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Tag: Pincher Creek

Shootin’ the Breeze community reporter William Cockerell sits down for an interview with Owen Crow Shoe, Stampede parade marshal and star of Horizon: An American Saga, at Elbow River Camp in Calgary.

Rekindling the news flame at Shootin’ the Breeze

For over a year, I had the pleasure of working for Shootin’ the Breeze, bringing community stories to the very people who made them possible.

I arrived in Pincher Creek in October 2022 as an unpolished journalism graduate from the Montreal area, unsure of whether reporting was still my calling. What I found in Pincher Creek is hard to put into words, even for an individual who writes for a living, but here I am regardless.

From the time spent at local establishments, to the magical landscapes, to the wonderful people whose stories I had the privilege of sharing, and everything in between, this town quickly became a home away from home. I learned not only what it took to be a part of a small-town newspaper, but also just how special a tight-knit community could be.

It was a difficult decision to leave my position and move on from the town and the paper I grew to hold dear in December 2023. The friendships made, the stories told, the places visited — I was going to miss it all, even if I was moving only a few hours north to Calgary. 

Since that time, I have settled into big-city living once more, backpacked across eastern Europe, and continued to figure out what’s next for me. Unexpectedly, I received a familiar call from Pincher Creek’s favourite publisher, Shannon Peace, asking if I had an interest in returning as a community reporter for the summer. The timing seemed perfect.

 

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

 

Despite the many challenges she has endured since we first met, Shannon continues to exude strength and resilience beyond measure as she serves this community. She gave me countless opportunities to grow as a journalist and as a person, and I’m happy to be back to further benefit from her experience and expertise. 

Since I will be reporting out of Calgary for most of my time back, Shannon assigned me to something different from anything I’ve covered before. I had the opportunity to cover the Calgary Stampede and interview local actor and success story Owen Crow Shoe.

While I look forward to being back in town to cover events throughout the summer, this was an exciting opportunity for me. I learned quickly that with big-city reporting come big-city challenges. Whether it was the chaos of Stampede traffic, navigating Pierre Poilievre’s security team to snag a quick word and photo, or organizing an interview with a man as busy as Owen, it was an awesome experience! 

 

Pierre Poilievre riding horseback in the Calgary Stampede Parade

Pierre Poilievre rides in the 2024 Calgary Stampede Parade. | Photo by William Cockerell

 

 

When I got the chance to sit down with Owen at Elbow River Camp this past Saturday, I had this idea in mind that I was interviewing major movie star Owen Crow Shoe. It was not what I necessarily expected. What I got was a conversation with a guy who strikes me as a normal, very down-to-earth individual. Fame doesn’t appear to have altered the man Owen is; he remains approachable, grounded and happy to chat with seemingly anyone who approaches him. 

Make sure to keep an eye out for Shootin’ the Breeze’s upcoming feature on Owen Crow Shoe. In the meantime, I can’t stress enough how much I look forward to my visits back to Pincher Creek. 

I’d like to thank this wonderful community for another opportunity to report on what makes this town such a wonderful place. If you have a community story that you wish to share, don’t hesitate to reach out to me by phone at 403-627-9510 or by email at news@shootinthebreeze.ca.

 

| More Pincher Creek and Crowsnest Pass News

 

Owen Crow Shoe of Pincher Creek leads the way on horseback as marshal of the 2024 Calgary Stampede Parade.

Owen Crow Shoe of Pincher Creek leads the way on horseback as marshal of the 2024 Calgary Stampede Parade. | Photo by William Cockerell

 

Ad for Dragons Heart Quilt Shop in Pincher Creek

 

Pincher Creek artisan Laurel Francis displays her “Alberta Buckskin Rose” quilt

Acceptance and strength sewn into works of local artisan

Acceptance is everything to local quiltmaker and lost arts teacher Laurel Francis. As a mixed-race person, acceptance has been a fight.

“I remember at five years old, a rock being thrown through our window, and them telling us to leave,” she says, describing the white middle-class neighbourhood where she grew up. 

The community worried that the Black family would devalue their houses and targeted them as the only Black faces there.

“We weren’t accepted in the local schools because we were mixed race,” Francis says. “So my father threatened to write an article about it. And miraculously, we’ve gotten to school.”

Francis’s parents taught her how to be strong in a world like this, and the lessons she takes from them continue to influence her life and work today.

