Julia was already gone up the stairs … the cream, Sophie finished.

Julia sprinted into the bathroom struggling to recall the last time she’d moved that quickly, and seized her toothpaste. Clinically, Julia breathed a sigh of relief, and then she kept reading. Clinically Proven. “No.” To Reduce. “Oh no.” Ringworm.

Julia drifted into the kitchen and turned to face her children. She cleared her throat. “You’ve both been using toothpaste as ringworm cream, and I …” She trailed off. “I’ve been using … ringworm cream as toothpaste.” Ben looked delighted. “Awesome.” he whispered. Then louder “What did it taste like?” He looked expectantly up at his mother, even Sofie looked curious. “Kind of like … worms.” she admitted, and then she burst into laughter at their delightfully horrified faces. “I’m kidding! Like toothpaste, just without the mint!”

Will had made a mistake the day he brought the cream home and discovered the toothpaste on his front step. One can see it would be easy to mix up the two nearly identical tubes. Nearly identical, but not quite. The only one entirely unaffected by it all was Sofie. Sofie, who had inherited some of her mothers OCD, who always arrived on time, and always read the label and who was still patiently waiting for her Dad to bring home ringworm cream.

It turned out alright in the end. The realization, the discovery, the reveal, all eased into a funny story by those horrified faces. A funny story that would be retold for years after, over dinner or when Julias toothpaste arrived in the mail. When Ben and Sofie grow up it will be a story that brings them back home. Perhaps not literally, but when they remember it, and they will, maybe they will phone home and that conversation will lead to another. That is all we want in life. To be able to share those memories with those we love. The memories we laugh over together, the ones we recall fondly. To live our lives with as many moments as possible.

Development of new housing units projected to occur on already-purchased land a few streets behind the Pincher Creek Co-op, adjacent to Highway 507. | Graphic courtesy of Danielle Heaton

New residential development to get rolling in Pincher Creek

A newly announced development project will see 23 new housing units built, including five complexes with four bungalow-style units each. The project is expected to be completed in roughly three years.

Land a few streets behind the Pincher Creek Co-op has been purchased and the development is currently in the permitting stage.

Phase 1, which aims to build five multi-family complexes, each with four roughly 1,300-square-foot units, is expected to begin construction this spring or summer. The units will be two or three bedrooms, with two bathrooms, in-suite laundry and attached garages.

“We hope to have the foundation down this summer so we can build through the winter,” said developer Dave Willms.

He is partnering  on the project with his sister, Danielle Heaton. The two are originally from Pincher Creek and have already completed other housing projects in the town, like a residential flip of the old barracks.


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The next phase of the project involves 11 single-family lots between 1,000 and 2,000 square feet and seven more between 2,000 and 3,000 square feet, to be completed in that order after Phase 1.

Danielle says the units will be flexible toward different demographics, but a big thing for them was designing units with their parents in mind and making the bungalows senior-friendly.

The developers’ current estimations of the construction costs are about $1 million per fourplex, not including the land purchased.

“We’ll do a lot of the work ourselves, but we’re very much about trying to use as much local as possible,” says Dave.

The units will be rentals, with the first projected to be about $2,000 a month. While the developers are looking to focus on long-term rentals, they may consider selling or doing short-term rentals down the road if the market demands it.

“We’re trying to address some of the housing deficit in Pincher Creek,” says Dave.

He says the current council is very pro-development, and has been supportive of this project.

Town councillor Gary Cleland, an involved member of the housing committee, sees a huge need for this kind of development, creating homes for middle-class working families looking to live in Pincher Creek.

“The town is trying to say ‘We’re open for business,’ ” he says. “We want people to move to Pincher.”

Cleland notes he’s been seeing more families moving from the cities and knows of a nursing family currently looking for a place to rent.

“The big thing for us is to get all the professionals we can get in the community so that everyone else is comfortable coming here,” he says.

“It’s a basic need,” says Danielle. “A community can’t grow and get better if there’s not enough housing.”

She also notes that people won’t come to Pincher if they can’t find housing.

“We think there’s a huge need for it otherwise we wouldn’t be looking at this kind of investment,” says Dave.

The Quest Smart Energy Communities Benchmark report highlighted Pincher Creek’s multi-sectoral team driving community energy goals, community organizations, ongoing energy and emissions work, landfill diversification and walking paths as strengths in the region.

Energy report gives recommendations, Pincher Creek council to pursue

The Town and MD of Pincher Creek underwent a baseline survey to understand the current state of affairs within the region with respect to energy, where the region scored 43 per cent. Following the receipt of this report in the May 13 town council meeting, council decided to begin to act on opportunities communicated.

The Quest Smart Energy Communities Benchmark report highlighted Pincher Creek’s multi-sectoral team driving community energy goals, community organizations, ongoing energy and emissions work, landfill diversification and walking paths as strengths in the region.

However, key opportunities identified for improvement are public engagement on energy use, land management and energy-water relationships, community energy inventory and mapping, staff training for climate resiliency, energy load management, financial levers for densification and community-wide economic analysis.

Mayor Anderberg noted in the meeting that he was pleased with the performance of Pincher Creek on the municipal front, highlighting significant energy savings and upgrades in facilities.

He saw the biggest gaps in the public-facing aspects of the report. Some areas of improvement outlined are accountability to social equity, educational sessions and planning, and further public engagement on matters of energy, land use, water and mobility networks.


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Specific recommendations in the report called for better public engagement and public participation on nearly every front.

Anderberg also referenced the low scores around partnerships with utility companies. In regard to community energy strategy, Quest called on Pincher Creek Quest to “activate and operationalize the established partnership between the community, local utility, and community-based organizations to expedite the provision of energy and climate adaptation/resilience initiatives investments.”

According to the presentation of Quest to council, the report outlines the importance of programs the region is implementing such as the corporate emissions and energy reduction strategy and the Clean Energy Improvement Program to support homeowners with energy and resiliency retrofits.

Further work in the Quest program will address some of the opportunities for improvement. Quest will conduct a community workshop on energy and emissions and an economic assessment.

According to council documents, this process is expected to run until March 2025, with the bulk of work coming in the summer of 2024. The budget for completing the project is about  $6,000, and the work will culminate with Pincher Creek receiving a new score.

“It’s a fantastic report. And if we just accept it as information, it will disappear onto the shelf,” said Coun. Wayne Oliver.

“I would like it if administration would bring back some suggestions for things we can adopt, implement and improve on, to get a better score next time.”

Oliver moved the motion that council direct administration to bring back specific items from the opportunities to pursue, which was carried.