Page 1

summer 2011

Man Caves

Airdrie’s Toughest Jobs

Magic Man

Ryan Jade

High School

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62 On the Cover Magic man Ryan Jade says his passion is no illusion; it’s a time-honoured tradition of entertaining

Photo by Kristy Reimer


Columns and regular features


Artist Profile


Musician Q&A


Fitlife with Joan Bell




Lifelines with Linda Bruce


Rural Roots


Lifetimes with Ellen Kelly

New feature


Last Look – a photo moment capturing life around Airdrie

4 | summer 2011

life in the moment


12 Artists, 12 Chairs, 1 Dream –

AIRdirondack Art Project returns

Main Street Masterpiece –


the Main Street Art Project is unveiled

A Taste of Taj – explore the flavours of


India with the Dhaliwals

Garden Palates – feast your eyes and


tastebuds on fresh salads

Fashion in Full Bloom – local style for summer


life in the community


Airdrie’s beloved pathway system

High School Heroes – Bert Church students


take the next step

The Mind and Spirit of John Pirzek – youth


conquers challenges and makes a difference

Time Machines – classic car enthusiasts rule


the road

life at home 68

Up on the Hill – Hillcrest’s new

showhome parade


Inside Out – designer advice


Get Growing – favourite perennials for the Prairies


Fat Boys – local renovation company a success


Home Handyman – how Mike Fulton turned a

hobby into a business

The Man Cave – AL Winslow has every guy’s


dream garage

life at work



Location, Location, Location – why Airdrie

makes business sense

The Lawman – our new series of local


business people profiles starts with Jim Hasset

The Safety Dance – Armand LaSante’s


life-changing move

The Restaurateur – Sal Monna dishes on wine,


food and the right personality

Tough Jobs – our annual roundup of jobs that


6 | summer 2011

Pick a Pathway – a cyclist’s guide to



are only for the brave

Paris, Milan and New York have their Fashion District, Airdrie has its fashionable district. When it comes to looking for a family friendly community in Airdrie, you have a few options. But when it comes to a stylish one that’s family centric, there’s really only one choice. Ravenswood. With its attention to design throughout the neighbourhood it can definitely be crowned Airdrie’s fashionable district. And with prices starting from the $290’s you don’t want

to fashionably late getting in either. So drop us a visit Monday through Thursday from 2pm to 8pm or Saturday, Sunday and holidays from noon to 5pm. We have eight recently unveiled new showhomes from our proud builders Broadview Homes (403.980.5600), McKee Homes (403.980.1092), NuVista Homes (403.980.9525) and Pacesetter Homes (403.980.8625)

Proud supporters of Creative Airdrie and the Airdirondack Art Project Crestmont • evanston • silverado • the hill • ravenswood Coming soon – redstone • Painted sky • double Creek

Contributors summer 2011

Group Publisher




Sherry Shaw-Froggatt Anne Beaty Vanessa Peterelli Kim Williams


Aaron Holmes, photographer This issue: Travelling Airdrie’s bike paths, page 53

Joan Bell, Sergei Belski, Linda Bruce, Olivia Condon, Sarah Deveau, Alex Frazer-Harrison, Aaron Holmes, Alexa Kanters, Ellen Kelly, Kurtis Kristianson, Tina McMillan, Carl Patzel, Kristy Reimer

Learned while out on assignment: “Electric bicycles are a great way to get

around, although they haven’t really hit the

mainstream yet.”

Contact Us


Wendy Potter-Duhaime


Community Investment Editorial Advertising Accounting Where to find us

Carl Patzel, writer/photographer This issue: A real man cave, page 78 Learned while out on assignment: “Plunging into the world of man caves, I thought I knew what it takes to decorate a manly manor, basement or garage. That is until I met Al Winslow

airdrielife is delivered to all homes in Airdrie and surrounding areas. If you do not receive an issue please contact 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.

and his so-called ‘barn.’ You truly have to see it to believe it.” VOLUME 7, NUMBER 2

ISSN 1916-355X

Contents copyright 2011 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.