 

 

“When we were kids, we wanted to be white. We desperately wanted to be white. We would walk around with mops around our heads and pretend that we were white because white people had friends, had lives, and we didn’t,” she says.

“My mom used to say, ‘But honies, what do you like, white milk or chocolate milk? You just have a little bit more chocolate, be happy.”

From her mom, Francis also learned values of kindness and self-sufficiency, which influenced her off-grid and cheese-making lifestyle in the MD of Pincher Creek.

“It was my mother who said, find a need, fill a need,” says Francis. “You’ll always have work if you find a need and fill a need.”

Francis’s late father was a Black rights activist, whom she called her political and social compass. This led to her first personally inspired quilt, depicting a compass, when her father, at the time sick in the hospital, asked when she would start to put more of herself into her work.

 

 

“My dad always said, use your voice. You don’t have to beat people over the head with things, but just use your voice to just show people what’s happening.”

This was what inspired the quilt “Still a Long Way to Go,” depicting a Black man in an iron muzzle typically used as a vocal restraint on women. The piece drew on what Francis was feeling about world events and the oppression of Black and mixed-race individuals. 

But her work was not always taken in with open minds. She says that when she put this work out, emphasizing “still a long way to go,” some people took offence.

“It was, ‘What are you doing that for?’ ‘Why are you saying that?’ ” says Francis. “They weren’t happy. I don’t care, I have a voice, I’m gonna use it.”

However, in doing shows with Kootenai Brown Pioneer Village museum, Francis saw the community embracing her work.

“I want acceptance, I want everybody to accept each other,” she says.

 

Ad for Shadowbar Shepherds Training in Pincher Creek

 

Though pleased with her acceptance into rural community, fair treatment and respect in Pincher Creek was not easy for a Black person to get.

“First thing I was told was, ‘I don’t want to be your friend because I don’t know how long you’re gonna last,’ ” she says.

“It was tough and I was by myself and I wasn’t sure how this was gonna go.”

In one of her early experiences in the town, Francis witnessed a business that was gruff towards Indigenous customers and herself, which she later called to point out its discriminatory treatment.

She was grateful the business listened to her and began to change its ways. 

“I’ve spent my life trying to knock the walls down. I want the walls down. And I think I’ve succeeded,” she says.

“I think people see me not as Laurel, person of colour. But Laurel the person who quilts and makes cheese and teaches cheese classes and teaches this and teaches that, that’s what I’m known for. I like that I’m not known for my colour.”

 

 

This builds on the legacy of her father, who advocated for Black rights through his newspaper work, TV show, poems on CBC, films with the National Film Board, and more. This legacy included leaving behind strong children.

“Everybody gets raised with their own little prejudices,” says Francis. “He wasn’t trying to say how terrible people are. He was trying to say, ‘Open your mind. Let’s all live together.’”

All of her quilts include an element of strength. 

Today, her quilts are all over Canada, from art galleries to local shows to friends and family to customers who’ve bought her patterns.

| Also see From cowboys to businesswomen: celebrating local Black history this Juneteenth

 

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TransAlta windmill on fire with a trail of black smoke near Cowley, Alberta.

Emergency crews respond swiftly to wind turbine fire near Cowley

On July 9, Pincher Creek Emergency Services was notified just after 6 p.m. of smoke, and eventually flames, coming from a TransAlta wind turbine along the Cowley Ridge.

Crews were sent out from the Pincher Creek and Lundbreck fire stations to contain the area around the turbine and ensure that any dropping debris or fire was stopped dead in its tracks.   

“We didn’t fight any fire in the turbine itself because, of course, that’s not safe,” says Chief Pat Neumann of PCES.

“We had crews on the scene for about three hours, basically maintaining the area around the turbine to make sure that any dropping debris or fire was stopped from extending outward from the turbine, and that’s about the extent of it.”

A huge shout-out to Pincher Creek Emergency Services for responding promptly to the hazard.

 

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

 

Fire ban in place for town and MD Pincher Creek, Cowley and Piikani Nation effective July 18

Fire ban now in effect for Pincher Creek area

Effective July 18, the town and MD of Pincher Creek, Cowley and Piikani Nation fire status has been upgraded from a fire restriction to a fire ban.

As of this morning, 133 active wildfires are reported across the province, an increase of 35 since Tuesday afternoon.

Fifty-two of these fires (39 per cent) are classified as out of control.

