Dignitaries and honoured guests for the laying of wreaths at the Frank Slide Memorial on Old Frank Road. Pictured from left to right: Reverend Renso Castellarin (closing prayer), Krista Goosen (on behalf of the families), Foothills MP John Barlow, Fred Bradley, Mayor Blair Painter, Joey Ambrosi, Rudy Pagnucco, Pat Rypien and Mel Williams.
Nicholas L. M. Allen
May 3, 2023
“Today it’s important to pay our respects... To reflect on the event and its many tragic stories”
The 120th anniversary of the Frank Slide was on April 29, 2023, with a laying of wreaths by dignitaries and a ceremony at the memorial on Old Frank Road and speeches at the Frank Slide Interpretive Centre.
Fred Bradley, chair of the Crowsnest Heritage Initiative, led the ceremony at the memorial and interpretive centre with Mayor Blair Painter, Foothills MP John Barlow and Joey Ambrosi, the facility supervisor at the Frank Slide Interpretive Centre giving speeches to mark the anniversary.
“Today it’s important to pay our respects... To reflect on the event and its many tragic stories, acts of heroism and the stories of the survivors,” said Bradley.
Bradley added people should also reflect on the effect it had on the community and the relocation of the Frank town site. How that community carried on surviving to this day and the mountain that continues to cast its shadow across the valley, he explained.
“I would like to congratulate Frank Slide Interpretive Centre and staff for their efforts [including] their outreach to the community and active participation in heritage events,” said Bradley.
Also acknowledged was Krista Goosen, whose family survived Frank Slide and was there on behalf of the survivors and families. First to speak after Bradley was MP Barlow.
“It’s an honour to be here today for such an incredible day to have a memorial for Frank Slide’s 120th anniversary. I am very proud to have this interpretive centre in my riding. To know people have come from all over the world to learn about the history of the Crowsnest Pass and the deep roots of the mining industry in this region,” said Barlow.
He also thanked the staff of the facility for doing an amazing job of maintaining the facility and welcoming the world to the area. Every time he goes through the slide, he said he thinks about the speed of the slide and the devastation it caused for a large piece of the community of Frank.
“It is interesting to see how many families, despite what happened in Frank, have stayed here, have raised their families over multiple generations. And this interpretive centre and the Frank slide is a testament, a symbol, to the resiliency of the work ethic, the character and the integrity of the people who call this area home,” said Barlow.
He ended his speech by encouraging anyone in attendance to go through the centre if they have not visited before and thanked everyone for attending. According to Bradley, MLA Roger Reid expressed his regrets at not being able to attend but sent his regards.
Next to speak was Mayor Painter, who grew up in Frank. He mentioned how devastating the slide was for the community, with numerous lives lost. Over 90 people were thought to be killed, but the exact number of victims was never determined as most of the bodies were recovered.
“Lives lost; dreams destroyed. A community devastated. Let us remember the impact of this event. Today, we have an award-winning Frank Slide Interpretive Centre to showcase this devastation and I must say you do an amazing job of telling this story, thank you,” said Painter.
The final speaker for the delegation was Ambrosi, who recognized the stories of the First Nations people who live in the area and the story of “the mountain that moves” now commonly known as Turtle Mountain.
“We have been told that they did tell the Europeans not to build there, but the Europeans decided to build there anyway,” added Ambrosi.
The memorial ended with snacks and refreshments being served at the interpretive centre. Visit frankslide.ca for more information on the event and its history in the community.