Through the Years: Oil spill, best hardware store in Canada, and Frost Fest

Snippets from the February 3 Lakeside Leader


An oil pipeline sprung a leak three kilometres southwest of Nipisi Lake (it is north of Lesser Slave Lake, east of Highway 88). About 2,000 barrels of oil spilled.
After a drop in pressure, workers turned off the pipeline. They then went out on Skidoos to find the leak and were working on cleaning up the spill, which they’d been able to keep out of a nearby creek and the lake.

A gas plant by Nipisi had a fire and explosion, but was back up to 75 per cent capacity.

There was a strike at Zeidler Forest Industries plants in Slave Lake and Edmonton. The workers were part of the International Woodworkers Union of America – Canada.
There were 40 people on strike in Slave Lake.

After nine months of offering regular flights between High Prairie, Slave Lake and Edmonton, Aero Aviation stopped offering as many flights.
The company hadn’t decided if it was going to offer occasional flights or leave the communities.

A one-act play festival was planned at the Walter Twinn Theatre. Kathi and Chet Gilmore and Rose Rhone directed the plays. There were three plays and the winner was to compete at provincials in Red Deer.

Slave Lake’s Métis Local was hosting an amateur talent show at the Slave Lake Native Friendship Centre.
The Métis local had recently been revived, said president Fred Auger and was using the event to raise funds and awareness.

The M.D. of Westlock was allowing farmers to pile and burn peat (muskeg) to reach the topsoil underneath.
Burning peat had not been allowed for a few years because peat burns slow and smoky.
Low-hanging smoke from peat fires had caused two fatal collisions in 1986/87.

Alberta Vocational College (the precursor to Northern Lakes College) was starting a two-year diploma in Social Work in partnership with Grant MacEwan Community College in Edmonton.

George Kelham was in both the 1993 and 1999 Leader.
In 1993, he petitioned the town council to waive the garbage collection fee, because he hadn’t used it in five years. The service was ‘inconsistent,’ so he hauled his garbage to a dumpster.
In 1999, he agreed to cut off his ponytail to raise money for seven-year-old Kara Taylor who had cancer. Friends and family had been urging him to cut it for four years. The plan was to have it cut on St. Patrick’s Day – March 17.


St. Mary of the Lake Catholic School was in financial trouble because it had 80 less students than it had expected. The board laid off one counsellor, a native liaison worker, and two program assistants. Three teacher’s aides were cut down to half-time.

First Nations in Alberta asked the province to come up with regulations which required consultation with First Nations on any development on traditional land.

Slave Lake Pioneers were very frustrated that a meeting with the Health Minister was postponed.

MacLeod’s True Value in Slave Lake was the best hardware store in Canada, said Hardware Mechanizing magazine. Store owner Allan Motowylo was surprised and overwhelmed.
“I thought it was great to get to the top of the True Value round,” he said.

Slave Lake RCMP had money for a new police officer. The plan for police was a four-pronged approach focused on habitual offenders, drug trafficking, traffic laws, and alcohol abuse.

Bunkhouses, mobile homes and holiday trailers on commercial lots had come to the attention of the Municipal Planning Commission. It wanted to charge a $2,400 annual fee and $1,000 deposit, but had to settle for 500 per cent increase of the permit price to $200 for six months.
At the time, a one-bedroom apartment in Slave Lake was $400 per month.

A northern bachelor of social work program was in the works. This would mean that the many people with a social work diploma from Alberta Vocational College would be able to get a four-year bachelors degree without going to a big city. AVC, University of Calgary, and Athabasca University were all partners in this proposal.

The Lesser Slave Lake Bird Observatory was five years old. In the 1998 bird banding season, a northern mockingbird was captured and banded – even thought Lesser Slave Lake Provincial Park was 1,000 km north of the accepted northern limit of its range.

The Family Day Frost and Frolic event started on Friday evening with a walk-a-thon in the Alberta Vocational College gym and ended with fun, games, and a concert at four locations: the Southshore Play School in Widewater, the Slave Lake bowling alley (Slave Lake Native Friendship Centre’s annual bowling event), Grizzly Ridge ski hill and a concert at Roland Michener Secondary School.


Frost Fest events included:
A Local Heroes Pond Hockey Challenge between the firefighters and police at Hilda Eben Park.
Floor curling at the Pioneer Drop In.
The Boreal Centre for Bird Conservation held a Night Time Winter Wonders event.
It culminated with a Toy Mountain in Schurter Park.

The Southshore Children’s Association in Wagner held its first jam session to raise money for the daycare. Around 20 musicians participated.

The M.D. #124 (Lesser Slave River) is on the edge of the Athabasca oilsands.
The government of Alberta estimated 60,000 to 100,000 people moving into the full area, but Slave Lake was seen as a “growth centre.” Council were concerned about the impact of oil sands growth on the water.

In entertainment news, the Slave Lake Adult Education Committee was holding an authentic Filipino dinner at the Sawridge Inn and Conference Centre.
The newly-formed Lesser Slave Lake Regional Arts Council and the Roland Michener Music Support Society were bringing the Foothills Brass Quintet from Calgary for a concert.

M. D. of Lesser Slave River was divided about whether it would make a policy on whether people could have ‘sea cans’ (metal shipping containers) on their land for storage.

Instead of calling the Town of Slave Lake enforcement services about strays, people were calling the Animal Rescue Committee. People didn’t realize that the town had a pound or that ARC assessed and fostered dogs already in the pound, but didn’t catch them. At the time, ARC had rescued 170 dogs.

In sports news, the Slave Lake Legion mixed dart team won a district tournament and was on its way to provincials.
The Petroleum Association and the Oil Wives of Slave Lake launched a ladies golf tournament.

J.J. Isadore, from Driftpile Cree Nation, was teaching youth how to play the hand drum and sing Cree songs at the Slave Lake Native Friendship Centre.

Wagon rides at Frost Fest 2010.

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