If you see a wildfire, call 310-3473 (FIRE).

 

Ad for Vape in Pincher Creek

 

The Town of Pincher Creek, MD of Pincher Creek (including Beaver Mines, Lundbreck and Twin Butte), Cowley and Piikani Nation are under a FIRE BAN.

No open fires are permitted and fire-pit permits and notifications to burn are cancelled:

  • No fire pits
  • No pellet smokers
  • No burn barrels
  • No debris burns
  • No fireworks

No new permits will be issued.

Approved for use:

  • Propane barbecues are allowed
  • Propane-powered appliances are allowed

 

Ad for Sara Hawthorn, Pincher Creek and Crowsnest Pass realtor

 

The Municipality of Crowsnest Pass is currently under a FIRE RESTRICTION.

All fire permits and fireworks permits are suspended or cancelled:

  • No open fires
  • No major burn operations
  • No fireworks

No new permits will be issued.

Approved for use:

  • Approved fire pits as per Fire Rescue Services bylaw
  • Burn barrels and incinerators with screens
  • Gas and propane stoves, barbecues and fire pits

 

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

 

Alberta’s Forest Protection Area (including backcountry areas in the Municipality of Crowsnest Pass and MD of Pincher Creek) is under a FIRE BAN.

All fire permits are suspended or cancelled:

  • No outdoor wood fires, including wood campfires on public land, private land, designated campgrounds and backyard firepits
  • No charcoal-briquette barbecues
  • No fireworks or exploding targets

No new permits will be issued. Some allowances can be made for essential agricultural and industrial burning but must by approved by a forest officer.

Approved for use:

  • Propane and natural-gas-powered appliances
  • Indoor wood fires in structures such as facilities, buildings, tents or RVs, and contained within a device with a chimney and spark arrestor
  • Open-flame devices like deep fryers and tiki torches

 

 

Most Alberta provincial parks are under a FIRE BAN

Affected parks

  • No open fires
  • No campfires
  • No charcoal briquettes
  • No wood fires inside park facilities, including those contained within a device

Approved for use:

  • Portable propane fire pits within designated fire pits
  • Gas or propane stoves and barbecues designed for cooking or heating

 

Ad for Ascent Dental in Pincher Creek

 

If you see a wildfire, call 310-3473 (FIRE)

The most up-to-date information can be found on the Alberta Wildfire Status Dashboard.

 

Kenzie Stewart of Crowsnest Pass competes in butterfly at the Pincher Creek Dolphins swim meet

Shootin’ the Breeze – July 17, 2024

Discover the top headlines from Pincher Creek and Crowsnest Pass. Stay up to date with local news and events in your community.

This week’s headlines:

Emergency crews respond swiftly to wind turbine fire

Alberta’s general surgery is at a tipping point, with lives on the line says AMA

Grizzly bears back in crosshairs as Alberta lifts hunting ban in select cases

Weathering the elements: extreme summer weather in southwestern Alberta

Fire restrictions in effect with ban in Forest Protection Area

Tribute to Dennis Novak of Eden’s Funeral Home

The butterfly effect – Dolphins’ swim meet

Heed the heat – tips to keep dogs cool and hydrated

Opinion: When is a grizzly hunt not a grizzly hunt

Heavy Airship set to land hard at the Empress

Meet your backyard neighbours

Obituary: Robert (Bob) Edward O’Brien

Celebration of life: Dana Hungar

Pincher Creek Humane Society Pet of the Week

Town of Pincher Creek events and notifications

Frontier Canadian Recollections – Pincher Creek’s exciting 1928 baseball season

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.

Owen Crow Shoe of Pincher Creek rides his horse as parade marshal leading the Calgary Stampede parade on the front page of the July 10, 2024, issue of Shootin' the Breeze

Shootin’ the Breeze – July 10, 2024

Get the scoop on what’s happening in Pincher Creek and Crowsnest Pass. Stay informed about local news, events, and community projects.

