Sunday, 10 May 2009

Ernie Patterson

Once involved in politics you get to meet some of the most interesting people. One such person I have had the opportunity to meet was the past mayor of Claresholm, Ernie Patterson. Ernie served his town as a councilor and mayor for at least 40 years. Quite an accomplishment. Ernie was a Liberal. He was heard quite often to say . "Yes I am a Liberal but, I'm a right wing Liberal."

I met the good mayor of Claresholm during the 1989 federal election. The free trade election. That election saw Ernie bringing the Liberal message, Ken Copithorne introducing Reform, myself (thrown to the wolves) carrying the NDP banner, and Ken Hughes who won the last federal PC seat in our riding. Ernie is very articulate and made some interesting and entertaining speeches at the many forums held around Southern Alberta.

In one forum, with a wry smile on his lips, he teased "Gary says it's lonely to be a NDP'er in Southern Alberta. Well he is lucky because us Liberals are hated. I even had an individual run me off with a water hose!" In Pincher Creek he brought down the house with the following. "You know every one in Southern Alberta votes PC, and always votes PC. You guys never change. Maybe its time to show the country that you can. Gary over there is a good honest young man. He deserves your vote. Ken is bringing a new conservative message and is worthy of your support. And if you can find it in your hearts vote for me, Ernie Patterson. But don't, don't vote for the PC candidate because in Alberta you can grab that mop handle over there, stick a cabbage on it for a head, call it a Conservative...and you people will send it to Ottawa."

I ran into Ernie at the 2004 convention of the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association. Ernie was the out going president of that large lobby organization as he was defeated in the municipal election. I can hardly imagine what that defeat, after 40 years, felt like for him and asked how he handled the defeat. He responded with a canned reply to the effect that, that is how democracy works and obviously the people decided it was time for a change. I pressed him further "after 40 years as councillor and mayor that is all you can say?" He looked at me. His ever present little smile gone. "Well, I can go away knowing I got the library built."

Thursday, 7 May 2009


People come to Crowsnest Pass simply because it is beautiful and opportunities for recreation and relaxation in a wilderness setting are endless.

Our communities are backdropped by some of the most dramatic views in Alberta.

Crowsnest Pass is not a "cookie cutter" town. It is a real place with real character and, of course, real characters. It has a soul.
This is what we have to capitalize on. We start with what we have and what we build on. Quite a few have recognized what and who we are and have started that process of rebuilding our community. People such as Crowsnest Pass Dreamer, who is renovating a commercial building in Bellevue. Dr. Maritz who has renovated the historic Alberta Hotel downtown Blairmore.
The Centremore Corp. that has restored another commercial building in Blairmore.
Adaptive reuse as the Crowsnest Pass Dreamer and others have suggested is a vital component of rebuilding. Many of our older buildings could be used for purposes other than what they were created or zoned for. It is very important though to at least recognize the importance of the facade and restore that mining town look. We can achieve what Canmore failed at. Growth with out losing our soul.