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Summer 2010

Joe Messina has Airdrie’s best job


The Boys of


of Airdrie’s Toughest Jobs


of the BBQ

What do you Think Airdrie? PLUS

How to look good nearly naked

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Web Manager

Sherry Shaw-Froggatt Anne Beaty Vanessa Peterelli Kim Williams

One of the great joys of I have had from my years in media has been meeting so many incredible

Sergei Belski, Stacey Carefoot, Alex Frazer-Harrison, Elizabeth Hak, Aaron Holmes, Ellen Kelly, Kurtis Kristianson, Carl Patzel, Kristy Reimer

people through my work. From the ‘man on the street’ to the government official to the business

Angela Burford

Many years ago, I was speaking with a friend who was characterizing his life as ‘average.’ I

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editor’s note owner to the academic to the stay-at-home parent – all have really interesting stories to tell and each of their lives is worth celebrating.

later found out that he had been provincial white-water kayaking champion three years running in his home province in Eastern Canada. That’s not average! The same holds true for the people

Cody Nielsen

of Airdrie and area. Everyone’s life is unique and special and it is our pleasure at airdrielife to be

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able to showcase these members of our community.


Our cover story (page 89) is a perfect example of the fascinating people you find right next door.

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Where to find us airdrielife is delivered by Canada Post to all homes in Airdrie and surrounding areas. If you do not receive an issue in your mailbox please email airdrielife is also available at more than 50 locations around the city including the Airdrie Calgary Co-op. You can also find airdrielife in every showhome in the city and at more than 100 locations in Calgary. airdrielife is published quarterly by Frog Media Inc. with the co-operation of the City of Airdrie Economic Development Department.

Joe Messina happens to be my neighbour and I think our readers will enjoy getting to know him, too. The Hansons, who are showcased in our Rural Roots section (page 54), have been part of the local scene for decades and the family is an integral part of the community’s history. It’s no surprise that Airdrie is chock-full of people who dedicate their time to others. The city’s Volunteers of the Year (page 43) are exemplary citizens who know what it takes to make their community a better place to live. This issue is also salute to summer (and I devoutly hope that the snow is gone for at least a couple of months) and all this wonderful season brings with it – from fabulous food (our own Carl Patzel demonstrates his ‘King of the Barbecue’ skills on page 22) to outdoor activities for the whole family (fishing aficionados, take note, page 57) to soothing and restful outdoor spaces (page 64). Airdrie is truly an awesome place to call home, filled with wonderful people and stories. With that in mind, I hope you get as much enjoyment out of this issue of airdrielife as we did putting it together. For myself, I plan to try every single recipe, as I relax in my small but sweet outdoor


ISSN 1916-355X

Contents copyright 2010 by Frog Media Inc. May not be reproduced without permission. The publisher does not assume any responsibility for the contents of any advertisement, and all representations of warranties made in such advertising are those of the advertiser and not of the publisher. Editorial Policy airdrielife editorial is not for sale. Editorial is completely independent from advertising, and no special editorial consideration or commitment of any kind can form any part of the advertising agreement. All editorial inquiries must be directed toward the editor. A copy of Frog Media Inc. Writers’ Guidelines can be downloaded from the editorial page on our website. airdrielife does not accept unsolicited submissions. Freelance writers and photographers interested in assignments are asked to send an inquiry, with samples from at least three published magazine articles, to

4 | summer 2010

sanctuary and dream of casting the perfect fly.

Anne Beaty, EDITOR

On the cover: Globetrotter Joe Messina is living the high life, regularly travelling between his home in Airdrie – from where he runs his business, Fantasy Adventure Bull Riding – and his native Australia. Get to know Joe and read his story on page 89.

king heights melcor


Summer 2010


This issue, airdrielife welcomes new contributor Aaron Holmes to the fold. Here, Aaron joins our own ‘boys of summer’ as they reflect on what they learned while working on their assignments

Aaron Holmes (Cranked, page 92): Nick taught me how significant the difference is between a mountain bike and a road bike. The high-end road bikes are much lighter than they look, and when you’re climbing long hills the missing pounds can make a big difference.


Carl Patzel (The Toughest Jobs in Town, page 83):


As I found with this issue, all it takes to appreciate your job is speaking with a bull fighter, furniture mover, roofer and exterminator. Compared to those tough jobs, writing and photography is relatively painless.

LACOSTE OUTLET TOMMY HILFIGER OUTLET Alex Frazer-Harrison (Rural Roots, page 54): My visit with the Hanson family taught me a lot about the challenges being faced by ranching families today.


Kurtis Kristianson (Right on Track, page 46): Airdrie BMX is a great place to start for young kids learning about competition and solo sports. The club has top-notch coaching and a world-class facility for it.


Sergei Belski (Men@Work, page 86):


It was fun to do a couple of photo shoots for the Men@Work assignment. Being a man and a car lover, it was interesting to visit and learn a little more about fixing cars and to see cool toys for cars. It was also interesting to spend some time at a boxing club and to meet some great people there.



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life in the moment | column

In Search of


By Stacey Carefoot

My Thing

Your vision is our business. Over the past few months I have been able to take a step back from

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more I realize that everyone under this roof has a thing, except me. A thing is something you do, it’s yours, you love it, it makes you happy

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12 | summer 2010

The Boy has many things: hockey, guitar, school sports and an increasingly abundant social life. The Princess has dance, pets, pals and all those other girly things that go with being a tween. My husband has work, sports and hobbies that he can always seem to find time to do, no matter what chaos is going on around him. Most times at the end of the day I flop into bed, realizing that after driving, cleaning, cooking, organizing and nagging I have had no time for my own thing. Before marriage and children (no, this isn’t going to be one of those ‘I hate my life’ stories, so read on) I had lots of things but one by one those things have been replaced with everyone else’s. Kids seem to have a way of making their things into yours. Like hermit crabs, for example. Not my idea, not what I would have spent money on, really not my thing. As the crab novelty wears off with the children I am afraid they will slowly, like the others before them, including the chinchillas and goldfish, become my thing – my thing to water, feed, nurture and eventually give away without anyone noticing for months. I vow to find my own thing before that happens. I know that I am not alone in this. There are many people, mostly moms, who have given up their interests, hobbies and even passions because there just isn’t enough time in the day to fit them in. Finding your own thing can be difficult and takes effort but it is not impossible. There are books, websites and even seminars that can help you along the way. There is no doubt there is some thing for everyone. We just need to find it. life

life in the moment | noteworthy



Sonic Diplomat story & photo by Elizabeth Hak

They don’t bite the heads off chickens or smash guitars on stage. For the members of Sonic Diplomat, it’s all about the music. With Max St-Hilaire on drums, Al Caissie on bass, Paul Nye on rhythm guitar, Craig Squires on lead guitar and Dave Elder belting out the lead vocals, Sonic Diplomat is quickly becoming the rock band of choice in Airdrie. And with several gigs lined up for the summer, they’ll be busy. But that’s just how they like it. The guys of Sonic Diplomat are hoping to widen the scope of music in Airdrie and to promote young musicians who want to make a name for themselves. Dave Elder took some time recently to answer a few questions about the band.

14 | summer 2010

How did you come up with the name Sonic Diplomat? Paul suggested Atomic Diplomat. It sounded cool and had a hidden meaning but it was missing something. Changing it to Sonic Diplomat had the power of sound and far more meaning for the band. Is it difficult getting a band together? Building a band is definitely one of the more difficult things you will end up going through as a musician. Trying to find five people with equal talent and drive and the same aspirations is challenging. What are the band’s musical influences? As a band, we gel the best with grunge and alternative rock like the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Incubus and Alice in Chains. The good thing about our band is that we do every type of cover. Do you write your own music? We do have a few original tunes that we work into our sets, so we aren’t entirely a cover band. We’ve worked on about five of them and have a couple that are to a point where we could record them. In the near future, we’re hoping to have about 10 songs ready so we can go out there and sell ourselves as an original band. What’s the song-writing process like? It’s very collaborative. Ideally, where you start writing a song from, for a rock band, is instrumental rather than with the words. Al is probably our most creative mind of late, but Craig has also been writing a lot too. Recently, Al came to us with the shell of a song. He had the guitar riffs, some of the structure built out, some of the lyrics

and melody. From there, we took it, kind of pulled it apart and pieced it all together with some of our own influences. How often do you rehearse? Every weekend, we put together about a five-hour rehearsal. As we get closer to gigging, we will easily do two rehearsals a week. We have about four hours of continuous music we can play right now. Each week we put together another song or two that we’re able to put on the set list. Does it help that most of you are family guys? Oh yeah. We’re all at the same place in our lives. We all have the same mindset regarding music. We have to be flexible with our schedule because we have children and families. Having a group that is in the same walk of life is ideal. What was your best gig? We had an excellent show last Halloween. We played at the Airdrie Legion and the turnout was incredible. We played to a sold-out crowd, everyone was dressed up and the energy was incredible. By the end of the show, everyone was right up against the stage. We could have easily played for another six hours. What’s in the future for Sonic Diplomat? We would love to make a living doing what we’re doing. We know we have the talent to be gigging consistently. To have one or two gigs a week and to get our name out there would be great. To put out an album would be icing on the cake. But just being able to play and be together and make music without having to worry about finances or any other external stuff is all we’re aiming for.


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life in the moment | artist profile

Arc de Triomphe story by Anne Beaty | photos by Kristy Reimer

Aaron Braham uses his artistic licence to create memories


Aaron Braham’s artistic talents continue to blossom

16 | summer 2010

e insists that he is not an artist, but a welder. His experience includes more than 30 years in the welding trade and he is shop manager with Blue Streak Welding. Yet Aaron Braham is using his specialized skills to create works of art in metal. The Airdrie man’s artistic pursuits began about two years ago, when a friend asked to store his plasma cutting table in Braham’s shop. Experimenting with the technology that uses a computer and a plasma torch to cleanly cut metal, he began to give free rein to his imagination. “I taught myself how to use [the plasma table] … and it’s just blossomed from there,” Braham says. His creations run the gamut from personalized fire pits (his favourite) and garden decorations to benches, signs and clocks. He attributes his success to the Torchmate computer program that allows him to use clipart. “Any clipart I can convert and put into [the project],” he says. “It’s very, very simple. “I’m not an artist, I’ll be the first to admit that,” he adds. While a rarified few specialists work in hand-forged wrought iron, that particular skill takes an incredible amount of expertise, Braham says, so he is content to work with plate steel or tubing. And it’s all a case of learning as he goes along. “It’s nice, it’s interesting, it’s something different,” he says. When it comes to his personal-

ized designs, it can sometimes be hit or miss, as Braham has to do things over and over again, experimenting, perfecting. The most difficult part is getting the plasma table to cut fine designs and he often has to go back and start from scratch. “I go through more metal from waste,” he laughs. However, with practice comes maybe not perfection but experience. “As I do it I learn more and more,” he says.“I’m having a blast.” Since his first experiments, Braham has come a long way. He now feels confident enough to sketch out his own pictures rather than relying solely on clipart, although he sometimes begins with clipart and develops his art from there, drawing on a variety of ideas and illustrations. Seeing images actually take shape and his work come to fruition is exciting. “It amazes me,” he says.“I really enjoy the end result.” All in all, Braham’s experience with art has changed his perspectives of life. “Now I’m to the point where I’m looking at stuff differently,” he says. “That’s cool.” Having lived in Airdrie since 1979, Braham’s ties to the community run deep. Along with affiliations with the Airdrie Pro Rodeo, the Calgary Police Rodeo and the Airdrie and District Agricultural Society, he also served as a volunteer firefighter with Airdrie Emergency Services for 17 years. Many of his designs come from his own life experience over the years – from fishing to rodeo to history.

“Most of my stuff is … western,” he says, “[but] I’ll do basically anything.” Some of his most fulfilling projects have been those dedicated to special people and events. He fabricated five benches for the Alberta 55 Plus Games, has created memorial pieces for local families and is currently working on a bench to commemorate his father. As for marketing his wares, Braham has relied mostly on word-of-mouth. His aunt in Edmonton sells his garden products and he attends the local farmers market, as well as the Home and Garden Show. Despite his low-profile approach, though, word is getting out about his work and his name is becoming known outside of the community. “I’ve got a fire pit as far east as … Ontario,” he says. While he would pursue his art full time if he could, Braham is content for now to continue perfecting his skills and evolving as an artist in whatever time is available. Does he have any words of advice for other welders with an artistic bent?“Go to school, go be a doctor,” Braham laughs. Seriously, though, he says, taking a CAD (computer-aided design) course would be a great start for anyone interested in pursuing the arts side of the metal craft. He himself would like to know more about the potential and possibilities with his computer program, but at this point he doesn’t have enough time to devote to learning more about it. “There’s stuff on that computer program that I’ll never, never know about,” Braham says. But, he adds, one is never too old to learn and art, as with life, is a work in progress. For Braham, taking his welding trade in a whole new direction has brought with it both challenges and self-fulfilment. From where he was 30 years ago to today, he has come a long way. “I’m pretty happy at what’s happened,” he says. And while he keeps claiming he’s not an artist, Braham is using his experience, skill and imagination to bring his visions to life. If that’s not art, what is? life

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life in the moment | event

The AIRdirondack Art Project photo by Kristy Reimer

There’s a new chair in town It’s called the AIRdirondack, a play on Airdrie and Adirondack, and to explain it simply, the AIRdirondack is what cows were to Calgary. “Remember the cow promotion? Artists created amazing works of art using cow statues as their muse. Well, we had the idea that Airdrie needed its own fun identity project that gave us both a heightened awareness for the creative talent in the area and a tourism effort to draw visitors to town and give them a reason to explore,” says Sherry ShawFroggatt, owner of Frog Media Inc. (which publishes airdrielife).

So Shaw-Froggatt and Veronica Funk, one of Airdrie’s most prolific painters, decided the time had come to ‘chair’ the project. “Veronica and I started this conversation about a year ago about getting things happening for the creative community,” ShawFroggatt says, “and instead of asking for help or handouts, come up with our own action plan and be a starting point for an organization that will plan for a future centre for the arts in Airdrie. This is our first step.” In explaining her reason for stepping up the challenge, Funk pointed to the fact that Airdrie has been very busy growing, while at the same

time being transient. “People in the community want to settle in, make this a home, and that means a well-rounded society – a community filled with opportunity including arts and culture,” the artist says. “Speaking to newer families, I have learned that they’ve missed a community gathering place for their children, for those in our community who don’t necessarily have an affinity for sports – a place where they can nourish their souls through the visual and performing arts. “These chairs are symbolic of a place to be still, of settling in and growing roots,” she adds.