Kurtis Kristianson, photographer/writer This issue: Fine food, fine company – Sal Monna, page 90 Learned while out on assignment: “Sal has this personality that makes you feel like you have known him for years even when you have just met. In the time I spent with Sal I learned that going out to a restaurant is not primarily about the food but the experience that you share with people you care about.”

8 | summer 2011

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 airdrielife is produced from well-managed forests, printed with canola-based inks, and is 100% recyclable.

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From a Mattamy front porch you can watch this daily parade of activity and invite neighbours to stop awhile for a chat about Canada’s favourite subject, the weather.

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On warm summer days in a Mattamy community, you’ll find neighbours out and about, enjoying the special features such as parks, playgrounds and walking/biking trails.

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Emerald New Homes

Attached homes. Attached garages. Lots to get attached to.

editor’s note

Every issue I get to see the world through someone else’s eyes. It makes

for a fascinating exercise, as I learn more and more about the people who live in and around our fair city. From artists to business owners, students to professionals, all are the very essence of this place we call home.

Starting at



Contact Alan Stuckert -at-


Recently I have had a chance to see through the eyes of two of Airdrie’s younger residents and journalists in the making: writer Alexa Kanters and photographer Olivia Condon, Bert Church High School students who are earning credits for special projects by contributing to airdrielife. The two worked in tandem to create a feature about their very own Charger athletes (page 56). We’re pleased to have them on board, bringing their own unique perspectives to our pages. Kanters’ and Condon’s work is only part of our summer issue highlighting the community’s marvelous men (just as our spring issue is devoted to Airdrie’s amazing women). While we aim to appeal to the male half of the city, though, I do think that the stories we have to offer are fun for everyone, regardless of gender. For example, how can anyone resist the atmosphere in Al Winslow’s ‘man cave’ (page 78)? And the passion that goes into restoring a vintage vehicle (page 60) is certain to appeal to almost everyone. I know that I get a nostalgic grin on my face whenever one of these babies passes me on the street, especially at the height of summer, when the windows are rolled down and the music is blaring (although some of us might prefer to listen to Led Zep). As for our cover story, prestidigitator Ryan Jade’s centuries-old craft (page 62) is something that all can enjoy. So start turning the pages of airdrielife summer and see who you know, what you didn’t know before, what you’d like to know more about – and have fun.

Anne Beaty, EDITOR

12 | summer 2011

New Logo!

(But enough about us.) If you’d like to see what quality, craftsmanship and value look like in a new home, and you’d like to find out why McKee has been named Airdrie’s favourite home builder, then we invite you to visit us soon.

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airdrielife in the community airdrielife is more than a magazine: we are a community-minded and motivated company behind two inaugural events this past spring. Join us online for complete coverage from Amazing Airdrie Women and Six in the City!

More life online

Amazing Airdrie Women

Celebrate Airdrie’s Volunteers of the Year 2011

airdrielife launched a celebration recognizing women in the community who make a difference. The sold-out crowd was treated to champagne, a gourmet lunch and an afternoon of bonding as only women can do.

Share a lawyer’s life Sarah Deveau plans a boys’ night out

Get caught up on the local real estate market Spice up your life with recipes from Taj Indian Restaurant Life’s a trip, with Carl Patzel

PLUS more events and happenings in your city this summer A sold-out crowd at the Amazing Airdrie Women luncheon included Olympic athlete Melissa Hollingsworth (above left) The first Amazing Airdrie Women (l-r): Karen MacDonald, Chelsey Dawes and Jan Morrison (above right)

ENTER TO WIN!! Take our reader survey now and you could win a $500 Airdrie shopping spree!!!! All online now at

Food Network TV host and author Sandi Richard inspired as the guest speaker (left)

Six in the City Minerva was just one of the fabulous live acts (top right) Fred and Sharon Burley offer up samples to eager guests (below right)

More than 350 people toured the six new showhomes in Cooper’s Crossing, enjoying wine tastings (and even an India Pale Ale), gourmet food from Airdrie’s best chefs, live music and gorgeous photography by airdrielife photographers. The event raised $15,000 for Airdrie Housing Limited. The crowd-pleaser? The stretch limo that drove everyone back and forth between the showhome locations. See the highlights at

