May 13th, 2015 ~ Vol. 85 No. 19
Looking Back - John Kinnear
Looking back at 1980
Crowsnest Pass Herald Front Page
courtesy of Drain Brothers
Barbwire Johnnies Special (train) heading for the Calgary Stampede
Thirty five years ago I chose to move to a new job at Line Creek Mine and to live in Fernie. So for the next 25 years I was somewhat disconnected from the going’s on here in the Pass and have spent the last ten trying to get caught up on what went on during that time and when.
I have been doing this courtesy of Mrs. Mary Mundie’s scrapbooks, 67- 11 by 17 newspaper clipping treasures that provide a yearly cross section of what was happening in and around the municipality. (See Pass Herald Archives March 6, 2012 on line for details of this scrapbook story).
I thought I would pick a year and look back, as is my forte, to 1980 and a time of some significant developments here. This was a remarkable year nationally with stories like the Terry Fox run beginning, Quebec voting against separation, “O Canada” becoming the official national anthem and Alberta celebrating its 75th anniversary as a province.
Locally there was a lot going on and construction seemed to be at the forefront of it all. The old Elks Hall in Blairmore was demolished and a new modern building was being erected. Apparently the furnace in the old hall dated back before the turn of the century! The new municipal library was also being built and is a nifty piece of architecture as the scrapbook pictures show massive glue laminated beams installed to give it a nice open concept.
The York Creek Lodge was officially opened that August and replaced the old senior citizens lodge at the old hospital. Last October the Herald reported that this lodge was one of five in Alberta receive funding ( $ 9 million) for renovations and additions and the lodge will then have 28 new units and the older 49 units converted to 24 more spacious accommodations.
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There was one piece of construction being planned that it appears spelled the end to an iconic piece of Pass history. The then owners of Turtle Mountain Playgrounds presented council with their plans for renovation and expansion of their facility but the whole process was badly hung up by the provincial government. It seems that the uncertainty around the realignment location badly handicapped the owner and it looks like in the end the site was torn down. We are now left with a large truck parking lot and the opportunity to develop a first class sulphur spring facility is forever lost.
In May 1980 Gini and Susan Decoux, Kathy Trcka and Gregory Knight received piano accolades for their performances. The very next year both Decoux girls and Trcka were selected by a California adjudicator to represent Lethbridge and district at the provincial music festival. Their piano teacher was the amazing Beatrice (Trono) Costigan, a prominent and nationally recognized music teacher.
In April of that year nurses throughout Alberta went on strike for better wages and the nursing staff picketed the Crowsnest Pass Municipal Hospital with signs asking for decent patient workloads and one sign that proclaimed: “Even God Didn’t Work 7 Days”. In May Mt. Saint Helens dusted the Pass with volcanic ash and reminded us all of the power of nature. Apparently they used snow plows in Eastern Washington in some smaller towns to move the 20 or so centimeters of ash off of roads.
Holy Spirit Church in Coleman celebrated its 75th anniversary with a big bash at the old Coleman Catholic Hall (now Rumrunners). A whole raft of former priests were in attendance like Brian Hubka, Dennis Fleming, Tim Connolly, Pat Doran and Eric Nelson. Another event held that same month at the hall was a retirement celebration honouring five Pass school teachers. They included Alice Serra and Lucy Radulski sisters who both had 42 years of service. The sum total of all five retiring teachers’ service was a whopping 156 years!
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One clipping shows a CBC-TV cameraman filming forestry crews trying to cope with a nasty pine beetle infestation threatening the Pass. Another Pass Herald clipping from mid December shows the Pass being hit with an unprecedented two day continuous snowfall that shut down highways and schools and resulted in five foot drifts. Main Street Blairmore was rendered impassable. The very next week the Herald ran a follow-up picture taken from up on high (hamburger hill) that shows why we are known as Chinook Country. The whole town is literally bereft of snow, testimony to the power of the snow eater.
Probably my most favourite clipping in this particular scrapbook is a picture of Mrs. Agnes McInnis celebrating her 99th birthday at her home that April. Agnes moved here in 1917 from Inverness, Cape Breton and had three sons and eight daughters one of which was my mother Marie. Katie Agnes was as devout a Montreal Canadiens fan as you will ever find. She carried pictures of Jean Beliveau and Maurice Richard in her prayer book and corresponded with them back in their very early days as a team.
Katie Agnes (“Big Mama”) attended her last hockey game in December, 1980, at age 99. She said it was the most wonderful day of her life and I can still hear her telling us all about it in her heavily Gaelic-accented English. The game was a Calgary-Montreal matchup in Calgary and Katie was a guest of honor as a family member had earlier contacted Jean Beliveau about what a faithful, long time fan she was. He responded by sending her a Canadien’s sweater with the number 99 on it and her name, A. McInnis, across the back.
That night her hero Guy LaFleur was playing, scored two goals and they defeated Calgary. She was wheeled to a spot near the dressing room at the end of the game, shook every player’s hand and Guy gave her a kiss on the cheek and handed her his stick. Doesn’t get much better than that for a Canadiens fan.
Ironically, one year later, in December of 1981 an A. McInnis (Al) made his debut with the Flames. Al was also born in Inverness, Nova Scotia and eight years later, in 1989, led the Flames to their first every Stanley Cup in which they defeated the Canadiens. Ouch! Katie passed away in 1984 at the age of 103. I’m sure glad she wasn’t around to see that happen!
May 13th ~ Vol. 85 No. 19
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