Artist Veronica Funk adds personality to a special AIRdirondack chair

The symbolism of the chairs is no accident. Shaw-Froggatt admits to searching for an icon that she could tie into as a major sponsor and promote airdrielife. “I produce a magazine. Magazines are engaging and meant to be enjoyed at your leisure and an Adirondack chair was a perfect promotional tool,” she says, “but this has gone way beyond what I imagined or

18 | summer 2010

dreamed. I am pleased to give the chair concept to the public now to promote the creative community.” Funk and Shaw-Froggatt met with City of Airdrie representatives to present their idea, but in a most unusual manner – they already had sponsors lined up and committed and initial funding secured. City community services

liaison Michael McAllister was impressed. “What impressed me most when I first heard about the AIRdirondack project was the amount of vision and drive the organizers were willing to bring to the table,” McAllister says. “Oftentimes we will have community groups who have ideas, but the followup and the time and energy that go into making com-

munity projects to happen can sometimes be daunting. This group, however, came to us with a well-thought-out action plan in addition to the many partners they were bringing to the table to make their project not just a dream, but a reality.” Shaw-Froggatt, who has years of experience in promotions and sponsorship fundraising, knew the key to get the project off and running was the right partners, and McAllister agrees. “Right from the beginning the group has made that critical link between business and the arts community, which has helped them continually gain momentum since their inception,” he says. “Oftentimes arts can be an economic engine and this project is certainly no exception. The interest and support from the business community has been outstanding.” One of the businesses approached by the Airdirondack team was Ravenswood developer Qualico, as it seemed like a natural fit, ShawFroggatt says. “They are creating an inviting community and Adirondacks are such inviting

It is all about the


chairs,” she says. The response was great and Qualico was enthusiastic, having already come up with more great ideas to add in 2011. “It’s an absolutely fabulous project that has huge potential to grow and we are delighted to be in at the grassroots level,” says Lori Masse, Qualico marketing manager. Mike Fulton, at Airdrie’s Home Hardware, also got the concept immediately and generously donated all 12 chairs and the paints for the artists to work with. The artists are a good cross-section of the visual arts talent in the community, says Funk, noting that all of the artists, including herself, have donated their time to create the chairs, which will be auctioned off in the fall. The artists who have been selected to take part in addition to Funk are Cheryl Bakke Martin, Brenda Campbell, Glen Collin, Maureen Demanuele, Susan Harris, Lori Presiloski, Rhea Warholik, Joelle and Carol White, Michelle Wiebe and Jane Romanishko. Eleven of the chairs will be unveiled June 12 at the Empty Bowls Festival in Nose Creek

January Wed

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Park. The 12th chair will be primed and ready for the community to paint. “We will have all the paint and brushes and we want everyone to step up and add a brush stroke, a design, even their signature, to make this a community arts chair,” Shaw-Froggatt says. After the festival, the chairs will be on public display at 12 locations around the city, including City Hall, Genesis Place, Fulton’s Home Hardware, Airdrie Co-op, Airdrie Public Library, both TD Canada Trust locations and all four Ravenswood show homes. The works of art will then be auctioned off Oct. 14 to raise funds to develop future space for the arts community. “The Airdrondack Art Project is bringing people from all walks of Airdrie’s community to the table,” McAllister says, “and in a very short time has become a catalyst for those interested in making Airdrie a creative place to live, work and play.” life






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life in the moment | food

Cutting the Mustard Brassica Mustard brings flavour to Airdrie and beyond story by Anne Beaty | photos by Kristy Reimer


hen it comes to mustard, passion is the byword for Desmond Johnston and Karen Davis. The owners of Brassica Mustard, which recently opened shop in Airdrie, have spent more than a dozen years creating and perfecting their products – drawing on their global travel experiences, experimenting in the family kitchen and seeking out local producers for their ingredients. Even the name, Brassica, is indicative of their dedication to their culinary craft.“It’s the botanical name for ground mustard seed,” Davis says. And why mustard? “It’s a real staple in the professional kitchen,” says Johnston, a professional chef who is currently at SAIT in the culinary program. As well, mustard is crosscultural, running the gamut from Indian to classical French. “It sort of fits everywhere,” he says, adding that whereas “ketchup is ketchup is ketchup,” there’s an incredible variety when it comes to mustard, along with a wide array of uses. One friend of the couple’s puts Brassica Cranberry Honey Mustard on toast in the morning and Johnston has even used that flavour mustard to make ice cream. Johnston and Davis got started in the business 12 years ago, when they began making specialty mustards as Christmas presents and gifts for other occasions. “We started doing it for friends and family,” Johnston says.

20 | summer 2010

The response was overwhelmingly positive from the gift recipients, who encouraged Johnston and Davis to take their expertise to the next level.“A lot of our friends were saying, ‘You should sell it,’” Johnston says. The first step involved taking their products to the Redwood Meadows Christmas market. Apparently the public was as impressed as family and friends – they sold out in the first day. “We’ve had tremendous success,” Johnston says. With that first hurdle behind them, the two began to design packaging and look seriously at a business plan, one which would allow them to focus on their No. 1 priority – staying home with their family.“We developed the business for the kids, so we can be with the kids,” Davis says. When they began to look at expanding, Calgary-based Johnston and Davis did their research before deciding on a place to ply their trade. They had friends in Sharp Hills who introduced them to Airdrie and, after considering both cost and convenience, they made the decision a couple of years ago to purchase property in Kingsview Industrial Park. “For us, it was a no-brainer,” Johnston says. “It’s actually easier for us to work in Airdrie than it is for us to get down to the Foothills Industrial Park (in Calgary).” The warm welcome and personal interest

shown by the City of Airdrie was also a factor.“Working with the City out here was a real pleasure,” Johnston says, adding that they also took into consideration the ability to expand in future years and an opportunity to develop a relationship with the City. After receiving certification from the City in February 2010, they began to settle in to their new digs. The Brassica facility, which is warehouse in the back and kitchen in the front, is for more than just production of their own product, though. They also hope to be able to offer their kitchen for rent to other small food-producing businesses which don’t have easy access to an inspected kitchen. “A lot of small producers like us don’t have anything like this,” Johnston says, adding that these producers often have to turn to friends with restaurants. The Johnston-Davis family now consists of Shea, 11; John, 9; Milo, 4; and Beau, 2. Life may be hectic – getting the older children to school, hitting the bank, filling orders, making deliveries and regularly producing 400- to 450-litre batches of mustard – but despite the occasional logistical challenges both parents have enjoyed enough flexibility in their professional lives to maintain the stay-at-home priority. “We’ve flipflopped that role,” Johnston says. For Davis and Johnston, good food has been a mainstay of family life. They both hail

Brassica Barbecue Sauce ¼ cup canola oil 1 large onion, coarsely chopped 2 carrots, coarsely chopped 2 celery stalks, coarsely chopped 12 whole garlic cloves 2 cups tomato ketchup 1 small can tomato paste 1 cup apple cider vinegar 2 cups red wine 1 cup brown sugar 2 tbsp. chili flakes 4 tbsp. dry thyme 2 tbsp. whole black peppercorns 4 whole cloves 1 tsp. ground allspice 1 cinnamon stick 1 cup Brassica Dill Mustard

Brassica Mustard owners Karen Davis and Desmond Johnston are excited to be part of Airdrie’s business community

from large families that gathered in the kitchen and around the table and the same holds true today. If they can’t get together at mealtime because they are busy with soccer, baseball, swimming or other commitments, Davis says, they at least get together for a bedtime snack. The children are also growing into active roles in the business.“They don’t really have a choice,” Johnston smiles. “They do enjoy it. They all enjoy working in the kitchen.” Adds Davis,“We try everything at home … and the kids try everything before we try to market [it].” Daughter Shea began last year to help her parents at the markets, demonstrating a real knack for public relations.“She does a really, really good job at it – it’s fun,” Johnston says, adding that John has become more involved, as well. The business may be relatively small at this point, but Davis and Johnston are content to take “baby steps” and continue growing at a slow pace. Along with selling through local markets and businesses, they have worked up into the commercial market, as well. “We’ve always had positive growth,” Johnston says. Perhaps the best indicator of mustard’s popularity is that Brassica customers come from vari-

ous demographics, from wealthy foodies to bluecollar workers.“Mustard is the everyman’s food,” Johnston says. Their product’s appeal is also no doubt a result of its local and regional ingredients. For example, the mustard comes from the Warner, Alta., area; the honey comes from a honey co-operative in Three Hills. Kitchen experimentation is ongoing and the couple is always on the lookout for different flavours to add to the current roster of cranberry honey, dill, horseradish and roasted garlic – flavours chosen because they are easily recognizable and familiar to buyers. “We wanted to choose things that were fairly ‘prairie,’” Johnston says. Between the growing family and the growing business, Davis and Johnston have their hands full in the here and now. But they do have dreams for the future. Just as the word “chocolate” brings to mind another Calgary success story, Bernard Callebaut, Johnston hopes that when people say “mustard,” they think of Brassica. “Maybe there’s a mustard chocolate,” he laughs. life

In a large stainless saucepan over medium heat, sweat the onion, garlic, carrots and celery until slightly golden. Add the remaining ingredients except the Brassica Dill Mustard and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 45 minutes. Strain and stir in the Brassica Dill Mustard. Cool and use everywhere.

Roasted Garlic Mustard and Red Wine Steak Marinade 1 sprig fresh rosemary ¼ cup Brassica Roasted Garlic Mustard 1 cup red wine 1 tbsp. coarse ground black pepper 2 shallots, thinly sliced 2 garlic cloves, crushed ¼ cup olive oil 2 tbsp. chili oil Strip all the leaves off of the rosemary and place in a large bowl. Combine the remaining ingredients with the rosemary; mix thoroughly. Marinate the beef. Recommended marinating time: 24 hours. Marinade can last up to one week refrigerated. – Recipes courtesy of Brassica Mustard

summer 2010 | 21

life in the moment | BBQ

King of the


Carl has never meet a grill he didn’t like story & photos by Carl Patzel

22 | summer 2010


t may be a slight self-deprecating oxymoron, but I consider myself a modern caveman, at least when it comes to cuisine. Something about cranking on the natural gas and cooking over flame just gets the gastronomic juices flowing. A gas connection and double-grill barbecue – one of the best house-warming gifts we ever received – have helped transform my backyard deck into an open-air culinary kitchen. Glimmering stainless steel, speedometerlike temperature gauges and polished wooden handles have all encouraged a fascination with the open flame and induced many fresh approaches to spicing up a meal. Yes, I love barbecuing. My love of eating led to lifelong fanaticism for following recipes and coming up with new and exciting ways to present the family meal. Like many Albertans, I haven’t yet met a steak I didn’t like. Rib-eye, sirloin and even salmon steaks have all graced my grill. Pork chops, tenderloin and chicken, too. A little fat marbling will go a long way in the flavour department. Add a little spice and some criss-crossing sear marks and you have a succulent suppertime success. Rare and medium-rare weren’t always in my vocabulary until a few tender meat lovers enticed me to the less-is-more cooking method. A rare to medium-rare filet mignon retains more juices and tenderness because it spends less time on a super-hot grill. Preheating the barbecue to between 400 C and 500 C before applying the protein will help accomplish this. Using tongs, you can test for ‘doneness’ by gauging the flexibility of the meat. A welldone piece of meat will be rigid, while rare and medium-rare will be more bendable. Compare this to the raw product and with a little practice you can be confident in uttering that ultimate grilling question: How do you like your steak? As for flavour, your steak is only as good as your seasoning. Fresh ground pepper is used every day in our house, and when the flame is on, Montreal Steak Spice is not far behind. Looking to spice things up just a little more this summer, I took out the chef ’s chemistry set and came up with my own tasty twist on flavour. I call it Monster Marinade.

Coming from the eye-ball-measuring school, most of the following ingredients can be added or subtracted to taste and doubled depending on the amount of beef, pork or chicken used. life

Monster Marinade 3-5 tbsp. olive oil 1 tbsp. oyster sauce 1 tsp. soya sauce (light can be used) several dashes of Worcestershire sauce ½ tsp. cayenne pepper (or to taste) fresh ground pepper dash of salt (or sprinkle of Montreal Steak Spice) 1-2 tbsp. brown sugar Mix all the ingredients together and apply liberally to the meat. This can be done an hour or longer before cooking. Also remember to have the meat near room temperature for consistent results over the flame. Cold or partially frozen meat will be cooler in the middle, resulting in more cooking time and unpredictable ‘doneness.’ This marinade recipe easily covers four large rib-eye steaks. You can also mix in a bit of your favourite barbecue sauce to give it a little extra kick or add familiarity. The final product will give your main course a sweet-and-sour quality, ending with a little jolt in the heat department, thanks to the cayenne pepper. For a little variety you could use two different cuts of meat, the cheaper cut smothered in the Monster Marinade and the more expensive selection just seasoned with a spice mix. No matter how you approach the grill, Neanderthal-like or channelling Bobby Flay, keeping an open mind to flavour can only help in your quest for fire this barbecue season. summer 2010 | 23

life in the moment | good food

Sweet Grill of Mine Throw a little fruit on the barbie and surprise your tastebuds! story by Stacey Carefoot


his summer, slip out of your grilling groove and venture away from your cooking comfort zone when you grill more than just the same old steaks and burgers on the barbecue. Create exotic appetizers, side dishes and desserts by grilling your favourite fruit. It’s simple, delicious and super healthy. Choosing the right fruit will ensure successful grilling. Hard fruits, such as apple, pear and pineapple, make the best choice for the rookie fruit griller. These fruits can be skewered or placed directly on the grill. Marinating in a combination of spices and liquids will create colourful flavours and aromas. Nutmeg, cinnamon and ginger are good beginner spices, while fruit juice and rum make the perfect marinating liquids. At the very least it is recommended to soak all fruit for a minimum of 20 minutes in enough cold water to completely cover. Preserve the fruit’s natural colour by adding a teaspoon of lemon juice to each cup of water. If soaking fruit in alcohol prior to grilling, be prepared for a large flame influx when fruit is first placed on the grill. For best results grill fruit over medium heat on a clean grilling surface. There’s nothing worse than pineapple that tastes like last week’s chicken. Cooking times will vary based on heat sources; however, due to its high natural sugar content fruit may burn easily, so constant monitoring is necessary. There’s no denying that almost everything tastes better when it’s grilled and fruit is no exception. Mix a dash of imagination with a pinch of appetite and you’ll create your own recipe for grilling success. life

24 | summer 2010

Fruit Kebabs with Lemon Yogurt Sauce 10 chunks each: banana, papaya, mango, pineapple and kiwi (all peeled) 10 strawberries 1/4 cup (50 ml) butter, melted 1/4 cup (50 ml) honey lemon yogurt sauce (recipe below) Thread fruit chunks and strawberries onto 10 skewers. (If wooden skewers are used, soak in cold water for 20 minutes.) Combine butter and honey. Brush honey butter over kebabs. Barbecue four to five minutes per side or until hot and glazed, brushing occasionally with honey butter, being careful not to burn. Serve immediately with sauce. Lemon Yogurt Sauce Combine 500-gram container of vanilla yogurt, 1/3 cup honey, 1 1/2 tsp. grated lemon rind and 2 tbsp. lemon juice. Chill one hour before serving. Makes 2 1/2 cups.

life in the moment | libations

Better Beer Why you should choose your beer like you choose your wine story by Alex Frazer-Harrison


t’s easy to find yourself in a rut when it comes to beer – the same old, same old you pick up year round at the liquor store. But with some creative thinking, you can expand your beer-drinking horizons this summer. “If you’re going to the liquor store to buy beer, pick up a couple of different ones off the shelf and experiment until you find something you really love,” says Paul Sass of The Home Vintner, which sells home-brewing kits and offers classes on how to get ahead in beer-drinking. Sass says the world of beer can be as complex as that of wine, with many different types, from stouts to pale ales to lagers. “There are lots of Belgian fruit-style beers,” he says. “They tie in well with fruit desserts. Wild Rose does an excellent raspberry ale. “Stout beer works great with heavily barbecued stuff,” he adds. When it comes to food and beer, it’s about matching the intensity of the food with the intensity of the beer, and experimenting, Sass says. “You sip the beer, then taste the food and then sip the beer again and you’ll find your perceptions have changed,” he says. Beer, of course, is never a one-size-fits-all beverage. “I’m a big fan of picking a different-style beer for every occasion, instead of drinking only one,” says Paul Gautreau, brewmaster for Calgary-based Big Rock Brewery. “There are a few styles of beer we tend to associate with warm summer months. Grasshopper, a filtered wheat ale, is a popular patio beer, and we find XO Lager and our two light lagers, Jack Rabbit and Lime, [becoming] increasingly popular.” Big Rock is launching a new lager this summer, Gopher, which Gautreau says is a lighter lager that will appeal to the summertimebeer aficionado. Sass says that being creative with beer can result in some interesting combinations. For example, did you know you can make a beer float? “Vanilla ice cream, beer and a blender; that’s as simple as it gets for a recipe,” he says. There are also a ton of cheese-beer pairings.‘Yellow-bubbly’ beers, such as Canadian and Grasshopper, go well with such cheeses as Monterey Jack, marble and havarti. Fans of red ales like Kilkenny might want to try it with butter cheese, Caerphilly or old cheddar. Stouts like Guinness pair well with white stilton. And according to Big Rock, which lists pairings for many of its brands on its website, Lime Light Lager might be just the ticket for pairing with Mexican food like spicy salsa or grilled chicken fajitas. life summer 2010 | 25

life in the moment | libations


Pairings Good food and good wine go naturally together story by Alex Frazer-Harrison photo by Sergei Belski

Wine, when enjoyed with certain foods, can create taste sensations like no other.

