Reflections of Ponoka: Hot news stories from days gone by

After working off and on in the newspaper business in and around Ponoka for the over 50 years, I have several cupboards and boxes

Here is a street view of 51st Avenue in Ponoka in the 1960s

Here is a street view of 51st Avenue in Ponoka in the 1960s

After working off and on in the newspaper business in and around Ponoka for the over 50 years, I have several cupboards and boxes full of the nostalgia of our past. I have always had a great deal of fun browsing through the old papers and pictures that now help me to put together and stories for the Reflections and Remember When each week in the Ponoka News.

As we enter into the new year with hope and upbeat enthusiasm, I thought I would put together a few “newsy tidbits” of or our always colorful past, which I hope you will enjoy. Please keep all those great story ideas and old photos coming in so that can keep these history features going for another year.

The great race

An exciting event for all ages will be featured at the Ponoka Quarter Horse Show on Saturday and Sunday, June 6-7, 1970 at the Stampede Grounds. During the evening performances a registered quarter-horse, which has been acknowledged as the fastest in the world on a 440-yard stretch, will match its speed in a classic 220-yard dash against a souped up 1967 Malibu 4-speed stock car. The hot-rod is sponsored by Badry Sales and Service, will be driven by Ken Williams and will certainly attract lots of friendly bets and hefty discussion at the windup Foresters’ steak fry.

Our dump ground has got to go

On May 27, 1968 our good old smelly and smoking dump grounds south of town will be closed, and will be one of those landmarks that we really won’t mind losing. The Town of Ponoka has purchased land just over the north bridge from Pete Hinkley, and this new sanitary landfill grounds will be put into use immediately. All local garbage will be dumped into a 12-foot deep by 16 feet wide, 200-yard long trench, which will be filled as required and absolutely no burning will be allowed. It is rumoured that by 1971 all provincial dump grounds will be operated in this manner, with strict government restrictions in place to control the fill-in period, hours as required until the population exceeds 5,000. There is no doubt that all residents of Ponoka, especially those in the south end, will be pleased with this new and improved scentless and smokeless garbage disposal system.

Town council on the hot seat

• November 1960: The nightmarish parking meter issue has landed on the table of Ponoka town council once again. After a rather heated meeting, first and second readings were approved, with third reading set for Nov. 28, which will put into place a bylaw to govern the parking issue and put the meters into action from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day except Sundays and holidays. The charge to park will be one cent for 12 minutes or a nickel for an hour, after that your car has to be moved. Proposed fines for not plugging the meters or moving after an hour will start at $2 and increase from there. Council will compromise on the contentious parking issue by allowing businesses (of council’s choice) to purchase covers for the meters at a fee of $30 a year, as well as allowing trucks and vehicles a reasonable amount of time to unload merchandise in front of businesses without having to plug the meters. It should be very interesting once the parking bylaw becomes reality.

The hottest headlines

• Gordon E. Taylor, minister of highways and transportation, announced in May 1969 that the sale of vehicle license plates had exceeded 100,000 in March and April, and will continue to be sold at Alberta Treasury Branches and motor vehicle branches throughout the province.

• The Ponoka Stampeders are off to a fast start in the 1960-1961 Central Alberta Hockey League, defeating the red-hot Edmonton Oil Kings 8-7 in their home-opener before 900 thrilled fans at the Ponoka Arena, then spoiling the Lacombe Rockets opening game with an exciting 3-2 victory in their rink. Stampeders goals were scored by Ted Demchuck with three, Gord Buttrey and Gerry Prince snipped two each, with singles by Jack Moore, Ron Tookey, John Zahara, Dick Warwick, and Roger Gelinas.

• The Bank of Montreal in the 1960s introduced Bancardchek, a new way of spending without packing a bunch of money around. The True Checking Account provides easily-negotiable cheques that can be cashed almost anytime and anywhere in North America. This new service also features a ‘line of credit’ available, just in case you may need it.

• Popular curling columnist Ken Watson promised that Canada’s busy curling rinks will be filled this 1960 season with young curlers attempting to pulverize their opponents with the same “rock-busting” tactics that have reigned supreme in the last two Brier playdowns. Watson claimed that the Richardsons of Saskatchewan had unveiled this cannonball type of running game, which has been known to sometimes break the granite rocks into pieces. But then again it was the famous Campbells of Avonlea who would thrill the brier-starved home town crowd of 54,000 in Regina with their quieter chip and lie game, and to emerge as the first to have Saskatchewan’s name engraved on that age-old Tankard.

• The first issue of the Ponoka Herald, on Aug. 27, 1900 announced the thriving Village of Ponoka had a great demand for lots, with prices running from $50 to $100, and that all we needed to make our families happy and contented is a druggist and a band.