Volunteers Julie Tkachuk and Scott Bell toast the evening’s success (centre) Photographer Kurtis Kristianson engages visitors with his work (far right)

14 | summer 2011






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Shane Homes Contact: Jeff Brodowski Phone: 403.536.2316 Email:

Trico Showhomes Opening June 2011 Contact: 403.287.9300


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moment life in the 22 Instrumental 26

By the dozen


Thinking green

life in the moment | artist profile


nspired by Rambo, Garth Thompson’s fascination with making knives began when he was 17 or 18 and made his first knife – a replica of the one in the movie. When Thompson told a friend how badly he wanted one, the friend suggested he make it himself. Thompson mentioned that he wouldn’t be able to make the sawtooth back, but two days later, his friend gave him a saw blade from a sawmill, with the teeth intact, and Thompson completed the knife with an angle grinder over the next several months. That said, making the knife wasn’t what intrigued Thompson initially. He threw the knife at a tree, it hit handle first and the handle snapped. “From then on I was hooked,” he says. “I thought, I have to fix this and I have to make it better.”

Garth Thompson’s creations run the gamut from simple kitchen knives to elaborate swords

story by Ellen Kelly | photos by Aaron Holmes

Blades of

Handcrafted knives keep Garth Thompson’s artistic skills sharp


18 | summer 2011

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life in the moment | artist profile

Thompson used every bit of scrap metal he could find. For a long time, he didn’t have access to a shop so he filed away at the kitchen table and made little knives. When he moved to Calgary for work, he contacted a knifemaker in High River who gave him some pointers and did some heat treating (a process to temper steel) for him. He was able to purchase good steel and after that it was a slow progression of getting better and better. As for the motivation for his art, Thompson, who admits he is a perfectionist, says that knifemaking allows him to create something from raw materials. “I can start with a chunk of steel and a block of wood that look like nothing and turn [them] into functional art,” he says, adding that he thinks of knives as male jewelry. Originally from Paradise Hill, Sask., the Thompson family has lived in Airdrie for the past seven years. Thompson works at a machine shop in Calgary with the goal of one day being able to do his art full time. A self-taught artist, Thompson follows the 4-H motto of “do by doing” and reads books on the subject and knife magazine tips to improve his knowledge and skills. Other knifemakers are usually willing to swap trade secrets or at least guide him in the right direction, he says, but he wishes sometimes that he’d taken classes. “It would have saved me years on my learning curve. I would have learned the techniques

20 | summer 2011

instead of figuring them out on my own,” he says. All of Thomson’s knives are handcrafted and no two are exactly the same. He often customizes knives to fit a specific request, adjusting the size of the blade or making the handle fit the customer’s hand. His customers range from hunters and fishermen looking for a quality knife to people looking for something that they can pass down to future generations to reenactors and martial arts enthusiasts. One customer, a polio survivor, couldn’t cut with a regular knife so Thompson built him a table knife with a cleaver-like blade, solving the problem. Thompson makes various styles, including Scottish sgien dubh complete with the family crest inlaid in the handle; a Viking scramasax; a Japanese tanto; modern and primitive hunting knives; and replicas of historical knives and swords. His repertoire includes kitchen sets, fighting knives, utility knives, swords, tomahawks and battle axes as well as some fantasy and art knives. His creations can be found in use from coast to coast and in Texas, Hawaii, France and England. He donates four or five knives each year as fundraisers for various charities. Woods such as ebony, screw bean mesquite, ringed gidgee (from Australia), blood wood and curly maple are only a few in Thompson’s collection of handle materials. He also uses fossil ivory, walrus tusk, gemsbok horn, whale

