Archive for Bladworth

Victim’s parents: action needed on impaired driving

Danille Kerpan

Danille Kerpan

By Joel van der Veen

KENASTON — Have we become numb to the numbers?

It’s a question that’s on the mind of Allan Kerpan, as Saskatchewan continues to have one of Canada’s leading rates of death due to impaired driving.

Between 2008 and 2012, an average of 68 people per year were killed in the province as the result of impaired driving.

That statistic took on personal significance for Allan and his wife Melanie on Thanksgiving weekend last year.

Oct. 10 marked the one-year anniversary of the death of their 25-year-old daughter Danille, who was driving on Highway 11 near Bladworth when her vehicle collided head-on with a truck headed north in a southbound lane.

It was a tragedy and an avoidable accident at the same time — yet, dozens of people in the province each year share her fate.

“It’s sort of become routine for you guys, the media, to cover these crashes,” said Allan. “It just keeps going, nothing ever changes . . . How can we accept this?”

Allan, a farmer and a former MP and MLA, and Melanie, a retired teacher, said last week they want to honour their daughter’s memory by taking action against impaired driving in Saskatchewan.

Melanie said they want to “make something positive out of a very bad situation,” while Allan added, “She’d want something (good) to come out of it.”

Allan said he has been learning about various organizations that work to support victims of impaired driving and their families, including Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and Families for Justice.

He attended MADD’s annual National Conference for Victims for Impaired Driving in Oakville, Ont., in April, where Danille’s picture was displayed along with those of countless other victims.

Allan said he has been invited to work on some projects for MADD within the province, where the organization has only a limited presence. These include roadside memorials to victims and possibly a larger monument in one of the cities.

In late March, Kerpan was given time to speak to some of his former colleagues in a meeting of the Saskatchewan Party caucus. He used that time to talk about impaired driving and to offer some suggestions for the province’s high rate of related deaths.

Kerpan said some of the ideas he presented include a “three-strike rule” that would take away an offender’s driving privileges permanently, and automatic jail sentences for those caught driving after their license has been suspended.

He said he’s especially angered by reports of repeat offenders and added that Saskatchewan should look at other provinces to see how they’ve improved their numbers.

For the full story, please see the Oct. 12 edition of The Davidson Leader.

Wilkins’ Riel sculpture joins Highway 11 series

From left, Thomas Quiring, Elizabeth Quiring and Jim Beebe play during an Aug. 30 ceremony to dedicate a sculpture of Louis Riel, called "The Invitation."

From left, Thomas Quiring, Elizabeth Quiring and Jim Beebe play during an Aug. 30 ceremony to dedicate a sculpture of Louis Riel, called “The Invitation.”

By Joel van der Veen

BLADWORTH — As Don Wilkins planned his latest sculpture, he faced a daunting question: how best to depict one of the most controversial figures in Canadian history.

The subject: Métis leader Louis Riel, a prime mover behind two major rebellions in the 19th century, a man variously seen as either a father of his people or a traitor to his country.

“How do you handle something like that?” said Wilkins, an artist and retired farmer based near Girvin. “I didn’t know how I could really represent him.”

For inspiration, Wilkins turned to a specific moment in time: the summer of 1884, when a delegation visited Riel in Montana, where he was then living in exile, to ask him to return to act as their representative in negotiating with the Canadian government.

While Riel’s name is typically associated with the rebellions he led and his execution for treason in 1885, Wilkins said he wanted to take a different approach: “In this instance, he’s a peacemaker.”

This formed the basis of his latest project, “The Invitation,” which was officially dedicated at its site along Highway 11 just outside of Bladworth on Aug. 30.

A crowd of around 100 people gathered for the ceremony, which included a musical performance, a brief speech by Wilkins and the unveiling of a plaque.

Performing at the site were bagpiper Jim Beebe, of the North Saskatchewan Regiment Pipes and Drums; bagpiper Thomas Quiring and of the 96th Highlanders Pipes and Drums; and Elizabeth Quiring, of the same band, on the tenor drum.

