History told through eyes of ‘pioneers’

Alexander Loiselle was not quite sure what to make of Sylvan Lake 100 years on.

Alexander Loiselle was not quite sure what to make of Sylvan Lake 100 years on.

As Loiselle — or at least John Treleaven, in his act as the town’s first permanent settler — told the attendees of the Sylvan Lake centennial jubilee ceremony on Saturday, a lot has changed since he first made his way to the area in 1899 from Quebec via Michigan.

There are now eight schools, he exclaimed, “and they teach French!” And, oh, he said, the town’s traffic is so constant, so fast — “Main Street could never be used as a tobogganing hill as it used to be.”

But despite his incredulity towards skateboarding and all the other examples of modernity in the growing town, Loiselle could still hold on to the town’s central attraction.

“The burnished trail of a sunset across the water. The sudden dark ferocity of a summer storm. The reflection of autumn leaves burning the water into liquid gold, and the sharp crystalline beauty of winter ice . . . Beneath all of its unfamiliarity, the heart of my 1913 lake still beats.”

The act, performed by Treleaven, was one of 10 vignettes written by Judy Hinshaw for the celebratory event.

The vignettes — one for each decade of the town’s history — featured actors reminiscing about the old boat house, Varsity Hall, and the old grain elevator, while talking about what was new and exciting in the town during each period.

The vignettes and performances by the H.J. Cody concert band interspersed a chronological look at Sylvan Lake’s history by Michael Dawe.

The historical look back ended with a look forward for the community that now numbers over 13,000 inhabitants, 70 per cent of whom are under the age of 44.

The day, which also featured historical displays, a barbecue, and an old-fashioned social, was merely the beginning of a celebratory week in the community.

Wednesday will see the rededication of Centennial Park, originally constructed for Canada’s 100th birthday in 1967, while on Friday the centennial quilt will be on display at the curling club from 1-8 p.m. On Friday night, visitors can take in a drive-in movie screening of The Goonies.

On Saturday, the Parade of the Century will get underway at 1 p.m., and there will be tours of the new town hall during the afternoon. At 3 p.m., the Dance Party of the Century will get underway in the Multiplex, with a progression of music from big band to rock ‘n roll.

Finally, on Sunday, there will be a drum circle in Lions Park starting at 11:30 p.m., followed by ‘100 Minutes of Music’ from the community’s “future stars” out of The House of Music. There will also be a demonstration from the RCMP dog teams and a petting zoo on Sunday afternoon.