So when summer rolls around and you find yourself with bottles of vino to choose from at the store (or that you’ve made yourself ), how do you know what wine works with what kind of food? “As a rule, heavier-style wines go with heavier foods; anything off the barbecue, you want a heavier style,” says Paul Sass of The Home Vintner, an Airdrie shop that sells kits for making wines and offers classes on various aspects of wine appreciation, including pairing. “We do classes on wine-, cheese- and chocolate-pairing,” says Sass. “We find people aren’t aware of the complexity of chocolate – if you put the right chocolate with the right wines, they can work hand-in-hand.” Sass says it should be dark chocolate, at least 75 per cent (“not a cheap candy bar”), and with“darker reds, icewines, it completely enhances the whole experience.” If you’re planning a ‘staycation’ this summer, you can still enjoy wines reminiscent of, say, an Italian café. Prosecco is a wine often found on the streets of Rome and Florence, says Remo Martucci, product manager with Calgary Co-op, which has a Wines & Spirits shop in Airdrie. “Prosecco [goes with] a nice, fresh salad, or light seafood,” Martucci says. Sauvignon blanc is also a good combination with salad, as well as light pasta with white sauces, Martucci says. On the subject

26 | summer 2010

Patricia Morrison, manager of The Home Vintner in Airdrie, savours the perfect pairing of gewürztraminer and potato chips

of chocolate pairings, he says dark chocolate goes well with cabernet. According to Sass, wine and cheese, although a classic pairing, can be a tricky one. “Wine and cheese actually hate each other,” he says. “You have to have the right cheese for the right wine or you totally wreck the wine.” He says having a lighter cheese with a lighter wine works better than mixing a heavy cheese with a light wine or vice versa. Some combinations Sass recommends include gewürztraminer and Greek feta; cabernet/merlot with old strong cheddar; and cabernet franc icewine with Danish blue cheese. Sass says it also helps to look at the food choices where the wine originates as a potential clue for good pairings. For example, he says, “If you have darker Italian reds with a red pasta sauce they work fantastic together. Super Tuscan can be pretty dry, but put it together with a couple of cherry tomatoes and red pasta sauce and that wine has just taken a big leap in its characteristics.” And, he adds, you don’t even have to think fancy. “Gewürztraminer is classic with saltystyle foods, so a bag of Lays® potato chips and a bottle of gewürztraminer chilled down works well,” he says.“Pinot noir works with a bag of M&Ms®, if you have a bad day!” Both The Home Vintner and Calgary Co-op Wines & Spirits have websites which include lists of wine-and-food pairing options. life

life in the moment | fitness

GET OUT! fitlife

Shake up your fitness routine and get outside

with Joan Bell


hen the weather warms up and the trees and grass turn green, I like to move my fitness activities outdoors. I love the feel of the sun on my face and the smell of the fresh air. There are so many great things to do in Airdrie and surrounding area that it is easy to remain active outside. My favourite outdoor activity is gardening. The joy of new growth, the feel of the warm earth and the smell of fresh flowers all bring a smile to my face. As I putter in my vegetable garden, flower beds and greenhouse, I am amazed at how the day flies by. It is not until the next day that I realize how hard I worked, bending, lifting, digging, planting, watering and pulling weeds. All these activities add up to a great workout and if I remember to do some stretching during the day, I am even able to avoid waking up stiff the next morning. I asked several friends to name their favourite warm-weather outdoor activity in Airdrie and received some great replies. Here are just a few of the wonderful activities that you can enjoy with friends and family in and around Airdrie: • Local parks: Use your own body weight to get in shape. Pushups, crunches, lunges, squats, bridge pose and stair climbing/hiking can all be done in the backyard or local park on a sunny day. Plan an exercise date with your partner. Go biking or walk the dog at East Lake Park or Nose Creek Park. Wear a pedometer to count your steps. Aim for at least 10,000 steps daily to maintain good health. • Hiking: Plan a picnic with friends and include races – three-legged races, egg tosses, sack races – celebrating all the fun times from your childhood. Have ribbons for the winners! Check out Big Hill Springs Park west of Airdrie. • Treasure hunt: Go on a geocaching adventure with the family and hunt for hidden

treasure. This great pastime includes walking, hiking and searching out clues. Visit to check out hunts in Airdrie and surrounding area. • Play: Join the kids on the trampoline, in a game of tag, for a swing ride or a climb on the jungle gym. Kids have the right idea – it’s not exercise, it’s play. • Race: Train for a race or join a local running group. Airdrie offers several organized runs and there are a couple of groups you can join for little or no money. • Explore: For something that you can do with the whole family, why not check out orienteering? Navigate your way around Alberta with the aid of a map and a compass. The goal of orienteering is to find each checkpoint on a given route as quickly as possible. Foothills Wanderers Orienteering Club is based out of Calgary and offers orienteering events for both foot and bike. Go to for a list of upcoming events. • Try something new: Go dancing with your partner or just shake it up at home. Turn on the tunes and let loose. Or try a Zumba class and learn the moves to rumba, cha cha, salsa and more. • Try something old again: Jump for joy! Buy a skipping rope at the dollar store and try this great way to work out. Remember hula hoops? Now they have heavier hoops intended for adults. This is a great way to work on your abdominal muscles. • Try something different: Instead of going for dinner and to a movie on date night, go bowling, golfing, swimming or dancing. Just keep moving. Many of these local activities can be enjoyed for little or no cost. Airdrie is a great place to be and warm weather brings many great options for activity. Explore Airdrie on your own, participate with family or friends, but remember – to enjoy the fitlife, you have to stay active. life summer 2010 | 27


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life in the moment | events


etting behind a shopping cart, standing in long lines to buy the weekly staples of life, can be a tedious chore at the best of times. We all accept it and expect to find what we’re looking for, maybe brightened by the odd surprise, but rarely find something new, original and creative. These days, the personal shopping experience generally lacks imagination and inspiration, let alone much of a human touch. That is unless you seek out handmade products, homemade foods and, most likely, a smile, a genuine thank you and a story behind what you are buying. Enter into the picture the Airdrie Farmers Market. Right here in your own backyard you can find handcrafted products, fresh foods and something new every week. “This is more of an event than it is just a place to buy fruit and vegetables,” says market manager Candice Kolson. Looking for a place to sell her own handcrafted goods, Kolson last year took over the reins of the market, which has become a hotspot for downhome shopping every Wednesday. “I took it over on the premise if I could get 10 vendors I would make a go of it. Then by the second day after opening week, we had 60,” she says. “Airdrie really needed something. The response was there from the vendors and as well from the shoppers.” After bouncing around for years at several different locations, the Airdrie Farmers Market landed a home in 2009 at the Airdrie Legion, which has room for 80 vendors. “Without the Airdrie Legion there is no way that this market would have ever been as successful last year. We owe everything to the Airdrie Legion,” Kolson says. Tents line the parking lot with food products and crafts and, with many more unique offerings indoors, the bazaar has become a weekly staple for many shoppers. “It really is [somewhere] that you have to slow down and take your time and treat like an event, not just a quick run-through superstore. It’s an event to be enjoyed,” she says. Topping the popularity charts for the fresh food fanatics are: Souto Farms, a family-run fruit farm; My Bread with fresh-baked products and dips; Innisfail Growers, a central Alberta produce co-op offering all types of vegetables; Tim’s Gourmet Pizza with homemade crusts, sauces and even a gluten-free pizza; Dietz Meats with everything from bacon to jerky; Pearson’s Berry Farm out of Bowden; Ukrainian Fine Foods specializing in cabbage rolls; Spragg’s Meat Shop with free-range pork products; River Rock Fudge; Neudorf Hutterite Colony; Harrison Farms; and many more. “The people are thrilled. They’re coming for eggs, vegetables, fruit, breads and their basics,” says Kolson, adding that with the recent con-

To market we will go story & photo by Carl Patzel

The Airdrie Farmers Market brings vendors and lovers of fresh home-grown goods together

32 | summer 2010

cerns about food additives and health, there seems to be a great market for natural, unprocessed foods. “[These products] are made with fresh ingredients. There are no preserves in them. All these vendors can tell you exactly what they’ve put in their products to the point where some of them even know where they bought the cow.” Kolson adds that the vendors and the market also follow strict health regulations, making sure food is handled properly from the very first ingredients to the final sale. “These people are not cooking from their homes with their five cats and dogs; they are cooking in a certified kitchen. They’ve been health-approved to cook in that kitchen and they are also approved at the market site to make sure they’re doing everything safely there.” But the buyers and merchants survive on more than just their stomachs. Several vendors use the market to sell handcrafted products including silversmith jewelry, quilts, baby products, precious Alberta stones and handmade soaps and lotions. There are also foliage growers. A local crafter creates Nana Banana Bags. “She makes homemade silk purses that are absolutely beautiful and are one-of-a-kind,” Kolson says. “We also have Val Morris, a local lady who does quilts, which is a lost art.” During its first year at the Legion location, the market saw between 1,500 and 3,500 people each Wednesday. Hoping to cash in on the welcoming environment and event-like atmosphere, Kolson says organizers would like to double the number coming through the market, which begins June 2 and runs every Wednesday until Sept. 29. “You don’t need to drive down south to go to [another] market. You can stay in Airdrie and hit your market on Wednesday,” says Kolson, who is promoting the venue through the Think Airdrie campaign. “Airdrie has 40,000 people in it. There’s no reason we shouldn’t see a third of them every Wednesday at their local market. When people are talking about what is there to do in Airdrie during the week, [we want] Wednesday [to be] the farmers market.” life

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life in the moment | fashion

How to look good

NEARLY naked On a scale of one to horrifying, buying a bathing suit is for most women a 10 on the stress chart. Tricia Andres McDonald, owner of Bela Sol Swimwear, shows us how to fight the fear and find the fit

Mel Kessler, Personal Trainer Before: (Orange/Yellow/Black Tankini) Mel, like many women, wanted to have a little more coverage in her mid-section; therefore she would always choose a tankini style of suit. However, tankinis and their corresponding bottoms often will cut into the areas that you are trying to cover up. This will accentuate the belly area and cause “muffin top” under the tankini. After: (Purple Drape One-Piece) Try something new to cover up the mid-section, like this beautifully draped one-piece. The drape in the front camouflages the tummy area, but still gives a beautiful shape to any body type.

Three tips for buying suits that will cover up your tummy: • If buying a one-piece, try to buy something with a pattern, which distracts the eye from the tummy area; no bright solids as they will silhouette the area you are covering. • If buying a tankini, make sure the bottom sits just below the tummy area or about an inch higher than the area you are trying to cover; this will stop the “muffin top” and give you smoother lines. • Try a bikini! Oftentimes, we will put more fabric on areas we are trying to cover which actually attracts more attention! WIN A NEW BATHING SUIT Need a bathing suit consult? Go to and tell us what your fit problem is and you might win your perfect bathing suit from Bela Sol.

34 | summer 2010

Kelli Ellingson, Foxy Rocks Boutique and Salon Before: (Blue Tankini) Kelli has continued to wear this tankini for a couple of years now; unfortunately it has been stretched out in the bum and has way too much material for her small body type. Many women tend keep old suits that have been stretched out because they are comfortable; remember, though, they will not stay on once they get wet! After: (Black Monokini) We put Kelli in a more flattering “monokini” in which we got rid of the saggy bottom and the excess fabric that her petite body was drowning in! Covering up a few scars was key for Kelli as well, so we looked for a suit that would give her shape and still give her the coverage she wanted. Three tips for buying suits for petite figures: If you are buying a bikini, add some material or pattern to smaller bottoms and chests. This will give the illusion of more volume. • Monokinis are a great alternative to give coverage and also add curves to a smaller square body. • If you are buying a one-piece or tankini, try not to add too many layers to your small frame, as you will get lost in too much fabric. •

Tricia Andres McDonald, Owner Belo Sol Swimwear Before: (Blue Full-Bottom Bikini) Tricia is a pear-shaped body type and is wearing a fuller-bottom bikini which many women tend to wear as they would like to “cover” up their trouble areas. Unfortunately, putting too much fabric paired with a bright pattern on a voluptuous bum only draws more attention to the area and makes it look bigger than it actually is! After: (White Bikini) Being a pear shape, Tricia needed a lot less fabric and pattern on the bottom. Pear shapes should always try to wear smaller cuts, as they draw attention away from that area and make the bum look smaller! Three tips for buying suits for pear shapes (voluptuous bottoms): If buying a bikini or tankini, LESS is MORE! Look for smaller/ higher-cut bottoms to draw attention away (if you have problems with bottoms cutting in too much, try a tie-side bottom as well). • Look for a bikini or tankini top that is patterned, then add a solid on the bottom, this will draw the attention up and away from your bottom half. • If buying a one-piece, look for higher cuts that elongate the leg. Make sure the material around your thigh is relaxed enough that it is not going to cut into your bottom or thighs. •

summer 2010 | 35

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Cheryl Hughes Calgary, AB Cheryl started struggling with her weight when she was about 14 years of age, and at age 16 she entered the world of dieting. By January 2006, at 342 pounds, Cheryl was barely able to get out of her chair, she walked with a limp, couldn’t stand for very long or even climb 6 stairs without cringing in pain. She was so embarrassed by her appearance and size that she decided to try one last diet to see if she could lose some weight. Cheryl spent the next year on a starvation diet. During that year, she managed to lose 100 pounds, but at a huge price to her pocketbook and health. During that year she found herself dizzy and blacking out, a few times causing injury. She quit and started to gain weight yet again! It was then Cheryl was introduced to Simply For Life, and began a new chapter in her life. She met with Scott Cobbett and she was amazed that she could successfully lose weight by eating so much food. Scott has taught her about the importance of vitamins, nutrients, portion control, how to read food-packaging labels, good and bad carbs, and so much more. More importantly, she learned that this was not a temporary diet solution like all the others, but a complete change in lifestyle and a new way to look at foods.

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life in the moment | Rodeo


uss Hallaby has been in rodeos from Wainwright to the Canadian Finals, and he came in second at the Calgary Stampede in 2008, but the Airdrie Pro Rodeo remains near and dear to his heart. “I’ve always thought Airdrie puts on a fantastic rodeo,” says the bareback horse rider. “I love it when you get a big crowd and the crowd’s fantastic and cheers everyone on.” Hallaby has been bareback riding since his

first competition at the Ponoka High School Rodeo at age 15 (“My first ride, I lasted about six seconds,” he says). The 31-year-old has been coming to the Airdrie Pro Rodeo since he was 18, and now lives northwest of the city. Hallaby is just one of many competitors at the 43rd annual rodeo which will run June 29 to July 3. “What’s unique about our rodeo is how

close to the action you can get,” says Rob Brietzke, president of the Airdrie Rodeo Ranch Association. “I keep saying, if you sit in the first couple of rows, you can get mud kicked on you!” With more than 700 competitors, the volunteer-driven rodeo is one of the biggest in Alberta, attracting top-notch talent often seen at the Stampede and international competitions, as well as new talent.

