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Hundreds flock to Strongfield for festivities

Randy Urlacher gives spectators a refreshing blast from the fire hose during Strongfield’s parade on July 15. Randy was riding on the back of the Loreburn fire truck along with Luke Glubis, Taylor South and Victor Dutkiewicz.

 

By Joel van der Veen

STRONGFIELD — Serving three meals for hundreds of people last Saturday made for a busy day for volunteers at the Strongfield hall.

“It just seemed like we went from one meal to the next,” said Brandy Losie, adding that the atmosphere elsewhere in the village was more relaxed.

“It’s small, so people just want to walk around and look where they used to live.”

Strongfield celebrated its 105th anniversary, as well as the 150th anniversary of Canada’s Confederation, with a full day of events on July 15.

A pancake breakfast on Saturday morning drew close to 200 people, with around 180 returning for a barbecue lunch and 165 enjoying a pulled-pork supper.

Losie, the village’s administrator, said Strongfield usually has a small summer parade to celebrate Dick Tastad’s birthday, typically held on a weekday.

This year, she said, they decided to hold the parade on a Saturday in hopes of drawing a larger crowd.

They picked July 15, knowing that the Hutchinson-Taylor family reunion was happening the same weekend, with around 60 people expected to attend.

Losie said the scheduling worked out well, adding, “I was happy to see so many people.”

The village received some sprucing-up for the occasion, including flowers planted by organizer Holly Vollmer.

Dozens of kids joined the bike parade, led by Sgt. Mark Langager, a native of the area and now commanding officer at the Outlook RCMP detachment.

They were followed by roughly 30 entries in the vintage car, truck and tractor parade. George Bristow, a former resident and longtime mayor of the village, introduced each entry.

For the full story, please see the July 24 edition of The Davidson Leader, or call 306-567-2047 to subscribe today.

Party marks 50 years since Gardiner Dam’s grand opening

Pictured are the five control towers atop the Gardiner Dam.

By Joel van der Veen

GARDINER DAM — Roger Baldwin remembers his first day on the job.

Hired in 1962 by the Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration (PFRA), his first assignment was at the Gardiner Dam, as an inspector for the shafts and tunnels then under construction.

The day he arrived, his supervisor, Dwight Kirton, took him to the top of a shaft 200 feet high.

“Don’t worry,” Kirton told him as they looked down. “It’s the last 12 feet that’ll kill you.”

Baldwin, now 78, was among the former employees who travelled back to the dam on July 14 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of its opening.

An estimated 1,000 people were on hand for what was billed as “The Best Dam Party of the Summer.”

The crowd included many former employees of PFRA and the other agencies and contractors who worked on the project.

Dignitaries on hand included Ralph Goodale, the federal minister of public safety, and Scott Moe, the provincial environment minister, both of whom spoke during a brief ceremony.

Also in attendance were the descendants of Saskatchewan’s fourth premier, James Gardiner, for whom the dam was named.

The event was a joint affair organized by SaskPower, SaskWater, the Water Security Agency and the Ministry of Parks, Culture and Sport.

Joel Perry, Saskatchewan Parks manager for Danielson and Douglas provincial parks, said 1,100 hot dogs were served, along with similar numbers for ice cream.

“We lucked out, except with the wind,” he remarked Friday, “though in Saskatchewan, that means it’s good for no bugs.”

Attractions included face painting and a bouncy castle, along with displays from the Saskatchewan Science Centre and conservation authorities.

The visitor centre was open to the public, and area musician Will Ardell performed on stage following the program.

Serving as emcees were Mike Marsh, president and CEO of SaskPower, and Susan Ross, president of the Water Security Agency.

Marsh said the impact of the dam is widespread, including 100,000 homes powered each year by the Coteau Creek hydroelectric station.

The construction of the Gardiner and Qu’Appelle River dams also resulted in the formation of Lake Diefenbaker, which provides water for municipal and industrial use, as well as irrigating hundreds of farms. The lake has also spawned a massive tourism industry that draws thousands of visitors to the region annually.

For the full story, please see the July 24 edition of The Davidson Leader, or call 306-567-2047 to subscribe today.

Council keen on Loraas compost proposal

By Joel van der Veen

DAVIDSON — An organic waste pickup program for Davidson could be up and running as early as this fall.