baleen and various local deer horns. He makes the sheaths and does the leatherwork himself, using anything from plain cowhide, which he carves, to exotic skins and inlays. This local artist also passes along his expertise by teaching knifemaking and blacksmithing, usually to one student at a time, in the small shop behind his home. The shop itself smells of coal from the coal forge that once belonged to his father-in-law’s father, acquired when the family homesteaded in the 1930s. He also has a propane forge, a metal lathe, a couple of grinders and a wood bandsaw that he has converted to cut metal. Shelves are lined with material for handles, sheaths and the many projects Thompson is currently working on, including a replica sword from 1520 called a Dussack and a refurbished 150-year-old bayonet being made into a sword. Along with the knives, Thompson makes a variety of forged pieces, including fireplace tools, candlesticks, pot racks, picture stands, jewelry, hooks and his own wrought-iron gate. He is a student of Western martial arts and a member of the Academy of European Swordsmanship. He has studied the twohanded long sword, rapier, dagger and grosse messer and makes replica swords and gauntlets using instructions written in the 15th and 16th centuries. “It’s definitely a passion,” says Thompson. “I can talk about knives and steel until people’s eyes go blank and roll back.” life

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life in the moment | musician Q&A

Q&A with

Tuesday Night Beer League

22 | summer 2011

Story and photo by Carl Patzel

If it’s Tuesday it must be band night It almost sounds like a bar joke: What do you get when you mix a kazoo-playing blues guitarist with a punk rocker and a couple of classic rock-and-roll singers? Answer: A Tuesday Night Beer League. The Airdrie band – which has been together for more than two years – currently consists of four local musicians: Neal Janewski: guitar, vocals, electric kazoo; Dustin Hachey: guitar, mandolin, vocals, blues harp; Darin Stewart: vocals, guitar; and Kris Barkhouse: bass, vocals, international face of the band. airdrielife spoke with Neal Janewski in April. Q: Three of you, Neal, Kris and Dustin, knew each other at George McDougall High School; then you met Darin at Music Centre Canada. How did you eventually form a band? A: After work we would just jam with musicians [who] would come in. Eventually it turned into an actual band. We would get together and come up with songs. Q: Where did the name Tuesday Night Beer League come from? A: Tuesday Night Beer League originated from after-work jams with the original core of Darin and Dustin. We would get together and jam on Tuesdays and the name stuck. Q: How would you describe the band’s sound? A: It’s pretty eclectic. Even in our own songwriting it’s a grab-bag. Dustin and I really love old blues music like Sun House, Howling Wolf and Robert Johnson. Darin is from the ’80s punk scene, Bad Religion. Then Kris pretty much loves everything. So we play blues, folk and we’ll play punk and rock. Depending on where we are playing, we have to tailor to that. Q: That’s a pretty diverse musical background. How do three guitarists and four vocalists meld for a cohesive sound? A: They’ll play a punk song, like three power chords, and it will just be rocking, then I will do a blues solo. I can fit in well with that esthetic because blues is pretty universal. If you can meld those things together it makes a unique sound and that’s what we’re striving for. Q: Since you’ve been playing together has the sound changed? A: Dustin turns me on to certain different music and I’ll take something away from that. Same with them. I will get them to listen to someone and from there we will meet up in the middle somewhere. Q: Which musicians have had the most influence on the band? A: There’s not a lot of contemporary music that we all agree on. There are a couple of bands that I really enjoy but most of the contemporary music I couldn’t be bothered with. It’s all pop … and very manufactured. I really dig the Black Keys and anything that Joe Bonamassa’s ever done. Q: So in this era of hit-machine, American Idol corporate music, how do you stay original? A: There are a million different bands that sound like Pearl Jam. If you can sing like Eddie Vedder, that’s cool but don’t copy that template. Try to do something different with it. It’s hard to find anything that catches your attention … it’s good background music basically. The first time I ever heard a Howling Wolf record or Eric Clapton I had to stop. Q: During a recent set you covered the Rolling Stones, The Band and performed three of your original songs: Watching the Wolves, Jackson and Nowhere Bound. Do you plan on recording any time soon? A: (In April) we’re recording an EP. We’re going to do two or three of our strongest songs. We can sell them at shows and let people know what our sound is even if we’re unsure of it. Q: What kind of response have you been getting? A: It sounds good to us; we’re hoping it sounds good to other people. summer 2011 | 23

