Finding Friday

History in the Canadian West.

Finding Friday are blogs about historical facts as they pertain to Western Canada.

In my travels throughout North America as a Canadian I discovered there is little known about the Canadian West both south of the border or in Eastern Canada.  Originally it appears as though the west was set up as a colony where westerners supplied easterners from their vast resources.

Three words can destroy western Canada almost immediately.  National Energy Program.  It has happened twice – when Canada first started – Sir John A. MacDonald, our first Prime Minister, implemented it – a big reason for Canada’s Civil War and more recently Pierre Elliott Trudeau again tried it in the early 80’s.  I watched houses abandoned, homeless wandering the streets and saw the results of the dreaded National Energy Program. It seems simply a method of punishing the west for prospering.  I hope it won’t happen a third time.

Recently I have read a few articles where Canadian magazines have actually bragged about how Canada didn’t have troubles with their natives like the USA did.  One magazine actually went on to say – Canada had no Indian Wars.  How this article was ever published, by a Canadian magazine to boot, I’ll never know.  It’s simply not true.

I now live in Calgary, Alberta.  There were two states in my travels who seemed to know much about Calgary, Texas and Georgia.  Texans knew that Calgary hosts the largest outdoor rodeo in the world, the Calgary Stampede. Many Texans are participants in this huge event. Combine that with Calgary being the oil capital of Canada and we understand why Texas might know all about Alberta.  When my husband worked in the moving industry, there was a steady flow of Canadians going to Texas and Texans coming to Calgary to work in the oil-field Head Offices.

In 2013 Calgary had the worst flood here in recorded history.  Two weeks before the Stampede the grounds and downtown Calgary were flooded.  Two weeks later everything was ready for the Stampede.  Yeah Calgary.  We are Calgary

Georgia has people who are well aware Calgary purchased their Atlanta Flames hockey team, to become our proud Calgarians Calgary Flames instead.  Calgary also has the largest population of Americans who live outside the United States. Many of the settlers who started ranches near Calgary were originally from the USA.

Join me in reliving and learning about Western Canada’s fascinating past.  Meet individuals as notorious as Jesse James and learn of some legends that appear might be true and not legends at all.

Welcome to Calgary, The New West:

Ah my beautiful home again - Calgary

Calgary – Roads – Flood, 2013

A river runs through it.  Deerfoot Trail is our main artery running north and south through Calgary.  When it was closed due to flooding at this time, it creates hectic traffic detours and delays.  River on Deerfoot trail

MacLeod trail is one of the main roads into downtown Calgary.  It is also the road alongside the Stampede Grounds. When the hydro went out and the downtown was flooded people were asked to stay out of downtown.  About 150,000 work there and only about 10,000 went down on Friday.  Before a week was up people were back working in the downtown. The bridge over our Glenmore Dam was closed when the dam flooded.  Glenmore Road was closed.  Memorial Drive, another route into downtown was closed and Crowchild Trail was closed, another major north to south route.

Cop coming through the mud - 2013  McLeod Trail by Stampede Grounds

Calgary – Outlying areas – Flood, 2013

The Trans Canada Highway – our Number One – and main route throughout Canada was closed at Banff and Canmore.  Both towns were hit hard by flooding.  There are few alternative routes to take, with the Number Three to the south being blocked as well.  Volunteers of Calgary

Thanks to volunteers and businesses Calgary didn’t need extensive army help.  But to the south – High River, a town evacuated completely it was a different story.Army coming to help.  But Canadians came together to help from all over the country and slowly but surely even High River is coming back. The Number One is open – ready to carry the heavy traffic into Calgary for the Stampede which starts with a parade on Friday.  The show will go on.

Calgary Stampede Sign for 2013

#We are Calgary

Blake Ried’s – Alberta’s own – Hell or High Water.

Calgary – residential areas – flood 2013

This is a view from the Stampede grounds into downtown.

#We are Calgary

 …They set their jaws against the floods and through the flood of tears they went to work. When the rivers pushed, they pushed back.

This is not about parading politicians. Our heroes are the moms and dads, neighbours, families, firefighters, soldiers, city workers, police officers, electricians, plumbers, businesspeople and other regular folks who saw what needed to be done and did it…   Calgary Sun, July 1st, 2013.

In Calgary alone 75,000 residents were evacuated and Calgary absorbed another 30,000 from towns and villages evacuated to the south.  Everyone has shelter.  So many have opened their doors and are willing to help in any way they can. July 1st has all areas open again.  There is destruction, but as families, volunteers and friends throw garbage out it is almost immediately being picked up and taken away.  Some houses need to be demolished because they are structurally unsound.  For those families who lost all,  my prayers are with you. As I cry for the destruction, I feel only pride for the spirit blooming in Calgary.

Canada Day celebrations will go on.  Princess Island, where normally the celebrations are held, is, being an island, not ready.  But celebrations will be as rowdy and fun as they always are in Cowtown.

