January 4th, 2017 ~ Vol. 87 No. 1
Looking Back - John Kinnear
Looking Back at Looking Back-2016
Looking Back
John Kinnear photo
Tyrrell's Albertosaurus sarcophagus
In keeping with the journalistic propensity for New Year’s navel gazing, what say we wander back through the two dozen or so offerings presented in my 2016 articles. Occasionally there are après publishing facts or developments that occur that make it worth reconnecting to a story.

In the last few years I have taken to periodically dipping into Mrs. Mundie’s 65 or so local newspaper scrapbooks and profiling what happened in a particular year in the Pass. (See the Pass Herald internet archives - Mrs. Mundie’s Take on 1977/1978 - Jan 20th). The books are amazing time capsules and have really helped round out my education on the 33 years I did not live here. What I neglected to mention in the column is the fact that Mary Mundie’s son Louie was also a big contributor to these scrapbooks. Louie looked after Mary until she passed at age 90 in 2003 and then moved to the Whispering Winds in Pincher where this “gentle soul” passed this September. I had always wanted to get to Louie to talk to him about the books but didn’t make it. Dam…

What followed in the next three months was a five part in-depth look at the watersheds of the Pass, broken down by area. (Tracing the Flow of the Crow). This was a lot of work but very rewarding as it allowed me to study closely our drainage courses and help the readers come to see this oh so-important network in its entirety. I have promised a follow up piece which will, with the help of some of the more dedicated stream watchers in the Pass, reinforce the importance of preserving and improving these embattled water courses.
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Last April’s retracing J. B. Tyrrell’s trip through the Pass in July of 1883 was fascinating and there is so much more to his story, here and later on in his life. J.B. was sent the following year to the Red Deer River Valley where he again found extensive coal deposits. What I didn’t mention was his accidental discovery of a 70-million-year-old dinosaur skull there. Tyrell had it carefully moved to Calgary then Ottawa to the Museum of Natural Resources. It was eventually re-examined in 1905 by paleontologist Henry Fairfield Osborn and named Albertosaurus sarcophagus (“Flesh-eating lizard from Alberta”). J. B. Tyrell lived to the age of 98 which just goes to show yah, walking is good for you!

Anna Hubbard’s story (May 11th) revisited the Fernie 1908 fire from a fleeing school teacher’s perspective and ran just after my daughter Kelly Anne was chased out of Fort McMurray by that unrelenting beast in early May. Thankfully her house in downtown Fort Mac was spared but somehow its basement got flooded. As she works her way through extensive renos, along with hundreds of other home owners, she has been updating me on how the town is coping. Kelly says although the beast (the fire) was subdued yet another, this time invisible, beast has surfaced in her town. It is the purveyor of an enormous amount of stress, heartache and worry that is affecting all those hundreds of displaced souls struggling though this harsh winter. Everywhere she turns she sees the heart breaking emotional impact of this unprecedented conflagration.

A column in early June looked back at high school memories a few weeks prior to a remarkable 15 year graduation class reunion (1960-1975) held at the Coleman Sportsplex on the July long weekend. It was an amazing time but I got seriously sidetracked when I showed up there with my new Nikon 7200 camera. Despite terrible arena lighting I wound up taking dozens of wonderful class shots that, like their original grad photos, will be around for a long time. Could not do anything wrong with that amazing Nikon it seemed.
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A July 20th column on international mine disasters briefly mentioned the planning that is proceeding for a major mine disaster commemoration in Sparwood this April 3rd. Our committee’s research into a list of all those lost in the old Michel Creek Valley underground mines ,Corbin and modern day strip mines in the Elk Valley has revealed over 180 names that will be shown on that commemorative wall near the bronze coal miner statue to be dedicated that day. I thought I would share a note that showed up in the comments section of the on-line version of this story. It was from Bruce Bagley whose family was well known in the Pass. It reads: “This article (Coal Mine Disaster - An International Perspective) has brought me back to the afternoon of April 3, 1967, when I heard as I was driving home after work that Balmer North had blown up. I was working for the safety department for C.N.I., and the following day I was scheduled to be in Balmer North; that was obviously my lucky day. I had mentioned in my reports that the miners were concerned with the level of gas that was being generated, and the inadequate ventilation, but nothing of significance was done. I knew eight of the miners quite well; at the young age of nineteen this was very traumatic, and frankly made me very cynical towards management. This accident was totally preventable, but the company was more interested in developing the mine than safety.

I will never forget the sight of the fifteen coffins in the arena at the memorial service, and I will never forget those men who were just normal, happy everyday guys just the day before the explosion.” Presents a disturbing mental picture does it not?

Every Brick Has a Story” (Sept 7th) was fun and took me deep into the history of brickworks across Western Canada. I am still chasing down sources of bricks that I came across around the Pass that no one seems to know where they came from. I was not surprised to learn that there is an International Brick Collectors Association and collectors all over the place with offerings on amazon.com etc. Sun-dried mud bricks go back to 7,000 B.C. That’s almost as old as some of the basements in Bushtown! I received a very complimentary comment on-line on this column and a suggestion to seriously consider publishing a collection of my stories. Hmmm..?
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It was the October 5th piece on Growing Up on 6th Street that drew out Sue Lium up in Juneau, Alaska of all places. This retired nurse shared some very special memories of childhood experiences in Coleman in the Holiday Greeter section of the Christmas edition. (An Outsider’s Perspective - Dec 21st). It is extremely rewarding and fairly rare that someone reaches out like this but I remain humbled by these experiences. Please feel free to share your thoughts in the on-line comments section (good or bad) on anything I offer up.

In the November “Attestation Papers – Windows into the Past” piece I was able to somehow connect Alex Wells’ father’s history and background to a place in Scotland very close to where my own father and grandfather came from. Yet another example of the term: “small world” or perhaps more appropriately “three degrees of separation”. Somehow this war story led me back to the amazing dam busters story (May 28th 2013 - The Incredible Bouncing Bomb”), this time in order to share another fascinating story about Fred Sutherland one of the surviving Canadian dambusters ( Nov 16th - Fred Sutherland - A Triumph of the Human Spirit).

Digging around Cowley and the Doukhabor story in that area was a lot of fun and I would encourage you , if you are interested, to go deeper via the internet on their amazing history in Western Canada. There are dozens of websites to draw from. Personally, I don’t know how those Cowleyites can take that brutal ever present wind and, this year as usual, the monster drifts that are developing on their streets.

So 2017 brings yet another year of opportunity to glance backwards and share stories which, God willing, I will continue to do. Remember that all aforementioned articles are online, there is a comments section and I value the reader’s input. And oh yeah, one more thing. The amazing guy who posts my stuff to the Herald website has offered to add a voice file link (read aloud file) to each article. It may be computer generated or it may be my voice. Let me know if you think this might be fun! Happy New Year readers.
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January 4th, 2017 ~ Vol. 87 No. 1
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