Wilkins read a speech outlining the context of the sculpture, aided by a small portable PA system. He also answered several questions from the audience, while his daughter, Cindy Jordison of Tisdale, unveiled the plaque.

This latest sculpture is the eighth in a series along Highway 11. Wilkins was part of the committee that successfully campaigned to have the route named the “Louis Riel Trail” in 2001.

“This highway provides a great venue to showcase our region and our province,” Wilkins told the Leader last week.

The main part of the steel sculpture depicts Riel himself, 13 feet tall, posed in a peaceful stance with a crucifix held in his outstretched left hand, reflecting his Catholic faith.

Behind him are four pillars, representing the four delegates who travelled to meet with Riel: Gabriel Dumont, Moïse Ouellette, Michel Dumas and James Isbister.

Each one is adorned at the top with a small image of a rider on horseback, while a small building marked with a cross represents the St. Peter’s Jesuit mission where Riel was teaching at the time of the delegates’ visit. Also on the site is a Red River cart, the 16th such cart crafted by Wilkins.

For the full story, please see the Sept. 7 edition of The Davidson Leader.

Burgess auction draws hundreds to Bladworth

Glen Manz points to a bidder as a small wooden cabinet goes up for sale during the Burgess auction in Bladworth on June 6. Also pictured is Connie Glines.

Glen Manz points to a bidder as a small wooden cabinet goes up for sale during the Burgess auction in Bladworth on June 6. Also pictured is Connie Glines.

By Joel van der Veen

BLADWORTH — As Bill Burgess watched the collection of a lifetime hit the auction block last weekend, he seemed resigned to its fate.

“It’s not easy, you know,” he said, “but I realized it had to happen, so I thought we’d better do it now.”

Burgess’s collection of farm equipment, vehicles, tools and other paraphernalia, as well as the buildings that housed them all, was divested in a sale conducted by Manz’s Auctioneering Service on Bladworth’s main street on June 6.

The sale of the vast collection drew an equally enormous crowd from across Saskatchewan and Alberta, including multiple antique dealers.

Upwards of 250 bidders registered over the course of the day, and Jan Manz estimated that more than 500 people had come through to bid, glance over the items for sale or simpy watch the proceedings.

Manz said the sale date was booked last fall, giving their staff plenty of time to promote it but also leaving them at the mercy of the weather. Employees spent a total of four days sorting the items for sale.

“It was just going to have to go ahead,” she said, noting that aside from a brief windstorm on Friday night, the weekend weather was ideal for the sale. “We were lucky.”

Bladworth Mayor Ron Bessey observed that, aside from the village’s annual Sports Days, it was rare to see so much activity in town.

“I’d be lucky if I recognized half of the people here,” he said, adding that it was good to see such a large crowd and fortunate that the weather co-operated.

Barkley Prpick, who owns and operates Barkley’s Bar with his wife Tannis, said his establishment was enjoying the extra business.

His children and their friends were also selling ice cream from the patio; they could later be seen walking through the crowd to sell their wares.

Prpick said he has known Burgess for many years — both as a frequent presence in the village, and for his maintenance work in area schools — but added, “I don’t know what possesses a person to collect all of these things.”

His comments were echoed by others, including Don Wilkins of Girvin, who said he was “overwhelmed” as he looked through the collection.

“The last words I heard leaving the house were, ‘You don’t need anything,’” he added.

Among the featured items in Saturday’s auction were four vintage John Deere tractors restored by Burgess and still in working condition.

Mary Walker, who attended the sale with her husband Lee and other family members, recalled that the tractors were a frequent presence in Bladworth’s Sports Day parades.

The sale also included other farm implements, vehicles in various states of repair, tools, musical instruments, and a host of smaller items, ranging from fire extinguishers to bank calendars.

Four buildings also went up on the auction block, including the former pool hall in which Burgess had displayed some of his collection, and the Silver Lake schoolhouse, which he had converted to use as a workshop.

The buyers of the buildings were told to make arrangements either to purchase the underlying lots through the village office, or to have the buildings moved elsewhere.

