It’s anniversary week for me.
Last weekend I celebrated the 30th anniversary of my ascension to Alberta from Ontario. On Friday we will celebrate the 60th anniversary of the founding of the Ponoka News and Advertiser. Both journalistic milestones in their own right.
I think the observance at the office Aug. 28 will probably draw a better crowd but we will be hard-pressed to have more fun than I had with the friends who helped me celebrate — and I’ll bet the food at my party will be better in comparison.
My memory is foggy but I think it was Aug. 19, 1979 when I arrived at the airport, which wasn’t much more than four block walls with one of those spinny things on top. I was picked up by a high school friend who preceded my arrival in Alberta by a few months, coming to take advantage of the boom. (We’ve had them before, we’ll have them again.) As is the Alberta custom, I was welcomed with a case of Pabst Blue Ribbon for the ride into the city. I had flown into the midst of one of the province’s annual summer beer strikes.
I didn’t really know much about living on my own so I did the next best thing — share the rent on a brand new duplex with a few other guys. I don’t know if I’ll work in Ponoka long enough to relate all of the stories that developed over the next two years, before my marriage.
It would be interesting to peer into a parallel world to see how my life would have been different had I stayed in Ontario. My friends who were educated and raised families back home have achieved success, known heartache and failure, just like me, but you always wonder…
Ontario is older, more mature, set in its ways, while Alberta is brash, rough around the edges and still full of mavericks and renegades.
Politics is certainly different — a can do attitude in Alberta compared to the me too attitude in Ontario. While I consider myself less conservative and more progressive than the only governing party I’ve known in 30 years voting as an Albertan, I think I would take Ralph Klein over Mike Harris any day. I might even take Brian Mason over Bob Rae. Or Kevin Taft over Dalton McGuinty.
Just before I came to Alberta, I voted in the federal election in Ontario in the spring. Joe Clark’s stubbornness and his inability to count, led to another federal election as the Liberals shook the rust off Pierre Elliot Trudeau. I voted for the loser in two elections, nine months apart, in two different provinces.
We’re all Canadians, but Albertans and Ontarians do take a different approach to being Canadian. No self-respecting Alberta community would even think about calling out the military to shovel snow.
On my way to work Monday I practically had to take the ditch to get around a combine driver who was oblivious to traffic.
I know I’m in Alberta when during our “summer months” I wear a sweater on the way to work and turn the air conditioning on for the drive home in the afternoon.
When I lived in Sylvan Lake it was described as “A town for all seasons.” I discovered they meant May, June, July and August. I have gone camping in each of those months and been snowed upon.
I lived in small town, rural Ontario, dairy country, but I can’t recall ever seeing a cracked windshield until I moved here.
Yes, it’s a dry cold but I’m tired of the wind. I can’t imagine living in Lethbridge. And who needed a block heater in southeastern Ontario?
I do miss the real, fresh cheese curds we used to get from small town dairies near home. Not those plasticized orange chunks you can get in the grocery store. Sylvan Star has good curd but I think the best, even better than from the Harrowsmith Cheese Factory near Kingston, is the curd at the Cheese Factory on 82 Avenue in Edmonton. I recommend it to anyone from Ontario who needs a fix.
In my years covering community news, I’ve seen Alberta kids going back to school wearing mittens and making snowmen at recess. I’ve also dressed my son for Halloween by putting his costume on over his snowsuit.
My name is George. And I am an Albertan.