Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Beiseker's History: Fires!

King George Hotel fire, 1936.
From Beiseker's Golden Heritage
As you are aware, I am very proud of Beiseker's volunteer fire department which, in my opinion, is second to none in this great province. 

Firefighting today is a science and our volunteers are constantly upgrading their skills and training with courses and practices. 

But fire has been an enemy of this village since it started as a small hamlet a hundred years ago.  Early volunteer firefighters had little water and structures built entirely of wood and insulated with wood shavings to contend with. 

Despite the heroic efforts of those early volunteers, fire has destroyed much of Beiseker's historic buildings over the years. Here are a few of the early fires;
  • In 1929, a fire destroyed the Hagel & Held Block on Main Street
  • Sam Dattner's store at the west end of Main Street (near where Ng's restaurant is today) burned to the ground in the early 1930s.
  • In 1932 the building built by E.C. Aisenstat at the corner of Main Street and First Avenue (now occupied by Apple Pie)  burned down.
  • In 1936, the King George Hotel located at the corner of Main Street and Second Avenue (at the current location of the hardware store) was totally destroyed by fire. Approximately fifty years later, the Beiseker Hotel located down the street from the King George, suffered the same fate.
  • In 1944, fire destroyed Mrs. E. N. Hagel's home.
  • In 1944 the Roman Catholic Rectory (located in front of St. Mary's Cemetery) burned down.
  • In 1945, fire destroyed the pool hall, barber shop, Stimac's confectionary, and the post office located on Main Street.
  • 1953 saw the destruction by fire of the Beiseker Curling Rink, built in 1939.
Despite these horrible events, Beiseker and its folks survived and thrived.  There are likely dozens of acts of valour and heroism connected with those disasters now forgotten in time. 

Whenever I see our volunteer firefighters in their shiny trucks, I am reminded of how far we've come over the past hundred years.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Beiseker's History: T.L. Beiseker and the Founding of the Village

Thomas Lincoln "T.L" Beiseker
I read in the paper this morning that the City of Calgary is doing a series of stories, articles and presentations on the city's history this week.  I thought I'd start a similar thing here in the Friendly Village.  Here goes;

The village was named after Thomas Lincoln "T.L." Beiseker, an American banker and land speculator originally from Harvey, North Dakota.  Thomas Beiseker never really lived in the village named after him - although he and his partner, A.J. Sayer, had an office in Calgary at 809, 1st Street W, in the 'Alberta Block' building that still stands today.

Mr. Beiseker was a director of the Calgary Colonization Company.  The company bought land "dirt cheap" from the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) and started selling it around here at quite a large profit in late 1906.   They pretty well had it all sold off by late 1908.

For the future Beiseker townsite, a piece of land which was not much good for farming was chosen.  The land was not a slough, as local myth says, but it was quite marshy in a few places.  The Canadian Pacific Railway reached Beiseker in 1910.  Before that, settlers had to cross the prairie from the railway siding at Crossfield to get to their new land. 

The Alberta Pacific Grain Company elevator was started in 1909 and took its first grain in 1910.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Weeds and Potholes!

A number of residents have asked me when Public Works going to mow down the weeds in the back lanes throughout Beiseker.  I know we have done this in the past, but it is actually the responsibility of the home owners to keep the weeds down both on the public reserve in front of their homes, and the area behind their back fence next to the lane. 

We have completely discontinued the weed-whacking services in those areas to save some money.  We are asking everyone to take care of those areas themselves.

We have been working on filling the over abundance of potholes this summer - experts are telling us the brutal winter caused most of them.  If you spot a pothole which has been missed by our Public Works, please report its location to the Village Office (403-947-3774) and they'll put it on their list!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Train Whistles (Again)!

photo by Mathieu Tremblay, via Flickr
I have recently received a number of complaints from Beiseker residents about the noise created by the Canadian National Railway (CNR) when their trains whistle several times while going through town. 

I think it has to do with many having windows open during the night to cool down the house.  The still air and those open windows can make a train whistle pretty loud at 3:00 am!

I am going to ask representatives of the CNR to join us as a deligation at one of our council meetings so that we may ask them what is involved in having the trains stop their whistles. 

I'll let you know when we've arranged that meeting.  You're more than welcome to attend that meeting to get the info first hand.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Playground on the Move!

Here's a huge "Beiseker Thank You" to those who worked so hard to removed the playground apparatus on the north side of the Beiseker Community School yard. 

As you may recall, the equipment was slated to be demolished by Rocky View Schools, even though it was in excellent condition - save a few relatively minor repairs.  Members of the Beiseker Fire Department and a few other volunteers spent a good part of Saturday carefully dismantling the structure, and hauling it off to storage. 

There it will be cleaned and repaired while a suitable location is sought for its re-installation.

I was the blister!  I arrived after the heavy work had been done.  The small but mighty group of volunteers had already removed most of the structure and had just a few of the uprights left to load up.

To all those who helped out goes a B.B.P.O.T.B.  (Big Beiseker Pat On The Back).  Well done everyone!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Recovered from Stampede!

I think I've recovered from the Stampede.  Last Sunday was the final day of the big show, and it was HOT!  Trying to keep the critters comfortable in the old barn was indeed a challenge.  We had so many fans going it was hard to hear over the constant din.

The hot days not withstanding, I think the 102nd edition of the Calgary Stampede was a huge success.  In the infield, Canadian rodeo stars shone brightly in the finals Sunday afternoon -- winning three out of six events!  That may be a record of the number of Canadian cowboys taking home the top prize which now is $100,000!  And two of them were Albertans!

