Snippets from June 15 and 16 Lakeside

Pearl Lorentzen
Lakeside Leader


A boating accident claimed the lives of four people. One woman survived after swimming for three hours. She likely swam four miles. The boat and the other four passengers were not found. They were presumed dead.

The boat was swamped near Joussard. One 17-year-old was from Kinuso, the rest were from High Prairie.

There was some dispute among airlines on which would be allowed to fly to Slave Lake and Peace River.
The companies were Pacific Western Aviation (PWA) and Gateway.

PWA had a route from Peace River to Edmonton. Gateway was in the process of taking over some routes from another company. These included routes to Peace River, Slave Lake, Rainbow Lake and Edmonton.

PWA objected to Gateway using a bigger airplane on the Peace River to Edmonton route, which resulted in a cease and desist order from the Canadian Transport Commission. This paused both the Peace River and Slave Lake flights.

The first business to open in the Slave Lake Mitsue Industrial Park was sold off in pieces at auction. The mill was called North American Stud. Its assets were divided into 618 lots. These ranged from the burner to the building. The auction raised around a quarter of a million dollars.

At night, if you needed to get hold of the Slave Lake RCMP and no one answered the phone. people were to look in the phone book, call the local operator, and ask for Zenith 50,000 which would put you through to the RCMP in Peace River. These RCMP officers would then use the radio to contact the Slave Lake RCMP.

One of the dentists involved in a local mobile clinic was looking into setting up shop permanently in Slave Lake.

Rainy weather was keeping numbers low in Lesser Slave Lake Provincial Park.

The best numbers were on May long weekend, with 80 per cent capacity at Marten River Campground.
This was only accessible by an indirect route. People had to drive past the campground then turn at the Nipisi corner. They then back-tracked along old roads. The new access was expected to be finished that summer.

The rates for public swimming had increased because the pool started paying lifeguards and swimming instructors. The new rates were adult $1, students $0.75, and children $0.50.

The pool limit from the government was 75 people at a time. However, the first week there were 175 people per day (presumably not all at the same time).

Planning was underway to add a swim club. The board consisted of Duul Hodge, Mrs. Pisio, and Madelaine Beaudoin.


Swan River Cree band and a Calgary-based petroleum company had signed a three-year deal. Part of this was the company training Swan River members for jobs in the oilfield. At the time, Swan River had 350 members.

The oil company was looking for oil on the 11,000-acre Swan River reserve.

Slave Lake, High Prairie, and the back lakes were part of new Health Region 15. It was one of 17 regions in Alberta. Local board members were Wyonne White, chair of the advisory council for Improvement District #124 and Evelyn Norberg, former hospital board chair.

Slave Lake and other Native Friendship Centres in Alberta were feeling the financial pinch. The issue was that federal funding scheduled for April 1, then promised in May still hadn’t arrived.

Slave Lake was expected to keep its doors open, but others were likely to close if the funding didn’t come through.

Lorne Larson, Marten Beach Cottagers Association spokesperson, urged Improvement District #124 to get moving on a fresh water supply. The subdivision had 84 lots, with only 16 permanent residents. The association wanted a 11,000-gallon cistern, which the residents would then pay for by the load.

C.J. Schurter Elementary School had been doing environmentally-friendly projects for two years. They had done 250 projects. They received jade status from the Society Environment and Energy Development Studies (SEEDS).

Alberta Vocational College had 136 graduates.

The Flatbush AVC campus had eight graduates, including the valedictorian, Janis Kroetsch.

The remaining 128 were from eight other campuses, with the majority from Slave Lake. Courses included high school upgrading, business administration, ESL, secretarial arts, university entrance, and Kotchi-tan-mena programs.

Editor’s note: The article didn’t explain what the Kotchi-tan-mena programs were, but a Google search shows up an excerpt from the April 23, 1993 Legislative Assembly of Alberta, where MLA for Lesser Slave Lake Pearl Calahasen introduces four students from the school and their teacher. In the Legislature, Calahasen says “Kotchi-tan-mena means ‘Let’s try again,’ and these are adult students who are trying again.”

Jim and Cheryl Sheldon opened their farm by Kinuso up to 100 kindergarten students, from C.J. Schurter Elementary School in Slave Lake, for a field trip. These students were in the English program (which implies a French option).


