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Christmas 1957


5 minute read

by Michael Dawe

As Christmas 2017 approaches, it is interesting to look back 60 years to the wonderful Christmas of 1957.

The year had been a banner one for Red Deer. The community was enjoying one of the strongest booms in its history. The population of the City surged by an incredible 21.5% to more than 16,000 residents. Red Deer became known as the fastest growing city in Canada.

The newest subdivision for the City was Eastview, which was developed on what had previously been known as the Card Property. An impressive new junior high school had officially opened on the west side of the subdivision in March. On December 13th, the Joseph FitzPatrick family became the first one to move into a new home in the neighbourhood. Several others soon followed.

The cause of the boom was oil and natural gas. New wells were being drilled across Central Alberta. With all of the oil patch activity, there were lots of jobs and lots of new money in the community.

There were some downsides to the boom. Costs of construction jumped. People found it increasingly difficult to purchase a home or rent an apartment. The local infrastructure fell behind.

With the rapid growth, the City of Red Deer was running out of land for new residential and industrial development. Proposals were made to expand the

City boundaries and annex land from the rural Municipal District of Red Deer.

Hearings on the annexation bid were held in early December. The City made strong arguments in favour of expanding the City’s boundaries by 5820 acres. It predicted that its population might soar to as high as 35,000 by 1977.

The Municipal District of Red Deer opposed the City’s bid. It argued that if the areas requested were put within the City limits, the rural M.D. would be left with little more than farmland and hamlets for a tax base.

In an attempt to help ease the hard feelings, the Chamber of Commerce organized a special informal meeting with the City and rural councillors at the Buffalo Hotel.

As this bid for intermunicipal peace took place, the Chamber of Commerce was also boosting the annual Christmas retail season. A Christmas Shopping Jamboree was organized. Stores remained open during the usual Wednesday retail half-day holiday. Shopping hours were extended on Saturday December 21st and Monday December 23rd to 9 p.m. In order to help parents while they were looking for gifts, free shows were held for the children at both the Capitol and Crescent movie theatres.

The local stores offered all kinds of Christmas specials. Quality women’s coats could be purchased for $7 to $13 each, while men’s dress shirts were offered at $4.95 to $7.50. The local Eaton’s department store had a special children’s toy land where girls’ dolls could be had for $4.49, while boys’ construction sets were offered at $12.99.

Because the local C.H.C.A. television had begun broadcasting on December 11th, television sets were a particularly popular Christmas gift. Local stores offered   21” black and white TV’s for $264 and 17” portables at $219. Premium sets with wood consoles could be had for up to $480.

Local merchants were soon reporting their best sales ever. The Christmas rush was given an even bigger boost by exceptionally mild weather. There were even reports of pussy willows being out in the early part of December.

In the last days before Christmas, the Fire Department distributed the many toys which it had collected for the local needy children. The Lions Club again delivered special Christmas hampers to the many families who had not been benefiting from the boom.

Christmas Day was peaceful and pleasant. Some churches had special Christmas Day services although most had their Christmas celebrations on the preceding Sunday and on Christmas Eve. The weather was warm and beautiful which brought many families outdoors between the morning gift openings and large Christmas feasts later in the day.

All agreed that Christmas 1957 had ended up as one of the Merriest Christmas’s ever.  All were sure that the New Year of 1958 would be even better.

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Empowered, Happy and Healthy

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Michelle lost a kidney to cancer 20 years ago. Her blood pressure has been challenging to keep in a healthy range since. A busy life with little focus on healthy got her in trouble. In late December 2020, she ended up in emergency with extremely high blood pressure in the 200/150 range and a blood sugar of 25. She was very sick. She had a second similar episode in January. At that time, she was let go from her job. This turned out to be the best thing that happened as she now had time to focus on her health.

The RDPCN family nurse recommended she attend Diabetes the Basics as well as providing her with ongoing one-to-one support for several months. She also got connected to a weight management program, supervised exercise and Heartwise.

Fast forward to 18 months, she has decreased her clothing size from 20 to 14. Her blood sugar is now 7 and her blood pressure is in the range of 138/95. Great improvements!