Watching the progress of the sale with Bill Burgess was Kay, his wife of almost 64 years. Together the Burgesses raised six children; they now also have nine grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

Bill and Kay were married in October 1951 and lived on the family farm, located 22 miles east of Bladworth, until 1959. They have lived in Imperial ever since.

After leaving the farm, Burgess worked as a carpenter, attending STI (now Saskatchewan Polytechnic) in Moose Jaw to get his certificates. As his first project, he was part of the crew that built St. Pius X Roman Catholic Church in Imperial.

In 1973 he became maintenance supervisor with the Davidson School Unit, remaining in that position for 21 years.

Burgess recalled how he would continually add to the collection, restoring some items and putting others on display in the old pool hall, which he called his “museum.”

Asked how she coped with her husband’s growing collection, Kay Burgess said that for the most part she wasn’t aware of it.

“I never knew he bought it,” said Kay, who turns 91 this year. “He would see these things all over the country, and if he wanted it, he bought it.”

Bill, who turns 87 in September, said he plans to keep busy working in his shop at home.

Greg Burgess, their second son, said most of the family had returned home for the auction. He added he was surprised at the extent of the collection.

“I didn’t think he had that much stuff,” he said. “Every building had something in it.”

Greg added that there were no “first dibs” for himself or his siblings. They were told that if they wanted anything, they had to show up and bid like everyone else.

And there was plenty of bidding going on. The tractors and buildings sold for thousands of dollars each, but even some of the smaller items attracted their share of bids.

A keychain collection numbering in the hundreds sold for $270; a collection of pins and buttons went for $70; a lot consisting of four bank calendars and a tobacco sign sold for $190.

Yet there were deals to be had. Trevor Mooney, a 12-year-old lad from Imperial, paid $55 for a black Gibson electric-acoustic guitar. The instrument needed some work, but Mooney was pleased with this purchase.

Another satisfied customer was Greg Prpich, a retired farmer who now raises bison four-and-a-half miles northeast of Bladworth.

Prpich paid $80 for a cloth banner once carried by Bladworth students, bearing the slogan “For King and Country”; he guessed that it dated back to at least the 1940s.

He said he has known Burgess for decades and remembered seeing the banner in his collection. He wasn’t sure what he would do with it but said it would be a unique souvenir.

“It’s my hometown,” said Prpich, adding, “I just wanted a keepsake to remind me of Bill.”

Bill and Kay Burgess watch the auction in progress.

Bill and Kay Burgess watch the auction in progress.

Bullish over bulls

The fourth Annual Charolais, Black and Red Angus Bull Sale by Palmer Charolais  and Nielson Land & Cattle Co. attracted a large crowd to the sale in Bladworth last Monday.

The fourth Annual Charolais, Black and Red Angus Bull Sale by Palmer Charolais and Nielson Land & Cattle Co. attracted a large crowd to the sale in Bladworth last Monday.


BLADWORTH—Optimism for the cattle industry generated by record high cattle prices were reflected in the turnout and response to Palmer Charolais with Nielson Land & Cattle Co. annual bull sale March 2.
“It was a good crowd for the blustery day we had…standing room only during the sale,” Larry Nielson, of Nielson Land & Cattle Co., said.
There were from 150 to 200 people crowded into the shop at Palmer Charolais west of Bladworth. Gale-force winds that whipped up the snow didn’t deter people from turning out. Others phoned in their bids.
The sale average of last Monday’s sale was considerably higher than last year’s average, Nielson said.
He said the prices for his family’s purebred black Angus and red Angus bulls and heifers at this year’s sale were much higher than last year.
Palmer Charolais experienced similar results for their purebred Charolais bulls, the overall average on the their bulls was $7,276, which is up from last year.
“Everybody I talked to at the sale or on the phone about the sale was very optimistic about cattle,” said Velon Herback of Palmer Charolais.
People are optimistic, so they are spending more money on bulls than they had in the past.
“Everything relates to prices in cattle,” Herback said.

Conference helps students lead the way

Nine kids from Davidson School recently spread out across the country to try and become better leaders for their school and community.