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life in the moment | arts

12 12 1I

artists, chairs, dream

t was a success that could be taken sitting down. In 2010 Creative Airdrie Society launched its first publicity event/fundraiser to promote awareness of Airdrie’s vibrant arts and culture community. The first 12 chairs raised $10,000 in a one-hour auction after being exhibited around Airdrie during the summer months. The event was attended by Lindsay Blackett, Alberta’s culture and community spirit minister, who had been keeping Airdrie’s evolving culture scene on his radar. This year the AIRdirondack Art Project is back with 12 new artists turning 12 chairs into works of art. Residents and visitors to Airdrie will be able to see all 12 on display until the end of September when they are auctioned off at a fundraising gala. The chairs will be on view during the Canada Day parade and then on location at Airdrie Public Library, City Hall, Genesis Place, Brewsters, Fulton’s Home Building Centre, Calgary Co-op (Airdrie), both TD Bank locations and the new showhome parade in Ravenswood. The 12 artists are a strong cross-section of the diverse talent, including youth, in the Airdrie area. Cheryl Todd Shergold loves many different subjects and finds it hard to narrow them down to any one given theme. Shergold works in acryl-

26 | summer 2011

Artist Tami Hort-Lathwell works on her AIRdirondack chair

Artist Char Vanderhorst shows her work-in-progress AIRdirondack chair to be on display this summer

ics, watercolours and oils and is inspired by nature’s colour palette. With many years of experience, she is confident in technical and product knowledge. Shergold’s art offers an opportunity to look at the world through new eyes and she chooses to give back to the earth by caring and conserving. As a teacher she encourages everyone to “Paint your world many colours.” Tami Hort-Lathwell feels that being artistic is a gift. It is as natural as writing. She believes anyone can be taught to be an artist. Hort-Lathwell teaches art lessons and enjoys watching and discovering who the next fledging young artists will be. She is currently president of Airdrie Artist Guild; co-ordinator of Rockyview Art Club; and active member as well as program committee and workshop co-coordinator of the Calgary chapter of the Federation of Canadian Artists. Gwen LeMay is currently involved in many creative ventures as a member of the Calgary Sketch Club and Airdrie Artist Guild, and treasurer of the Airdrie Regional ARTS Society. LeMay’s watercolours have been exhibited in various venues in Alberta including the Calgary Stampede. She also contributes to the growth of arts and culture in Airdrie in a variety of ways, including installing exhibits for the art exhibition program at Airdrie Public Library.

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life in the moment | arts

The Second Annual AIRdirondack Art Project

Shawn MacPherson feels that she’s one of the

lucky ones … as owner, artisan and instructor of Muk-Luk Magpies Stained Glass Emporium she loves to go to work every day. Early on, MacPherson began tole painting and teaching, and custom murals encompassed many days during the ’80s and ’90s. The new millennium arrived and MacPherson was encouraged to take a class in stained glass. Many hours of practice went into her first year until at last she felt knowledgeable enough to open a studio in her home. With the support of Airdrie and surrounding areas MacPherson has been blessed with the daily opportunity to inspire others to be creative. Ken Vickets is a Western Canadian artist. Vickets’ lifelong love of artwork has taken him




As airdrielife was heading to press we learned that Creative Airdrie had been selected by the Alberta Government to be one of five feature celebration sites to lead Alberta Arts Days Sept. 30 to Oct. 2. This exciting news means provincewide attention for Airdrie’s burgeoning arts and culture community. Get the full details online at or

The Honourable Lindsay Blackett, minister of culture and community spirit, with Creative Airdrie executive director Linda Bruce at the Alberta Arts Days announcement May 19 in Edmonton