This week’s headlines:

Owen Crow Shoe rides as Stampede parade marshal

Piikani Nation RCMP looking for suspect in aggravated assault

Pincher Creek musician Aly Williams drops first single from mountaintop

Pincher Creek Swimming Pool celebrates 25th anniversary

Alberta commits millions to methane reduction

Co-op cybersecurity incident impacts local shelves

Town, MD of Pincher Creek residents urged to conserve water as heat wave envelops province

Acceptance and strength sewn into works of local artisan Laurel Francis

Editorial: Rekindling the news flame

Editorial: Calgary Stampede recollections

Embrace Summer feature section

Geat ready for the heatwave

Try a digital detox this summer

MD of Pincher Creek sponsoring free Weeds and Wildflowers guided walks

A taste of summer

Obituary: Gertrude Welsch

Obituary: James Tillack

Celebration of life: Dana Hungar

Pincher Creek Humane Society Pet of the Week

Town of Pincher Creek events and notifications

Frontier Canadian Recollections – Chronicles of Pincher Creek area’s gas industry Part 2

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.

Front page of July 3, 2024, issue of Shootin' the Breeze – two young girls in Canada Day photo booth at Kootenai Brown Pioneer Village in Pincher Creek

Shootin’ the Breeze – July 3, 2024

Discover what’s happening in Pincher Creek and Crowsnest Pass including Canada Day photos, local council concerns and community projects.

This week’s headlines:

Celebrating Canada Day in style

Pincher Creek town council raises concerns over provincial legislation

Pincher Creek Emergency Services receives vehicle donation from Plains Midstream

Key takeaways from the 2024 Alberta Energy Outlook

A conversation with new NDP leader Naheed Nenshi about rural interests

My Little Corner – Catching up with Jess

Breeze Mailbox – Crowsnest resident wants cyclists to be more courteous

Summer bike safety with local fire chief

Crownsest Pass to see trail improvements this summer

Fawn season is here in Pincher Creek: town issues safety advisory

Embrace volunteerism this summer

Crowsnest Conservation completes Bee Aware project

Heritage Acres needs helping hands

Peter Van Bussel urges fellow grads to stay authentic and unique

Silver Reins 4-H Club hosts 31st annual achievement day

Celebrating the spirit of community: the significance of powwows

Tips for keeping off-road vehicles safe this summer

Frontier Canadian Recollections – Chronicles of Pincher Creek area’s gas industry Part 1

Obituary: James Tillack

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.

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.

Ad for Creekview Dental Hygiene clinic in Pincher Creek

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.

Ad for Aurora Eggert Coaching in Beaver Mines

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.”

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.

Ad for Blinds and More in Pincher Creek and Crowsnest Pass

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.

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

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.

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.

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 pinchercreek.ca/content.php?n=685 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.

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.

“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.

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.

Black Alberta cowboy John Ware.

From cowboys to businesswomen: celebrating local Black history this Juneteenth

In 1863, U.S. President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, ending the previously legal practice of slavery in America. The end of the horrific practice is celebrated each year on Juneteenth, commemorating when Union soldiers arrived in Texas on June 19, 1865, freeing those who had not yet been released due to Confederate control.

John Ware

Upon freedom, many formerly enslaved individuals left to start new lives, with some coming up to the local area, such as southwestern Alberta’s famous Black cowboy, John Ware.

“He would probably have been a horseman on whatever plantation or farm he had worked on during slavery,” says Gord Tolton, education co-ordinator at Kootenai Brown Pioneer Village in Pincher Creek.

Horseman work was quite in demand during that time period, so Ware found work along several northbound trails, ending up in the Montana area.

Tolton notes that about one in six north-travelling cowboys at that time were Black and that Ware stood out because of his size and ability to learn new skills.

Man with his arm around smiling woman kisses her on the side of the head in the doorway of a barn.

“When he first started, he couldn’t even afford a pair of boots,” says Tolton. “He learned how to save up and buy the right gear to do this.”

In the early 1880s, Ware was contracted to deliver cattle into southern Alberta for the Northwest Cattle Co. and was then offered a position at the ranch.

Though racial tensions and racism were deeply present in society, Tolton says Ware was respected by the local ranchers for his skills. However, Ware reportedly had to avoid urban areas such as Calgary because of the rampant racism, and was once stopped by police and told he would have to travel around the city rather than through it.

Black Alberta cowboy and rancher John Ware with his wife Mildred and children Robert and Nettie in about 1896.

Black Alberta cowboy and rancher John Ware with his wife Mildred and children Robert and Nettie in about 1896.

“John Ware, rancher, with wife Mildred and children Robert and Nettie in southern Alberta”, [ca. 1896], (CU1107289) by Unknown. Courtesy of Glenbow Library and Archives Collection, Libraries and Cultural Resources Digital Collections, University of Calgary.

