Year in Review – January, February/2019


The first edition of the Lakeside Leader in 2019 was packed full of interesting stuff – much of it, as you would expect – coming from late in the previous year. For example, reported on Page 3 was the election of Silas Yellowknee as Chief of the Bigstone Cree Nation in Wabasca. This would have been noteworthy enough for its own sake, but the story was made even more interesting due to it being the second election in a couple of months. The first election – held in late October – saw Clara Moberly elected chief. But an arbitrator declared the results invalid, after problems with the voters’ list resulted in some members not being allowed to cast their ballots.

New Bigstone Chief Silas Yellowknee, pledging support for the oil and gas industry.

A big photo on Page 2 showed an ice-fishing shack half submerged after it broke through the ice on Lesser Slave Lake. The machine that was towing it is almost entirely underwater.
Also in that first edition of The Leader was a story of an alarming incident on Hwy. 2; a car hit a log that had apparently fallen off a haul truck and it sent their vehicle airborne. Luckily no one was hurt.

‘Slave Lakers rally in support of pipelines,’ says the front-page headline in the Jan. 9 edition of The Leader. According to one count, 275 vehicles took part in the parade down Main St. on Jan. 6, which took about 45 minutes to pass. Speakers at the rally that followed at the Legacy Centre included Peace River-Westlock MP Arnold Viersen and United Conservative Party candidate Pat Rehn. New Bigstone Chief Silas Yellowknee vowed to promote pipelines at the Treaty 8 table.

The Slave Lake rally in support of pipelines makes its way up Main St. on Jan. 6.

Slave Lake’s New Year’s Baby came along on Jan. 10 and was duly reported in the next edition of The Leader. When photographed, the baby girl – daughter of Lindsay Wapahoo and Joey Bigstone of Slave Lake wasn’t yet named. Checking in just last week, we found the one-year-old baby doing well and named Jaidyn Aaliyah Bigstone.

Big news in January was that the federal government plans to divest itself of harbours, including the ones at Canyon Creek and Faust. This was conveyed at a special meeting in Widewater. M.D. reps were there in force and made it plain they are interested in taking over when the time comes.

Sawyer Willis receives his prize from Jennifer McLeod at Show Off Your Rack in Smith.

Slave Lake was being considered for a team in a new Junior ‘A’ hockey league. The effort to place a team in the Western Provinces Hockey Association division of the Western States Hockey League had actually started a year earlier, but didn’t get organized for the 2018/19 season. That effort was revived in early 2019 and the league commissioner was expected to visit Slave Lake later in the month for an announcement.

Kitchen Witches, the latest stage play by the Slave Lake Musical Theatre Association, opened its week-long run at the Legacy Centre on Jan. 25. Starring Simone Crain, Corey Turner and Jean Montgomery, it had audience members rolling in the aisles.

Simone Crain as ‘Babcha’ in Kitchen Witches.


First up in February – the news that seatbelts might become mandatory on schoolbuses, by federal mandate. Harry Davis of the High Prairie School Division estimated it would add $15,000 to the cost of a new bus.

A byelection to fill a vacancy on the High Prairie School Division Board of Trustees resulted in Steve Adams of Slave Lake becoming the newest trustee. Voters in the divisions east end chose him over contenders Sean McConnell and Sheri Smears. The vote coincided with the coldest day of the year, which perhaps had something to do with the low turnout.

Steve Adams
It didn‘t quite work out the way it was announced on Jan. 30, but Slave Lake did end up with a Junior hockey team.
Fire in the mill: it could have been a lot worse.

Somebody is dumping hydrocarbons into the town’s sewer system. That was a Feb. 13 headline in The Leader. Led by a funny smell, town staff discovered the substance in two lift stations and were looking for the culprit.

WSHL Commissioner Ron White did, as promised, visit Slave Lake from his home in Los Angeles California and announced a new Junior team would be going forward in the community. Also present was Lauren Barr, representing the owners, and Derek Prue, the director of international expansion for the league. The Slave Lake team would join a league that already had Edson, Hinton, Cold Lake and Meadow Lake franchises.

A fire broke out in the dry bin area of the Tolko plant near Slave Lake in mid-February. The mill’s first responder team got on it quickly and stabilized it and the regional fire service finished the job. No one was hurt.

The Barb Severson rink crushed the competition and won the 2019 Ladies Open Bonspiel at the Slave Lake Curling Club. The other members of the team were Jayna McGloin, Robin Lukan and Marianne Paleck.

Not in the news in February, but on everybody’s minds, was the deep freeze that lasted for most of the month. Day after day of temperatures in the mid-to-high minus-twenties and low minus-thirties reminded people of the winters of their childhood. The walking and running track in the MRC fieldhouse had never been so popular.
People also consoled themselves with the notion that the frigid weather would be bad for the mountain pine beetle.

Frost Fest happened as usual in mid-February, but it was so cold much of it was moved indoors. This marshmallow roast was one of the exceptions.

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