Through the years: French Foreign Legion, Red Earth highway, etc.

Snippets from July 7 Leaders


Plans were underway to start a Koinonia Christian School in Slave Lake. In the southwest, an old machine shop was going to be converted to classrooms for 20 to 30 students. It was to have two teachers.

The second annual Slave Lake Walleye Tournament was coming up. It was put on by the Golden Pike Society and the Slave Lake Elks were providing the food.

At least two Slave Lakers had moved to France to try out for the French Foreign Legion. The military required a five year commitment, with contact only with their mothers.

Dee Dee Labby (16) and Kirsten Tanghe (14) both from Kinuso won national Tae Kwon Do golds. Labby in bantam and Tanghe in finweight. This was the first time both girls had fought at as black belts at a national championship.

There was to be a triathlon at Devonshire Beach. It was a 1,000-m swim, 30-km cycle, and an-unspecified run which was two km longer than previous years.

In 1991, half of all drownings in Alberta happened in July and August (21 of 43), said the second annual Drowning Report from the Royal Life Saving Society Canada. The three highest risk activities were fishing, swimming, and power boating. In 49 per cent of cases, alcohol was a major contributing factor.
(By 2021, alcohol was a major factor in 40 per cent).


“Feces, fingers, food,” was the motto to remind people to wash their hands after using the bathroom to avoid spreading disease. The reason this was front page news was that there were nine cases of hepatitis A in Wabasca-Desmarais, so likely at least twice as many confirmed cases in the area. There was no specific treatment for the disease. However, it isn’t as serious as hepatitis B or C. The only reason it has the same name is because all three attack the liver.
(Currently – there is a vaccine in Canada to protect from hepatitis A).

Slave Lake held a regional conference to help people with developmental disabilities find and retain employment. The event had 67 participants up from 20 the year before.

An eight-year-old drowned at the weir by Slave Lake. Many people volunteered to help the RCMP come up with solutions to get the boy’s body out of the water. Also, there was a round-the-clock vigil from Wednesday to Saturday.

One headline was ‘Forest fires capped as weather cools – crews scramble to snuff six on Canada Day.’ Another was ‘Fair draws thousands – secret to success: atmosphere’ referring to the 1999 North Country Fair.


M.D. of Opportunity councillor for Red Earth Creek predicted that Red Earth would grow 1,000 per cent and that a paved highway between Red Earth and Fort McMurray was ‘on.’
(As of 2021, M.D. of Opportunity councillors were still skeptical of the existing portion of the highway being paved between Red Earth and Peerless Trout Lake. The remainder of the highways hasn’t been built).

There was a Town of Slave Lake bylaw which stated that parents of children out and about after 11 p.m. could end up in court. As at least one group of young people were suspected in damaging six vehicles and other crimes, the RCMP were enforcing the bylaw.

White Buffalo was a new youth healing centre in Slave Lake. One of the goals was to help Indigenous youth who were in trouble stay out of jail or mental health hospitals.

Edna Sinclair and Evelyn Norberg stopped by the Leader office to reminisce about their grandfather – Walter Thompson – who likely named Sawridge. In 1923, the hamlet of Sawridge was renamed Slave Lake.

Freida Hook and Brenda Laboucan won Esquao Awards – which recognize Indigenous women in Alberta who make a positive contribution to their communities. Both worked for the High Prairie School Division.

Driftpile First Nation Pakesi’win League was a success. Elders taught the young people traditional hand games. Over the season, 19 teams participated.
“It’s a game of fun, coming together and sharing the laughter,” said Driftpile councillor Stan Isadore.

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