News | DrumhellerMail - Page #3273
Last updateTue, 18 Jun 2024 12am

Son of original bronc rider, 82, to open Handhills Stampede


    His father was bucking horses for fun with friends on Sundays, rode the first year of Alberta’s oldest consecutive stampede, and on June 5, Murray Johnson will be opening the 94th annual Handhills Lake Stampede.
    Johnson, 82, a longtime farmer in the Handhills area and son of Fulton Johnson, is honoured to be given the chance to pay respects to the stampede his father started almost a century ago.
    Though he himself has never taken part in the stampede, his father Fulton was a bronc rider who homesteaded their family farm in 1908.
    Fulton and his friends took their Sunday hobby and started what would become a long lived event for the Handhills area, east of Drumheller and south of Hanna.
    “I’m quite proud about that,” Johnson admits. His father rode alongside the original Dick Cosgrave, of which the Richard Cosgrave Badlands Dinosaur Derby got its namesake.
    Murray Johnson, now a Hanna resident, farmed alongside his father until he passed in 1960, and ranched and farmed until 2005. The farm celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2008, and is now rented.
    As to what Johnson will say to open an event that is close to his heart, he says he’ll pay respects to his father and the others who’ve made the event a consecutive success for 94 years.
    “I have lots of respect for the old timers who’ve been a part of it their whole lives. Almost everyone there has some sort of connection to it.”
    Day Lenfesty, an official with the Handhills Lake Stampede, said he and the board of directors are very excited to have Johnson open the stampede on June 4, 5, and 6.
    The rodeo, which features all pro chuckwagon and chariot races, kicks off at 12 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. The trade show starts at noon on Friday, with a kickoff party at 9 p.m. and beer gardens until 1 a.m.

Hydrant flushing program continues


The Town of Drumheller Infrastructure Services Department, in conjunction with the Drumheller Fire Department, will be conducting a town-wide hydrant flushing program.

A good fire hydrant maintenance program will ensure operational reliability in the event of a fire.  This program  commenced on May 5th, 2010 and last for approximately four to six weeks.

  Flushing hydrants is important to:

• To maintain the highest possible standard of drinking water set for the by Alberta Environment.

• Flushing the hydrant will ensure ease of operation and will allow staff to take necessary flow and pressure tests.

• Maintenance of hydrant parts are exercised at this time to ensure ease of operation for fire department personnel.

  During the 2010 hydrant flushing program, there will be areas within Drumheller that may encounter discolored water for a short period of time.  This is normal for the clarity to become somewhat disturbed.

However, this does not indicate that the water is contaminated or unsafe for consumption. In the event that you find your household or place of business with discolored water, just simply allow your cold water faucets to run for a minimum of five minutes and the problem should resolve itself.

  The town of Drumheller apologizes for any inconvenience this may cause.

  Throughout this flushing program, if there are any questions or concerns, please contact the Infrastructure Services Department at 823-1330.

Dancer takes in show 50 years after she takes stage


    This year’s year-end dance revue by Carol Todor’s Dance School had a special guest, one that was tapping her toes on the stage of the Napier Theatre more than 50 years ago.
    This was the second year the dance school has collaborated with the Napier for its year-end recital. This year the theme of the shows on May 9 and 10 was all vaudevillian. While the art of vaudeville predates their special guest’s performances by a few years, to have someone that performed in community variety acts in the 1940s, made the show special.
    Beverly Larsen (nee Cowles) made her way from Chilliwack B.C. to take in the show. Bev is the mother of Napier Theatre owner Jeff Larsen, and she grew up in Drumheller. She had a trip planned for a family birthday party in Calgary, but arrived about a week early to see the Napier Theatre alive once again with dancing.

    Of course, the theatre has changed. In 1951, the original building burned and the stage on which Bev performed is no longer there. While it was rebuilt as a theatre designed for motion pictures, the space still seems to have a live spirit.
    Bev tells inSide Drumheller she thoroughly enjoyed the show, and the glint in her eye hints it may have brought back a few memories.
    Many theatre-goers have probably seen Bev’s picture on a poster from 1949 at the Napier. While still a preteen, she was part of some of the community variety shows of the time produced by Horace McHeffey.
    The show featured dancing, music and McHeffey’s famous ‘chalk talk’ where he would narrate a story and illustrate live as he spoke. The show also featured the traditional, if not politically correct, minstrel show. Bill Franklin would pound out a tune on the piano for all the acts.
    Bev was born and raised in the valley.  Her father was a carpenter who worked with Earl Parsons. He was also a musician, and played saxophone for a high school dance band along with Joe Yopek and Bob Llewellyn. Bev played piano.
    She got her start dancing under the direction of Kay Bigelow.
    As the mines closed in the 1940s and work dried up for her father, they moved to Calgary. The family came back every summer.
    “I was never sorry I grew up here,” she said emphatically.
    She enjoys visiting as the valley has always been home to her. Many of the landmarks remain, although many, including the Newcastle cottage schools and DHS where she attended, are no longer here. Neither is the Sylvia Theatre where she also performed.
     “I never thought my son would come back to Drumheller and run the theatre,” she chuckles.
    She is glad dancing is alive and well in the valley. Todor has now been operating her dance school for 26 years.
    “It is great she has continued teaching,” said Bev, adding it great for the little ones to be involved in dancing.


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