2010 Celebrations in Review

  • Jan. 4, 2011 5:00 p.m.


Vol 15, Issue 1, January 6, 2011


The Canadian Navy celebrated its 100th Anniversary throughout 2010.  This was of special interest in Wetaskiwin, because Wetaskiwin has a special relationship to the Navy even though the city is so far from the ocean.  HMCS Wetaskiwin was the first corvette built on the west coast at Esquimalt to enter active service when it was commissioned on December 17th, 1940.  For three months it patrolled the west coast before transferring to the east coast where it performed convoy escort duty for most of the rest of World War II.  On July 31st, 1942, it shared with the Skeena the sinking of U 588.  It was paid off on June 19th, 1945, and sold to the Venezuelan Navy and renamed Victoria.  In 1962 it was discarded.



In 1910 the tiny community of Minnehik was established on the south end of Buck Lake.  In 1954, the name of the community was officially changed to Buck Lake.  The 2010 Anniversary and Homecoming celebrations provided activities and items of interest for everyone, young and old, long time residents and almost strangers, with an excellent balance of activities and quiet times and places to visit and talk.  The food was good, too.  Of course, a favourite topic was the changes over the years; changes from slippery mud ruts to paved roads, changes from walking to one room schools to taking a bus to a much larger school, changes from a very small community to a much larger community with much better facilities and housing. Congratulations on 100 years celebrated in style! 



The Home Hardware Western Distribution Centre welcomed the community to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of its facilities in Wetaskiwin.  Terry Davis, Executive Vice President and Chief Operational Officer for Home Hardware Stores Ltd., and his wife, Anne, were here from Ontario, as was Don Kirk, Vice President for Distribution and Manufacturing for Home Hardware Stores Ltd.  Following the brief opening ceremonies, there was a full afternoon of activities including a barbecue and other refreshments as well as cotton candy, dunk tank, kids games, movies and Dan the Balloon Guy, and warehouse tours.  It was a family day, a time for fun and food, or a time to learn about this impressive, state of the art facility.

The warehouse opened in 1985 in a 466,000 square foot facility; today it has 780,000 square feet under one roof, plus a large maintenance building.  Through its 25 years here, it constantly grew and adapted to changing conditions.  For example, in the beginning, rail cars were unloaded directly into the warehouse, but today it is more economical to truck containers from the rail yards in Edmonton.  There are 290 dealers serviced from this warehouse, and 120,501,685 pounds were shipped from it in 2009.  Of the 475 total staff, 57% are from Wetaskiwin, with the rest from surrounding communities including Millet and Camrose.

The Home Hardware Western Distribution Centre and its staff support many local charities, including the Short Cut for the Cure for cancer, the Wetaskiwin Hospital Foundation, S.T.A.R.S. Air Ambulance, Stollery Children’s Hospital, Communities in Bloom, the Boys and Girls Club.  All proceeds from the anniversary celebration, such as from the dunk tank, were going to the first Habitat for Humanity build in Wetaskiwin, along with a commitment of more than 500 volunteer hours on weekends.

The Home Hardware Western Distribution Centre is certainly a major asset for the community of Wetaskiwin, and it celebrated its 25th Anniversary with a suitable afternoon of enjoyment for the families of the community.



The Wetaskiwin Legion Arms celebrated its 25th Anniversary with a short program and lunch.  Plaques or certificates of congratulations were presented from the Federal Government, Provincial Government and the City of Wetaskiwin.  

The Legion Arms contains 51 suites for independent seniors.  It has an active social and activity program as could be seen in the displays in one of the activity rooms.



Residents and friends of Peace Hills Lodge celebrated the 50th Anniversary of the lodge even as construction on the new replacement lodge progressed at a steady pace.  The Anniversary celebrations were honoured by a complete slate of dignitaries in attendance: MP Blaine Calkins, Minister of Seniors and Community Supports Hon. M.A. Jablonski, MLA Verlyn Olson, Wetaskiwin Mayor Don Montgomery, Millet Mayor Dave Gursky, County Reeve Garry Dearing, as well as members of councils, staff and residents from the sister lodge in Winfield, former authorities and workers and so many friends that the celebrations had to move across the parking lot into the Senior Citizens’ auditorium.

Music was a highlight of the celebrations, with vocals by award winning country music artist Heather Dawn, and the band of Barb Wire and Roses reuniting to illustrate once again the great sounds that can come from old time ingenuity.  O Canada was sung by Lois Schultz, the great great niece of Harvey Jespersen, resident in Peace Hills Lodge and current Pioneer of the Year.  Peggy Emmett tickled the ivories to complete the music for the afternoon.

Since the celebration was planned to honor all the past and present residents and staff, there were a number of presentations and speakers, with recognition of special events in residents’ lives, and of long time residents in the lodge.

The 50 years of quality care for seniors at Peace Hills Lodge was well celebrated by one and all.


TWILIGHTERS’ 20TH ANNIVERSARY The Twilighters’ Visionary Support Group of Wetaskiwin celebrated its 20th

Anniversary with an afternoon of reminiscing, entertainment, and refreshments.  As it remembered its beginnings, appropriate recognition was given to those who had the inner vision to recognize the need and to act upon that recognition.  In 1925, Helen Keller had challenged the Lions Club International to support people of limited vision, and it was Lloyd Gillespie of the Wetaskiwin Lions Club who took up that challenge locally in 1989 to initiate the development of a local support group for those with vision problems.  Working with the CNIB’s Bert Moen, Gillespie helped organize this Wetaskiwin club.  The club held a name contest among its charter members, and it was Angeline Nordin who suggested the name “Twilighters” because many of the members were in their twilight years and they all had twilight vision. The group was up and running in 1990.

The Canadian National Institute for the Blind is a not-for-profit organization which tries to provide free support services to those with limited or no vision.  There are 180 million blind people in the world, of which 45 million are totally blind.  In Canada, 650,000 people cannot see to read print, and more than 11,000 of those are in Alberta.  There are 800 added to that number in Alberta each year, a lot for the organization to provide services to.  In Wetaskiwin, there are 56 individuals who qualify.  Vision loss creates many special problems.  The blind may not drive, so isolation becomes a problem. Technology is being developed to help in many ways, but it cannot replace vision, cannot hug or shake hands.

The musical entertainment for the afternoon was brought from Edmonton by vision impaired musicians and song writers Jimmy and George.  They were excellent!  Sisters Elsie and Violet sang We Have This Moment Today which contains the very meaningful lines, “Yesterday’s gone and tomorrow may never come, but we have this moment today.”

There were a number of short speeches from local dignitaries, presentations to several who went “above and beyond” in their work for the group and those in it, and a number of door prizes.

The Twilighters’ Visionary Support Group of Wetaskiwin is a vital asset to those living with all the disadvantages and challenges of vision loss.  They may experience loss of sight, but they certainly have not lost their vision for contributing to the welfare of each other and their community.