Drumheller Heroes: Dorothy Bergos, part of the community | DrumhellerMail
Last updateFri, 19 Apr 2024 5pm

Drumheller Heroes: Dorothy Bergos, part of the community


    It is a citizen’s job to be involved in the community. This can be in a variety of ways; volunteering committing time to serve on boards, running for political office, or just helping a neighbour in need.

    All of these are ways that Dorothy Bergos has made an impact on the community in Drumheller. Even today she serves on a number of  boards, and there is nary a meeting or open house, discussing everything from politics to credit card fraud that she is not in the audience, and is often vocal. There is no question she has lived a full life in Drumheller.
     Dorothy was born in Delia, but her family eventually settled permanently in the valley in 1948 after her father served in the war. He bought a local sign studio and created Porter Signs. The family was unable to find a house for rent and moved temporarily into a small cabin in what is now River Grove campground.
    In late April, the risk was high for flooding and while in school, the river flooded and classes were dismissed. Many students soon learned they had no home to go to.
    “I can still see one of our neighbors sitting on the top of his house on Bridge Street,” said Bergos.
    The family eventually moved to 3rd street East but in 1952 there was another flood, and the family’s basement soon filled with water.
    “Roland Winter, the local funeral director was volunteering to rescue people from homes threatened by the high water. I can remember very well him “piggy backing” both my mother and I to dry ground,” she recalls.
    In both of these floods, Dorothy’s father was an official, heading up the local emergency measures organization.
    When Dorothy left school, she was hired to be the secretary of the Mine office for Century Coals Ltd. in Nacmine. She found the job interesting and it was her first introduction to the international face of the mining industry.
    It was also her first glimpse at the political side of life in Drumheller. At the time, unions were strong, the Labour Party and even the Communist part had influence. When one of the miners was tragically killed, she went to his funeral in the Newcastle Hall and members of the communist party conducted it.
    There was another unfortunate fatality when she worked for Century Coals, and there were several strikes.
    “I can remember that many miners did not show up for work on Monday morning, having been in jail all weekend.  This seemed to be a regular way of life for the workingman at that time. It was a great pastime on Saturday night to park your car in front of the Corner Cafe and watch the people on the street as they shopped and shared stories with friends and neighbors. It was not unusual to sit for an hour and never hear a word of English spoken,” she recalls.
    Dorothy also worked at the Commander Mine, and she typed the document that outlined the formation of a new method of Mining at the Atlas Coal Mine in East Coulee. She is still a member of the Atlas Coal Mine Society, and it is not an uncommon sight to see her hand writing dating back to the days of coal on a number of the documents on display at the mine.
    The days of coal were numbered and when the oil boom came to Drumheller, and the West Drumheller field was discovered (south of Munson), Hudson’s Bay Oil and Gas was the first oil company to open an office. Dorothy applied and got the job and found it challenging to be the only female in a very busy male dominated office. When the company moved its offices to Olds, she moved with them and later worked for Husky Oil in Calgary.
    “My bosses at the coalmine, kidded me about betraying them. They called me a traitor because I went from coal to gas, and of course it was the beginning of the end for coal use in the Drumheller valley which affected so much of the community and eventually led to the demise of the coalmines,” she said.
    Dorothy married Alex Bergos, moved to the Orkney district, and became a farmer’s wife. She admits this was the most challenging job she ever had.
    After her two children were grown and left home, the couple moved to Drumheller where she became the first ever paid manager of the Drumheller Chamber of Commerce. She worked for the chamber for 15 years and it was during these years that, along with president Bob Llewellyn it created the book/gift store at the Tyrrell Museum and made the Drumheller Chamber of Commerce one of the richest in the country, only to be swallowed up by the Government after a couple of successful years.
    Her move from the chamber brought her into the political sphere when she became a member of City Council. She served for two terms.
    This was a time of change and challenge as the city amalgamated with the MD of Badlands and became the newly formed Town of Drumheller. Her highlight of her term was working as a liaison with movie production companies that were making enquiries about filming in and around the valley.
    “This was of course right down my alley, as I have been a movie “nut” my entire life. I remember fondly my luncheon with Morgan Freeman and Clint Eastwood when they were here filming the Unforgiven which ended up winning the Oscar for Best Picture that year. I also enjoyed meeting and spending time with Kirk Douglas, James Brolin, Cuba Gooding Jr., Stockard Channing, Sam Waterston, and a few other lesser-known actors. I made many friends in the film industry and enjoyed the years I was involved in this project. I am sad that for some reason they no longer seem to come “knocking at our door,” she said.
    As a councillor, she also sat on the Canadian Heritage Board, which was the organization that helped funding for July 1st activities. She spent many hours on Canada Day handing out flags, posters, tattoos and other paraphernalia, not to mention time spent “chaperoning” Doris and Morris the jolly-green dinosaurs.
    Her community service did not end with her term on council. She has been involved as a board member of the Drumheller Stampede and Ag. Society and spent about 20 years as a member. Since 1982, she has been a member of the Citizens Advisory Committee of the Drumheller Institution.
    “I believe that I am the longest serving CAC member in Canada and served as chair for several years. A very interesting and worthwhile part of my volunteer life,” she said.
    She also served as Board Chair of Knox United Church for a time.
    Dorothy has voiced her opinion on numerous boards, but she has also found her voice with her pen. She has drafted thousands of words on well known people in the community, and many appeared in The Drumheller Mail when she wrote Millennium Trails for the paper.
    While she is retired, you will sometimes find her at the front desk of the Heartwood Inn and Spa.

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