By Kim Hutchison
There’s a mystery that needs to be solved and someone in Ponoka may have the answer.
Have you ever heard of something called geocaching? Neither had I until a few weeks ago when I received an unexpected, delightful but semi-creepy surprise.
Geocaching is basically a high-tech treasure hunt. Here’s how it works.
Participants hide and seek weatherproof containers, which are referred to as geocaches, in various outdoor locations in cities and towns across the world using a Global Positioning System (GPS). To find a geocache one must log onto a website, sign up as a member and type in the name of any city or town in the blank space provided. The search generates the geocaches closest to the area entered and gives its latitude and longitude coordinates enabling the participant to embark on an adventure with his or her GPS in an attempt to find it. Once located, one is supposed to take an item from the geocache and in return, place an item in it. He or she can write about the experience online letting other users know what was found.
My boyfriend’s coworker and friend Aneal decided to try to locate a geocache at a provincial park called Uisge Bahn Falls in Baddeck, Nova Scotia. After driving for an hour from his house in Sydney, followed by a two-hour hike to the actual waterfall, he successfully located the geocache and searched for a unique item to take home. What he found was pretty amazing.
Inside the geocache was a leather keychain in the shape of Alberta embedded with the image of a bucking bronco reading, “Ponoka, Alberta – Mike’s News”. Knowing that I would be moving to Ponoka a week later, Aneal took the keychain from it and gave it to me as soon as he could. I could barely believe my eyes.
Upon my arrival I had forgotten to share this neat and unlikely story with my new coworkers. When I did, I was quickly informed what a popular place Mike’s News used to be and was able to learn some information about its history from one of its owners herself.
Lydia ‘Babe’ Prediger and her husband, Michael Alexander moved to Ponoka in November of 1945. Michael had worked in Ponoka as a young man and, after being discharged from the army, wanted to relocate to the town to work in it again and that’s exactly what he did. Together, they purchased a building in Ponoka in the early 1950s splitting it into two businesses. One side was a barbershop run by Michael and the other side was “Mike’s News” run by Lydia. They sold it in 1975 after being business owners for nearly 25 years and continued to have an interesting and successful entrepreneurial future.
I was able to meet Mrs. Prediger Wednesday evening and tell her about the finding. I showed her the keychain on Thursday morning when she kindly dropped into the office and she could hardly believe what she saw as well.
How did a keychain form “Mike’s News” in Ponoka end up in a geocache near a waterfall at the opposite side of the country, only to get discovered a week before my move here? Does anyone here have any answers? This is the mystery – especially since the item is now in Ponoka once again.
If you have any information on this keychain, feel free to contact me at 403-783-3311 or firstname.lastname@example.org.