During their regular meeting on Tuesday, town councillors welcomed a representative from Loraas Disposal Services to talk about his company’s offerings.

The company has recently begun offering an organics collection program, with several municipalities, including Warman and Rosetown, already on board.

If approved by Davidson’s council, the program would operate similarly to the curbside recycling program that the town has offered, through Loraas, for the last five years.

Green bins would be distributed to all households for the collection of organic waste — including plant and yard waste, fruits, vegetables, eggshells, coffee or tea grounds and related material.

Organic waste would be collected from households every two weeks, with the program going on hiatus in the fall and winter.

The proposal met with a warm response from the mayor and councillors, who voiced their approval in pursuing an arrangement with Loraas.

Mayor Tyler Alexander has stated at past meetings that the town must consider its options for composting, both to reduce its environmental impact and to extend the life of the muncipal landfill.

He said Tuesday that Loraas’s proposal made sense, as it would allow the town to provide the service at a low cost without having to directly operate it themselves.

“Personally, I’m all for it,” said the mayor. “I think we should hit the ground running.”

Alexander proposed that the town could introduce the service this fall, along with a public seminar to inform and educate residents.

Council will wait till the August meeting before passing a formal motion on the matter.

For the full story, please see the July 24 edition of The Davidson Leader, or call 306-567-2047 to subscribe today.

 

Plough wind wrecks Strongfield curling rink

A plough wind destroyed the Strongfield curling rink on Thursday night.

By Joel van der Veen

STRONGFIELD — A gathering place for young and old for more than 50 years, the Strongfield curling rink was the casualty of a plough wind that swept through the Line 19 district on Thursday night.

The wind struck the rink shortly after 8 p.m., flattening it in a matter of minutes.

Nearby residents soon discovered the wreckage. The rink’s north wall had been knocked down, and the roof and sidewalls lay flat, with shingles, planks and insulation scattered around.

“It’s not good,” said Amanda Glubis, a member of Strongfield’s recreation board.

Glubis, who lives on a farm one mile north and one mile east of the village, said she and her family could see the storm approaching Thursday, with lightning off in the west.

She sent a text message to her husband Ryan at 8:04 p.m. — “Wind!” — after which they endured roughly a half-hour of storm conditions.

The combination of thick rain and wind made it impossible to see outside, she said, adding, “It was just a white-out.”

The Strongfield curling rink, constructed in 1963, had three sheets of natural ice and was typically open from early January to mid-March.

In recent years, the rink would be open on Monday nights, with a community supper and usually two draws of curling.

In effect, Glubis said, though the rink was only in operation for 10 days a year, it was the rec board’s main source of income, supporting both the rink and the village hall.

“She’s open as long as there’s ice,” she said. “It brings in enough money to operate power, phone, buy new rocks for the kids, that kind of stuff.”

With the only curling rink in the district still in operation, Strongfield drew enthusiasts from as far away as Mistusinne and Broderick, though the facility was showing its age.

“We knew it was starting to sag a bit in the middle,” said Glubis. “We were hoping we could get another five years out of it.”

The kitchen and viewing area, located in the centre, are still standing, though some damage was evident.

Glubis said volunteers entered the building last night to remove some equipment, finding water on the kitchen floor.

The skating rink on the south side of the facility, which dates back to the 1920s, also survived the storm.

For the full story, please see the July 24 edition of The Davidson Leader, or call 306-567-2047 to subscribe today.

Bladworth girl, 14, on road to recovery

Jessica Townsend, 14, is recovering in Saskatoon’s Royal University Hospital after suffering seizures caused by an arteriovenuous malformation (AVM) on the left side of her brain.

By Joel van der Veen

BLADWORTH — With days left till the end of school, Brenda Townsend and her girls were making their summer plans.

For Canada Day, they were going to ride together in the parade in Elbow, having already helped Anne Willner construct her float.

After that, the Townsends had some Saskatchewan road trips in mind.

“The girls and I were going to see more of the province,” Brenda said last week.

But those plans shifted to the back burner in late June after her oldest daughter, Jessica, suffered a brain aneurysm.

