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When it comes to natural disasters. Canada has been pretty fortunate. A relatively sparse population has that going for it. Earthquake, fire, flood, volcanic eruption – they all happen here, but mostly not a lot of people get killed. The really big stuff always seems to happen elsewhere.
The same goes for unnatural disasters – man-caused, in other words. Alberta’s worst was the Hillcrest Mine explosion in 1914. It killed 189 people. Three years later, a ship carrying explosive material blew up in Halifax Harbour, killing nearly 2,000 people and flattening a big part of that city. It remains Canada’s worst-ever man-caused disaster by death toll.
That is unless you count viral pandemics as man-caused. The Spanish Flu still tops that list, according to online sources, at 55,000 deaths in Canada. COVID-19 is surging up the rankings, and as of this writing was set to take over third spot from the 1847 typhus outbreak, which killed around 20,000 people.


The dog days of winter. Nothing happening. No events. No shows. No get-togethers with family or anyone else. Some businesses – small or large – reduced to thumb-twiddling and hoping for better days. Something was bound to give, and it did. A restaurant in a hamlet in central Alberta decided to defy the provincial ban on sit-down dining. Will it be some sort of test case? Will more follow?


Meanwhile…. Somebody spotted a cougar walking through the Gloryland neighbourhood of Slave Lake the other day. Looking for easy pickings, no doubt. The main food of the big cats is probably deer and as we know there is no shortage of those. But if a domestic pet happens to catch their eye….


‘Slave Lake’ occasionally pops up in online news items from places you don’t expect. Last week, for example, it was in an obituary of a guy from High River. Apparently fishing for walleye on Lesser Slave Lake was something he loved so much it was included in the obit.


Sometimes you just have too much time on your hands, resulting in idle doodling in the margins of your notebook. This is one of the drawbacks/benefits of attending meetings by way of digital communications technology (which is a long-winded way of not naming a particular service provider). You can make comical sketches of the people whose faces appear on your screen. You can write goofy rhymes about them. Or, as in this case, you can try to figure out what celebrities they resemble. We tried this during a Zoom meeting with a bunch of fisheries biologists the other night. Let’s see, where are those notes….
Okay. Of the 13 heads appearing in their little boxes, five were bald guys, six were guys with some hair on top and two were women. Six of the guys had beards of some type, one had a mustache only and four were clean-shaven. Three of the beards were goatees.
And the celebrity lookalikes? We had one dead ringer for Vladimir Lenin, a decent likeness of the actor Michael Ironside and a so-so Wilfrid Brimley. Best we could do, sorry.


Community Futures Slave Lake has six online business recovery sessions starting today (February 3). These are from noon to 1 p.m. on Wednesdays. Tickets are free and available on eventbrite.


There’s a lot of ancestry research going on these days. As we know, it’s getting easier and quicker and better and cheaper. Is there a tangible benefit?
For most people, probably not much. But for others, definitely. We’ve heard stories of both types. The first find out they are related to this, that or the other historical figure, say. It’s a bit of fun but not exactly life-changing. Others have made important family connections that may have been broken due to unhappy circumstances.
One person we know just discovered relatives who fought in the American Revolution. Others, of course are descended from kings!

We hear from Sheila Willis that the roof blew off the Moose Portage Post Office. This is an abandoned historic building in a field between Smith and east Fawcett Lake. Here’s a photo of the historic building, taken last Friday.

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