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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

Two truck rollovers on icy highway

A semi truck lays in the median on Highway 11 south of Davidson following a rollover on Wednesday morning.

By Joel van der Veen

DAVIDSON — Winter arrived in dramatic fashion last Wednesday as Davidson and area received several centimetres of snowfall overnight.

A chilly Halloween evening turned into a white winter morning, producing plenty of ice on local roads and dangerous conditions on Highway 11.

The Davidson Volunteer Fire Department responded to two calls on Wednesday, both involving trucks that had rolled over and wound up in the ditch.

Deputy fire chief Don Willner said it’s pretty typical for the department to respond to similar calls each fall as winter makes its first appearance.

“It’s amazing that we are still caught off guard by snow,” he remarked.

The first call came at 4:10 a.m., with one rescue unit and one fire engine responding to a rollover on the highway about five kilometres north of Craik.

A one-tonne truck, towing a trailer with a tractor onboard, left the road and rolled into the ditch, leaving the driver trapped inside.

Willner said responders expected the worst when they arrived, based on the scale of the damage.

However, the driver suffered no injuries, Willner said, adding, “He was quite lucky.”

The occupant was removed with no tools required and both units returned to the fire hall by 5:45 a.m.

The second rollover was reported at 8:50 a.m., again on Highway 11 about one kilometre south of town. A single rescue unit responded with six members.

The driver of a northbound semi truck had lost control, and the vehicle spun around 180 degrees and rolled into the centre ditch.

The driver suffered minor injuries but was able to remove himself from the vehicle. He was transported to Davidson Health Centre. The fire crew returned to the hall at 9:40 a.m.

In social media posts on Wednesday, the fire department asked residents to avoid driving on the icy highway unless necessary, and to always drive according to conditions.

Members of the Craik RCMP detachment were also kept busy on Wednesday, responding to a total of nine highway incidents between 4 a.m. and 1 p.m.  

Baldwin among CBC Saskatchewan Future 40 picks

Nicole Baldwin has named one of CBC Saskatchewan’s Future 40 honourees.

By Joel van der Veen

REGINA — One of Davidson’s own was among the honourees in this year’s CBC Saskatchewan Future 40.

The CBC contest featured 40 people under the age of 40 who are making their mark in the province.

Nicole Baldwin, currently working on her master’s degree at the University of Saskatchewan, was announced as one of the winners on Oct. 25.

Nicole, 24, is the oldest child of Tony and Sandra Baldwin of Davidson. She was nominated in the category of “Community, Social Activism and Volunteerism.”

Her dad and her friend Hayley Willner nominated her for the CBC competition, which began in late September.

Nicole learned she had been nominated in mid-October, and she had some advance warning that she had made it as a finalist, but had to keep the news under wraps.

She said both her nomination and her success came as a surprise, given the crowded field of nominees.

“I had been looking through the nomination profiles,” Nicole said. “I didn’t think I had much of a shot . . . It was a pleasant surprise.”

Nominations were accepted from Oct. 9 through Oct. 17, with a panel of judges selecting the top 40 nominees.

Nicole and Hayley went to the CBC studio in Regina on Oct. 26 for a reception and the presentation of the awards, with most of the winners present.

“Everyone that attended was from such a wide range of backgrounds,” said Nicole, adding that she enjoyed the diverse crowd since she spends most of her days surrounded by fellow toxicologists.

Currently, Nicole is 10 months into her master of science in toxicology. She is working with a team of researchers on a joint project with the U of S and Montreal’s McGill University, funded by Genome Canada.

Their goal is to develop and, eventually, commercialize a tool to assess and prioritize environmental chemicals.

Specifically, the tool will allow researchers to assess the impact of known chemicals — both individually and collectively — on soil, air and acquatic systems.

They will then be able to prioritize those chemicals in terms of their likely environmental impact, allowing them to compare options and determine which one poses the least risk.

Nicole said she hopes to complete her degree within three years, but the project’s five-year timeline means someone else will pick up where she leaves off.

She said she enjoys the self-directed nature of her research work, as well as working with the other researchers on the project.

“I absolutely love it,” she said. “I’d stay in school forever if they’d let me.”

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