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Stories of Red Deer’s earliest Halloween celebrations

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Editor’s Note:  This article was written in 2018, long before Covid. 

Stories of Red Deer’s earliest Halloween celebrations

By Michael Dawe

Another Halloween will soon be upon us. It is one of the most popular of the annual celebrations. While door-to-door trick or treating by young children has become somewhat less common over the last few years, more and more people seem to be decorating their homes and their yards for the evening. Dressing up in costume remains as popular as ever, as are social get-togethers with all kinds of food and drink to share.

Halloween is a very old celebration, with some of the traditions dating back to the ancient Celtic rituals and festivities, marking what was then considered the start of the Celtic New Year. Later, there were strong Christian influences, as the night became connected with commemorations of All Hallows Eve (the origin of the name “Halloween) and All Saints Day on November 1st. All Saints Day is still a public holiday in parts of Europe.

Celebration of Halloween was not common in North American until the arrival of large numbers of Celtic immigrants from Ireland and Scotland during the 19th century. However, the tradition of children going door-to-door for trick or treating did not begin until the early part of the last century. It did not become a practice in Red Deer until the latter part of the 1920s.

History of Halloween in Canada.

Alexandria Hotel

Some of the earliest celebrations of Halloween in Red Deer took place in the early 1900s. Usually, a local group would organize a party at a local hall with all sorts of fun and games. Apples were a staple of these early socials. The wearing of costumes was strongly encouraged.

One group that organized annual Halloween events was the Alexandra Club. This was a group of young women dedicated to raising funds for the Red Deer Memorial Hospital. Hence, the annual Halloween gathering was as much a fundraiser as a social occasion. Other popular fundraisers staged by the Alexandra Club were women’s hockey games at the rink on Morrison (52) Street.

St. Luke’s Parish Hall

In 1913, the main Halloween event was a dance at the new Parish Hall on Gaetz Avenue, just north of St. Luke’s Anglican Church. This large new public hall had been officially opened on the eve of Red Deer being incorporated as a city on March 25, 1913. The Halloween music was provided by the Orpheus Orchestra. The evening was such a success that plans were made to have Halloween dances at the Parish Hall as annual events.

 

Red Deer Armouries

Tragically, the First World War broke out in August 1914. The community focused on the war effort and little was done to mark such “frivolous” occasions as Halloween. However, after the War, a new tradition started. The local 78th Battery of the Royal Canadian Artillery organized Halloween Balls at the Armouries on First Street South (now the location of the Children’s Library).

The annual militia balls were quite lavish events and extremely popular. People were not even bothered when, at the first ball in 1921, the outside of the main exit was blocked with a pile of piano boxes. A threat by the attending officers of a week’s short rations ensured that the young artillery men quickly cleared away the obstacles so that the guests could depart for home.

Halloween pranks have been one of the most enduring of the evening’s traditions. In 1921, in addition to the piling of the piano boxes at the 78th Battery’s ball, the local newspapers reported that Police Chief Anderson probably had as much fun the day after Halloween as anyone else. He rounded up all the likely suspects from the previous evening’s pranks. He made sure that these “young enthusiasts” spent the day putting things back in place and removing the soap that they had applied to various store-front windows.

Red Deer Public School, nicknamed “The Castle”

Unfortunately, a small group had gotten carried away with their pranks at the High School building on the Central School grounds. In order to drive home the point that there were limits to the number and type of activities that would be tolerated on Halloween Night, Principal C.D. Locke imposed a “two-day enforced holiday” on the perpetuators as a warning to rein in their “youthful exuberance” during next year’s Halloween activities.

Michael Dawe – October 31, 2018

A fifth generation Central Albertan with roots in Red Deer and Pine Lake, Michael Dawe serves on Red Deer City Council. In 1979, he became the city’s first full-time archivist with the Red Deer and District Archives. In May 2009, he was seconded to become the curator of history in preparation for the City of Red Deer Centennial in 2013.

Michael has won a number of awards including the Queen’s Golden Jubilee, Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and Alberta Centennial medals. He was named Alberta Citizen of the Year by the Council on School Administration of the Alberta Teachers Association for his work with local schools. He received the Minister of Veterans’ Affairs Commendation for his work with veterans. He was twice voted Red Deer’s Most Beloved Citizen by the readers of the Red Deer Express newspaper.