Pure Rodeo, No Replays Who needs the Stampede when the calibre of competition is the same but the view so much better? story by Alex Frazer-Harrison | photos by Kristy Reimer

38 | summer 2010

“We’re not an invitation rodeo,” says Brietzke. “We accept all comers ... there’s a chance some young guy who just joined the pro ranks stands a good shot.” The exact prize purse isn’t determined until a few weeks before the event, but per-event prize money has increased to $8,100, Brietzke says, adding that he expects the total purse to exceed $150,000.

A new novice category is being added this year, adding to the juniors and pros, says marketing co-director Sue Horne. Award buckles are also being presented in all events for the first time this year. Also new is the Don Beddoes Memorial High Point Award and trophy spurs presented to the competitor with the highest points in any two events. Entertainment will include trick riding by Bradi Dunn (daughter of Rodeo Hall of Famer Jim Dunn) and Ashley Furgeson, and once the dust settles, musical entertainment kicks in with scheduled performers including Chris LeBlanc, Tara Oram, Mark Lorenz and Dan Diehl. “We get over 10,000 spectators,” Horne says, adding that the family-friendly atmosphere continues to make the event a great pre-Stampede destination. life For more information about the Airdrie Pro Rodeo, visit

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66 Girl Power airdrie 41

life in the community | volunteers

Kirsten Dyck is a leader of tomorrow

Pat Cashion is a true ambassador for his community

Do Good FeelGood story & photos by Carl Patzel

Meet Airdrie’s most outstanding volunteers of the year


hey could be that person taking your ticket, directing traffic, delivering that meal, filling a food hamper or just in the background making sure things run in a smooth fashion. No matter in what they enlist, these volunteers ask for little recognition – whether they’re sharing an hour as a companion, helping heal an injured animal, mentoring a youth, coaching a minor sport or even picking up a paint brush for some community beautification. The possibilities for community involvement are endless. Fortunately Airdrie residents, from all walks of life, take that helpful step to fill the gap between a community and a caring community. “Every day someone in Airdrie is volunteering to make a difference. They volunteer because they believe in the importance of helping their neighbours, supporting causes they believe in and contributing to their community,” says Clay Aragon, City of Airdrie Family and Community Support Services (FCSS) co-ordinator.

Fathers and mothers, grandparents, teenagers and even children come together in a combined force, taking pride in building a better tomorrow. For those who answer the call, reward is measured from the heart and not the wallet. Whether out front or behind the scenes, volunteers donate one of the most precious commodities obtainable: their time. Airdrionians had plenty to be proud of in 2009. Volunteer numbers exceeded expectations for several events, including the Airdrie centennial celebration, the Alberta 55 Plus Summer Games and the Airdrie Air Show. “It is so important to recognize volunteers who willingly sacrifice their time and energy, dedicating themselves to vital services in the community,” Aragon says. That recognition came during the National Volunteer Week celebration and concluded April 21 with the Volunteers of the Year Awards ceremony. Residents were asked to nominate their friends and neighbours who are making a dif-

ference in the community by volunteering in some capacity. Nominations were accepted in four categories: Airdrie Leader of Tomorrow – recognizing youths (aged 11 to 18) who have displayed leadership; Airdrie Ambassador – conferred upon an Airdrie business owner or entity that has contributed in promoting the city; Volunteer Advocate – given to a not-for-profit group which displays leadership and promotes volunteerism; and Soul of Airdrie – recognizing volunteer contributions in the fields of art and culture, athletics, social and community services. Selected from among a dedicated group of nominees, Bert Church High School Grade 12 student Kirsten Dyck was the recipient of the Leader of Tomorrow Award. The honour-roll student was praised for her desire to enact social change through involvement with several committees and organizations – she is president of student council, editor-in-chief of the yearbook and summer 2010 | 43

life in the community | volunteers

Murray Buchanan gives back to his community, heart and soul

member of the Christian Club and Students for Change committee. “My passion and motivation for volunteering has never been to elicit praise or recognition. [My goal] is to give back to my community for generations to come,” says Dyck. She has also represented her school at many training and leadership forums, including youth summit and youth mentoring forums. Dyck has displayed quality leadership and spearheaded fundraising activities through wake-a-thons, World Vision 30-Hour Famine and Operation Christmas Child, as well as volunteering with Airdrie Food Bank. “My belief is that our volunteering and developing a sense of community caring starts with one-on-one interaction,” says Dyck, who has been mentoring younger students at several elementary schools in Airdrie. “I believe that by providing a positive role model to children [who] I mentor I can make an impact, however small, in that individual. Impact just one life and you will see the positive changes.” Also nominated in the Leader of Tomorrow category were: Amy Wheeler, Anna Fei, Cora McEachern, Danica MacDonald and Sabrina Niesman. Standing alone in the Ambassador Award category, Pat Cashion of Vitreous Glass Inc. was

44 | summer 2010

The Airdrie Lionesses advocate and promote volunteerism

recognized for more than 10 years of volunteer support throughout the community. Cashion has been involved in a wide variety of not-for-profit agencies in Airdrie, including providing contributions of up to $50,000 in funding each year. He has also donated personal funds to organizations that benefit youths and families, most notably Community Links (formerly called Airdrie Family Services). Cashion was commended for his commitment to enhancing the quality of life for all residents of Airdrie. “I feel very humbled to be selected in this way. I do acknowledge the kindness of Community Links for nominating me,” he says. A past board chairman of the Alberta College of Art and Design, Cashion has also sat on the Community Health and Pre-School Education For the Homeless committee and Airdrie Chamber of Commerce. Through his volunteerism and philanthropy, the business owner has helped such groups as Airdrie Food Bank and Airdrie Boys and Girls Club, just to name a couple. “The people [who] I think are the unsung heroes of this whole piece are the people [who] work there for a living day after day. These people do this not as a job … but they’re really doing this as a mission,” Cashion humbly adds.

Displaying their bright-red, pin-laden vests, Airdrie Lioness Club members were honoured with the Volunteer Advocate Award. With 17 core members, the not-for-profit organization, formed in 1977, was celebrated for community leadership and playing an important part in the community spirit that has been instrumental in Airdrie’s success. Airdrie Lioness Club members have been regular contributors in helping organize and participate at the Home and Garden Show, Airdrie Food Bank, blood donor clinics and the Christmas Adopt-a-Family program. Whether selling pies or dancing with Cedarwood Station residents, the Lionesses never shy away from a volunteer task. “I volunteer with 16 absolutely amazing women. There are members [who] have been part of the Airdrie Lioness Club since its inception in 1977,” says Glenda Alexander. In 1986 the enthusiastic club took over the Christmas hamper program. Last year the members logged more than 2,400 volunteer hours, raising funds necessary to purchase supplies and distribute 206 Christmas hampers and 200 backpacks targeted for disadvantaged families in Airdrie. “Often we get to times when we’re just exhausted from the work that we do and we’re called upon to help out in the commu-

nity again. It never fails,” says Alexander.“I’m honoured to be part of this group.” Other groups nominated in the Advocate category were: Airdrie 2009 Alberta 55 Plus Summer Games Society, Airdrie RCMP detachment volunteers, Airdrie Rodeo Ranch Association and Bethany Airdrie. Sacrificing time and energy, with an estimated 25,000 hours of volunteer contributions to his community, Murray Buchanan received the Soul of Airdrie Award. Demonstrating a passion for building a better community, Buchanan has been a dedicated volunteer in Airdrie since 1984. A well-known coach, standing behind the bench in lacrosse, soccer and hockey, Buchanan was also president of the Airdrie Minor Hockey Association for five years. But he may be best recognized as one of the founding members of the Airdrie Nose Creek Park Association, helping bring together other volunteers and selling pieces of the park to complete the project. “Airdrie in my mind is a caring, friendly community. We look out for our neighbours when they need help. That is what makes Airdrie so, so special,” Buchanan says. Apart from sitting on the community service advisory board, Buchanan was instrumental in the development and construction of the twin arenas facility, now named the Ron Ebbesen Arena. Recognizing the importance of athletic facilities in the community, he spearheaded the project, which was completed in seven months without utilizing any municipal funding. Buchanan says his success comes from working with many other dedicated volunteers. “Over the years I have been so fortunate to get to volunteer with so many tremendous people in this community,” he says. “I have been so fortunate to have the opportunity to get to work with those people. Just to be nominated was an honour and I’m very humbled with this award.” Also nominated for the Soul of Airdrie Award were: Audrey Raw, Grace Sipes, Irene Putnam, Judy Dufort, Patti Harris, Lily Sadler, Lise Blanchette and Muriel Smith. life


story by Ellen Kelly

irdrie is a vibrant, caring community rich in urban amenities and opportunities for everyone. The community values a healthy, sustainable environment connecting people and places. Following these values, the fledgling AirdrieONE community plan is a work in progress. Replacing the former municipal development plan and growing from the EnVision sustainability plan, the new initiative encompasses both previous highlevel strategic plans and brings together, in one document, the goals and objectives of all City master plans and communitybased initiatives. “Historically and traditionally, municipal development plans have been planning documents. We want this to be a community document reflecting the community’s desires as we move forward,” says Jamie Dugdale, City of Airdrie planning department team leader. “AirdrieONE is different,” says Dugdale’s colleague Jennifer Stevenson, “because it will have one vision and one direction. There will be co-ordination between [City] departments.” Enhanced communication is key to the plan, with the focus changing from what departments were achieving in isolation to how various departments fit and work together. The primary goal is achieving understanding between departments, all governed by the same guidelines. AirdrieONE was developed in consultation with the community through a residents survey conducted by Bannister Research between November 2009 and January 2010. Email feedback with unique, interesting and useful ideas has been received, and well-attended community cafés

have served as brainstorming sessions, gathering information on how the community would like to see Airdrie develop in regard to housing, commercial areas and other services and amenities to a population of 180,000 people. Using the information, Stevenson has written the initial draft of the policy, which has been circulated among the City departments. In late summer it will be posted on the AirdrieONE website ( oneplan) and the plan will be presented to city council in September. Included in the plan are such AirdrieONE principles as well-managed growth; distinctive, attractive communities with a strong sense of people and place; walkable neighbourhoods; a variety of transportation choices; and environmental stewardship and sustainability. Arts, heritage and culture are also addressed and the plan includes input from Airdrie youth community. “Retaining youth is very important,” says Dugdale. “We want to ask older teens what would have kept them in Airdrie and younger teens what would keep them here in the future.” An ecological inventory exploring such elements as riparian corridors, wildlife connectivity features and areas prone to flooding has been completed. The report will be used as a guide for sustainable planning and management of long-term growth. Three focus groups will be formed this summer and, with Bannister Research’s assistance, will address future aspects of development. Residents are encouraged to visit AirdrieONE’s website often for updated information.“Our biggest challenge is getting people involved,” says Dugdale. life summer 2010 | 45

life in the community | sports

Bailey Leatherdale (left) and Dawson Clark square off against each other during a coaching night on the original start gate at the Airdrie BMX track

Airdrie BMX produces world-class athletes 46 | summer 2010



Track story & photos by Kurtis Kristianson


nless you have been an Airdrie resident for some time now or have children who love to ride their bike, you might not know that the community has a world-class BMX track and has been producing worldclass riders for years. “Airdrie BMX has produced some of the top BMX riders in Canada. Many of our ‘challenge class’ (under 17) are Canadian national or Alberta champions,” says current Airdrie BMX Association president Tim Croft. The local club’s most recent alumna to tear up the world stage was Samantha Cools. Sammy, as she is known, was Canada’s Olympic hopeful for women’s BMX, which was officially introduced during the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Her father, John Cools, was one of the founders of Airdrie BMX, along with Jean-eude Lebel, Barney Brown and a few others, almost 20 years ago. The Airdrie BMX club and track, which can be found at the west end of Fletcher Park, is a pretty impressive facility. If you are a parent interested in seeing your child get into competitive sport, maybe a little family recreation or just some regular exercise, the club offers something for everyone. District race nights happen twice a week, with two nights for coaching. There is also a loaner bike program, so kids can borrow a bike, helmets and gloves and try BMX before they decide to commit to it. Parents are encouraged to come out and ride, as well, and can do so on the same nights as their children. Riders are grouped by age and ability, so they can be comfortable racing among other riders. BMX is a relatively inexpensive sport. Yearly riding fees

(includes licence) range from $65 to $120 depending on age and level of competitiveness, and a bike and helmet (lasting a few seasons) might start at a few hundred dollars. Currently Airdrie BMX is run by a group of volunteers who donate their time and energy, ensuring that children of all ages can ride. This year Airdrie BMX is preparing for the next evolution – a more extreme form of BMX – for the professionallevel rider, known as “supercross.” To facilitate this, the original start hill has been raised three metres. Although the angle or grade is less extreme in comparison to supercross starts at other tracks, Croft says, the idea is that the higher speeds generated by this type of hill will ensure that Airdrie BMX continues to produce riders who will go on to compete on the world stage. With the new features completed this spring, local riders and their fans should be prepared for the Canadian National Championships hosted by Airdrie BMX Aug. 26-29. life Riders of all ages and skill levels are welcome at Airdrie BMX

summer 2010 | 47











1 ST D R

1 AV










Nose Creek


3 AV






1 AV

24 ST











Fletcher Park

Golf Course



6 AV

1 AV








6 KM





8 ST

To Edmonton


East Lake Park

East Lake









. Nose Creek Park






R SD COO PER This map is for thematic purposes only. This map may not be reproduced, in whole or in part, in any form or by any means without written permission of the City of Airdrie. The City of Airdrie provides this information in good faith, but it provides no warranty, nor accepts any liability arising from any incorrect, incomplete or misleading information or its improper use.