Rotarian Tyler Warman was on the front page of The Leader hanging up Kinettes’ flower baskets in Slave Lake.

Construction was up in Slave Lake. In half a year in 2005, the Town of Slave Lake issued $5.38 million worth of residential construction permits. This was a big jump up from 2004, which was $2.23 million in 12-months.

OHV use in Slave Lake came up at town council. It is illegal to drive an OHV on a street or highway, under the Traffic Safety Act, but this wasn’t being enforced.

The new RCMP staff sergeant thought that heavy enforcement was the answer.

The protective services committee suggested public education.

The final plan was to do both.

Mackenzie Northern railways was suggesting increasing the speed of trains through Slave Lake from 16 km/h to 40 km/h. The company was willing to be flexible, and the speed change would depend on improvements to the Main St. crossing and other changes.

Slave Lakers Tammy Lukan and Lesley Emes spent 23 days trekking in Nepal. They reached base camp on Mt. Everest.

The Slave Lake soccer U14 Roughnecks won a tournament in Edmonton.


The Widewater fire station was destroyed in the Slave Lake wildfire on May 15. The fire crew had a temporary space at the Widewater Community Complex. This was an ATCO trailer and a Quonset for the fire truck.

Housing was a big issue in Slave Lake and the M.D. of Lesser Slave River since the wildfire. Town and M.D. council heard reports of rent gouging. They were strongly against it. They had no legal control over landlords, but the general consensus was that public pressure would help.

The provincial government had 50 mobile units ready to come to Slave Lake for people who had lost their homes.

People were wanting to help Slave Lake out with money.
The Rotary Club of Slave Lake was one of the options. However, it didn’t have charitable status, so couldn’t issue tax receipts. Another challenge was finding people without any vested interest to divvy up the money.

There were 70 people at the first Town of Slave Lake council meeting after the wildfire. This was in temporary council chambers, as the town hall had burned down.

Donated items were being distributed at the Slave Lake Curling Rink. There were eight semi trailer loads and over 100 pickup truck loads of donations.

Deborah Stumborg, of SLC Landscaping out of Widewater, had the contract to do the flower boxes in downtown Slave Lake. However, SLC’s greenhouse burned down in the wildfire. Three Edmonton greenhouses came to the rescue and donated plants, so SLC was able to fill the planters.

One of the impacts of the Slave Lake wildfire was that power lines were damaged. Ten Slave Lake ATCO employees chose to stay during the evacuation to get the lights back on. The ATCO workforce eventually grew to 180 people during the evacuation period.

Slave Laker Ian Cameron was organizing a free Concert of Hope in Slave Lake. It was to have three stages and camping.

The Hamlet of Smith wasn’t an official Slave Lake evacuee location, but 467 evacuees from Slave Lake and the southshore stayed there. Some were only there for awhile, but others stayed the full 12 days of the evacuation.

In the southshore (Canyon Creek and Widewater), the wildfire burned down the fire hall and 30 homes, which is a lot for small hamlets. However, the community was coming together to hold its annual Canada Day parade. It was organized by Debbie Seppola.

Editor’s note: The Canyon Creek Canada Day parade is now called the Debbie Seppola Memorial Canada Day Parade.

Slave Lake Fish and Wildlife was receiving a lot of complaints about bears because of the wildfire situation.

Slave Lake had lost over 400 homes in the Slave Lake wildfire.
Around 2,000 evacuees were in Athabasca, during the evacuation. Hosting this many people was no small feat for a town of 2,700.

One Slave Lake resident, David Loyie, wanted to find a way to thank Athabasca. By reading the Athabasca Advocate, he’d learned that Athabasca was short $4,000 to $5,000 towards its Canada Day fireworks display. He was looking into a way to raise that money.

In May, Gift Lake Métis Settlement and Whitefish Lake First Nation, northwest of Lesser Slave Lake, were evacuated because of wildfires.

There was a wildfire still active in the Red Earth Creek area.
Wildfires near Red Earth Creek started on May 15 (the same day as the Slave Lake and southshore wildfires). One wildfire went through Red Earth and travelled 60 km south. There was only limited damage with two mobile skid shacks destroyed.