Hello, Diamond Valley! Brrrrr did we ever get our cold snap in February, started around the 5th with temperatures plunging into the -30s and even -40s with the wind chill. I learned that the term “hoar frost” comes from the Old English word “har” meaning grey and old, and combined with frost it expresses the resemblance of white feathers in frost to an old man’s beard. So, you learn something new every day.
With the cold came the reopening of restaurants and gyms, and kids sports. The Oilfields Arena was tentatively scheduled to open February 10 for bookings as well as public skating. At this time, there will be no public washrooms or changerooms, and as always, helmets are mandatory on the ice. For schedules and updated protocol information, visit the town’s website. And it’s looking very good for the planned expansion to the Black Diamond Skate Park. The Fundraising Committee for the Park has been hard at work, and thanks to their efforts and a big donation from the Foothills Lion’s Club, they have almost reached their goal. I heard tell there will be a new skateboard store opening up in the new building across the street from the Hotel, on Government Road. The other new businesses there will be a realtor and a vintage/antique store.
Canada Post offers community grants for children’s projects, and the application forms are posted online in March, with an April deadline. Registered charities, school programs, and community organizations are invited to apply for funding of projects consistent with the Foundation’s objective to support initiatives that benefit children. To learn more about the grants and to apply, visit canadapost.ca/community.
The Turner Valley Legion is open again for business, and we sure missed them. The food is fantastic and prices reasonable, and you can’t beat the atmosphere of the Legion. They will be starting a Farmer’s Market in June and are currently looking for vendors. If you make it, bake it, or grow it, apply through private message on their Facebook page. The Market will run Sundays from 10-3 from June 5 to September 25, it is free to come shop, and food and drinks are always available inside. For more info, visit the Facebook page or call 403-933-4600.
The old Daylight Savings Time is March 14, Spring ahead! The first day of Spring is officially March 20. And once again it is Earth Hour on March 27. This year’s focus is on climate change and nature loss. Every year, we countdown together across the globe to celebrate Earth Hour and take one iconic action: switch off the lights for one hour from 8:30-9:30 pm. Last year there was a record breaking 190 countries that supported Earth Hour. 2021 is a special year for this project, as it will be the first ever “Virtual Spotlight”. You are invited to raise awareness online, so that the world sees our planet in a new light. It’s simple, on the night of Earth Hour, earth hour.org will be posting a surprise video on all their social media pages, and all you have to do is share it. Nice to have something different to focus on instead of the drain of the last year.
I love AG Foods in Black Diamond for many reasons, but especially love their Great Grocery Giveaway Contests. I won a free can of Campbell’s Chunky Soup and it is the little things like that which make my day. There are many organizations in our Foothills that work tirelessly to feed soup and meals to the hungry. One is Black Diamond’s Erin at Foothills Gleaner’s Society Thrift Store (check out the store on Facebook or just come on in) at 301 Government Road. Erin is tireless at supporting the Oilfields Food Bank, as well as funding and volunteering for the Gleaner’s Society. The Gleaner’s is an organization that turns surplus produce from local grocers into dried soup mixes that charitable organizations distribute worldwide. Volunteers pick up any produce with blemishes or imperfections from grocers, sort, chop, dehydrate, and package them, and they go to outreach teams, relief agencies, and missionaries. The program also saves the produce from going to the landfill, which creates methane gas, as does any food in a plastic bag. I spoke with Erin, and what a passion for feeding the hungry she has. Erin and her team are very close to raising enough funds for opening up and equipping a Calgary location of Gleaner’s Society, which is exciting. Come check out the Thrift Store in Black Diamond! During this pandemic, people have been donating household items and clothing like crazy, really nice items, which is awesome. Now it would be awesome for us to come shop to make room for more inventory, donate to the Oilfields Food Bank, and find out more about this incredible organization. The Thrift Shop is 100% volunteer run, and new volunteers are always welcome. The store will be doing another big food collection for Easter, and many thanks to all who help donate 1,407 pounds of food for the Christmas Food Drive! Foothills Gleaner’s Thrift Store is open Monday through Saturday from 11-5.