28 | summer 2011

on an exploration of all mediums, including combining his woodwork and painting skills into the creation of award-winning wildfowl carvings. Focusing on watercolours (while still retaining a secret love for the scent of oil paint) Vickets paints Alberta and British Columbia with semi-abstraction, capturing the true brilliance of the West. He now expands his talents to include his role as president for Airdrie Regional ARTS Society. Michelle Pickering believes that community is the basis on which to grow as a person. As a local art teacher and co-ordinator of the Main Street Art Project for Creative Airdrie, Pickering finds that extending oneself in the community aids in the discovery of what one can offer to others by simply being of service. Stepping out builds confidence, acceptance of personal beauty and the realization of what can be contributed back into the community. Her love and passion for creativity and the arts has come full circle, beginning at Red Deer College and continuing to include her current involvement in the growth of arts and culture in Airdrie. HyJinx Airdrie Youth Council is a group of expressive young Airdrie citizens who seek to empower youth in Airdrie and act to fill the communication gap between youth and the community. This is accomplished by providing advice to the City and local agencies on issues that affect youth. Hyjinx also partners with other groups, agencies and organizations that address youth-related issues and plan events for youth in Airdrie. The group is open to anyone between the ages of 13 and 18 at no cost. Shannon Lengkeek received a scholarship for excelling in art and business management and then decided to instead pursue an education in criminology because of her interest in studying behaviour. Lengkeek’s interest and personal interpretation is evident in her creative expression. She believes art expresses concepts, expressions, emotions and thought-provoking insights, and unlike math and science, art is both objective and subjective and values expression that provokes positive emotion. Kristen Shima values time, family, friends and lifestyle, and so her photography is soulful, organic

and simple. Because interaction, relationships and connections are important in Shima’s work, she was voted as Calgary’s Child Photographer from 2007 until 2010. As observer, creative and collector she feels that life is simple – happiness, love and family are all a privilege. Shima has also had the honour of meeting and photographing many interesting personalities such as Olympic gold medal winner Hayley Wickenheiser. Kristy Reimer began her journey into photography at the Alberta College of Art and Design. It was in college that Reimer fell in love with the photographic medium and began to look at light the way the camera views it, instead of how eyes do. She graduated with a bachelor of fine arts in photography and, after working with professional wedding photographers, in 2003 she began her own professional practice harnessing light and working with vibrant colours to create works of art that not only tell a story, but are visually appealing and timeless. Gary Giesbrecht was raised on a mixed farm near Castor, Alta. and rode a pony to a oneroom school. This is what fostered Giesbrecht’s relationship with horses and the cowboy way of life. He is a locally known cowboy artist whose images feature day-to-day life on the farm. His subjects tend to focus on pencil or pen and ink images of the western way of life, be it rodeo, horses, cattle or people as well as old buildings. Giesbrecht has been involved in the Calgary Stampede as both an artist and a musician. Char Vanderhorst likes to focus on images that portray international cultures of many nations. When painting Vanderhorst attempts to communicate ancient history and ethnic beauty. Vanderhorst also enjoys painting nature and attempts to capture its beauty in its purest form. She is recognized for her vibrant watercolours as well as her intricately detailed murals. Ravenswood is the presenting sponsor of the AIRdirondack Art Project with the support of Fulton’s Home Building Centre and airdrielife magazine. Learn more and see all of the chairs online at life

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life in the moment | mainframe

Main Street Masterpiece Members of the Airdrie Artist Guild collaborate on their mural for Main Street

Creative Airdrie takes it to the streets 32 | summer 2011


y the time you hold this magazine in your hands the Creative Airdrie Main Street Art Project will be finished. At press time, 31 different community groups and artists were putting the finishing touches on their 4x8-foot works of art. When all 31 boards were installed May 28 as construction hoarding on the empty lot on the corner of Main Street and First Avenue, the City of Airdrie gained a new landmark and inspiring 300-foot-long masterpiece of creativity.�

The 31 boards each contain an undulating grey line that, once connected, will represent the pathways of Airdrie. The project has involved more than 400 volunteers from preschoolers to seniors, poets, photographers, stained-glass designers, painters and visual artists. On Facebook, groups have eagerly shared their progress and finished results with well-deserved pride. Project co-ordinators Michelle Pickering and Veronica Funk are equally impressed with the enthusiasm of the groups involved and the creative energy that has resulted. “Speaking with the businesses and community members involved in this project has been absolutely inspiring,” says Funk. “As an artist, I love the fact that we’re bringing art to the community, that everyone has an opportunity to be involved in beautifying our city. I’m glad that we are able to include those who are disabled, young children, and numerous community groups as I feel these people are the backbone of Airdrie. It’s so nice to see the creativity and strong sense of community that is inherent in everyone [who] chooses to make Airdrie their home. And especially for those who are newer to our city, there is a sense of pride and ownership that comes out of a project like this one. I hope to see more of this in the future.” The project was made possible by Qualico Developments (developer of Ravenswood), Fulton’s Home Building Centre, Sign Concepts, Fat Boys Renovations, the City of Airdrie and airdrielife magazine. You can find bios of each group and artist at Coming in September: Art In Motion, Airdrie Transit and Creative Airdrie team up to showcase local art on transit passes. life