48 | summer 2010







Cr ee





No se





Big Hill Springs Road

April 2008, City of Airdrie







8 ST







Chinook Winds Park









To Calgary & International Airport








Twp Rd 270


Airdrie Tourist Map ACCOMODATION

Church School

Apples and Angels Bed and Breakfast


Best Western Regency Inn

Visitor Information

Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites Horseman Motel


Ramada Inn and Suites

Bert Church Live Theatre

Super 8 Motel


Festival of Lights (December) Iron Horse Miniature Railway Park

BMX Track

Nose Creek Valley Museum

Chinook Winds Park

Rodeo Grounds

Curling Rink



East Lake Park

Airdrie Airport

Fletcher Park

Airdrie Public Library

Recreation & Wellness Centre

Bethany Care Centre

Monklands Soccer Park


Nose Creek Park

City Hall

Plainsmen Arena

Community Health Centre/Urgent Care

Skateboard Park


Splash Park

R.V. Sewage Station

Twin Arena

Town and Country Centre

Woodside Golf Course

270 km








3 0 km




Calgary Downtown

Calgary International Airport

US Border (340 km)

For more information visit summer 2010 | 49

life in the community | sports

Tennis finally gets its day in court in Airdrie story & photos by Carl Patzel

LOVE For the

of the game 50 | summer 2010

Chris Simnett comes out swinging, as he promotes the sport of tennis in his community


s a sport, tennis has a lot to offer, even a bit of love. Hoping to make a bigger racquet in the Airdrie sporting community, Chris Simnett has helped spearhead a campaign to bring the little, fuzzy yellow ball to the centre court of attention. “My goal is pretty simple: just to expose people to tennis. This is a great sport. It’s pretty easy to learn with progressive tennis and you can play it your whole life,” says the long-time tennis player/instructor who came to Airdrie in 2006. A high-performance junior player in the 1980s (even cataloguing an early-doubles win over Australian and French Open champion Canadian Daniel Nestor), Simnett has kept his foot on the service line. Because of his history with the game he was approached by Tennis Alberta to become a community champion for the sport and was recognized by Tennis Canada’s development program. He soon began the Airdrie and District Tennis Association and set in motion Tennis Canada’s Building Tennis Communities (BTC) strategy. But before anyone could say game, set and match, Simnett’s first obstacle came in finding playable courts. Officially the City lists six courts in Airdrie including two in Summerhill, two at the tri-school site and four at East Lake Park. Using the ‘build it and they will play’ line of attack, Simnett worked on the City to acknowledge there was a deficiency in quality courts. Originally Simnett found the local courts in an unplayable condition with no visible lines, nets rarely hung for the season and asphalt in need of resurfacing and covered in broken glass. “I had lots of conversations with people at the City … and they said no one cares about tennis here,” he says. “My argument was you don’t

see any tennis because no one wants to play on those courts. They’re not inviting. People would just rather not play than play on those courts, myself included.” Coincidentally the City was about to host the Alberta 55 Plus Games in 2009, with tennis being one of the major physical activities planned. Hitting a winner for the City, planners decided the East Lake Park courts would get a much-needed facelift for the event, and a boost for tennis after the games. This solved the chicken-and-egg dilemma with players now having a reason to pick up their racquets. “They built the new courts, and they are awesome courts, first class. Now they’re seeing the courts are busy,” Simnett says. Supplied with free equipment, including 50 racquets, low-compression teaching tennis balls, six progressive tennis nets and all materials to run a program, Simnett implemented the Try, Learn, Play to Compete program, hosting two indoor events in November and March. Apart from teaching the strange scoring system that uses such numbers as 15, 30, 40 and love (for zero), Simnett is offering lesson programs for under-eight, under-10, under-12 and open categories. “My initial thought was ‘open’ would be anyone 13 and all the way up. I’m not going to exclude anyone. If a 50-year-old wants to join up, come on out,” adds Simnett, who has been planning with the City to co-ordinate an adult social night. Despite worldwide admiration for such players as Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, who are breaking records and bringing lots of new tennis fans to the sport, popularity is still a question in Canada. Always a niche sport in North America, the greatest fault may lie in the stigma that tennis is a sport for the rich country-club member. In truth, tennis can be one of the most cost-effective physical activities. “I’ve had lots of discussions with Tennis Alberta about this, [which] still fights the whole country-club [attitude] – you have to wear all white, you have to be quiet, it’s a very gentile, rich guy [sport]. It still battles that image that you have to be a millionaire to play and belong to a club,” says Simnett. “You don’t. I got to be a pretty decent-level player just learning to play on public courts with my dad who happened to be a really good player and taught me how to play. It’s as simple as that.” Simnett is hoping to attract players with that straightforward approach and teach youngsters a love for the game, not just produce high-performance competition players. This swings with Tennis Canada’s goal to assemble 100 healthy tennis communities across the country. The local program, which runs from May 26 to June 19, will conclude with a Rogers Rookie Tour event on June 26-27. The non-elimination tournament will offer T-shirts, water bottles, prizes, camaraderie and friendly competition. Getting that first point across the net is the initial step in helping tennis become a winner in Airdrie. “We are right at the beginning, the infancy of the sport [in Airdrie],” says Simnett. “We want everyone to play and want tennis participation to rise. We think it has huge benefits for each community – social and economic benefits, health benefits, [even] lower crime rates.” life summer 2010 | 51

life in the community | places

Riding the Rails Iron Horse Park takes you for a ride back in time story by Elizabeth Hak | photos courtesy of Iron Horse Park

52 | summer 2010

How do you take a trip from Calgary

to Vancouver without leaving Airdrie? You hop on the train at Iron Horse Park. With five bridges and two tunnels, the 1.6-kilometre layout has prairies and mountains to transport you back to Alberta’s golden age of train travel. Ten years ago, a group of model railroad enthusiasts started the 12-acre park as a way to enjoy their hobby and share it with the public. As members of the Alberta Model Engineering Society (AMES), the volunteers who maintain and operate Iron Horse Park are dedicated to ensuring a great family experience, which is why it is a popular destination from the long weekend in May through the Thanksgiving weekend in October. In 2009, Iron Horse Park celebrated Airdrie’s first century with the completion of the Centennial Bridge, a 62-foot wooden trestle bridge. After six long years of planning and with the tireless efforts of volunteers, the bridge was completed in less than two months. Projects are constantly on the go at the park, including the construction of new engines and scaled-down prairie grain elevators and buildings. Unlike last year, though, most of the projects will be smaller, although important to continue improving the Iron Horse Park facility. For Mike Gibbons, the work is challenging but he loves it. “It’s a means to do what we wanted to do,” says the Airdrie resident, a long-time member of AMES. According to Gibbons, there are

either a lot of smaller layouts in backyards or the public is involved and something more significant is created. “I like sharing our hobby,” he says. It’s especially gratifying with all the children who come out. Their wide-eyed wonder when they see all the trains and go for a ride gives Gibbons a lot of pleasure. A round-trip along the small-gauge railway takes about 20 minutes. Realistic, albeit smaller, versions of Big Red, a bright red Canadian Pacific diesel engine, and a brightly painted blue-and-yellow VIA locomotive power railfans around the track in open passenger cars. The engines can pull five-passenger cars carrying between 25 and 35 people at a time. Each train has an engineer at the front and a conductor at the back. In addition to the bridge, another 1,800 feet of rail was added to the mountain subdivision, raising the track 20 feet from the start of the line to where it goes under the Centennial Bridge. “CP Rail has the spiral tunnels and we have the spiral mountain,” laughs Alan Pile, current president of AMES. The track circles the mountain twice and can be bypassed if poor weather doesn’t allow for the trip up. During the summer, this isn’t normally a problem. However, a fan-favourite outing at Iron Horse Park is the Family Day Frostbite Run in February. Inclement weather can halt the train in its tracks. “If it’s -40 C with a howling wind, it’s a no,” says Pile. This year, though, the members were able to

dig out the entire track except for the mountain to hold another successful winter event. In April, Iron Horse Park was a popular exhibit at Supertrain, one of the largest model railroad shows in Canada. With an engine, some passenger cars and 230 feet of steel track, rides offered to visitors were heartily enjoyed. To add to the realism of Iron Horse Park, a new signalling system will be installed this year. This system will use lights to let the engineer know when it is safe to proceed when numerous trains are on the track at the same time. “We could do more if we had more manpower,” says Gibbons, adding that he is nonetheless happy with how the park has progressed. Gardeners, carpenters, engineers or anyone who wants to help Iron Horse Park continue to thrive in Airdrie are always welcome to come and volunteer. Memberships are also available. The park is open on Sundays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. with the exception of special events. The park is also open on Canada Day, regardless of the day of the week, and birthday parties are popular at the facility. The first president of Iron Horse Park, Al Park, celebrated his 95th birthday there, so it’s not just for the young railroad fan. Normally held on Sundays in conjunction with regular hours, parties can be held on Saturdays or holiday Mondays as well. life For more information about Iron Horse Park or to volunteer, please contact Alan Pile at or visit summer 2010 | 53

life in the community | rural roots

Despite challenges from weather and markets, the Hanson family continues to do what it loves the most – ranching. Not that it’s always been easy. The family’s Bell L brand has been around for a century, and the Hansons have learned to move with the times.

“The family farm is key to 95 per cent of Canada, because 95 per cent of Canada is rural, and agriculture feeds Canada,” says family patriarch Ron Hanson.“It’s partly a way of life, but it’s bigger than just that. I’ve been telling people that [it’s] a bigger security risk for us than terrorists in Canada, if we can’t supply our own food.” Ron’s fear is he foresees a future when the

family farm is consigned to the history books and corporations rule the breadbasket, “if we don’t change how we market agriculture.” Son Wayne, who sits on a federal think-tank that’s been discussing the issue for a year, says it’s not just a Canadian problem.“They’re going broke in South America, Europe, everywhere. It’s something that got offside 50 years ago when food was determined to be cheap,” Wayne says.

Hanson Family story by Alex Frazer-Harrison | photo by Sergei Belski

54 | summer 2010

The Hansons have deep roots in Alberta agriculture

Changing market realities led the Hansons to shift gears last year and sell off the last of their own 500-head herd. Their new business model involves providing custom grazing services for clients on their properties northwest of Airdrie and near Caroline and Crossfield. “When cattle [are] between 500 and 800900 lbs., that’s an expensive time to put weight

on,” explains Wayne. “I try to get that gain in there for [the client] for as cheap as possible. At 800-900 lbs. they go to the feed lot and they’ll finish them at 1,200-1,400 lbs.” Wayne says he expects to work with as many as 1,500 head from one client alone, with another 400 to 500 from other clients. The Hansons have deep roots in Alberta agriculture. Ron’s grandfather introduced the Bell L brand 100 years ago, but didn’t ranch from 1925 to 1943. In 1943, the Hansons reentered the ranching business out of Symons Valley (commemorated by the Calgary neighbourhood of Hanson Ranch). Wayne’s wife, Rhonda, also has a longstanding connection to the area: her ancestor is Thomas Fletcher, who came to Alberta in 1890, and her mother’s family, the Kolstads, arrived in 1914. Despite the challenges – few other industries are at the mercy of weather and markets as much as agriculture – Ron says he wouldn’t trade it for anything. “It’s a great way of life,” he says while sitting across the table from his wife, Renie, and Wayne and Rhonda, at the family home just northwest of the city.“It’s a great place to raise a family. It [teaches] a work ethic and sense of responsibility.” Raising cattle is the epitome of responsibility. Far from simply leaving the animals to their own devices, responsible ranchers need to keep close tabs on them. “The No. 1 thing is keeping them healthy,” says Wayne. “We are responsible for other people’s cattle and we do our best to keep them healthy. And different cattle have different problems – usually it’s simple things, like pink eye and foot rot and occasionally pneumonia.”

Some of the hard work has involved erecting 70 miles of electric fencing around the property to keep predators out. Wayne and Rhonda have three children: Caitlin, 22, Travis, 20, and Wyatt, 17. The couple says that their eldest lives on a farm south of Calgary, Travis has expressed interest in combining a welding business with running cattle out of the Hansons’ Caroline property, and Wyatt is studying international business and hopes to someday start a hobby ranch. Ranchers and farmers are renowned for their community spirit, and the Hansons are no different. They have longstanding ties with the Airdrie and Balzac 4-H beef clubs, with Ron a veteran of the Balzac club in the early 1950s, and Wayne and Rhonda recently concluding a four-year stint as leaders with Airdrie. “We focus on learning how to raise cattle and do the books,” says Wayne.“You also learn to communicate with public speaking and the kids have to volunteer … in their community.” The local beef club also gives a lot back. “A big thing for the Airdrie Beef Club last year was recycling; we recycled over 11,000 tires and donated $2,000 to the Airdrie Ag Society to go toward their [new facility] building fund,” says Rhonda.“We also set up the first scholarship in Alberta for our beef club.” For Wayne, the people he meets in his work, and the opportunity to have the wide outdoors as his office, can’t be beat. “And we have the ability to be involved in the community a lot,” he says. Adds Ron:“You work long hours, but they’re flexible. And if you’ve got to be gone all day, you can always work all night!” life

History summer 2010 | 55

life in the community | rural roots

Dan McKinnon (right) shows old photos to Airdrie 4-H Beef Club’s first president, Stuart Roberson, at the club’s 60th anniversary celebration in April

Hed missing

story by Alex Frazer-Harrison | photo by Kristy Reimer


or 60 years, the Airdrie 4-H Beef Club has been promoting agriculture and leadership in local youth. Dan McKinnon was a charter member of the club when it started in December 1950 and gave a presentation about the club’s history at a reunion event on April 24. “One of my uncles, Ed McKinnon, started the club and he was the leader for about six or seven years, and then my dad was leader and it went on,” says McKinnon. “We probably had about 35 members that first year; our biggest year, we got up to 56.” The Calgary 4-H Region, which includes Airdrie and Rocky View, currently has 68 clubs with more than 1,000 members. The organization dates back to the early 20th century when a youth program was established in Ohio; the four Hs stand for head, heart, hands and health. Although the focus of 4-H is often thought to be agricultural, in fact 4-H clubs, which spread internationally – including to Alberta in 1917 – promote topics as wide-ranging as leadership, public speaking and technology. Locally, McKinnon says, there have been

56 | summer 2010

other 4-H clubs dedicated to beef, pigs, dairy, grain and even sewing. “This club has never been anything but beef,” he says. “We started out with steers and had heifers, as well.” Club members attended their first beef show in 1951. “Originally, it was all rural clubs, with no town or city people involved. A lot of times we’d have meetings in farmhouses,” McKinnon recalls. These meetings, he says, helped promote a sense of community, because while the kids met, the parents who had to haul their children to the meetings stayed and visited. “Another thing the Airdrie Beef Club did was we started public speaking in 4-H; we started it in Western Canada,” says McKinnon. McKinnon says that if there’s one legacy of 60 years of the Airdrie 4-H Beef Club, it is that it has developed “solid citizens.” “It has made community leaders,” he says. “A lot of what [4-H does] is learning to communicate, and it stresses parliamentary procedures. We knew how to make motions and amend them.

