Pioneer Spirit Valemount Merchants Exceed Expectations

Leonard Lea Frazer

Introduction:  Valemount and McBride have a history of enthusiastic residents who have been proud to show their heritage by dressing up for annual events and commemorative dates from the past. Pioneer participation was ignited in valley folk during both summer and winter events during the 1960s, 70s and 80s with such events as “Pioneer Day” at Mount Robson, “Winter Carnivals,” and “Sports Days” in both villages.   The following story, from the newspaper vaults, by Aleda Bain, illustrates the level of enthusiasm and real “Pioneer Spirit.”

Pioneer Day  -  By Aleda Bain - Canoe Mountain Echo  -   Feb. 11, 1987

“Last week Shirley Klettl, Louise MacLean and I were asked to judge the costumes and displays of the various merchants and businesses taking part in the Winter Carnival. Being a judge when there are so many good displays is very difficult at any time and this was certainly no exception. One thing I realized - it does help a lot to get into the spirit and fun of the event.

We travelled down to Mortenson's “Shop Easy” first because part of their staff leave at 1 p.m. We didn't want to miss anybody. That was a great place for us to get into the spirit as they were all done up in old fashioned dresses and bonnets, except Peter the meat cutter, of course, who looked most dashing in his top hat and bow tie. Bill in MacLeods looked like he'd just been in an old West shoot-out and Yvonne looked like a little French lady of by-gone days. Maxine, in the bakery department, looked like the girl on the Blue Bonnet margarine bucket. Alice had brought down her coffee grinder which had to be seen in action to be appreciated and all customers were served coffee and doughnuts. Old time music played softly in the back-ground. So when we left we certainly had the Carnival Spirit.

We tried to make courtesy calls at every business - we didn't want to miss anyone or leave anyone out. (Actually, we didn't stop at Nick Balon's Fifth Avenue Tire - we didn't think he would be fixing cars and trucks in a bow tie. Forgive us Nick!) We toured through the Mall and found Deb and Leonard Frazer (at Trench Photos) enthused in the fun - Leonard looked like either a parson or an undertaker, we weren't sure which and Deb made a real cute little Chinese coolie. In "The Office" of Lesli Ventures, Kim, Linda and Maureen took us back to by-gone days with their long dresses and hats.

Chad Robertson and Laura decorated their Insurance Office with memories of the past and wore suitable clothes for the spirit of the day. It was fun to see them. The girls in the Post Office also dressed up for us.

The next display was at Les and Terri Dammanns, Grizzly Valley Gulf and Les had a big bear rug on the floor plus chairs and pictures and other memora-bilia. It was a good display and well worth viewing.

At "Everything Special,” (the little log cabin on 5th Ave.), Bernice was on duty and when we stepped in she looked so sweet, sitting in her rocking chair with her long skirt and bonnet, sewing. Braided rugs on the floor enhanced the setting. They also had an excellent display - hope everyone called in to view it.

At Pepes, Maria dressed up for us and Anna did too. Maria said she felt like she was in a straight-jacket in her dress, but she looked really nice and we appreciate her humour. Across the street at Yellowhead Realty, June Milne was the "boss in charge" and dressed up suitably Western. In Stedmans, Donna, Ernie and Allie were all "Pioneers" with bonnets and dresses of the times - while Ernie felt comfortable in toque and jacket.

We dug Ron Baer out from under a skidoo he was repairing to ask if he was dressed for the occasion of Pioneer theme, and he promised he'd speak to the boss and give him hell for not dressing up. At Valemount Patents, Violet and Art went all out - an antique chair, clocks, pictures with ornate frames all caught our eye and Violet's Western style vest impressed us.

Home Hardware’s window dis-play featuring a large covered wagon, gold pans (complete with gold!) and sluice box, a log cabin with tiny furniture, lighted, was most impressive and enjoyed by customers and viewers alike.

As the Bank opened at 4:30 the girls were dainty, pretty and picturesque in their chosen garments of shawls, bonnets and skirts. We almost didn't recognize Barb Dehnke in her hat - it was so nice - hope you got to see it. Mark, the manager, was passing out coffee and doughnuts - he had on a neat visor with flashing colour lights - all the little guys around were envious and asking where he got it.

At the Legion we were hosted by Flo Gibson and Del Hartman - both looked lovely in their costumes and their display was just super. Hope they upped their insurance for the occasion. They had everything from a "thunder-mug" to an old crank-up style telephone - pictures, pots, boilers - just everything imaginable! Wilf Carter sang songs as old-time music played in the background.

We as judges were totally impressed with the effort made by the retailers and appreciated the warm hospitality they extended to us and to the public on a busy working day. I hope they found it as rewarding and enjoyable as we did. The results will be known at the Closing Ceremonies on Sunday, February 15, 4 p.m. in the Secondary School Gym.

Alice Mortenson at “Shop Easy”.
Alice Mortenson at “Shop Easy”.
Maria at “Pepes”.
Maria at “Pepes”.

Kim and Maureen at “Leslie Ventures”.
Kim and Maureen at “Leslie Ventures”.
Robin Baillie at the government Liquor Store.
Robin Baillie at the government Liquor Store.

Bill and Yvonne at “MacLeods”.
Bill and Yvonne at “MacLeods”.
Leonard and Deb Frazer of Trench Photos.
Leonard and Deb Frazer of Trench Photos.