It was in the winter of 1971 when the family emigrated from Britain to a strange place called Red Deer in an even stranger country called Canada.
The winter was bitter cold, the likes of which we had never experienced ever before! The word “frostbite” was unknown to us.
The Blue Pine motel, which was in the north of the small town, had a small hill at the back that collected snow on it, and the kids had a ball there. They just loved it.
The people were strange. They were so friendly and talked like long-lost friends — even without a proper introduction!
They drove their cars on the wrong side of the road. Not being aware of this fact led to near misses, and it was laid down by the thought that Canadians probably started drinking in the earlier part of the day.
They talked of “blocks,” giving directions like east, west, north and south, which was confusing. We were used to “second right, then take third left at the pub,” etc.
The road system was odd, as the big roads were called highways, and petrol was called gas — what a misnomer! Some big roads ended with “Tr.,” whatever that was, until we realized that the word stood for Trail. Names like Blackfoot and Deerfoot, and the funny names of Medicine Hat and other towns, were also so strange.
Banks and credit unions, as well as other lending institutions, advertised loans that seemed like easy money. Just come and borrow, they all said.
The people were friendly and straight-forward, with different nationalities that came from all over the world. These people, without regard to race, color, country of origin, had all settled down to a form of competition — provide the best service possible and of course the customers just came willingly. Good service was the name of the game. The reply to everything was, “No problem.”
Over the many years, it was my privilege to serve not only the people of Red Deer, but Central Alberta and even beyond. It was all my pleasure, and I just loved all the people.
You could just love and hug them all. One cannot work in any town that was better. Almost half of Red Deer residents passed through my office.
During those years, I had many secretaries and helpers, many of whom have still kept in touch.
My wife was the hub, ensuring that the office ran like a well-greased machine. Not only was she an ophthalmic assistant, but manager also, ensuring that the proper billing for the services was claimed.
Over the years, Red Deer has grown. We have had great mayors, like McGregor, Barrett, Curle, Surkan and Flewwelling. They have all provided their services unstintingly and unselfishly.
The teachers that the children went through: Sr. Celina, Mrs. Reist, L. Pizzey, Moffat and many others. The one that really stands out in my mind is Mr. Larry Pimm. Not only did he make a good teacher, he went on to become a city councillor. But the best part is that he still remembers the past, and always inquires about my children whenever I meet him.
The people that helped in the office — Joan, Dorothy (three of them), Irene, Nattie, Pamela, Pearl, Gavan and many others — I still remember them lovingly.
Referrals from family doctors, optometrists, opticians and others kept us busy.
Red Deer may be a small town, like a small light that shines in the firmament in the wide heavens, but to me, it is the brightest of them all.
All I can say is, “Thank you, Red Deer. It has been a pleasure to know you and to work with you.”
Dr. G.N. Bhadresa