This classic photo of the Town of Ponoka skyline along 50th street and mirrored in the usually serene Battle River was taken in the 1960s. Very prominent are the massive wooden grain elevators

This classic photo of the Town of Ponoka skyline along 50th street and mirrored in the usually serene Battle River was taken in the 1960s. Very prominent are the massive wooden grain elevators

Reflections of Ponoka: Reflections of yesterday and today

Another year has been and gone, and hopefully, after recovering from the gala December 31st celebration

Another year has been and gone, and hopefully, after recovering from the gala December 31st celebration, most of your memories of 2013 have been of joy, family values, successes, and good health. Now, as we boldly head into a new year, we will work very hard to achieve most of our resolutions, and that our lofty plans will include a fair share of work and play and new adventures, as well as some exciting goals to share with family and friends.

Many of us will refer to January as the month of the blues, where we face the first blasts of what is supposed to be a long cold winter, and may find ourselves copping with those after Christmas blahs and bills. Then again, looking on the bright side, it can be a great month to spend more quality time at home with family, a chance to revitalize old friendships, favourite hobbies, to become a bookworm, or maybe even take on a few renovations? For the winter sports fan fanatics, there is a ton of snow in which to frolic, the outside lakes and ponds are ideal for skating and ice fishing, and if we bundle up real warm, the fresh air is absolutely invigorating and healthy. Both players and ardent fans of all ages can soon look forward to the torrid race to the playoffs, and how many of us will be glued to the television cheering for our Canadian athletes during the 2014 Winter Olympics from February 6th to 23rd in Sochi, Russia?

At the age of 71, I guess I have mellowed just a little, but I still try to stay as active as possible, and am so fortunate to be blessed with a great family and a super bunch of friends. After household chores, my very favourite retirement pastimes are being a member of the Golden Age Bowling Club, watching a good movie, surfing the internet, walking amongst nature, and browsing through the old history books and photos that vividly relate the colorful story of our community and districts. Thanks to the support and encouragement of the great staff at the Ponoka News, the ongoing contributions and ideas from the Fort Ostell Museum and so many other individuals and families, I have been able to put together over 300 Reflections and Remember When features and photos in the weekly pages of your Ponoka News.

Like so many others, I was so fortunate to have grown up in and around Ponoka over a span of over 55 years, so I have had the pleasure of watching some of this fabulous history and growth unfold, and of rubbing shoulders with many of the early families, individuals, characters, teams, and events of our proud heritage. These colorful tales have dated back to the late 1800’s when the massive invasion of pioneers from Canada and the United States began moving in and filing claims on the lush and rolling land between Edmonton and Calgary. While the peaceful nomadic Indian tribes roamed the prairies in search of food and shelter, the pioneers settled in to build their homes, break their land, plant their first crops, and then proceeded to raise large families, surviving the often horrific climate conditions by working together and making use of everything that nature had to offer. When the Edmonton/Calgary railroad went through in 1890, the tiny Village of Ponoka began to thrive, as huge sawmills on the Battle River cut millions of feet of lumber from the logs that floated down from Pigeon Lake. With the constant flow of settlers coming into the area, many new districts were formed out in the countryside, and Ponoka responded to assist them by building businesses, and providing the services and supplies that they would need. Soon to follow were those with skilled professions, as well as a youthful labour force willing to learn and conquer new challenges. With ongoing enthusiasm, they helped to promote and build countless new amenities for the vibrant growing area that included churches, schools, and keen sporting and social events such as hockey, rodeo, baseball, curling, minstrel shows, silent moves, dancing, picnics, and so much more.  Growth was constant, Ponoka received its Town status in 1904, huge grain elevators were built along the tracks to serve the bountiful crops of the farmers, the construction of the Provincial Mental Hospital began in 1911, and in the exciting years that followed successes was many, through the good times and the bad.

Reflections has strived to honour the founding fathers, families, and milestones of the colorful and exciting history of the Town and County of Ponoka, and would like to carry on this tradition each week in the Ponoka News. We have only been able to write the stories and publish those grand old pictures with the kind and overwhelming support and contributions of so many others from in and around our community and beyond. Our stories have covered generations of families from the beginning of the 19th century and up to the present day, and we would really appreciate your ideas and pictures for future articles. If you can help out please leave me a message at the Ponoka News 403-783-3311, phone me at 403-341-5750, or contact my email at jrainone@telus.net. Thanks for assisting us to keep those fabulous memories alive for everyone to enjoy.