As of last week, Jessica remained in the pediatric unit at Royal University Hospital (RUH) in Saskatoon, where she is recovering from surgery and undergoing treatment and therapy.

Though recovery remains a long way off, Brenda said her daughter is making progress and showing daily improvement.

“Her spirit is there,” she said Thursday. “It’s long days, but it’s still good.”

Jessica, 14, is going into Grade 10 this fall at Davidson School, along with her twin sister Breanne.

They have two younger twin sisters, Marissa and Topanga, going into Grade 7. (Brenda also has two older sons — Alek Howell, 24, and Nicolas, 27.)

On the morning of Wednesday, June 21, Brenda went to wake Jessica up for school at their home in Bladworth. Though her eyes were open, Jessica couldn’t speak, move or get out of bed. She had suffered a seizure in her sleep.

“At first we didn’t really know what happened,” said Brenda. “I called her dad and he came over right away.”

After Jessica’s father Craig arrived, they called 9-1-1. Davidson EMS quickly arrived to transport her to Davidson Health Centre, where she was stabilized but remained unresponsive.

Paramedics rushed Jessica to RUH, where a CT scan revealed an arteriovenous malformation (AVM) on the left side of her brain. The abnormality, present from birth, was causing internal bleeding.

After she suffered another seizure, the doctors prepared her for immediate surgery to relieve the pressure in her brain.

They placed Jessica in an induced coma, leaving her under for nine days. (The process also included removing Jessica’s skullcap, which is being kept in cold storage.)

Further surgery will be required to treat the AVM, and right now doctors are monitoring her response to treatment and therapy.

Jessica slowly woke from the coma at the start of the month, and on July 2 she was moved to the pediatric unit.

When she awoke, she could smile and hold items in her left hand, but spoke very little. There was no movement whatsoever on her right side.

Since then, she has made steady progress, with the help of a team of specialists that includes two physiotherapists and an occupational therapist.

A GoFundMe page has been set up to solicit donations for the Townsends. To contribute, visit gofundme.com/jessica-townsend.

For the full story, please see the July 17 edition of The Davidson Leader or call 306-567-2047 to subscribe today.

Guests travel through time at Prairie Pioneer Museum

Kevin Chambers tries his hand at writing with a quill pen while Christel Keiser provides instructions at the Prairie Pioneer Museum in Craik on July 9. Chambers was visiting from Simcoe, Ont., with other relatives; his mother, Maurie Mayer, is the niece of John Ackland of Craik.

By Joel van der Veen

CRAIK — Dip the pen into the inkwell, let the excess ink run off, and don’t press too hard.

As guests made their way through the schoolroom at the Prairie Pioneer Museum, Christel Keiser invited them to try writing their name with a quill pen, offering gentle instructions to each one.

It’s a delicate art, and some mastered it more quickly than others.

It was all part of a trip through time for visitors on a sunny Sunday afternoon.

The Craik museum hosted a Fun Day on July 9, featuring a barbecue lunch, entertainment, tours, special displays and raffle prizes.

Guests were invited to make their way through the six buildings that make up the museum, checking out hundreds of artifacts that span more than a century of Prairie farm and town life.

A special display featured mourning items from the collection of Nancy Spencer, including lace and other pieces made from human hair, some dating as far back as the U.S. Civil War.

Spencer said she began collecting these items around 1970. After her grandmother died, she inherited a ring made with hair, and the collection has continued from there.

“I just find all this very fascinating,” she said. “I think it’s something people should remember.”

The items on display included beadwork made by Belgian nuns. Other items came from Switzerland, France and the U.S.

Spencer explained to guests how each of the items were used to commemorate and honour the dead — such as a clock with lace draped over it, with the pendulum stopped to mark the time of death.

Sweet Pea the Clown, visiting from Moose Jaw, made balloon animals for the kids in attendance.

Hamburgers and hot dogs were served, and donated prizes were raffled off.

Pauline Dixon, who serves as secretary on the museum board, said a total of 123 burgers were sold. She estimated that about 130 people attended altogether.

“It wasn’t as many as usual,” she said, adding that some guests stopped by to grab a hamburger or buy raffle tickets, but didn’t stay around. “It was just too hot.”

For the full story, please see the July 17 edition of The Davidson Leader or call 306-567-2047 to subscribe today.