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www. summer 2011 | 33

life in the moment | dining out

A Taste of Taj U

pon walking through the door of Taj Indian Restaurant, patrons are greeted with a huge smile from owner/manager Bhinder Dhaliwal. He’s quick to seat and serve his customers, he’s constantly in and out of the kitchen and greeting people at the door, yet he exudes a sense of calm. No one would ever know that he has been working double time while his brother, Gurtej, a co-owner of the restaurant, recuperates from back problems. “It’s really hard for him right now,” Bhinder says. Despite the extra work, though, Bhinder does an impressive job of ensuring the restaurant is running smoothly, that all customers are greeted and treated well, that the food is second-to-none. Along with the stellar food, the restaurant offers special unique touches to the dining experience, including hand-hammered copper dishes, which were purchased by Gurtej during a special trip back to India. What the brothers are doing must be working, because since Taj opened in November 2009, word of mouth from satisfied patrons has brought new customers from near and far. “So far everybody’s been loving it and they send their family and friends,” Bhinder says. And that, of course, is just the way the Dhaliwals like it. “They make you proud. That’s what we want,” he says. It’s taken a lot of work to get to this point and much credit, according to Bhinder, goes to his family – including mother Harjinder and sister Gursharan Gill, who have been coming in to help on a regular basis. Chief cook Shaikh Saiduddin, who brings with him almost two decades of experience, is also a mainstay whose culinary creations are an essential part of the restaurant’s success.

34 || summer summer 2011 2011

It’s all about family for the Dhaliwals story by Anne Beaty photos by Kristy Reimer

Bhinder Dhaliwal is all smiles at the success of Taj Indian Restaurant, which he and brother Gurtej opened in November 2009

Tandoori Chicken

Ultimately, Bhinder says, seeing his customers enjoying their meals and raving over the food is the most fulfilling aspect of running his own restaurant.“That’s the best part,” he says. The Dhaliwal family, originally from the state of Punjab, India, emigrated to Canada in the 1990s to seek new opportunities. Gill was the first to arrive in 1990-91, to be followed by the rest of her family in 1995 (she sponsored them). They initially lived in B.C., but decided to move to Calgary in 1998. As they settled more into their new home, the brothers, having previously run a gas station, were looking for a new sort of challenge and the concept of Taj Indian Restaurant was born. “We just wanted to do something different,” says Bhinder. From the initial idea to actually opening the doors proved quite the educational journey, Bhinder laughs. “When we started, we never thought it was this much work,” he says, adding that the whole paperwork process can be quite arduous. Whenever a patron compliments the food and the staff or refers a friend, though, the work doesn’t seem quite so hard. “It’s worth it,” Bhinder says. And having a family willing and able to pitch in has made the experience just that much better, as all can share in the business’s success. “It’s just stayed in the family,” he says. “You can trust your family.”

The restaurant itself has evolved and changed in the year-and-a-half it has been open. At the beginning, the Dhaliwals sold sweets, with baked and other goods made on site for sale. However, that didn’t work out, Bhinder says, so now while Taj does still offer sweets, it’s by special order only. The restaurant also has a portable clay oven and the Dhaliwals are looking at being able to cater and cook on site in the future. As well, they are looking at other markets in the Calgary region with an eye to opening another restaurant or two in communities that don’t have any (or very many) Indian restaurants. “This is just a start,” Bhinder says, adding that they would also like to offer something different from the regular restaurant. “From here, we want to do a banquet hall.” For now, though, the focus is on their Airdrie location and although they make no claim to be great chefs, both Bhinder and Gurtej want to head back to India for more education on their specialized form of cooking, learning everything from the basics right up to the top dishes. (At home, though, the expert in the kitchen is Harjinder, who does most of the family cooking.) Aside from their business dreams, the Dhaliwals would like to find an acreage near to Calgary, someplace large enough for the extended family and that can provide space for business storage. There may even be enough