“I’ve heard of people trying to hire somebody, and if they find [the candidate] was in 4-H, the next question is usually, ‘When can you start?’ 4-H members develop a real work ethic.” life For more information about 4-H clubs in Airdrie and area, visit

4-H clubs in the Airdrie area include: • Airdrie 4-H Beef (heifer, cow/calf, market beef) • Airdrie Flying Hooves 4-H (English and Western horse, horsemanship) • Airdrie Helping Hands 4-H Multi (environmental, leadership, visual arts, crafts) • Golden Rod 4-H Multi (clothing, food, crafts, computers, technology) • Midnight Express 4-H Horse Club (English, Western and young horse, horsemanship, dressage) • Balzac 4-H Beef (heifer, cow/calf, market beef) Source:

life in the community | outdoors

Local outdoor enthusiasts Scott Pulvermacher (left) and Don Scotten hope to net the big ones this summer at their favourite fishing spots

Get Out

story by Ellen Kelly | photos by Sergei Belski

Three local outdoorsmen share thoughts on their sports, their philosophies and their passion for the natural environment found close to home.


ometimes it’s hard to see the forest for the trees. To enjoy camping, hiking, fishing, hunting and appreciating nature, we don’t need to travel great distances. “Fishing is about the people you’re with and the places you go with them. It’s different things to different people.” - Don Scotten, retail fishing consultant and avid fisherman

Don Scotten, recently transformed former publisher of the Airdrie Echo and lifelong outdoor enthusiast, says he’s loved fishing from the time he was six or seven years old and fondly remembers camping and fishing with his family. These days, he can be found in

the fishing department at Bass Pro Shops at CrossIron Mills and is happy talking to fellow fishermen about the “latest and greatest toys” and sharing his passion for the sport. Scotten both fly fishes and spin-casts. “Typically you’ll have success one way or the other,” he says. His favourite fishing hole is the Clearwater River west of Caroline, but he says there is an abundance of good fishing closer to home. The Bow River is one of the best fisheries in North America. Midway Reservoir, 20 kilometres east of Highway 2 on Secondary Highway 581, is a large, stocked trout pond with a good camping area. Crossfield has two trout ponds within town limits. Dogpound, near Madden, is a great place to picnic and fish for brown trout and whitefish. Dewitt’s

Pond, west of Airdrie, is stocked annually with rainbow trout. Ghost Lake (lake trout and lake whitefish) is about 45 minutes away. South of Calgary, Lake McGregor, Badger Lake, Travers Dam and Pine Coulee are walleye destinations. Walleye, a type of pickerel, is the fisherman’s choice – excellent eating but a challenge to catch. Other game fish in the area are perch, pike and burbot. An aspiring fisherman doesn’t require a lot of equipment to get started. A rod, reel, package of weights and some hooks will give you a good idea whether you want to stay with the sport and invest more. Fishermen between 16 and 65 must have a valid licence and a WIN (wildlife identification number). Proceeds go back into the resource. summer 2010 | 57

life in the community | outdoors Wes David, president of the Airdrie Hunting and Fishing Association, promotes safe and ethical hunting practices

“It’s about the peace and serenity,” says Scotten,“but also it’s about the exhilaration and excitement of it all.” You don’t have to catch anything, but he admits it’s more fun if you do. “It’s amazing how much a person will spend on a pound or less of meat, everything considered,” Scotten smiles. “People don’t realize how good they have it right here in our own backyard.” - Wes David, president, Airdrie Hunting and Fishing Association

In February 2009, the inaugural meeting of the Airdrie Hunting and Fishing Association (AHFA) was held at a local coffee shop. Organizer Wes David and eight others were present. By May 2009, there were 21 members. This May, at the organization’s first annual general meeting, there were more than 125 members on the books. In February 2010, the group affiliated with the Alberta Fish and Game Association and now enjoys the benefits of being part of a larger organiza-

58 | summer 2010

tion. About 85 per cent of the members are active. “I’m really impressed with the enthusiasm of our members,” says David. “They all contribute in one way or another.” Members attend monthly meetings (with guest speakers bimonthly) in the Conservation Room at Bass Pro Shops. AHFA is a family-oriented organization of hunters, anglers and conservationists. Their intent is to take a leadership role in developing and supporting wildlife management goals in the Airdrie general area. Their mission is to foster and promote the non-commercial harvest of fish and game as a legitimate part of an overall wildlife management program, as a respected traditional outdoor activity and as a valued heritage. Membership is open to all. “Getting kids outside doing outdoor activities is one of the organization’s main goals,” says David, who is now AHFA president. Education is also a major component with a focus on safety and conservation. A third goal

is to establish a good relationship with local landowners through various initiatives. AHFA’s first major project is developing Dewitt’s Pond. Garbage has been hauled out and trees donated. The association is currently working on grant applications and a raffle (ending July 15 with Bass Pro Shops gift certificates as prizes) with funds going toward aeration equipment to prevent winterkilling of pond stock. Two wheelchair-accessible casting platforms at the site are in the plans. The association has also taken on the care and maintenance of a stocked pond to be constructed near the new Strathmore overpass. “People come from all over the world to fish in the Bow River,” says David, who also recommends Gull and Pigeon lakes to the north and Crawling Valley Reservoir near Bassano, where last winter’s AHFA ice fishing event with more than 80 participants was held. “We promote catch and release,” says David. “And we have members who don’t care if they catch a fish but they always have their cameras ready.” Entry fees for various events are donations to Airdrie Food Bank. Watch for the casting platform at Airdrie Food Bank’s Empty Bowls event June 12. AHFA also plans to become involved in a pheasant release program, runs a “Garbage for Gophers” campaign and is planning courses in ATV safety and dog training. The first banquet will be held in February 2011 with an offering of wild game on the menu. AHFA promotes hunting safely and ethically.“We need to teach our young people,” says David. “We don’t want them to go out there and get hurt.” More information can be found online at “Whether you’re a religious person or not, there’s no better solitude than standing in a river casting a fly.” - Scott Pulvermacher, outdoor writer and enthusiast

“My mother’s mantra was it was our duty to leave a campsite better than we found it. That’s carried through to how I look at a lot of things,” says Airdrie’s Scott Pulvermacher, outdoorsman, environmentalist and writer whose passion for the great outdoors was sparked by regular camping trips at an early age. Now

Pulvermacher wants to help his sons create the same positive memories. He enjoys both hunting and fishing close to home. “Look where we live. We live in Paradise,” he says as he discusses both spin-casting and fly fishing anywhere along the Bow River, and pursuing his passion for bow hunting in the bowonly zone around Calgary. Farther from populated areas, Pulvermacher also hunts game birds, mule deer and whitetail deer. His favourite camping area is Pine Lake. In May 2010, he accompanied Chris David, host of the TV show Hunting Chronicles, to northern Saskatchewan to hunt black bear and in the fall, he and business partner Barry Chisholm will accompany the show to northern Alberta to hunt whitetail deer. Both trips will be filmed for television and Pulvermacher will write about his experiences for The local outdoorsman has always enjoyed writing and jumped at the opportunity to write a hunting/fishing blog for a former employer. He was then contacted by the news and information site, He began as the Calgary Hunting Examiner, soon progressed to the Canadian Outdoorsman Examiner and is still the only Canadian writer in the hugely popular Examiner network. His articles cover all aspects of outdoor recreation. Pulvermacher’s conservationist philosophy extends to recycling in his home and to his business, LOGical Creations, which creates log furniture from old logs. He and Chisholm are committed to doing everything, including peeling the logs by hand, making each finished article a unique work of art. For their ‘green’ commitment they’ve received two local and two provincial awards and the national Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment Award. “The more people are out enjoying what we have, the more we learn to love and respect it,” says Pulvermacher. “Leave it better than you found it. After all, if two rednecks making furniture can make a difference, anyone can.” life


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life at home | real estate review


Real Deal Local real estate market is healthy

Donna Aaskow Licensed Realtor

Contributing to Airdrie’s Happiness

Area Manager

office: 948-6595 • cell: 816-4176

story by Alex Frazer-Harrison


ith all the ups and downs of the housing market over the last few years, the Airdrie real estate scene has settled into a pattern that could be considered business as usual, says local real estate expert Alan Tennant. “After having the extreme cycles and the incredibly hot market and the slow market, we’re back to a normal cycle,” says Tennant of Re/Max Rocky View. “The demand is typical and broad-based. Inventories are at a healthy level, and interest rates have a bit of upward pressure. The same for prices – a slight increase for prices is predicted for the year.” In April, the average sale price for homes in Airdrie sat at $332,000, compared to $420,000 in Calgary, Tennant says, adding that Airdrie continues to uphold its reputation as the more affordable place to live. Prospective buyers continue to find a good selection of homes in different styles and price points in Airdrie, says Bonnie Wegerich of Century 21 Castlewood Agencies. “The listing count is going up slightly, so there is good choice out there,” Wegerich says. “The [MLS] listing count just went over 300 in the last couple of days (mid-April), and we have an ‘absorption rate’ of just over three months.”

Those terms may mean more to realtors, but Wegerich says it adds up to “a nice, balanced market. That’s important for buyers and sellers to know.” Wegerich says that newer communities, such as King’s Heights and Prairie Springs, continue to do well. Meanwhile, Tennant says there is also good demand in more-established parts of Airdrie. “We truly have something for every budget and every type of property,” he says. And Airdrie’s selling features continue to pile on. Last year, the opening of the CrossIron Mills megamall and construction of Calgary’s Stoney Trail bypass were said to be big draws for potential buyers. Plans to launch a transit link to Calgary this fall have the potential to attract even more buyer interest here. “I think the transit link will be good for Airdrie,” says Wegerich.“I think it will be a selling feature for people who don’t want to [commute] on the highway.” Tennant says the economic slowdown has created a new breed of savvy consumer. “Today’s consumers are better informed and rational in their decision-making, and there’s a wide array of strategies that people bring to the table,” he says. “There’s a lot more positive discussion than negative.” life

Building in five communities in Airdrie!

Nancy Harris

Licensed Realtor Your Vision - My Specialty cell: 403.519.5325 showhome: 403.948.4635 office: 403.948.4111 Area Manager

summer 2010 | 63

life at home | outdoor spaces

Wonderful Waterfalls

Why adding a water element to your yard changes everything – even your mood story by Ellen Kelly | photos by Anne Beaty, Merrideth Ashcroft and Dave Staples

64 | summer 2010

The watery backyard retreat of Dave Staples and Merrideth Ashcroft shows its beauty throughout the growing season, from early spring (right) to late summer (left)


he soothing sound of water trickling gently in the background, be it a natural stream, a purchased water feature or a space we create ourselves, adds a sense of peace and serenity to our outdoor spaces. The smallest apartment balcony can accommodate a fountain or bird bath and if the basin is deep enough, even goldfish. Larger ponds can be added to backyards; their shape, size, contents and surrounding adornment is limited only by the imagination. Garden stores offer a wide variety of instant water features as well as construction materials. Mechanical necessities such as filters, pumps and heaters come in a variety of sizes, shapes and capacities, and ponds, either pre-moulded or pond liners that can be adapted to the size of hole you want your pond to fill, are readily available. Practical and/or decorative bubblers and fountainheads, along with interesting rocks and stones, complete construction. Plants suitable for the area surrounding the pond, as well as marginals (plants that live in shallow water or boggy areas), pond plants (set into the water or floating on the surface) and fish, all bring life and colour to the pond and yard. Airdrie residents Merrideth Ashcroft and David Staples first built their pond 14 years ago and have since increased its size and added a waterfall and rock garden. The area evolves as new and interesting rocks and plants are added each year. “Water is very comforting and in summer, our backyard is an extension of our living area. We’re outside constantly,” says Ashcroft. This pond, built by digging out the shape and bordering the edges with flat rundle stone to keep them from collapsing, is lined with felt, a

rubber liner and another layer of felt to protect the rubber from sun damage and encourage plant growth. Another layer of rundle stone keeps the liner in place and decorative rocks and plants adorn the circumference. Well-packed earth around the pond keeps it from shifting. The waterfall, constructed in levels, is made mainly of tufa rock, a porous stone that retains water, supports plant growth and is compatible with Ashcroft’s and Staples’ love of gardening. “You can buy tufa rock with predrilled holes for planting, which is handy,” says Staples. Alpine plants and cacti flourish, growing in and among the tiered rocks that hide a length of garden hose attached to a pump which produces a slow stream of recycled water. The waterfall is shallow with a flat moss-covered rock placed midstream to accommodate the birds. “The past two summers we’ve even had a frog. I love that,” says Ashcroft. “And the birds love it,” adds Staples.“We’ve had red-winged blackbirds, finches, lots of sparrows, the occasional wren and hummingbirds.” Other types of ornamental rock that can be used for pond decoration and waterfall construction are available from commercial outlets such as Burnco Rock Products Ltd. and Blue Grass Ltd. nursery and garden centre. “There is a great variation in the size and cost of ornamental rocks so shop around to get the best price and the size you need,” says Ashcroft. Rocks collected from other areas need to be diligently cleaned to remove pollutants, especially if the pond contains fish. The same applies to pond plants. “Don’t dig up wild plants. It disrupts the natural environment and they could contaminate your pond,” she says. Shop for hardy, healthy plants and repot them as they grow larger. summer 2010 | 65

life at home | outdoor spaces


Pond plants are expensive so choose varieties that are hardy in this area. Pond plant fertilizer can be used and is safe for fish. Donna Aaskow Three generations of common goldfish (shubunkins and comets) inhabit this Airdrie’s real estate and mortgage specialists. Licensed Realtor pond year round. In summer, they control the mosquito larvae, add colour and interIntegrity, Exceptional Service, Area Manager est to the pond and, if the conditions are Outstanding Results, and the RIILFH‡FHOO right, reproduce. Pond fish need a place to Commitment You Deserve... feel safe and hide, so the addition of plants Realtors and a few large rocks, bricks or cinderDon Leard (403.807.7205) blocks is recommended. Malcolm MacKenzie (403.660.8242) Building in five communities in Airdrie! In winter, Staples uses a thermostatically controlled stock heater to keep the water just above freezing, submerges the plants to the lowest level and covers the entire pond Nancy Harrisand waterfall with a tarp. A pump and inpond filter keep water running and aerated Licensed Realtor Donna Aaskow - Licensed Realtor 365 days a year.“Plants start to grow under the tarp,â€? says Staples. “It’s lush, green and Donna Aaskow FHOO Licensed RealtorVKRZKRPH well-started by the time we uncover it.â€? Fish Donna Aaskow RIILFH are dormant in the cold water and thereLicensed Realtor QKDUULV#WHOXVQHW Area Manager Area Manager fore don’t require any attention. “We’ve had Brandy Cowan RIILFH‡FHOO REALTOR Donna Aaskow great success at wintering them outside,â€? 403-948-6595 Area Manager Licensed Realtor cell: 403-816-4176 says Ashcroft. “They’ve been outside three 403-993-4441 RIILFH‡FHOO winters now.â€? Building in five communities in Airdrie! Area Manager Koi are hardy and also make excellent RIILFH‡FHOO pond fish. Larger than goldfish, and grier, they are hard on pond plants but Building in five communities in Airdrie! interesting to watch as they become quite Nancy Realtor Harris Nancy Harris - inLicensed Building in five communities Airdrie! bold. Koi can live up to 25 years and if not Licensed Realtor wintered outside, require a large tank to FHOO keep them healthy. office: 403-948-4111 VKRZKRPH RIILFH cell: 402-519-5325 Pond maintenance is important. “We Nancy Harris QKDUULV#WHOXVQHW showhome: 403-948-4635 Area Manager Nancy Harris Licensed Realtor hop in and clean out the algae, and every Matt Carre REALTOR Licensed Realtor two or three years we clean it completely,â€? 403-771-3398 says Ashcroft. “It’s nothing to spend 20 FHOO FHOO VKRZKRPH minutes at the pond every couple of days, VKRZKRPH RIILFH RIILFH just to root and clean. It’s very relaxing. It’s QKDUULV#WHOXVQHW QKDUULV#WHOXVQHW Area Manager Area Manager not work.â€? Once started, ponds aren’t an expensive hobby to keep up. Pumps are the biggest expense and the biggest headache. “As old parts need to be replaced,â€? Ashcroft says, “it’s often hard to find new parts that fit with the old equipment, so we’re constantly Michelle Carre Alan Tennant adjusting to make things fit. REALTOR REALTOR “Ponds suck you in,â€? she adds.“But if you 403-815-9270 403-948-1411 like being outside and you like gardening, it’s very rewarding.â€? “It’s not a lot of work,â€? says Staples.“The isfaction is worth it.â€? life


66 | summer 2010



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Floor plans and more at summer 2010 | 67

photo courtesy of the Airdrie Horticultural Society

life at home | organizations

Planting the Seeds of

story by Anne Beaty

Patience and Pride Children get firsthand experience at gardening

Digging in the dirt comes naturally

to children and the Airdrie Horticultural Society is encouraging this activity in a productive way with the Airdrie Community Children’s Garden. Located in the society’s Community Garden near Monklands Soccer Park, the designated children’s plot was created last year to accommodate a growing number of youngsters who accompanied their parents to the facility, says horticultural society member and children’s garden co-ordinator Kim Sundset. “There were starting to be more and more kids … tagging along with their parents,” Sundset says. In response, she and her fellow gardeners decided to create an area just for children, incorporating not only planting sections but a designated play space as well. “That’s where the kids can just dig in the dirt and ‘practise garden,’” Sundset says. Building on last year’s experience and suggestions from parents, the children’s garden program is evolving. That first growing season, all the planting was done on one day, as was the harvesting. This year, Sundset says, there will be two planting and two harvesting days, in order to stagger the activities. Plans are also underway to introduce vertical gardening in the children’s plot, with a

68 | summer 2010

four-teepee beanpole (for beans, cucumbers and squash) and vertical potato towers in the works. This concept gives youngsters eye-level access to the vegetables. One of the special features of the vertical potato garden is that straw rather than dirt will be used, allowing children to pull it aside and see just how the potatoes are growing and when they are ready for harvest. In a shed at the facility are dump trucks, shovels, gloves, hats – just about anything a young gardener needs, thanks to donations from community garden members and the public. There are many positive aspects to introducing children to gardening at an early age. “[They learn] to take care of plants … they get firsthand experience on where their food comes from and how it grows,” Sundset says. “They have to learn patience.” As well, she says, at the community garden children are immersed in the world of volunteering – members taking care of garden maintenance, tending to the Airdrie Food Bank plot, helping each other. “It’s a great give and take,” she says. Sundset’s own daughter started her horticultural journey at the tender age of 18 months. Now almost four, she is an eager participant in her family’s and her community’s gardening endeavours.

