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Council picks fix for Craik’s water

By Joel van der Veen

CRAIK — The Town of Craik has taken one more step towards restoring drinking water for local residents.

Councillors have approved a water treatment method, based on the results of pilot projects carried out at the water plant this summer.

Engineers are working on a detailed design proposal, according to a written update provided to ratepayers, and the town expects to begin seeking tenders for the project in December.

Mayor David Ashdown told the Leader last week that the town is making good progress on the matter, despite some delays and challenges.

“It’s taking a bit longer than personally I had hoped,” he said. “It’s certainly important that we do things right.”

The mayor said he was encouraged by the positive results shown from the pilot projects.

Ashdown said he was hopeful that safe drinking water would be available in Craik in the summer of 2018.

Once the town’s water is found to meet provincial standards, a three-month test period will follow to ensure that the treatment system can maintain that level of quality. Only once that’s finished will the boil water advisory be lifted.

“A certain level of caution” is needed, the mayor said, adding, “Once the advisory is off, I’d like it to be staying off.”

Craik has been under a boil water advisory since August 17, 2010 for “failing to meet minimum disinfection levels.”

The town has faced ongoing issues with a water plant constructed in 2009 by Mainstream Water Solutions, a Regina firm that has since filed for bankruptcy.

The update to ratepayers, prepared by Ashdown, states that restoring Craik’s drinking water “has been and continues to be the first priority” for the mayor and council.

Craik began working with engineers from KGS Group in 2015 to find and compare solutions to its water woes.

Their efforts received a couple of financial boosts starting last fall, when ratepayers voted in favour of directing the insurance payout from the Eco-Centre fire, roughly $380,000, towards the water fund.

At the time, the town estimated that the advisory could be lifted as early as November 2017, though various delays have pushed that prediction back.

A federal-provincial grant of more than $1.42 million for Craik, through the Clean Water and Wastewater Fund, was announced in January 2017.

The additional funds opened up the possibility of finding a suitable ground water source for the town. An exploratory drilling program began early this year, but five test drills in various locations all came up negative.

As such Craik will continue drawing water from an intake at the Arm River dam east of town. Some modifications will be made to the intake to ensure “the cleanest water possible enters the treatment process.”

Mayor Ashdown said a reliable source of ground water would have been preferable, but ultimately wasn’t an option.

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Churches unite for Reformation service

Rev. Dr. Gordon Jensen, portraying Martin Luther, talks with guests at an ecumenical service on Nov. 19.

By Joel van der Veen

DAVIDSON — Was it ironic that Davidson’s churches gathered in the Catholic parish hall to mark 500 years of the Reformation?

Sonje Finnestad, a Lutheran minister who serves churches in Davidson and rural Loreburn, said she was inclined to see it differently.

“You could say irony,” she said, “or a sign of progress.”

An ecumenical service was held Nov. 19 at the Sacred Heart parish hall to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, the schism that led to the formation of the Protestant church.

Finnestad said the service was designed as a unifying event, bringing Christians of all denominations together for a time of shared worship and reconciliation.

The event was organized by the Davidson Inter-Church Association, with all six local churches represented and taking part in the proceedings.

Rev. Dr. Gordon Jensen, a professor at Lutheran Theological Seminary in Saskatoon, was the guest speaker.

After giving the sermon, he briefly stepped out and returned in costume as Martin Luther, the German theologian whose criticisms of the Catholic church helped to kick off the Reformation.

As far as Luther impressions go, one could say Jensen nailed it.

He answered questions and spoke about Luther’s life, his beliefs and his work as a theologian and reformer.

Jensen told the Leader he’s found that role-playing helps to hold the audience’s interest, more than if he had simply presented a lecture.

“I think it’s more engaging, especially with the ability to ask all kinds of questions,” he said.

Following the service, a medieval feast was served. Organizers provided both the bread and chicken drumsticks, while attendees were asked to bring either salad or dessert.

About 50 people attended, a healthy turnout considering that, as Finnestad noted, “I understand we’re competing with the eastern finals of the CFL.”

The liturgy was based on a common prayer service developed by Lutherans and Catholics for the 500th anniversary.