Ware eventually bought his own land and cattle and married Mildred, a Black woman from the Crowsnest Pass area. The two had children who lived in the Vulcan area for many years.

Ware was killed when his horse stumbled on a badger hole, falling on top of him and crushing his ribcage.

“He was a great legacy,” says Tolton, noting that the locals remembered him for what he could do as a cowboy and rancher. “He was an embodiment of the Alberta spirit.”

Ware was an independent man who was able to pick himself up from harsh beginnings to learn, creating a legacy of himself despite the challenges of racism and enslavement.

 

 

York, William Bond, Henry Mills and Charlie Dyson

Though he is perhaps the most famous, Ware was not the first Black cowboy in the region.

“There were Black people working in the fur trade prior to Ware, going back to the 1860s,” says Tolton.

An enslaved man named York was perhaps the first Black man in the area and was revered by the local Indigenous communities.

In the 1870s, several Black men came up to work in the whisky trade. William Bond was one of these men, exchanging buffalo for whisky and other goods, and operating his own post.

Bond was later arrested by RCMP, along with his boss and others involved. His boss paid fines for the release of everyone except Bond, who spent several months in prison in Fort Macleod for racially motivated reasons.

“He escaped one day during the winter, he was shot at by one of the Mountie sentries, and nobody ever found any trace of him for the longest time,” says Tolton. He was later discovered to have died of exposure.

Bond had an unidentified brother who also worked in the whisky trade.

 

Dave Mills, son of Black Alberta fur trader Henry Mills, with his Kainai wife.

Dave Mills, son of Black Alberta fur trader Henry Mills, with his Kainai wife.

Photo courtesy of Pincher Creek and District Historical Society

Another historical figure in the area was Henry Mills, a fur trader who worked for the American Fur Co. in North Dakota and later travelled up the Missouri River. He brought his family to southwestern Alberta, where some of his sons married into the local Blood Tribe.

The town of Pincher Creek itself carries the history of two notable Black business owners, Charlie Dyson and Annie Saunders.

Dyson had a blacksmith shop just off Main Street in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

 

 

Annie Saunders

Saunders was born in 1836 in the United States and was married and widowed before making her way to Alberta. She contributed immeasurably to the local community, despite obvious barriers as a Black woman in the 1800s.

Laurel Francis, a Kootenai Brown volunteer, local artist and business owner, has taken this historical figure on as her own for historical re-enactments, and emphasizes just how incredible she was.

“We may have been considered free but that didn’t mean we could get jobs and support ourselves,” said Francis in a historical re-enactment of Saunders.

Saunders was working as a steward on a steamboat when she met newlywed Mary Macleod. The two got on very well, and Macleod asked Saunders to come back to Canada with her to care for her kids.

Saunders moved with the family to Pincher Creek, and started several businesses in the community.

 

Black businesswoman Annie Saunders of Pincher Creek.

Black businesswoman Annie Saunders of Pincher Creek.“Old Auntie,” ca. 1890, [NA-742-4] by E.M. Wilmot. Courtesy of Glenbow Western Research Centre, Archives and Special Collections, University of Calgary.

“She found a need, and she filled the need,” says Francis.

The community needed child care, so she cared for children. People liked her food, so she started a restaurant. Kids needed a place to stay after school when they couldn’t go home on snowy nights, so she started a boarding house. People didn’t want to do their laundry, so she opened a Main Street business to do it for them.

“Not only was she an entrepreneur, people found her safe,” Francis says. “They found her safe with their kids. She just broke down barriers and had a big sense of humour.”

She went by Auntie, a self-given nickname that Francis notes as being very clever and calculated.

“There’s a lot of other names you can be called. There’s a strength in that you claim your own name,” she says.

 

 

This not only showed the community how friendly she was, but it also told people to call her something that wasn’t the N-word.

“She was a smart woman who knew the only way to get by. ‘Call me auntie.’ And she picked her own name,” Francis says.

Auntie Saunders was a literate woman, a big thing for her time. The history of her upbringing and education is not clear, but it’s possible she learned while enslaved as a “house slave,” like caring for children.

She encountered lots of prejudice when in the area, with organizations such as the Woman’s Institute trying to keep her out with articles saying she wasn’t wanted here.

But Auntie Saunders was also documented in newspaper archives, detailing her acceptance and the extent of her local contributions.

