Year in Review – July, August/2019

Firefighter dealing with a hotspot in the McMillan Fire.


Just in time for Canada Day on July 1, the McMillan Fire was classed as under control. By the time it stopped growing, it was the largest fire in the history of the Lesser Slave Forest Area. South African and Mexican firefighters arrived to help fight it, in the midst of extensive rainfall and swamp sized puddles.

In other fire news, the McMillan Fire burnt some log piles and the surviving piles weren’t accessible, so West Fraser in Mitsue ran out of logs for a few days. Vanderwell and Tolko weren’t affected.

From fire to flood. On July 25, Marten Beach suffered the second 100 year flood in two years. In 2019, the flood waters were higher. The force of the water wiped out two culverts on Hwy. 88. The community was evacuated. Community members and the M.D. of Lesser Slave River are still working on applications for disaster relief. The funding from the 2018 flood hasn’t arrived yet. There are still temporary bridges over the culverts, despite hopes to have new bridges in by Christmas.

On of the Hwy. 88 flooded culverts.

In sports, the Mosquito Heat won gold at the Pembina League final and silver at provincials. Various Slave Lake Sharks did well at swim meets. Landon Horsley, 13, from Slave Lake won steer riding at the Calgary Stampede. Slave Lake hosted a ball hockey tournament. Smith hosted an Alberta Barrel Race Association competition.

Early in the month, volunteers started to help the Icedogs, the new Junior ‘A’ hockey team. By mid-month, the head coach quit and key volunteers stepped down.

July 5 to 7, Riverboat Daze had a good turnout, with over 3,000 at the block party on Friday night. The parade that night was well attended. On Saturday, the kids’ parade snaked through the first annual car show. The midway moved to Phoenix Heights, which worked well.

Driftpile First Nation residents held a meth awareness campaign off Highway 2 on July 11. One trigger was a suspicious death on the reserve sometime on the night of July 8.

Kee Tas Kee Now Tribal Council signed a historic 10-year education deal with the Canadian Government. The deal brings the funding for the six schools close to on par with non-Indigenous schools. Kee Tas Kee Now is one of only a few Indigenous school boards in Canada.

Slave Lake Indian Regional Council hosted a workshop at Swan River First Nation to fight human trafficking.

Dr. Jay Pitocchelli, a bird song researcher returned to the area after 34 years, to see if warblers’ songs change over time. The 1985 article about him in a Slave Lake newspaper turned up in the Eben-Ebenau attic.

Mosquito pitcher.


A bear walked past the pizzeria, and into the barber shop. He or she scared the barber and his wife, both new to Slave Lake. By the end of bear season, there were a record number of bear sightings in the area.

Even before an election is officially called, federal candidates trickled in. Incumbent, Arnold Viersen announced his candidacy. Green Party candidate, Peter Nygaard, announced he planned to campaign by bicycle.

In Marten Beach, flood clean up. flood costs, and investigtion into flood mitigation continued. There are various pictures of muddy neighbours helping neighbours floating around from this time.

Dog Island Cup contestants.

In sports, Slave Lake hosted the first annual Dog Island Cup, a paddle board, kayak, and canoe race. Two Slave Lake baseball players helped a Grande Prairie team win gold at provincials. Another placed silver with a St. Alberta team. Slave Lake Sharks won five relay golds in Peace River. The Slave Lake Gymnastics Association found a home and coaches.

The future of the Icedogs, the new Junior ‘A’ team, wasn’t certain, but looked promising. It gained a new head coach Brian Noad. His first job was to drum up support for the team.

Pasty Noskey shows off some ‘lazy-man‘s’ bannock at the Loon River First Nation Treaty Days.

Marvella Cindy Thunder was reported missing. A few days later her body was found in Peerless Lake. Her death wasn’t suspicious.

The tri-council (Town of Slave Lake, M.D. of Lesser Slave River, and Sawridge First Nation) open the FireSmart trail. Like many other events in 2019, the opening was postponed because of the High Level evacuees and McMillan Fire.

Barrel racing in Smith.

While complaints about healthcare are common, most people don’t think about them as human rights violations. A group of advocates from Edmonton held a meeting on seniors issues in Slave Lake. They decided there were grounds for human rights complaints.

Stem cell donor and family visit Slave Lake all the way from Wales. In 2010, Slave Laker Milton Becker’s life was saved by a bone marrow transplant from Emyr Williams of Wales.

Slave Lake Rod and Gun Club ‘Three-D’ Shoot.

After two years without a pastor, Slave Lake Alliance Church found one. Heath Jeffrey and his family moved to Slave Lake in August to take on the job.

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