There has been minimal, isolated cases of vandalism or theft.  The media is not having much luck in telling of bad stories other than ‘nature’s’ force.  Again I salute the people of Calgary and our police force who have prevented further chaos.

Town of Okotoks

Calgary – Stampede Grounds – Flood, 2013

With just two weeks to go Calgary was flooded and the Stampede Grounds right to downtown were covered with water.  The following day the mayor announced the Stampede would happen – just as it has every other year since it started in the early 1900’s.

The Stampede grounds are near two mighty rivers that join, close to downtown.  The whole area was flooded right to downtown.  MacLeod Trail – a major route into downtown was closed for days.

But in true Calgarian spirit again with help and effort the show will go on, just two weeks later.  The grounds were pumped out, new sod, tracks, pens cleaned out and ready for animals and the mid-way once again clear and ready within a week.  Again the amazing help from volunteers and businesses alike have made the impossible possible.

After the water is pumped out, it’s just fast clean-up time.  Cowtown is nearly ready for the greatest outdoor show on earth.

Scotsman HillCalgary - Cleaning up the grounds Stampede Grounds under waterStampede Grounds Getting ready

We are ready.  We are Calgary.#We are Calgary

Calgary – Downtown – Flood of 2013

Immediately the waters rose – our first responders evacuated one hundred thousand people including High River, a town of 30,000 people south of here.  The wonder of Calgary is told in only 1500 people having trouble being placed – the rest immediately found a place with friends, relatives or people far enough from the river opening their doors.  The 1500 were special needs and soon our hospitals and senior centers made room.  Everyone was sheltered and fed – for as long as it will take.

The downtown flooded the streets and transformers were under water.  Downtown Calgary (a city of over a million people) – was shut down.  150,000 workers couldn’t go to work. Our beautiful skyline was in darkness.

Calgary at Sunset

Less than a week later downtown was open again for business. Volunteers everywhere swept streets, cleaned debris and companies immediately got their pumps working to drain the water.  It was an amazing feat.  In the true spirit of Calgary – the mayor asked for 600 hundred volunteers and got thousands report to McMahon Stadium. The Stampeders Football stadium was on high ground.

Calgary has many head-office oil companies in the downtown core.  These companies assisted in the fast, efficient clean-up with their equipment and help Calgarians accept and acknowledge the people who helped and those that didn’t: With the immediate help from these same oil-companies the army was able to centre their attention on High River, 30 miles south of Calgary, where the whole town was evacuated.

…Calgary oil patch consultant Joe Davis called his buddies across the province to bring in their pumps and generators so he could pump out his entire neighbourhood.“This is a lot more important than fracking wells,” he said. “My heart is swollen more than the Bow River.”

David Suzuki has issues with people in the oil business. Suzuki, not one to waste a good crisis, was immediately pontificating about climate change without a word of concern for the people impacted by the flooding. Well, David Suzuki can go to hellCalgary Sun Newspaper, July 1st, 2013

Little or nothing is being said about the oil companies and their equipment and quick response to the disaster – nor their help in a speedy recovery.  So I just want to say thank you for your efficiency during this disaster.

Volunteers of Calgary

We are Calgary.  There was one death in Calgary.  In High River there were three deaths and one person missing. I send a special prayer for those few victims.  Our record speaks for the efficiency of our first responders and our people’s ability to understand the dangers of nature, those dangers we have no control over –  and help themselves.

When the going gets tough – the tough get going.’

Firefighter takes woman from the water.

The beautiful grin is because the woman told the firefighter she hadn’t been carried like this since her wedding night.

Calgary – June 20th, 2013

On the evening of pouring rain and extremely cool temperatures for this time of the year, I was busy getting ready for my newest granddaughter and didn’t notice the disaster about to unfold. It was June 20th, Thursday night in 2013.

With two weeks away from the famous Calgary Stampede, who could know that a disaster, now labelled the worst disaster in Canada’s History was about to unfold.  My son, considered one of the first responders as a tow-truck driver worked all Thursday night.  His child was scheduled to be born the next Thursday, exactly a week away.  In the following days he continued to work sometimes day and night. I have only admiration and praise for every and all first responders.

Saddledome

There are two large rivers, the Bow and the Elbow, along with numerous creeks.  Between the abnormal amount of rain and the spring run-off from the mountains that loom by so closely, nature told her story.  A large portion of Calgary flooded including the complete downtown area and Calgary’s beloved Stampede grounds. Our Calgary Flames Hockey team arena – the Saddledome.  The Saddledome was scheduled to hold the entertainment, with concerts long sold out.  The Saddledome – from its basement of electronics to the tenth seats was filled with water. But the show will go on.  We are Calgary.  Calgary Stampede Sign for 2013

This is an example, regardless of how much we try to control the forces of nature we are proved we can’t.  There is no one anywhere, even combined, that can control nature.  I feel it’s arrogant on man’s part to even try. We are nothing but tiny specks on the earth’s surface.

And we are Calgary, a breed by ourselves.  We do not try to change or control nature.  But we can meet any disaster nature throws at us.  And we can prove it.