Tales from Christmases past: December 1985 in local news

Joe McWilliams
Lakeside Leader

Chances are you weren’t wondering about what was going on in around Slave Lake in December of 1985. But last week, digging around in a box of paper somebody dropped off at our office sometime in the past year or so, we came across the Dec. 24 Leader from that year.

The top story that week had nothing to do with Christmas; it was ominous news on the labour front. Contract negotiations between Zeidler Forest Industries and the union representing about a hundred mill workers had broken down, said the article by Kimberly Carr. A strike seemed likely.

As we know, that is what happened and it ground on, unresolved, for about seven years, sometimes getting downright nasty. The main sticking point, apparently had to do with the pension plan the company offered; it was unacceptable to the union.

Also on that week’s front page: pictures and a story about a home at Nine Mile Point being destroyed by fire. The owners were on their way to Mexico at the time, and decided to carry on with their vacation. Fire chief Lyle Thomas said a lack of water at the scene resulted in the loss of the whole structure.

It would be another 20 years before Nine Mile Point got any fire hydrants.
A Page 2 story reports the average cost of a home in Slave Lake is $78,000, up from $70,000 the year before. That was five per cent higher than the average cost of a house in Edmonton, says the article.

“With prices so high it takes a big salary to own a home in the area,” the article (also by Kimberly Carr) says. “That is why (the) average customer is a 32-year-old man, working in the oil industry, married, with a wife that works and two children. They own two vehicles and a new home.”

Carr also reported in that issue of The Leader the exciting news that a 67,000 square-foot shopping mall was planned for Slave Lake, with McLeod’s as a major tenant. That didn’t happen, but the Sawridge Plaza Mall did get built.

A big ‘thank you’ ad appears on Page 3, from somebody who ran a marathon race in California to raise money for an electrocardiograph machine for the hospital. However, the name of the person doesn’t appear! It’s a mystery! The lower part of the ad is blacked out in a printing glitch, so maybe the name appeared there.

A Page 7 story reports that the Lubicon Lake treaty claim was accepted by the federal government. We’re not sure what happened there, but it took another 33 years to get it settled.

Mentioned in the sports pages that week is Gordon Kruppke, who at the time was playing major junior hockey with the Prince Albert Raiders. He had just been chosen to play for Team Pacific in the Esso Cup in Quebec. Kruppke, who started his hockey in Slave Lake, was home for a Christmas visit. He of course went on to play briefly for the Detroit Red Wings of the National Hockey League.

Last but not least, there’s a full-page ‘Yuletide Greetings’ ad from The Leader, with mugshots of the staff of seven. It includes Laurie Strang, Dianne Belanger, Laura Droine, Debbie Dworkin, Darlene Mahar and Elaine Isaak, as well as the aforementioned Ms. Carr.

Merry Christmas!

A Christmas moose, on 9th St. SE.

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