Alberta also has a LOOP program, which takes unsold produce and baked goods or any food that can be safely fed to farm animals. What a great idea! High River has a great program called Soup for the Soul, and Calgary Family Peer Connections collects and distributes food to rural communities. Turner Valley’s A Youth With A Mission operates a program called A Frozen Meal or Two for those in need. Think about growing a row of veggies in your garden this year for others, or harvesting those crabapple trees this year. Tons of ideas and organizations in our own backyard for food to end up in bellies and not in the landfill!
Last month’s issue of the High Country News had a lovely drawing of Christine of the cover. For those of us who know Christine, what a delight to see her featured, and yes, she is a feisty lady who is well known for really good hugs and dancing on the table at the jams back in the day! And just a lovely, lovely person. I also had an interview with Erma Brown, a longtime resident of Black Diamond who is now 106 and very knowledgeable about the history of our area. Erma was an absolute delight to sit and listen to, and I hope to visit her again.
Erma tells me she was born in Okotoks and her father was a truck driver. He got a job in Black Diamond with Canadian Western Gas to run the gas lines here, and so they moved here when she was a young girl. Her memories of Black Diamond and Turner Valley are many, and space does not allow me to tell you them all. But some that stood out are the smell of sulphur from the gas plant, the smell got into your clothes and hair and was constant. And the roads were dirt of course back then, her Dad was often quite late coming back from Okotoks as he would get stuck in the mud on the road. She said the Chinese community built up much of the north side of Black Diamond. The Hotel in town was famous for brawls. There was no real police in town, and dogs and speeding were common issues. Ford Street in Black Diamond was named after the local bootlegger, who was apparently quite a nice guy. Erma was also a large part of Black Diamond’s government, and worked at the Town for many years. She was called in one day after being retired for a couple of years, when the mayor and two of the councilors up and quit. She called the head honchos in Edmonton and they asked her if any money was missing. She said, no, I don’t believe so, so they told her she was on her own! So, she organized an election and got the ball rolling again. I believe she held the Town together on her own merit during the years she was involved in it. She also said it was the people who really made Black Diamond, and continue to today. Erma, if you are reading this, I can’t thank you enough for your time and I hope to visit with you again.
There has been much discussion about the opposition to coal mining in Kananaskis. Hikers noticed signage and gates in the Burns Mines area that were concerning. Black Diamond’s Town Council passed a vote on Feb. 3 and the result was that a letter was sent to Jason Kenney regarding those concerns. The Minister of Energy announced on Feb. 8 that the Province will be reinstating the 1976 Coal Policy, which protects large areas from strip mining for coal. Our area has a long history with coal and the beauty of our rivers and mountains, so it is definitely worth keeping up with what is going on with this issue.
It is St. Patrick’s Day coming up March 17. St. Patrick was the Patron Saint of Ireland. He was kidnapped at age 16 and spent 6 years in slavery. He escaped but was recaptured for a short time. Somewhere around that time he had a dream in which he heard a voice telling him to “walk among the Irish”. After many years, he finally made that dream come true by becoming a missionary and a bishop in Ireland. He spent his life baptizing and being a missionary with utter zeal. He is said to be responsible for bringing Christianity to Anglo-Saxons in the 5th century, and has many legends attributed to him. Some legends are about driving snakes to the sea, raising people from the dead, and praying so deeply for food for the masses that a herd of swine appeared to feed everyone. He wrote two works, “Letter to Coroticus”, a denunciation of British mistreatment of Irish Christians, and “Confessio”, a spiritual autobiography. His death on March 17, in the year 461, is celebrated the world over today with the shamrock, another St. Patrick’s Day staple, green beer, and great revelry.
If you have any events or news for the month of April that you would like to see in the High Country News, please email me at email@example.com. The deadline for this issue is March 15.
Pass along some smiles today!