 

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Community

Winners announced for Red Deer Hospital Lottery

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The Red Deer Regional Health Foundation has announced the winners of the 2024 Red Deer Hospital Lottery Dream Home and Tiny Home prize packages, as well as the Mega Bucks 50.

The Mega Bucks 50 jackpot reached $607,200.00, which makes Carolyn Pelerine of Cochrane, Alberta the winner of $303,600.00.

In addition, the luxurious Tree Hugger Tiny Home Prize Package, complete with accessories by Urban Barn and valued at $163,798.00, is now owned by Mary Vincent of Red Deer.

The coveted Sorento Dream Home Prize Package, which includes furnishings and accessories by Urban Barn and boasts a total value of $1,072,624.00, has been awarded to Maxine Rumohr of Sylvan Lake.

The highly anticipated draw took place at 10:00 a.m. Thursday at the Red Deer Regional Health Foundation office, located within the Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre, with an announcement following live on Facebook, allowing participants and supporters to join in the excitement virtually.

“We are delighted to congratulate the winners of this year’s Red Deer Hospital Lottery,” said Manon Therriault, Chief Executive Officer of the Red Deer Regional Health Foundation. “The funds raised from this lottery will significantly contribute to enhancing patient care and services at the Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre. We extend our heartfelt gratitude to everyone who participated and supported this important cause.”

Proceeds from the Red Deer Hospital Lottery and Mega Bucks 50 will contribute to acquiring critically needed, state-of-the-art equipment for several units at the Red Deer Hospital.

This year’s lottery will fund equipment such as a phototherapy system, which allows parents to hold and soothe their infant while undergoing phototherapy, a cardiology case cart to monitor cardiac rhythms during stress testing, and other equipment to help provide excellent care for patients in the emergency and operating rooms at the Red Deer Hospital.

The winners of a variety of electronics were also drawn today. A full list of winners will be available in the coming days on the official lottery website at reddeerhospitallottery.ca. Prize winners who have not already been notified will receive a letter in the mail with instructions on how to claim their prizes.

The keys to the Sorento Dream Home and the Tree Hugger Tiny Home will be presented to the winners at a special ceremony this summer.

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Community

The Grand Opening is TODAY!

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A Day Filled With Hope – Years in the Making!
For years the CACAC has been walking hand-in-hand with many different partners, community members, donors, policy makers, and leaders in research and advocacy towards this moment.The Sheldon Kennedy Centre of Excellence now stands in the heart of Central Alberta, the first Centre of its kind in North America, creating space for different strategic partners to operate alongside one another in the best interest of children, youths, and families who have experienced any form of abuse.

Now, during this momentous chapter in our history, we invite you to join us for the Grand Opening of the Sheldon Kennedy Centre of Excellence. 

We’re excited to welcome you and your family to the Grand Opening of the Sheldon Kennedy Centre of Excellence today!

Today’s events are family friendly, and there’s something for everyone!

From Noon to 5:00PM the public is welcome to come and see everything the building has to offer at the SKCOE Open House! Staff from every organization from within the SKCOE will be there to answer questions. This is a great opportunity to learn about why this Centre is so important for Central Alberta.

Beginning at 7:00PM, the public is also invited to the formal program at the Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre, which is the building immediately North West of us across the parking lot. The formal program will have many messages and presentations from dignitaries, and you can pick up our Champions of Courage pin, which was minted for the Grand Opening only! Following the program there is a ribbon cutting ceremony.

There is a lot to celebrate, so come out and say hi!

When: Thursday, May 16

Where: Sheldon Kennedy Centre of Excellence, and Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre, Main Campus of Red Deer Polytechnic, Red Deer, AB.

12:00 PM – 5:00 PM – Open House

7:00 PM – Formal Program at the Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre. Ribbon Cutting Ceremony to follow.

How to get to the Sheldon Kennedy Centre of Excellence

Please note that there will also be parking available at the lot directly North of the Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre.

Detailed RDP Parking Map

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