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Fun factory: Elementary drama club delights with “Willy Wonka” play

Tyce Farden, Reece Johnson, Finn Low and Rogan Pasher take off in the Great Glass Elevator.

By Joel van der Veen

DAVIDSON — It was a world of pure imagination as Davidson’s elementary students presented their fall drama productionon Wednesday.

Close to 40 students in grades 3 through 6 made up the cast and crew of “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.”

The play was based on the book by Roald Dahl, first published in 1964, and also incorporated songs and plot elements from the 1971 film starring Gene Wilder.

Upwards of 200 people attended the performance in the high school gymnasium on Wednesday night.

The play tells the story of five children who win a tour of the chocolate factory run by the mysterious and eccentric Willy Wonka.

Arlene Low, one of the play’s directors, said it was fun working with the kids and watching the play come together. Rehearsals began in early September.

With such a large cast, she said the greatest challenge was determining where each actor needed to be and making sure they were ready for their cues, adding, “It’s a small stage with lots of kids.”


For the full story, please see the Nov. 20 edition of The Davidson Leader or call 306-567-2047 to subscribe today.

Nov. 11 service wraps up busy year for Legion branch

Tony Billett and Gordon McRae lead the colour party as they enter to start Davidson’s Remembrance Day service.

By Joel van der Veen

DAVIDSON — For members of the Royal Canadian Legion Branch No. 51, this year has been the busiest in recent memory.

On July 1, the branch unveiled a new monument, a granite pillar bearing the names of 614 men and women from the area who have served their country in uniform.

The $15,000 project, in the works for several years, stands as a companion to the older cenotaph that has stood on Davidson’s main street since 1926.

The next month, the Legion hosted a stop on the “Birth of a Nation” tour, featuring replicas of the planes used in the Battle of Vimy Ridge in 1917.

Upwards of 300 people attended a meet-and-greet on Aug. 16, where they could chat with the three pilots and see the Nieuport II replicas up close, while roughly 100 attended a dinner in their honour at the town hall that same night.

Gordon McRae, president of the local Legion branch, said they have a total of 38 members, having added several new recruits in the past year.

“We don’t do a lot, but we do good stuff,” McRae said.

One annual duty is the public Remembrance Day service, organized by the Legion and the Davidson Inter-Church Association (DICA).

Due to an aging membership and declining numbers, the Legion branch announced in 2007 that it would no longer organize a public Nov. 11 service. (Annual services continued at Davidson School.)

Three years later, the Legion branch and local churches joined forces to revive the tradition, and it has continued ever since.

This year’s service drew about 175 people to Davidson Town Hall.

“We are reminded of the sacrifices that were being made and are still being made,” said emcee Mary Jane Morrison.

She said these include both historic battles — like Vimy Ridge and Passchendaele, both fought in 1917 — and today’s conflicts, “wars that were and wars that continue.”

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Torn apart by war

Pictured are Beatrice Lick and Pte. Thomas P. Shearer.

This week’s edition of the Leader features two stories of how one local family was touched by the First World War.

The first story tells of Pte. Thomas P. Shearer, a Davidson resident who died in action at Passchendaele, Belgium on Oct. 30, 1917, one hundred years ago last week.

Among those he left behind was Beatrice Lick (1892-1987), a schoolteacher in Davidson to whom he had proposed marriage. Included in this week’s paper is a letter written by Beatrice to her aunt in Winnipeg, shortly after receiving the news of Thomas’s death.

The second story is about Cecil Lick (1895-1968), who served overseas during the war. He survived and returned home to farm in the Davidson area, but carried the psychological and physical trauma of the war for the rest of his life.

Both stories were submitted to the paper by Donna Longley of Victoria, B.C., who is the great-niece of both Cecil Lick and Beatrice Lick.

We thank Donna and her family for their contributions and trust that our readers will appreciate these personal stories of the war’s impact. 

Submitted by Donna Longley

One hundred years ago, Thomas Pitcairn Shearer, a 23-year-old resident of Davidson, Sask., was killed in action in the muddy trenches of Passchendaele, on Oct. 30, 1917. 

