Through the years: Whist, snowmobile joyriders, secretaries, and greenhouses

Snippets from April 22 editions of the Northland Free Press and Lakeside Leader

The runoff was predicted to be 50 per cent of normal, because of less snowfall and low soil content before freeze up. The low moisture was expected to make for high forest fire danger. Every noon people could tune into the local radio for the official daily ‘fire weather forecast’. The closest radio stations were in Grande Prairie and Peace River.

The Slave Lake Pioneers were planning whist evenings at the Drop-in Centre and a trip to Fort Edmonton among other activities.
In other upcoming events, there were to be two puppet shows. The one during the day for kids and the evening one for adults.
The Lions had a 555 car raffle.

In school news, badminton, plays, and science fairs were all happening.
E.G. Wahlstrom School’s drama club won an honorable mention (second place) at a drama festival in Bonnyville. Roland Michener School placed third. There were 19 junior highs and 12 senior high schools at the competition.
Doug Gagnon, from Widewater, won first place overall and first place for individual projects at the regional science fair. He placed for nationals. His project was title “Centrifugal Force and Its Effect on Plants.” Two other people from Slave Lake schools also won in their categories. Jim Massey in social science with “Slave Lake and Liquor” and Rhonda Miller and Kumeshine Moodley in biology with “The Effects of Ethylene Gas on Shoots of Plants.”
The Beatles appear to have been popular in Slave Lake as the theme for the upcoming Roland Michener graduation was to be “The Long and Windy Road.”

The Boisverts were celebrating 20 years of business in Slave Lake. To celebrate both the clothing and Super A Grocery store were “indulging in some crazy antics”, what this meant was to be explained in upcoming flyers. The celebrations include draws for a bicycle, hairdryer, and electric shaver.

Lessard Garage ltd. was the Toyota dealer in Slave Lake, Dr. A Brodeur was the chiropractor, and Dr. K. Koppe, was the optometrist. Jay Bee Airways was offering flying lessons.

There was information about tuberculosis (TB) courtesy of the Athabasca Health Unit in Slave Lake. At the time, there were a lot of cases of TB in the area, and the health centre was testing people. Even back then, it could be cured or healed.
(The most up to date Canadian data is from 2017. According to this data, globally TB was still one of the leading causes of death. Canada has one of the lowest rates of tuberculosis in the world. This decrease happened between 1940 and 1980. In 2017, across Canada there were 1,706 cases, which was 4.9 per 100,000 people. Alberta was slightly higher with 239 cases or 5.3 per 100,000. Nunavut had the highest rate with 101 cases or 253.8 per 100,000).

In March of 1987, there was less building happening in Slave Lake than the previous year. A campaign promise from MLA Larry Shaben and the government of Alberta was to be paid out in installments. The promise was for $600,000 for Slave Lake’s Airport Park, also called Sawridge Park, in the northwest outskirts on the lakeshore. The development was to have group camp sites, a floating dock, boys marking a safe swimming area and facilities on the beach. (Sounds a bit like the campground by the weir).

The Riverboat Daze committee hammered out the details for the upcoming event. It was to take place on July 23 to 26. It was to include ‘old favourites’ such as the grandstand show, parade, casino, and amusement fair. New in 1987 was to be Stampede wrestling.

CVC (a precursor to Northern Lakes College) was going to be adding nursing assistant training in Wabasca, for the first time. At the time, Wabasca had a new hospital. Over 40 people had shown an interest in the course in Wabasca. At the Interagency meeting reported later in the paper, there’s mention of the social work program that CVC was offering.

The Red Rooster was advertising the VHS version of “Stand By Me” starting Wil Wheaton, River Phoenix, Corey Feldman, Jerry O’Connell, and Keifer Sutherland. Rex Theatre was showing Burt Reynolds and Liza Minnelli in “Heat”.
“Two Stepping Country” by Mike McDonald and Magnum Road (which sounds like a concert) was coming to the Ridge Bar and Grill at the Sawridge Hotel.

In a section entitled “The Prairie Gardener” there was information about perennials including bleeding heart, fleabane, beebalm, and beards tongue.