“For her to take on all of the opportunities that she created is huge,” says Francis. “I think that there was an adventurous spirit in there that I really love about her. That’s a real big strength.”

 

 

For the local community, she left behind a legacy of acceptance.

To Francis, the fact that she is not talked about as “the Black person” but rather as a member of the community was a huge contribution when there was such a feeling of separateness.

“She was accepting of people’s foibles, obviously, or she couldn’t have done what she did. The fact that people still talk about her today I think is amazing,” Francis says.

“It’s just a simple person. From just teaching kids, being a nanny, making food, having dances at her establishment, doing laundry and all those things show that simple people can make huge differences in communities. Forget about their colour, their ethnicity, whatever. You can make a difference.”

 

 

Related story | Town council to name future street after Annie Saunders

 

 

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.”

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.”

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.”

Front page of June 19, 2024, issue of Shootin' the Breeze with 3-year-old Holly Hays on horseback at Pincher Creek Kids Rodeo

Shootin’ the Breeze – June 19, 2024

Special Feature: Class of 2024, graduates of Matthew Halton High School, St. Michael’s School, Livingstone School, Piikani Nation Secondary School and Crowsnest Consolidated High School

This week’s headlines:

From cowboys to businesswomen: celebrating local Black history this Juneteenth

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

Women’s shelter highlights donations and strategic growth at AGM

Controversial ‘energy war room’ shut down: money and mandate to go elsewhere

Memorial service will mark 110th anniversary of Hillcrest Mine Disaster

Highway 22 collision leads to arrests

Tip results in drug changes in Piikani Nation

Ready to ride

Meet new MD councillor Jim Welsch

Crowsnest Pass Health Foundation presents $2,800 50-50 cheque

Filipino community celebrates Philippine Independence Day in Pincher Creek

Holy Spirit School Division superintendent Ken Sampson will be missed

Volunteer efforts key to successful Reuse and Recycle Fair

Caption contest winner

Coming up roses at the Lebel Mansion

Frontier Recollections: Pioneers with business and homesteading origins

Snodgrass Funeral Home kicks off annual flower barrel contest

Mobile mammography service to visit Glenwood

 

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

Vicky Miller of Castle Mountain and Lethbridge obituary photo

Obituary | Vicky Susan Miller

1954 – 2024

Vicky Miller (née Hunt) was born to her parents, Phil and Judy Hunt, in Cromwell, New Zealand, on July 14, 1954. Vicky often told stories of growing up with her two sisters, Bridget and Jan, at Mt. Nicholas Station (a high-country sheep station) on the South Island of New Zealand. Like her mother and sisters, Vicky attended St. Hilda’s Boarding School in Dunedin, New Zealand. Vicky went on to university in Dunedin, achieving an honours degree in microbiology.

In 1977, Vicky accepted a one-year position in the virology lab at the Fairfield Infectious Disease Hospital in Melbourne, Australia. While in Melbourne, Vicky met her future husband, Dennis, from Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada. Vicky and Dennis travelled around Australia before moving to Lethbridge and were married in September 1978, during a small ceremony with family and friends in Hawaii.

Vicky’s working career in Lethbridge included 10 years for Molson Brewers and 25 years at the Black Velvet Distillery. In 2018, Vicky was recognized by de Kergommeaux with a lifetime achievement in the Canadian Whisky Awards for her contributions to the industry as a master blender.

In 1982, Vicky and Dennis welcomed the birth of their son, Rob, followed four years later by a daughter, Janelle. Vicky was a devoted and supportive mother, encouraging Rob and Janelle to pursue their academic, sporting and career goals, wherever they may take them.  Rob and Janelle often looked to her for advice, to help guide them through life.

Vicky and Dennis’s passion for skiing with their family led to the purchase of a cabin at Castle Mountain Resort in 1996. Vicky retired to this cabin in 2017, after which she proceeded to ski 100-plus days per season until her passing. The Castle has lost one of its queens.

Vicky and her family spent summers camping, hiking and dirt biking. Vicky was a keen reader and enjoyed working on stained glass, creating beautiful pieces for their home and to share with family and friends.

After retirement, Vicky and Dennis travelled each year, mostly hiking or peddle biking trips in various locales around the world. Vicky loved to share slideshows of their adventures each time they returned with fun and interesting tales.