Pte. Thomas Shearer, Regiment No. 114095, was born Dec. 19, 1893, in Linlithgowshire, Scotland and immigrated to Canada as a young man.  While in Scotland, Thomas served for three years with the Sixth Black Watch (Royal Highlanders), a militia based in Perth, stationed to defend the Scottish coastal area.

Thomas moved to Canada and landed employment with the Royal Bank in Winnipeg. Later he was transferred as a bank clerk to the Davidson, Sask., branch. While working in Davidson, he met a young teacher, Beatrice Lick. 

Her parents, William and Mary Jane Lick, farmed in the Davidson area and had four children: Beatrice, Cecil, Florence and Robert. 

Beatrice was bright and obtained her bachelor’s degree in education from the University of Toronto. She enjoyed teaching and “Tommy” Shearer was her brown-eyed beau. Thomas proposed marriage to Beatrice before he left for Europe, but she could not decide whether or not to marry him at that time. 

Pte. Thomas enlisted in the Canadian military in Saskatoon at the age of 21 in June of 1915, to eventually become a member of the Fifth Regiment Canadian Mounted Rifles Quebec Regiment. At 23 years old he was bravely present at Vimy Ridge, Ypres and Passchendaele, where he was ultimately killed in action. 

Thomas’s tragic death is commemorated on the Menin Gate Memorial at Leper, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium, which bears the names of 55,000 men who were lost without trace during the defense of the Ypres Salient in the First World War.   

Beatrice Lick lived from 1892 to 1987 and never married following Thomas’s death. During her long career, she taught in rural schools throughout Saskatchewan and was considered the “best teacher” by her students.

Today, an annual $2,000 scholarship is offered in her name through the University of Saskatchewan by “the friends of the late Beatrice Z. Lick,” for studies in English language and literature. Beatrice’s descendants kept the touching letter she wrote to her Aunt Emily in Winnipeg, after receiving word that her beau, Thomas Shearer, was killed in action at Passchendaele. 

To read Emily’s letter as well as the story of Cecil Lick, see the Nov. 6 edition of The Davidson Leader, or call 306-567-2047 to subscribe today.

Blizzards honour coach with heartfelt ceremony

At left, Dean Blenkinsop, accompanied by his wife Michelle, stands on the ice while hundreds applaud him during a ceremony at the Kenaston Arena on Oct. 28. Also pictured at right is Mark Asbjornhus.

By Joel van der Veen

KENASTON —  Hundreds filled the Kenaston Arena on Saturday night to pay tribute to a coach, teammate, neighbour and friend.

Longtime Blizzards player and coach Dean Blenkinsop was honoured with a brief ceremony at the rink, to retire his number and to recognize his years of service to hockey in Kenaston.

The ceremony was held the night of Oct. 28, prior to a senior hockey exhibition game between the Kenaston Blizzards and the Loreburn 19ers.

Introduced by former teammate Mark Asbjornhus, Blenkinsop walked onto the ice with his wife Michelle following closely behind him.

He stood quietly while the players on the ice and the crowd — estimated at more than 350 people — paid tribute with a standing ovation.

Following a slideshow of photos, a banner was unveiled at the far end of the rink, bearing Blenkinsop’s name and the number 10.

Dean then spoke briefly, thanking the team for the tribute, and saying, “Let’s have a fun night.”

Asbjornhus said the tribute was a “group effort,” calling Dean an “unbelievable guy” who has dedicated many years to the community.

“We’ve been talking about retiring his jersey for a while,” Asbjornhus said, adding as he looked over the crowd on Saturday night, “It seems to be coming together pretty good.”

Blenkinsop, 46, grew up in Hawarden and began playing senior hockey with the Blizzards in the late 1980s.

He continued with the team over the next 25 years, moving off the ice into coaching four years ago.

He was first diagnosed with colon cancer nine years ago, and has been battling the disease on and off since then.

Blenkinsop said he has been open about his fight with cancer, adding that he and his family have received plenty of support from the community.

He and Michelle have three daughters, ranging in age from nine to 13 years, while Michelle also has a 24-year-old son.

Blenkinsop said prior to the ceremony that organizers had kept most of their plans a secret.

“They just told me to show up tonight,” he said. “It’s exciting.”

Afterward, he said he enjoyed the ceremony, adding that the banner was a nice surprise touch. Read more