“Snowmobile joyriders get fines, service work” was the Court Report headline. These came from two different incidents involving youth and snowmobiles.

Hair Traces in the Sawridge Hotel was one of the business cards in Here’s My Card. (This or another hair salon with the same name is now across the road from The Leader office. Like all hair salons in the province it is closed for COVID. The hair stylists there and at other hair salons and barbers would likely like a note of encouragement).

Both the 1987 and 1998 papers had articles about National Secretaries Week. The 1998 article included a photo of Gladys Pearson, who had worked as a clerk at the Slave Lake RCMP for almost 30 years at the time. She started there on April 1, 1970 after several years as a mink ranchers’ wife.

Gilwood Golf course opened two weeks early. (In 2020, with the snow this wasn’t possible and with COVID-19 golf courses were not allowed to be open. Maintenance is allowed, but no golfers, at least for the time being).

On May 1, 1998, the Ladybug Greenhouse, in Widewater, was set to open. It was to be open daily, including Sunday, while supplies (the next word wasn’t given, but was likely to be ‘while supplies last’). This was the second year for the greenhouse. The new stock included plants requested the spring before and 30 per cent more stock.

Slave Lake Provincial Park was to be part of a national TV series. It was to be the only provincial park profiled in the series ‘Great Canadian Parks’ on the Discovery Channel. (It seems likely that all the rest were National parks).

MLA Pearl Calahasen presented a check for $110,000 to Town of Slave Lake Mayor Gerry Allarie and others for the proposed asphalt walking trails in Slave Lake. (In 2019, the trail system was named after Allarie. It gets a lot of use).

A walk was being organized to raise awareness about domestic violence. It was to be on June 6, starting at the Alberta Vocational College (AVC – the middle precursor to NLC), in Slave Lake, and ending up at the Southshore Community Complex in Widewater. It was led by Network Against Violence, which was founded the year before when the women’s shelter workers and Victim Services in the region joined forces.

Vanderwell Heritage Place (aka. The Lodge) had a new wing built and ready for seniors.

The Slave Lake bowling alley was in jeopardy. It was for sale, but the owner wanted to know if anyone wanted to take over the lease. Up until that time, the Elks had been leasing it. Once it sold, the owner figured it would be remodeled, and there would be no hope of reviving bowling.

Swan Hills test results were delayed. These were toxicity tests taken from 250 people who had eaten wild meat which may have been contaminated by emissions from the Swan Hills hazardous waste treatment centre. There had been a leak at the plant in 1996. Tests had shown higher than normal toxins in wild meat in the area.

Animals were all over the front page. A puppy stolen from Canyon Creek in early April was sold from a trunk in Edmonton and then returned to its owner. ‘Harvey the chubby redpoll’ was snoozing on a branch.
The other headline was about the nearly complete cleanup of “salt water, polymers (whatever they are) and ‘trace’ amounts of oil” from an oilwell blowout near Wabasca.

In Slave Lake, there was a new animal control officer and a new company that made covers for everything from oilpatch to RV skirting. There was also a competition for kids aged 12 to 18 to design the logo for the Arena Fund-raising Committee. In Kids’ Talk children answered the age old question “What does the Easter Bunny have to do with Easter?” – one child answered “He makes eggs… I think the Easter Bunny is a she.”

“Man gets one year for ‘very unsophisticated crime,’” was the Court Report headline. A man on a four-year driving suspension, drunkenly stole a vehicle in Slave Lake. The crime was witnessed by the owner, who knew the perpetrator. It was the judge who classified the crime as ‘unsophisticated’, during sentencing.
In other crime news, noise complaints on Easter Monday led police to arrest someone at a party for dealing ecstasy (MDM), a very serious drug.

In sports, Gilwood golf club was looking at opening late April or early May. Fred Dumont, of Slave Lake, won the diamond belt at a boxing tournament in Slave Lake.

April 25 to May 2 was (likely still is) National Immunization Week. The headline for the article was ‘preventing spread of viruses’ (sound familiar). At the time, the World Health Organization estimated that worldwide two million deaths were prevented per year because of immunizations.

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