Alvin Klause is presented with the Pioneer of the Year trophy upon which his name is engraved for 2012.
Alvin Klause was selected Pioneer of the Year for 2012 in the Entertainment category in recognition of his outstanding performance over the years in several bands. It all began when he was 15 years old and went with his father, who played the tuba, to the Wetaskiwin Community Band practices. He quickly realized that he wanted to be more involved than merely listening, so his father taught him to play the cornet, and he joined the band. When Alvin was 21, he was invited to play the trumpet with a new dance band, the Swing Four. The band's first gig at Ohaton brought them a contract to play every Saturday night and New Year's Eve. Soon they were playing every Friday and Saturday night. As he became more involved in the family business, Alvin found this schedule too demanding, and reluctantly left the Swing Four. He was promptly invited to join the Elk's Club so that he could play on their band, the Ambassadors, which he did. About 55 years later, he is still a proud member of the Elks Club, was club Secretary-Treasurer for 20 years and is presently Secretary-Treasurer of its Holding Society and Elks Club chaplain. After the Wetaskiwin Community Band disbanded in 1968, he played with the Wetaskiwin Bavarian Band, started at that time by Dennis Rusinak and John Schwonik, and which continued for 33 years. Alvin Klause also played for seven years with the Princess Patricia Canadian Light Infantry Reserve Army Band, and was the official bugler with the Wetaskiwin Branch of the Canadian Legion including at Remembrance Day Ceremonies. There is certainly great reason to call Alvin Klause “Mr. Entertainment.”
When Alvin Klause graciously accepted his selection as Pioneer of the Year and thanked everyone, he also paid tribute to those he considers the “real pioneers,” his parents. Married in 1927 in Russia, the gift from the bride's father was the funds and arrangements for the young couple to emigrate from Russia to find a better life in the west. They were on the last tramp steamer to leave the Port of Riga on the Baltic Sea before it was closed. After reaching Liverpool, two days of quarantine there, and a quick five or six day crossing of the Atlantic on the modern Empress of France, the young couple arrived at Quebec City where they found the immigration officials excellent and able to speak all languages. At their destination of Strathcona, they were dumped off the train with their luggage. While the young wife sat on the luggage and cried, the young husband went looking, and was able to talk to a man speaking German in the crowd. The man was a Mr. Lantz, a farmer looking for workers for a harvest crew in the area between Hobbema and Ponoka. After harvest was finished a month or so later, Mr. Lantz took Mr. Klause to look for work in the area for which he was trained, tailoring. The places in Strathcona all needed tailors, but none would hire a man who couldn't speak English. Neither would Charlie Boyer in Wetaskiwin until Mr. Lantz went after him. Finally, Boyer handed the young man the needed supplies and told him to make a buttonhole. After carefully scrutinizing the completed buttonhole, Klause was hired. After 20 years of making handcrafted woollen suits which sold for $30 or $35 with a vest, he was given first chance to buy the business, which he did. Alvin was then 17 and just out of high school, so joined his father in Dave Klause and Son Drycleaning and Tailoring. The family pulled together to run the business for 50 years.
The Pioneer of the Year must meet a number of conditions, including having lived most or all of their life in Wetaskiwin and still being an active volunteer. Alvin Klause is a proud citizen of Wetaskiwin where he was born and has lived all of his life. He is still an active volunteer in the Elks Club and in First United Church where he sings tenor in the choir, is a trustee, is on the memorial committee, and is an active member and Treasurer for the AOTS (As One That Serves—the men's club). He is also the chairman for the Christmas Carol Festival which he helped organize about 18 years ago and for which he was the MC for 14 years.
It's 53 years since Alvin Klause married his high school sweetheart, Hedy Grams, who was Pioneer of the Year in 2008 in the Music category in recognition of her work as a professional piano teacher and involvement with national and provincial professional associations. Naturally, their three children are also musical. Kevin is a pilot who enjoys playing the trumpet. Ken has his Masters in Music and taught music at Strathcona High School. Carolyn also has her Masters in Music and plays violin in the Montreal Metropolitan Symphony.
Alvin Klause says, “I strongly believe that if you have a talent in any area, be it music, sports, art, performing arts, you must share it. I have done that and have no regrets, only wonderful memories.” He has also given many wonderful memories. Congratulations!