Vicky also took up quilting in retirement, making custom quilts for each of her four grandchildren, Chase, Ryder, Finn and Otto, plus many of her wider family. Vicky was an amazing Granny, who adored and cared for her grandsons, encouraging them to read, play games and go outside and enjoy the places where they lived.

Vicky passed peacefully in her sleep on June 9, 2024, with Dennis at her side.

Vicky was predeceased by her parents, Phil and Judy Hunt; her sister Bridget Kirkham; and her parents-in-law, Robert and Hazel Miller.

Vicky is survived by Dennis; Rob and his wife, Litisha, and their children, Chase and Ryder; Janelle, her partner, Jordan, and their children, Finn and Otto; Vicky’s sister Jan and her husband, Duncan Robertson, and their daughter, Olivia; and Vicky’s nephew Richard Kirkham and his wife, Katie.

A celebration of life will be held at Castle Mountain Resort Day Lodge at 1 p.m. on Sunday, July 14, 2024. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations will be gratefully accepted by Diabetes Canada (www.diabetes.ca). Condolences may be registered at www.fantinsfuneralchapel.ca.

 

 

 

Shootin' the Breeze connection to more local stories

 

Edwin Knox of Pincher Creek speaks at a 2018 Talking Tombstones event

Pincher Creek volunteer restoring vandalized plaques

A plaque commemorating a resident’s deeds from years past is now covered in scratches and graffiti — this is what is being fought by volunteers across the country.

The Parks Heritage Conservation Society is made up of more than 50 volunteers. Their goal is to clean, restore and inspect historic plaques in Canada.

Edwin Knox, a former long-time employee with Parks Canada, recently joined the Conservation Society to help maintain about 40 plaques in southern Alberta. This task sends the Pincher Creek resident to locations such as Waterton, Lethbridge and areas just south of Calgary.

He says it is an important job and he is happy to be involved.

“It’s a wonderful program from coast to coast to coast in Canada,” said Knox while at a recent plaque restoration workshop at Galt Gardens in Lethbridge.

 

 

He says it gives residents and tourists an opportunity to learn about the events and people from the communities each plaque is located in.

“It gives us time for reflection on history and gives us a good sense of where we are and what went on in these areas,” says Knox.

Unfortunately, outright theft of the plaques is also an issue the society is currently dealing with, he says.

“It’s a very sad situation when you see that happen.”

Bob Weaver, vice-president of the Parks Heritage Conservation Society, says the problem is considerably worse in southern Alberta than the rest of Canada.

“A lot of monuments, especially in Calgary, are sitting vacant. It’s not a good situation,” Weaver says.

“So we’re glad to see this right here,” he adds, gesturing toward a plaque in Galt Gardens, “although it is vandalized.”

 

 

For 22 years, Weaver has volunteered with the Conservation Society, and he says that in that time, vandalism has not significantly increased, providing a minor silver lining. However, he says the number of stolen plaques is increasing.

“It just seems to be in south-central Alberta. We haven’t really seen (thefts) in other areas,” says Weaver.

While stolen plaques cannot be restored, damaged and vandalized ones can be. Weaver says the amount of effort is quite considerable, when taking into account the workers are all unpaid volunteers.

“You’re probably on-site (working on a single plaque) for an hour and a half.”

According to estimates by Knox, three or four plaques can be completed in a single day, with a goal to return to each plaque every five years.

A certain level of vandalism and theft is believed to be motivated by a disdain for the wording of older plaques. Matt Nodge, partnering, engagement and communications officer with Parks Canada’s Waterton Lakes field unit, says the history portrayed on the plaques may not line up with popular modern ideologies, but they can still be important.

 

 

“Commemoration is not necessarily celebration,” says Nodge. Plaques “identify the important points of Canadian history, pivotal moments, both negative and positive.”

He says the Historical Sites and Monuments Board of Canada ensures all cultural backgrounds are considered when approving new plaques or reviewing older ones.

“I’m very proud to work with Indigenous communities and Canadians of all backgrounds to commemorate our shared history,” says Nodge. 

He says there is currently a review of certain plaques across Canada, and that HSMBC “is looking at things like colonial assumptions, potentially harmful or hurtful problematic language.”

No matter the challenges facing the various organizations that work to keep Canada’s history alive, Weaver says he is happy to see them expanding into new provinces all the time.

 

 

 

 

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 info@heritageacres.org.

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.