The original Dr. Phil | DrumhellerMail
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Area schools attend first rural gay-straight alliance summit

Students from three area schools attended what’s being touted as the first rural gay-straight alliance conference in Canada. Morrin School, JC Charyk School in Hanna, and Delia School sent junior and senior high students to the GSA Alliance Summit in… Read More
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Standard community investors aim to attract retail store

A group of Standard and area business operators and community boosters are working towards filling the retail void in the village after the closing of the Standard Co-op. The Mail reported in the March 7 edition the membership of the Standard Co-op decided to… Read More

Kneehill County CAO resigns

The Kneehill County chief administrative officer announced his resignation from his position on October 17. Al Hoggan has been county CAO since 2013, previously serving in senior management roles in other Alberta municipalities as well as experience in the… Read More

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The Salvation Army celebrated its centennial in Drumheller on Saturday afternoon, October 13, and the grand opening of its new facility.There was music, food and fellowship…

Dickson Dam flood mitigation funding announced

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Bill Wulff honoured for volunteer work with seniors

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A local man received a provincial award for volunteering to file seniors’ tax returns for decades. Local accountant and former city employee Bill Wulff was presented with the…

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Calgary Flames legend and founder of the Breaking Free Foundation, Theoren Fleury, is coming back to the valley to share his story and celebrate victors with the Drumheller…

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Dragons split games at Showcase Weekend

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The Dragons split their games at the AJHL Showcase Weekend in Camrose and are only four points out of the top spot in the Viterra AJHL South. The Dragons were sporting a 3-2…

Drumheller Senior Titans top Strathmore

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A win by the Senior Titans allowed them to hold tight to the fifth place provincial ranking. The Titans hosted the Strathmore Spartans under Friday Night Lights in Drumheller…

Boguslavsky selected as Dragons captain

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The 2018-19 AJHL season is underway and the Dragons have selected third year veteran Markus Boguslavsky as their captain. Last week the Dragons announced its leadership…

Women’s hockey league returns

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Women’s hockey is back in Drumheller after a number of years with the start up of a new adult rec league this month, and they’re looking for more players. The league will…


Condolences to the family of Maxine Watkin

WATKINMaxine Beverly January 2, 1947 - October 13, 2018 Maxine Beverly Watkin passed away in the Drumheller Hospital, a place she had worked for nearly 50 years, after a long…

Condolences to the family of Nancy Szureck

SZURECKAgnes Spence(Nancy) September 11, 1918Airdrie, Scotland- October 11, 2018Drumheller, Alberta It is with sadness that we announce the passing of Nancy Szureck after 100…

Condolences to the family of Wendy Bilson

BILSONWendy Lynnnee Sandercock September 7, 1947 - October 12, 2018 Wendy passed away peacefully and comfortably surrounded by her children on October 12, 2018. Wendy was…

Condolences to the family of Violet Johnston

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JOHNSTONViolet F. (Vi) August 10, 1926 - October 10, 2018 Violet Johnston passed away peacefully at the Drumheller Hospital at the age of 92 years. Vi is survived by her son…

The original Dr. Phil


    While television’s Dr. Phil has made a career of finding unity and balance in people’s lives, Drumheller’s Dr. Phil considers his greatest political achievement was unifying the valley.

    Now 80, you’ll find Dr. Phil Bryant at the Pioneer Trail Centre in downtown Drumheller. Usually the morning sees about a dozen men playing snooker or cards, enjoying coffee, often discussing the municipal, provincial and federal political problems facing citizens.
    Bryant has always loved politics and has been active most of his life. He was part of a chapter of history which saw the amalgamation of the Municipality of Badlands and the new Town of Drumheller.
    “I was involved in bringing the valley together, of anything I have done (politically) I am most proud of that,” he said.
    Dr. Bryant, originally from Rosedale, B.C., came to the valley in 1958-1959 to work as a veterinarian for the federal government.
     He went on to practice privately in  Bow Island. There he became mayor. He came back to the valley in 1976 and settled in Rosedale as the area’s district veterinarian. He jokes that his hometown of Rosedale, B.C. had four churches, while Rosedale, Alberta has  four bars.
    Politically he didn’t rest. He was appointed to the second Advisory Council for Improvement District #7. He explains that at the time, there was no formal council for the area, which included the areas in the valley surrounding Drumheller.
    There were local advisors, but the Minister of Municipal Affairs acted as the political head. In 1983, the position became elected, and Bryant continued.
    There was a sense in the Improvement District that it needed more influence politically. Bryant said there was a feeling that land was often annexed for the City of Drumheller’s own good.
    “Whenever they wanted more land they would go to Edmonton, talk to the Minister of Municipal Affairs, our legal leader, and ask for some more land and  there got to be some bad feelings that they were gradually chipping in on us,” he said.
    In 1991 The Municipal District of Badlands was formed.
    “At that time we became a legal municipality with an elected government making our own decisions,” said Bryant who served as reeve.
    He said the arrangement was good, but the MD had too small of a base and found themselves losing money each year, eating away at its reserves.
    Bryant, and then sitting Drumheller Mayor Brock Wood, could see the valley were better off with amalgamation.
    “After about two or three years of negotiations and a lot of publicity and arguments as politics does, we made an agreement to join with the city,” he said.
    Part of the negotiators guaranteed staff severance pay or a new job within the new municipality for Badlands employees, they also retained the Ward System. The City of Drumheller became a town, according to Bryant, was so the province would be responsible for the major highways through the valley, saving the municipality.  The MD of Badlands also gave up some land to Kneehill County, which also realized savings.
 In January 1 1998, a new combined council was sworn in with 13 members. That fall, the first election for councillors of the new look town took place and Bryant became Mayor.
    He says there are sill rumblings from some that were not happy with amalgamation.
“There are some who feel we sold out, but of course they don’t realize we were going broke,” he said, adding he believes they made one mistake. He would have liked to see the Ward System stay in place. The 2004 election was the last election that allowed residents to vote for candidates in their direct community.
    “I thought in the span of six years we would all get to love each other and all be mature enough to enjoy open voting, but that didn’t happen,” he said.
    Dr. Bryant served for one term and was defeated by Paul Ainscough in the next municipal election. By then, he had been retired professionally for four years.
    “I always liked politics and I always liked promoting the town,” said Bryant.
    While he has retired from the political realm, he has remained active in the community. He served as president of the Pioneer Trail Society for about five years. He believes in this institution.
    “To me this is the ideal place for seniors that are retired. It is a recreation room, we have the quilters and shuffle boarders, we have the card players and the pool players,” he said. “To me it’s a coffee row, but it is also a place to do things.”
    The Pioneer Trail Society became a registered society in 1974, but its roots go back to the 1950’s when it was started by the Elks Club.
Looking at his career in service, the people have been important to Bryant.
    “It is the satisfaction of doing your part and working with good people,” he said.
    As for the Town of Drumheller, it is on the right path.
    “I like to think that the political group can’t cause a lot of trouble.  This is true because you can be mayor or you can be councillor and you can give them your advice, but when it comes right down to it there is a bureaucracy there that is working and it is our job as elected officials to make sure that bureaucracy is on the right track. If they are on the right track; and this is true in Canadian government and anywhere else, you can’t change that overnight, and once you find out how it works, you probably don’t want to change it.”

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