The horticultural society conducted its first big promotion of the children’s community garden at the Airdrie Home and Garden Show in April and given the positive response from the public, Sundset is hoping to see even more people reap the rewards of the initiative. “It’s free for everybody ... there’s really not an age limit [and] you don’t have to be a gardener to have your kids enjoy the outdoors,” she says, adding that adults are welcome to come out and help in the food bank plot while their children play. The Airdrie Community Children’s Garden is open from mid-May through the end of October. While the majority of the children who will be digging, planting, harvesting and just generally enjoying the whole gardening experience will be with their parents, the children’s garden is also open to playschools and dayhomes. Sundset usually organizes activities for Saturday mornings between 10:30 a.m. and noon, but anyone interested is welcome to contact her for information or to register at kids@airdriehortsociety to make other arrangements. A key to the Community Garden is also available (a $20 refundable key deposit is required), so it is accessible at any time. life

life at home | builder profile


Friendly story by Alex Frazer-Harrison | photo by Sergei Belski

Sabal Homes sets the standard in Airdrie

Sabal Homes marketing manager Kendra Milne is happy to call Airdrie home


or 15 years, Sabal Homes has been raising the bar for home design, and for the last seven years the company has brought this standard to Airdrie. After spending several years building homes in Sagewood, Sabal is now working to produce unique abodes in Reunion, a neighbourhood developed by sister company Hopewell Residential Communities. “We saw a lot of growth in Airdrie,” says Sabal marketing manager Kendra Milne.“There’s so much opportunity here and it’s such a desirable place to live – low property taxes, wonderful amenities. It’s a great choice for people who want that small-town feel, but not lose any of the convenience and proximity [to Calgary].” Milne speaks from experience; she’s been an Airdrie resident for the last couple of years. “Partially lifestyle,” Milne explains of her choice to move out from Calgary.“I moved here for family reasons, but [the lifestyle] is certainly the reason why I stayed, and I don’t think I’d ever go back. “There [are] shorter lines at the grocery store,” she laughs.“I know all my neighbours … I never had that in Calgary.” It’s this spirit that Sabal is trying to bring to its Reunion home designs, including some properties with back lanes – an endangered species until a few years ago.

70 | summer 2010

“And our homes often have front porches, so people can sit out front and get to know their neighbours more,” adds Milne. Functionality is key. “Our vision is to be recognized as one of the most innovative in home design,” says Milne as a tour of Sabal’s Reunion showhome reaches the kitchen. “For example, this floor plan is based on maintaining an open-concept feel, but maintaining a functional room. “We know this is a family-oriented community, so it’s little things like putting kitchen windows at the back [over the sink], so you can watch your children play.” Sabal also strives to provide options for environmentally friendly living. For example, Milne says, some Reunion buyers had an entrance locker area, featured in some of the plans, converted into areas to sort materials for recycling. Milne says that with many homes left to build in Reunion, Sabal will be part of the Airdrie community for a while, supporting local events such as the Airdrie Tykes Hockey Tournament. “We have a long-term commitment to Airdrie and its residents,” she says.“Airdrie is definitely a unique market … we’ve had wonderful support from the City. They want to ensure the growth of Airdrie in a positive way.” life

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A d v ert o ria l F eat u re


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74 | summer 2010

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traditional button-tufted, curved-back chair from Airdrie Home Furnishings.

smiling face

in this fun frame and easel from Where Memories Are Made.

step in the right direction

Take a

when you install smart, practical flooring from United Floors. To the left, Tarkett Fiber Floor offers a brilliant alternative to linoleum, while to the right, such exotic woods as bamboo and pecan offer sturdy sustainability.

show homes

76 | summer 2010

show homes

summer 2010 | 77

work life at 60 Cooper’s Crossing 62

Home Again


Girl Power

life at work | spotlight

story by Alex Frazer-Harrison


ou don’t need to head south to find shopping, services and charities worth supporting. You just need to look in your own backyard. That’s one of the ideas behind Think Airdrie, a new awareness campaign launched last spring to turn the focus on what this city has to offer. “This goes beyond a ‘shop local’ campaign,” says Leona Esau, who works with Airdrie Economic Development and is one of the Think Airdrie committee members. “The mission of the committee is to educate and empower Airdrie’s citizens and businesses to think of Airdrie first for their needs.” It’s all about spotlighting how much this city’s business, service and non-profit community has grown over the past decade, Esau says. Despite this growth, she says, many residents, particularly newer ones, still default to going to Calgary for many services. “Part of this campaign … is breaking habits and thinking if there are products and services they can find here first, before going somewhere else,” says Esau. And it’s not just about choosing a local dentist or commissioning a local graphic artist to

80 | summer 2010

do work (which is just what Think Airdrie ended up doing as it sought a logo). “It’s about closing the loop,” Esau says. This means if a local business sponsors an Airdrie event, a team or a fundraiser, consider patronizing that business. And if you hear a business you patronize supports a local team, non-profit or charity, consider supporting them, too. “The big key and what we hope to get out of this is promoting awareness of Airdrie businesses and everything that is in Airdrie,” says Mike Brandrick of Palliser Lumber Sales Ltd., president of the Airdrie Chamber of Commerce and a Think Airdrie committee member. “You don’t always see it – you don’t always know what’s here. If you’re a commuter and you don’t go to the east side or to Main Street very often, you don’t always know what’s there.” Although primarily aimed at Airdrionians, Brandrick says that some of the Think Airdrie messaging can appeal to residents of Calgary’s northern communities who live closer to Airdrie than they do to the city’s downtown. “If they can’t find it in their part of Calgary, they can probably find it in Airdrie,” he says. The idea of closing the loop described by

Esau resonates with Brandrick. “Businesses can’t continue to provide support to community groups if the residents aren’t giving the support in return,” he says. Newcomers to Airdrie – and there are a lot of them – can benefit from Think Airdrie, as it will help them learn more about their city, says Wade Cormier, sales manager with The Range 106.1 FM and another committee member. “When I moved to Airdrie in 2004, it took me a few years to realize what was in Airdrie, and it took some effort to find what was in Airdrie,” he says. “Airdrie has a lot of hidden secrets and … one of my roles, especially at the radio station, is to put light on those secrets.” Cormier doesn’t see Think Airdrie as an ‘Airdrie versus Calgary’ initiative. “It’s lifestyle-related,” he says. “Dual-income families tend to have a busy lifestyle and don’t tend to see what they drive past every day. Not everyone is aware of Habitat for Humanity [in Airdrie] or the humane society, or the lack of humane society infrastructure, or the availability of drama classes.” Think Airdrie is also about thinking about Airdrie as a great community in which to live.

life at work | spotlight

“One of the key points of the Think Airdrie project is pride,” says Cormier.“Have pride in the city and the neighbourhood you live in, and how it supports you.” Esau says the first priority of Think Airdrie is education. “Educate [people] about what’s here, the high level of customer service, the level of products you can purchase here and how business supports [the community] in turn,” she says. Phase 1 of the campaign involves educating citizens, businesses and not-for-profit organizations about the contributions each makes to each other, Esau says. The awareness-raising includes distribution of Think Airdrie logo decals that are appearing on business doors and developing information packages. “We held a logo competition and had 28 designs from 12 local designers,” says Esau. Airdrie resident Jana Bienz’s design of thought balloons depicting the diverse sectors in Airdrie (industry, retail/services, community/housing/ lifestyle, culture) was picked to lead the charge. Brandrick says his goal is to see Think Airdrie evolve into a fully community-run committee that doesn’t need to be driven by the City and Chamber of Commerce. “The hope is people see the logo, they understand what it means and become passionate about the city and what it can offer,” he says. life Think Airdrie committee members (as of April 2010): Tricia Andres-McDonald, Belo Sol Swimwear Joan Bell, Airdrie Yoga Studio Leona Esau, City of Airdrie Economic Development James Froese, Global Pet Foods Kim Harris, City of Airdrie Community Development Lorna Hunt, executive director, Airdrie Chamber of Commerce Al Jones, Here’s the Scoop/Advanced Distribution Lynn Kehoe, Cream Body and Bath Sherry Shaw-Froggatt, Frog Media/airdrielife Wade Cormier, The Range 106.1 FM Mike Brandrick, president, Airdrie Chamber of Commerce With contributions from: Candice Kolson, Airdrie Farmers Market Sarah Deveaux, Cater Tot Consignments Jody Simpson, Global A.P.E. Chris MacIsaac, Airdrie Economic Development

82 | summer 2010

life at work | winners

What was Jana

thinking? story by Alex Frazer-Harrison photo by Kristy Reimer


f supporters of Think Airdrie are successful, you’ll see the colourful thought bubbles of the initiative’s logo everywhere, from restaurants to insurance offices. So it was natural that an Airdrie resident design the logo. Jana Bienz says she’s always been interested in the arts,“but I’m not an artist, per se.” Curiosity led her to enter the field of web design. “When the Internet exploded about 11 years ago, I was interested in how everything was done and I decided I’d go to school to learn how the Internet works,” Bienz says.“I went to Applied Multimedia Professional Centres, and they offered programs related to graphic design and web design.” Her first job out of school was with Critical Mass, a digitally inclined marketing firm. “That experience was almost as good an education as the school was,” says Bienz.

“They focused primarily on web design, and it gave me an opportunity to learn how everything works, between designers, to everyone who constructs the website, to the programmers.” Originally from Calgary, Bienz and her husband moved to New York City for six years after her stint at Critical Mass, before relocating to Airdrie in 2007. “We decided after six years the U.S. was a very expensive [place] to live, in order for us to do the things we wanted, like have a family and own a house,” she says.“We thought Airdrie would be the logical place.” Bienz jumped at the chance to help promote Airdrie and the Think Airdrie campaign. “I liked the initiative they’re trying to put forward, trying to get people more aware of what Airdrie has to offer,” says Bienz. “I thought I’d like to be a part of that. “One of the nice things about Airdrie is we have everything here, but it’s not always right in front of your face.” Coming up with her simple, potentially iconic thought-bubble design didn’t happen overnight. “It took me a few days to … get to the point where I was happy with the concept. I had several different drafts going at one time,” Bienz says. The hard work paid off when organizers chose her creation. When not designing logos for her hometown, Bienz works for Calgary-based SAHURI + Partners Architecture, and she was honoured by the Interactive Media Awards for her work on the company’s website. Currently on maternity leave with a new daughter, Bienz says she hopes to continue developing her web- and graphic-design skills. life

life at work | careers

The Toughest Jobs in Town story & photos by Carl Patzel


hether it’s handling rational fears or phobias, confronting inclement weather, battling back-breaking labour or straight out dealing with dust and dirt, a tough job means meeting challenges head-on. Conventional or slightly adventurous, whatever the occupation, a tough job means you can’t afford to flinch at creepy crawlers, harsh smells, ridiculous heights, adverse weather conditions or engaging heavy weights. Retreating is just not an option for many demanding professions. No bullying here

Rodeo clown Mark Van Tienhoven has been refining his bull-fighting techniques for more than a decade

Some chosen careers mean taking the bull by the horns, literally. Although it may look like it, Mark VanTienhoven doesn’t clown around when it comes to his seemingly dangerous career as a bull-fighting rodeo clown. Going where few men dare, the Airdrie man has been entering the bull ring for more than 10 years. “I actually took a weekend bull-fighting school just down the road from my place [at age 16]. There were 13 of us to start and by the end there [were] only two of us left,” says the 26-year-old cowboy. “If you got it you got it. If you don’t you don’t. It’s not for everyone, that’s for sure.” Despite the obvious on-the-job hazards, VanTienhoven hasn’t had to collect any disability pay, successfully steering away from the sharp horns of rampaging animals. “Everybody takes their kicks and bruises, but [I’ve had] nothing major. I’ve been pretty fortunate that way,” VanTienhoven says about injuries. Training, as in most sport-related occupations, is the key to success and in some cases survival. VanTienhoven credits refined bull-fighting techniques for a relatively painless production these past years in the rodeo arena. The best method for avoiding a 2,000-pound beast and averting disaster is with sharp turns and a good sense of timing. No matter how many times he jumps into the ring, though, the bull rider’s best friend experiences bloodpumping anticipation. “I’m always a little bit nervous. If I’m not nervous I shouldn’t be out there,” VanTienhoven says with a chuckle. “But once you get the hang of it, it’s not that bad. It’s learning how to do it that hurts.” Creature comforts

Dealing with pests of all shapes and sizes, Matthew Gosselin has been ridding homes of aggravating critters for more than 27 years

Matthew Gosselin makes a living dealing with smaller critters, ridding homes of aggravating pests for more than 27 years now. Crawling on hands and knees through dirty crawl spaces and dank attics, the Elite Pest Control owner is called upon to exterminate cockroaches, mice, larger four-legged vermin and even the smallest of parasites, bedbugs. summer 2010 | 83

Think your job is hard? Try one of these

For eight years Ron Forsyth took his roofing occupation to new heights, never flinching over high anxiety or back-breaking work

Wote Winkelman has been bearing up under the load for 23 years in his job as mover

Those with creepy-crawly phobias need not apply. “Bedbugs are gross. I also ran into a raccoon that had babies – they can be very vicious. [I deal with] huge wasp nests. I’ve been stung many times,” says Gosselin. Donning mask and protective gear, the microscopic-world terminator is asked to eradicate ants and stinging bugs and clean up pigeon droppings, all leading to some sticky and stinky situations. “I got sprayed twice last year by skunks. I could give you a list [of pest problems] if you want,” Gosselin laughs. “It’s not a bad job. You see a lot of different places every day. But I would say it’s definitely a dirty job.” Weighty work

With a different kind of weight on his shoulders, Airdrie resident Wote Winkelman measures the toughness of his occupation in pounds. If moving is one of the most stressful occurrences in life, the Leap Express Cargo Ltd. owner has led a pressure-packed existence. “We have our work cut out for us sometimes, that’s for sure,” says Winkelman, who has moved household contents and made

84 | summer 2010

deliveries across the province for more than 23 years. “We moved 11,500 pounds up to the second floor of a new home under construction. That’s the heaviest load we’ve taken up stairs. The most recent one was 27,000 pounds,” he says. Part long-haul truckers, part heavy lifters, Winkelman and his crew have endured 14hour drives in all kinds of weather. Starting out as a small-package courier, getting work has never weighed on Winkelman’s mind. “It’s kept me working quite a few hours. It’s gotten heavier and heavier. Maybe I should go back to courier,” laughs Winkelman. Rooftop highs

Battling fainthearted phobias takes on new heights for Ron Forsyth’s rooftop moneymaking line of work. Not to look down on other professions, the roofing industry combines heights, extreme physical activity and at different times of the year stifling mid-summer heat or frightfully frigid winter winds. “It’s hard on the knees and back. The materials we use are pretty heavy and you’re bent over all day, especially shinglers,” says the Goodmen Roofing employee. For eight years Forsyth has been lugging

