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."


  1. In fact Ernie even wrote a book to help fill the library, looking at the first 100 years of the AUMA.

    Gary - your post makes it seem like Ernie has passed away? Is that the case?

  2. No Ernie is alive, well, and likely still smiling in either the Okanagon or Creston area I believe.
    His statement that "I got the library built" is one that all municipal councilors should aspire to and hopefully be able to say at the end of their service to their community. You can substitute library for any other building or project.

  3. So what are you aspiring to build.How about a rec centre.As a taxpayer I would be willing to pay an extra 250.00/year on property taxes to fund this.I wonder how the rest of the CNP taxpayers would feel about this.Comments anyone?

  4. A rec center would be a great legacy for any councillor.

    My wish list would be a wonderful recreation area where the River Run development was supposed to go.

    Rec center, walking trails, ball diamonds, park,picnic areas.

    And yes I would be willing to pay more taxes. Driving to Fernie to go swimming now costs me money too.

  5. I don't think you would find anyone opposed to a rec center thats for sure.
    Dan Stoddart

  6. Like Kimberley is finding out, themes don't work out the way that some folks think. This is gonna shake the basis of practically everything that many old timers (who may surprise you with their answers) may say about a modern Crowsnest Pass. How about getting rid of the whole Coalmining thing and go with what it is. A recreational area. When I think of Fernie, I don't think Coalmining, I think skiing. Same with Banff, I never think of Bankheads history, I think tourism. A rec. center is the bare minimum of any town and would start the ball rolling to turn this depressed area around.

  7. Couple of notes.I thought the federal government was offering 33% funding if the province would match with 33%,leaving the municapality with the rest.This is the stimulate the economy funding.Should we be getting serious as this will not last forever.Also companies are now willing to sharpen their pencils to build a rec center.Oppurtunity is knocking,will we answer the door?

  8. Why are we even the ones that are coming up with this? how long has this place been doing without such a positive influence on a community? at the very least a lid over an existing facility?

  9. Thanks for all the good positive comments on what you would like to see our community look like and provide.

    In municipal survey done a couple of years ago the number one item on everybody's wish list was an indoor pool. Most wanted a pool combined with a rec centre that provided other indoor recreational facilties such as raquetball etc.

    It is well worth while pursuing and looking for the ways to make it happen.

  10. Why bother with a survey if you are not going to follow through.Are you persuing it?Are you looking for ways to make it happen?I do not ever see it mentioned in the papers.Maybe we can form a few more user groups and still NOT get anything done.Bring it up at the next council meeting, it is time to get moving.A journey of a thousand miles....