Matthias McCreary and Sarah Nykiforuk headed to Montague, Prince Edward Island, Sept. 15 to 23 as part of a Sun West School Division team for the annual Canadian Student Leadership Conference. The objective of the conference is to help young people develop leadership skills, build confidence and discover new ideas to make a difference in their school and community.

Davidson SCC (School Community Council) representatives Liana Farrell, Bradley Brazeau, Kim Baldwin and Paige Hodgins joined Matthias and Sarah later on at the conference.

“It was to promote leadership,” said Matthias. “All the people that were there were either leaders or striving to be leaders. While there you attend different workshops and some of them would be about leadership or some of them would be promoting different things you could lead kids to do (like) causes, charities and that kind of thing. It’s just a way of promoting leadership.”

Liana said there were around 800 students from across Canada gathered in PEI to learn leadership skills. She said the students also got to participate in fun activities such as a laser tag and working through a corn maze during the week along with listening to keynote speakers and participating in the leadership workshops.

“This was a way to get ideas from all across Canada to see how different provinces and different schools try and get people involved,” she said.

At the Saskatchewan Student Leadership Conference held Sept. 18 to 20 in Lloydminster, Davidson School students Quin Johnson, Elise McJannet and Kaitlyn Baldwin led the charge for a more inclusive school community.

Elise said the provincial leadership conference had the same agenda as the national, but with 800 kids just from Saskatchewan. She said listening to the keynote speakers was one of the best moments at the conference for her.

“It was really cool,” said Elise. “An Olympian spoke and really funny people spoke. It was all how they showed leadership and how they overcame adversity to get where they are.”

To read more please see the October 7 print edition of The Davidson Leader.

Hunters flock to Living Sky Outfitters

Jeff Doyle hasn’t shaved for days.
It’s a look he could be sporting for five weeks as he and his partner in Living Sky Outfitters, Trevor Bessey, enter the second week of hunting season.
They are on the go day and night guiding groups of American hunters who have flocked to the area to take in the fall bird hunt.
At this rate, Doyle’s thick stubble could grow into a full-fledged beard.
It’s facial hair he’s proud to wear because those whiskers mean that he and Bessey have done their job by making sure their customers have lots of waterfowl to shoot at.
“I’m getting horribly scruffy, but I don’t shave till we get skunked,” he says, explaining skunked for Living Sky Outfitters means none of their hunting guests encounter any waterfowl to shoot at.
“As a guide we know we’ve done our job with decoys when in the morning the birds are there. If they can’t hit them, that’s not our problem.”
He and Bessey scout fields and set up hundreds of decoys to convince geese and ducks southward bound on the fall migration to make a pit stop in the farm fields around Bladworth and Davidson.
The chance to hunt Canada geese, snow geese, specklebelly geese, and a variety of ducks on the “flyway highway” attracted a group of five hunters from Maryland to Bladworth last week.
They arrived last Sunday night and by noon Monday had already bagged 12 specklebellies and seven Canada geese.
They started planning the trip last year.
Jim Scott, who is from Bowleys Quarters, Maryland, said a guy they know back home recommended Living Sky Outfitters.
“We used to go to Birch Hills, but the outfitter there pumpkin patched us too many times,” Jim said.
“It’s beautiful here, a lot of birds. We made the right decision,”
His son Todd Scott said the weather is warmer than they expected and the geography is much different from back home.
“It’s a whole different experience up here. It’s so expansive, you can see for miles,” Todd said.
Coming to Saskatchewan to hunt waterfowl is the only hunting-type of holiday they take.
They do the rest of their sportsman activities close to home. Bowleys Quarters is on the Chesapeake Bay.
Donald Price, also a Maryland resident, said one reason they hunt in Saskatchewan is the hunting limits are more liberal than in the States.
Jim Scott said they also have a chance to hunt more species.
Doyle said most of Living Sky’s hunters are American, from states such as Maryland, New Jersey and Virginia. Some of the 55 to 60 hunters coming this year are also from Ohio and Illinois.
“We’re pretty much all return customers,” Doyle said.
They started the business six years ago and had 23 hunters that first season.
Doyle said support from local landowners, who allow them to hunt on their land, is crucial to their success.
To read more please see the October 7 print edition of The Davidson Leader.