50- to 70-lb. shingle bundles up ladders. “If you have to move 50 of them around in a day, that’s a lot of weight. It’s probably one of the tougher [jobs] physically,” he says. Prerequisites for the occupation are a love of the outdoors and toiling under the hot sun, no fear of back-bending labour and the ability to shun high anxiety. Forsyth says that a few prospective employees didn’t pass the elevated rooftop test. “There’s a few times [people] started, went up to the job and couldn’t get up the ladder. Or they’re hanging on for dear life,” he says, adding that safety is a big factor in the profession. “We’re pretty safe here. We’re tied off all the time, so falls aren’t really a big concern.” There are many tough, dirty and sometimes thankless Airdrie occupations that could have been listed here. Waiters and waitresses, police and rescue workers, ranchers and farmers, construction workers, those who keep our sewer systems operational – the list is endless. Whether it’s stress, copious amounts of dirt, back-breaking labour, long hours or battling monotonous tasks, toughness can come in all forms. Hats off to those in vocations that most of us probably wouldn’t have the courage even to attempt. life


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life at work | profiles


Athlete Rubi Jensen’s chosen sport is both art and science, as he puts on the gloves at Teofista Elite, a.k.a. Airdrie Boxing

How many guys can say they do what they love and get paid for it? Here three Airdrie businesses can lay claim to this – combining their talents and passions into profits

When Rhys Eckardt realized he couldn’t fight anymore, he decided instead to share his expertise with a new generation of boxers. For several years, Eckardt had been a member of the Teofista Elite boxing gym in Calgary, until its owner decided to expand into Airdrie. “I was having [an] issue with some medications that put my bone density into an osteoporosis state,” explains Eckardt. “I couldn’t fight anymore – I was always getting my ribs broken [with] even the slightest hit. So I started to train people. And I wanted to go to the next level, which was being part-owner of a gym.” Airdrie Boxing opened in the Kingsview business park in November 2008, offering programs for kids as young as four, all the way up to athletes with their eyes set on major competitions. “We teach Olympic-style boxing,” says Eckardt. “There are tons of misconceptions about boxing, and we’ve had people turn their noses up and say, ‘Is this it?’ And we’ve had people come in and say, ‘Wow, this is nice for a boxing gym.’” Indeed, the gym’s window-rich location is a far cry from the stereotype of dark warehouse-style basements perpetuated by movies and TV. Instead, Airdrie Boxing has a traditional boxing ring in the centre, surrounded by exercise equipment, punching bags – even an arcade-style “Who punches strongest?” game. “For the kids ages four to seven-eight, we have jungle-gym-style exercises – they’re just having fun with the sport,” says Eckardt. “The 6 [p.m.] classes are for all age groups, more fitness-based. At 7 [p.m.], it’s about learning the theory and applying it lightly with non-contact sparring and working on defence. “At 8 [p.m.], it’s for people who want to test the theory and get in the ring. The blood happens at 8 [p.m.],” he adds, tongue-in-cheek. Eckardt works to bring the science back to the “sweet science.” There’s a big poster of John Sul-

Men@Work story by Alex Frazer-Harrison photos by Sergei Belski

Three guys, three cool guy jobs

86 | summer 2010

Airdrie Autobody shop manager Brendon Empringham gets real satisfaction from taking damaged vehicles and making them whole again

livan, a classic fighter of a century ago, over his desk, and he speaks with admiration when he talks about wanting his boxers to appreciate the science developed by such greats as Jack Dempsey. “Dempsey could teach you six types of jabs – I like to teach the science behind it,” says Eckardt. “Gene Tunney (who famously defeated Dempsey in the 1920s) turned boxing into a chess game.” Eckardt says both men and women use his facility, with many coming in to lose weight and get in shape.“You come here, and you leave feeling you definitely had a workout,” he says. AIRDRIE AUTOBODY

For Brendon Empringham, there is nothing more satisfying than taking a vehicle that’s

to have an airbrush design added.“We just finished one recently that’s a Dodge Dakota that was airbrushed with flames, all the front end and the side of the truck. It was an extensive deal,” says Empringham. Some clients don’t want to go through the expense of airbrushing and so opt for the lessexpensive option of having a decal designed and applied. “We did another Dodge truck … with a decal and we cleared over top of it so it resembled paint, but it wasn’t really paint,” says Empringham. Airdrie Autobody, owned by Rick and Theresa Whitty, is one of the sponsors of the Creativity and functionality come together annual Doing It On the Grass car show that when Mike Mierke, Airdrie Truck Accessories manager, goes to work takes over Nose Creek Park in late summer, and has also sponsored racers in Legends Cars of Alberta. The 13-strong shop also supports youths entering the automotive industry and is currently working with a student in the province’s registered apprenticeship program. “We have an apprentice we’re looking at bringing on full time; we’ll sponsor him and help him get his ticket and his journeyman [certificate],” says Empringham. Airdrie Autobody’s main work is helping restore vehicles that have been damaged, from street-corner fender-benders, to collisions with neighbours’ wind-blown trampolines, to “cows leaning up against vehicles and KO’ing the sides of trucks,” says Empringham. “The best part about the job is taking something of somebody’s that’s been damaged, and been damaged, and making it whole again. they’re sad or mad about it, and turning it Established 14 years ago, Airdrie Auto- around and putting it back to new.” body specializes in collision repair, but there’s also time for the occasional bit of custom AIRDRIE TRUCK ACCESSORIES work too. To some, it’s a pickup truck; to others, it’s a “Some guys want to throw a little chrome on blank canvas. their car, or put inserts in the fenders … they Helping truck owners transform their vewant their car to look different [from] the next hicles into something unique is something on guy’s,” says shop manager Empringham. which the staff at Airdrie Truck Accessories “This time of year, we get a lot of motor- has been focusing for five years. cycles. We do a lot of custom fabrication – Manager Mike Mierke says off the top that people coming in with bikes bought on con- his shop doesn’t do much work with drivers signment, saying, ‘I like that bike, but I want simply wanting to add ‘bling’ to their trucks. it to do something else for me; I want it to His customers are most often people wantbe jazzier.’” ing to get as much functionality out of their Cars and trucks have a lot more surface vehicle as possible. area to cover than bikes, so it’s a substantial “Our primary customers would be dealerproposition when someone brings in a vehicle ships, and we do a lot of retail work and a lot summer 2010 | 87

life at work | profiles

of customizing, and fleet work is important too,” he says. Mierke, a welder by trade, started out specializing in Armaguard Sprayed Bedliners – a black, grippy covering that’s applied to protect truck beds against rust, UV rays and scratching. It’s still his most popular truck accessory. He’s since expanded into a recently renovated 5,000-square-foot showroom offering accessories ranging from chrome bumpers to fender flares and trailer hitches. “Recession or not, [trucks] are viewed as a tool we need for life and for our own income-earning potential,” Mierke says. “A lot of the accessories we sell are required [items]. For example, someone buys a Dodge 2500 truck and wants to pull a trailer with that: right away you need a hitch, mudflaps so you’re not wrecking the trailer, maybe a trailer brake control – it’s stuff they need.” Practical and functional accessories take priority, with customers wanting to haul RVs coming in for fifth-wheel hitches, or looking for fender flares which are a requirement if they plan to add bigger, wider tires to their vehicle, Mierke says. That doesn’t mean his shop doesn’t get the occasional call to transform a truck from a factory-standard, one-ofthousands model rolling off the lot, into something special and unique. “We just did a 2010 Dodge 2500 – that’s a three-quarter-ton truck – with a six-inch lift, Bushwacker fender flares and we took it from 31- to 35-inch tires with after-market rims,” Mierke says. “The truck was completely different when it rolled out of here. And there’s definitely some satisfaction in that.” Installing truck accessories is one of the few jobs that is still primarily learned on the job itself, rather than through a course, and Mierke says he wouldn’t trade it for anything. “It’s fun – just the variety and you’re doing something with a blank canvas that will leave your shop quite different from when it came in,” he says. life

88 | summer 2010

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life at work | profile

All Bull

Joe Messina has more than eight seconds to be a success in business story by Anne Beaty | photos by Kristy Reimer summer 2010 | 89

life at work | profile

Joe Messina (right) explains the proper gripping technique to a student in his Bull Riding 101 class


or Airdrie’s Joe Messina, any day on the back of a bucking bull is a g’day. Messina, who hails from Burra, New South Wales, Australia, has been calling Airdrie home for the past couple of years, ever since he headed halfway around the world to pursue his passion for bull riding and ultimately set up his business, Fantasy Adventure Bull Riding Ltd. Raised on a hobby farm with a bit of livestock, Messina, 32, says he had an interest in bull riding since he was knee-high to a grasshopper. “For as long as I can remember I was always … passionate about the sport of bull riding,” he says. His first forays into that wild world as a child were on the back of sheep. At age 14, he tried riding his first steer. “I lasted about three jumps and hit the ground,” Messina says. The rude awakening didn’t deter him; rather, he was hooked and even more determined to become a professional bull rider. Even though a good part of the sport can be spent facedown in the dirt, Messina’s enthusiasm never waned. “It’s the biggest adrenaline rush you’ll ever encounter in your life,” he says. When he was in his early 20s, Messina decided to head overseas and his journey took him to Europe, where he met a girl from Calgary. He was on his way to Texas to compete, so he told her that if he won some money, he’d come up to see her in Canada.

90 | summer 2010

As a result, he ended up in Calgary in 2000 and took a real fancy to the area. “I fell in love with it, I guess – the cowboy culture,” he says. “That was the drawing card.” The next few years were punctuated by back-and-forth trips from Australia, visa applications and bull-riding competitions around Canada and the U.S. Ultimately, Messina applied for permanent resident status and moved to Airdrie three years ago. The idea for his business arose when he took a paragliding course, just to meet people and try something new.“I’ll never forget it,” he says. The course participants were a diverse group, ranging in age from 18 to 60, but most were there to live their dream, to experience something special and unique. That gave Messina an idea. “Sitting there I kind of just got this bit of a brainwave,” he says. “I thought, I wonder if people would pay me to get on a bull.” That idea set him on a path of researching and creating a business plan, drawing on the business degree he had earned some years earlier. In May 2008, after retiring from competition, he opened Fantasy Adventure Bull Riding, which is located just west of Airdrie at Girletz Rodeo Ranch. The concept is that participants are introduced to the sport, from its history to the equipment needed to the specially bred and raised bulls used. Then the students have the opportunity to not only try their luck on a

mechanical bull, but to also actually get on the back of a real one in the pen. Messina’s very first class comprised mostly friends and family, who were all blown away by the experience. “Everyone just said, ‘Wow, what an amazing product you have here,’” he says. Now heading into his third year, Messina has put 620 people through his class and not one, he says, has been disappointed. “People just absolutely love it,” he says. It’s a very diverse market – he’s even had a 65-year-old woman in class and, he adds with a chuckle, “the girls always do so much better than the guys.” While Messina would like to expand his business to Australia, that market is a bit more of a challenge.“It’s a completely different culture. You don’t sort of walk down the main street of Sydney and see a cowboy in boots and a cowboy hat,” he says.“We do have some really, really good cowboys in Australia … but [rodeo] is just not as big.” In fact, when he has explained what he is doing in Canada, he has met with a disbelieving response. “They think you’re taking a mickey out of them,” he laughs. Nonetheless, Messina is definitely looking at franchising the business and, despite the initial response Down Under, he hopes to be operating out of Sydney in short order. He’s already building what he calls “strategic alliances” here in Alberta and he’d love to ‘go mobile’ with the PBR (Professional Bull Riders) organization.

“I’m the only person in the world who offers this type of experience,” he says. While business is thriving and has proved highly fulfilling for the former bull rider, Messina does admit that he misses the competition. He has sustained serious back problems from his years on the bulls and he knew that he had to retire when he did, but it was a tough decision. “I guess I didn’t really finish on my terms,” he says, “[but] sometimes you’ve got to go with the plan you’re given.” That plan includes spending the summer in Airdrie and heading back to Australia when the season is over.“I don’t do very well in the winter, so my ultimate plan is to sort of stay here … from about April to November,” he says. Come late fall he’ll be off south of the equator to bask in the sunshine.“The boots and the hats and the buckles go back in the cupboard,” he says, “and the shorts … come out.” The multi-hemispheric lifestyle may not be for everyone, but Messina is content with the way his life is unfolding. While he plans to keep his home in Airdrie, he would eventually like to get some land in Australia close to the beach “where I can raise my bulls and surf,” he says. In the meantime, his busy summer schedule is set and he is even pursuing another long-time interest – guitar. “I’ve wanted to [play] for 30 years and I finally picked it up last Christmas,” he says. life


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A Bull Riding 101 participant gets up-closeand-personal with his ‘dancing partner.’

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Cranked life at work | entreprenuer profile

story & photos by Aaron Holmes

A love of cycling spins into a successful business


Cranked owner Nick Lynem has learned the secret of mixing business and pleasure

92 | summer 2010

irdrie’s Nick Lynem got his first mountain bike when he was in Grade 7. That bike ignited a passion for cycling that has spawned two businesses and an international mountain bike racing career. “We were a pretty active biking family, so we did a lot of biking out in the mountains,” says Lynem, who grew up in Calgary. “One of my first trails was Pocaterra in Kananaskis, and then Goat Creek Trail from Canmore to Banff.” A natural racer, Lynem was always way out in front of the family. His dad recognized this and entered him in a beginner race at Calgary’s Blackfoot Park. Lynem won by a long shot and began to race competitively. In 1996 he placed second in the Canada Cup cross-country mountain bike class. After finishing business school at Grant MacEwan in Edmonton, Lynem opened up Bike Pedlars in Cochrane in 1998 and ran it for twoand-a-half years, while continuing to develop his cycling. “I really enjoy being out in the wilderness riding with groups of people,” he says. “It’s a good social sport, and I like the challenge of climbing long hills and doing long distances. It’s a great way to stay in shape.” In 2001 he moved to Las Vegas to focus more on his training, taking advantage of the consistently good weather of the Nevada desert. He raced for three-and-a-half years on the Mountain Bike World Cup series for the Gary Fisher and Giant teams.

Rate Plan Confusion

After limited success on the World Cup circuit, Lynem stepped back from competition and started looking for a place to set up another bike shop. Drawing on his business school education, he studied the market and demographics and settled on Airdrie. The city’s young and growing population made it a good fit for the business. The bike store, Cranked, opened in Luxstone seven years ago and moved into a larger space in Stonegate last August. Now well established in the community, Lynem is an advocate for cycling in Airdrie and he would like to see the City finish connecting the pathways system, as well as incorporating separate bike lanes into major public roadways. “It’s hard to bike on the streets with large trucks around,” he says. Outside of the city, he likes to take his road bike from Airdrie to Cochrane through the Bearspaw area. “Burma Road is my favourite,” he says. For those interested in seeing their community from a different perspective, Lynem hosts a riding club with members of all skill levels who bike around Airdrie on Tuesday and Thursday evenings and sometimes on Sundays. For beginners, he recommends starting out with a bike appropriate for what they’re going to be doing.“If you’re going to start road riding, definitely start on a road bike,” he says, “and then go talk to your local bike store owner about the best trails.” A bicycle doesn’t burn gas, provides free exercise and doesn’t get stuck in traffic. What a great way to enjoy the summer! life

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summer 2010 | 93

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Profile for airdrielife magazine

airdrielife summer 2010  

from cool jobs to cowboys, the summer issue is jam packed with life and the men who make it great in Airdrie

airdrielife summer 2010  

from cool jobs to cowboys, the summer issue is jam packed with life and the men who make it great in Airdrie