I didn't spend as much time down at Stampede Park this year as I usually do during the ten day mayhem.  Time for the younger folks to take over!  And take over they did!  The brand new Agrium Western Event Centre was opened for its very first Stampede.  Everyone pulled together to make the displays and exhibits shine in their new digs! Well done everyone!

No, I didn't try Scorpion Pizza or Deep Fried Everything, but I had fun there nevertheless.

Something that really bugs me is that the media do an amazing job of covering the rodeo and chuckwagon events during the Stampede.  This year's CBC TV and press coverage was absolutely awesome!  Unfortunately, as soon as Stampede is over, finding out anything about those sporting events is almost impossible. 

Likewise, the rodeos leading up to the Stampede are rarely mentioned in the newspaper or on TV.  The "chucks" are running in High River today (Guy Weadick Days) and over the weekend, yet I've heard not a word!  Baseball, Soccer, Tennis, and many other sports are reported in the media -- but not rodeo!  It's almost like the media believes that the Rodeo and Chuckwagon season begins and ends at the Calgary Stampede.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Summer Time at the Beiseker Airport

Summer time is the busiest time for our Beiseker Airport!  The skydivers at Alberta Skydivers are flying high if it's not too windy.  On a good day you'll see dozens of the brightly coloured canopies floating down over the course of the day.

We expect to have three aerial applicator groups (spray planes) using the field this year.  We'll have two commercial spray outfits and one local farmer using Beiseker as their base for crop spraying in the area.  We have moved one operation away from in front of the clubhouse to try to solve the conjestion around there and the fueling area.  These users pay the village to use the airport each summer.

We also have a couple of flying schools who use the airport for students doing "touch-and-go" landings.  That means they actually land their airplanes, but take off again just after the wheels touch the runway.  It's good training for them.

All the leaseholders will try to get some flying in during these warmer months.  They will often fly early in the morning or later in the afternoon when the air is less bumpy.

Public Works and airport volunteers are constantly mowing to keep the grass down and a local farmer has purchased the haying rights at the field.

A couple of leaseholders have made plans to build new hangars this summer so they'll be construction going on out there, too!

All that activity makes for a busy airport all summer.  All planes using the airport are in radio cantact with each other and must follow a pattern when flying around the field.  This pattern is called a circuit.  It is important that they follow the rules and land and take-off in the same direction.  That direction is determined by the wind direction shown by the wind-sock.

Ir you're planning to come out to do some plane watching, we ask that you stay behind the fence.  And bring your bug spray!  The mosquitoes are fierce out there this year.

Reminder: Every third Saturday of the month is coffee time at the airport between 10:00 am and Noon.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

It's Stampede Time Again!

We're well into Calgary's annual western shin-dig, with the start of the Calgary Stampede.  I was down at Stampede Park last week, helping with set-up but I haven't been back since the "Big Show" started.

My Stampede committee puts on Aggie Days each spring but many committee members help out with Agrium Ag-tivity in the City at the Stampede.  I will likely be down there during this week to help out.

This year, the Agriculture display area includes the new Agrium Western Events Centre!  The building officially opened about a month ago.  The agricultural displays are spread out this year between this new building and the old original barn.  Everything is there to see!  All the producer groups have displays set up there to show Stampede visitors just exactly where their food comes from, and the care and attention producers take to make sure our food is as safe and nutritious as it can be.

Let's hope for continued good weather, not too hot.  Check out the Ag Displays in their new digs when you visit the Stampede this year. I might see you there!

And -- any respect I had for animal rights groups was lost when I read of an incident the other evening when two members of an out-of-province animal rights group chained themselves to the race track rail fence at Stampede Park.  This prevented the start of the chuckwagon races for 30 minutes, while officials sawed off the protesters' restraints and bundled them off to the slammer.

I understand that they have the right to protest, but delaying the evening event was, in my opinion, very silly. 

Before they protest, I wish groups like this would do their research properly.  They might find out what measures have been taken in recent years to make the wagon races safer for horses.  They could talk to the veterinarians in charge of animal health and safety.  They should talk to the chuckwagon owners and drivers to see how their animals are treated off the track. They might talk to the folks at Spruce Meadows or Cavalia to see how their horses are treated.  They need to get their facts straight. 

We need folks out there to remind us to humanely look after all the critters in our charge.  But in my opinion, this action the other evening accomplished nothing but disdain for those groups.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Quiet (but Happy) Canada Day in Beiseker

Canada Day turned out to be a fairly quiet affair here in the Friendly Village.

My apologies to you if I sent you to the wrong place to celebrate yesterday.  The venue was moved over from Legacy Park to Friendship Park, because there is more room and there are shade trees there.  I think everyone who was looking for the Canada Day celebrations did find us eventually.

The kids had fun doing the passport game.  Eight stations were set up and the kids had to visit all of them to get a prize.  Our Beiseker Fire Department came over to show off their fire truck and their first response vehicle.   The Alberta Health Services folks shut down our BBQ and our face painting, but everyone had a good time anyway.

The big celebration around here was held in Irricana.  I was unable to take part in the festivities there, but I was able to watch their fantastic fireworks display last night!  Good on ya, Irricana!

Answers to my trivia questions;  Canada started out with four provinces back in 1867.  They were Quebec, Ontario, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia.  Prince Edward Island was supposed to be there too, but they held out, wanting some special treatment because they were so small.  They did join a while later, after their concerns were addressed.   Newfoundland was the last province to join Canada in 1949, making an even ten provinces.