She is back to work. She walks about an hour per day and she feels amazing! She has used the portion control plate to help improve her eating habits. She is eating way better and enjoying it. One thing she could not give up was Pepsi. She used to have at least 3 cans per day. Now she uses Diet Pepsi in much smaller volumes, but she cannot get by without some Pepsi. Long-lasting insulin and using the Libre sensor have been great tools to help her live healthily. She feels very empowered, happy and healthy!!

Learn more about the Red Deer Primary Care Network. Click here. 

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Red Deer Recovery Community will offer hope for residents from Central Alberta and around the world

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Central Albertans won’t be the only ones paying close attention to the official opening of the Red Deer Recovery Community next month. According to Marshall Smith, Chief of Staff to Premier Danielle Smith, jurisdictions from across North America will be looking to the Red Deer Recovery Community for potential answers to their own issues. Red Deer Recovery Community will be the first of 11 the province is opening over the coming months.

Cities across North America and beyond have been battling an addictions crisis, and losing. As the number of homeless people and the number of fatal overdoses continues to rise, cities are looking for new solutions. After years of slipping further behind, Alberta has decided on a new approach to recovery and Marshall Smith has been leading the charge.

Smith is a recovering addict himself.  A political organizer from BC, he once worked for former Premier Gordon Campbell.  His own crisis started with alcohol, then moved to cocaine dependency before he eventually succumbed to methamphetamine use.  The successful political operative found himself without work and living on the street for over four years. Eventually he benefited from a 35 day stay in a publicly funded recovery centre in BC.

Former Alberta Premier Jason Kenney brought Smith to Alberta to head up the UCP’s addictions and recovery file.  His personal experiences and incredible comeback story are at the heart of Alberta’s new approach.

While the success of recovery programs vary, Marshall Smith and Dr. Christina Basedow of the Edgewood Health Network (operators of Red Deer Recovery Community) say with the right treatment and the right amount of time, they expect a very high rate of successful recoveries.  Smith says the province won’t give up on patients, even if some have to go through more than once.

The Recovery Community is central to this new approach, but patients who will be able to stay for up to a year, will need somewhere to go when they leave. This week the province also announced the Bridge Healing Transitional Accommodation Program in Edmonton.  This “second stage” housing will ensure former addicts have a place to stay upon leaving addiction treatment centres. This will be their home in the critical days following treatment when they need to reestablish their lives by finding work or educational opportunities.

Red Deer Mayor Ken Johnston feels the 75 bed Recovery Community will be transformation for Central Alberta. Mayor Johnston says all Central Albertans will play an important role in helping former addicts when they leave the Recovery Community.

Construction of the Red Deer Recovery Community is all but complete.

Thursday, municipal and provincial politicians toured the facility and were introduced to the operators of the new facility. Dr Christina Basedow, Western VP of Edgewood Health Network teamed up with Nicholas Milliken, Alberta’s Mental Health and Addiction Minister, to take questions about operations.

Red Deer South MLA Jason Stephan, Red Deer Mayor Ken Johnston, Dr. Christina Basedow, Minister Nicholas Milliken, Red Deer North MLA Adriana LaGrange

Premier Danielle Smith made the trip to Central Alberta to offer support for the project and see the facility first hand.

Red Deer Mayor Ken Johnston and Premier Danielle Smith listen to Chief of Staff Marshall Smith 

Marshall Smith explains aspects of the Recovery Community to Premier Danielle Smith, Red Deer Mayor Ken Johnston and Red Deer MLA’s Adriana LaGrange and Jason Stephan

In the days leading up to an official opening expected in February, Edgewood Health Network is finalizing the admission process which will see the first batch of up to 75 people suffering addictions moving into single and double occupied rooms.

Typical double occupancy room at Red Deer Recovery Community

The new 75-bed facility, will begin accepting residents battling addictions in February.  Those residents will stay for up to a full year accessing medications, programming and developing life skills.

In the meantime the province expects a recovery industry will be developing in Red Deer including second stage housing opportunities and counselling.

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