room for a good-sized garden, although Alberta’s climate is not all that amenable to such staples as okra. Despite missing certain things about their native country, such as being able to grow virtually all of their own food (“We still go back. It’s a lot of fun,” Bhinder says), the Dhaliwals are completely at home on the Prairies. Even though running a restaurant is extremely hard work, Bhinder and Gurtej are excited to be able to share their cuisine with the extended community and are more than happy with the response thus far. In the meantime, the next generation of Dhaliwals is growing up with a real appreciation for the business. Two-year-old Simar, daughter of Bhinder and his wife, Sundeep, is a regular behind the scenes at the restaurant and already knows where everything is – especially the sweets, smiles Bhinder. However, whether or not Simar will eventually go into the family restaurant business is entirely her own decision. “It’s up to her what she wants to do,” says her proud father. life More life online Learn the secret recipe of Taj’s Chicken Tikka Masala and Aloo Gobi at

Front to back: Palak Paneer, Butter Chicken, Pea Pulao

summer summer 2011 2011 || 35

Gard en

life in the moment | recipes

s e t la a P

Easy Lunch or Dinner Special Ingredients:


10 stalks asparagus, trimmed 2 eggs 2 ripe pears 1 bunch romaine 4 oz goat cheese (or fresh parmesan – chunks preferably) 2 chicken breasts

Grill chicken breasts and set aside (this can be done ahead of time). Wash and tear one head of romaine lettuce and divide among two plates. Slice one pear per plate and fan out over lettuce. Slice cheese and divide among plates. Slice chicken breast and arrange on each plate.


Lightly toss asparagus in olive oil and pepper and grill for five minutes (it should be crisp). Poach eggs until they reach your preferred state.

1/2 cup oil juice of one lemon 1 tbsp grainy mustard 1/8 cup balsamic vinegar pepper Mix dressing ingredients together with a whisk. Set aside.

36 | summer 2011

Lay the grilled asparagus on the side of the romaine. Top with the poached egg. Drizzle entire salad with dressing. Serves 2

Bean Salad Ingredients:

1 can each yellow string beans, red kidney beans and green string beans, drained 1/2 cup canola oil 1 tsp salt 3/4 cup sugar 1 green pepper, sliced 1 large onion, sliced 1/2 cup vinegar 1/4 tsp pepper Mix together and let stand in refrigerator for three to four hours or overnight.

With the advent of summer comes the pleasure of enjoying fresh-from-the-garden vegetables and fruit, whether we harvest our own, purchase from local farmers markets or simply cruise the produce department of our grocery store. With the plethora of ingredients available in summer, salads are a perfect choice for a meal, as both a side and a main dish. Of course, salads are great any time of year, but why not celebrate the growing season with a journey through salad heaven?

Spinach Salad Quinoa Salad Ingredients:


1 lb fresh spinach 5 slices bacon, diced and cooked 1/3 cup almonds, browned in bacon fat 1 red apple, unpeeled and chopped 3 green onions, sliced

4 cups quinoa 1 cup grated carrots 1/2 cup sliced onions 1/2 cup chopped celery 1/4 cup slivered almonds 1/2 cup sliced mushrooms


1/4 cup olive oil 3 tbsp vinegar 1 tsp sugar 1/2 tsp prepared mustard dash of salt and pepper

Lemon Garlic Dressing:

1/3 cup fresh lemon juice 1/3 cup oil 1 tbsp organic honey 3 cloves garlic, minced pepper to taste Combine dressing ingredients and let stand for 10 minutes. Mix together all salad ingredients and toss with salad dressing. – Recipe courtesy of Simply for Life

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BEEF Available exclusively at Calgary Co-op. summer 2011 | 37

life in the moment | fashion

Gardens aren’t the only thing full of colour – local stores are chock-full of bright, vivid outfits and accessories

Fashion in

Fashion Photo Guide Inset Image:

Large image:

Joseph Ribkoff blue leopard jersey dress – Side Street Fashion & Accessories Silver dripping loops necklace – My BFF Closet White leather belt with silver and crystal detailing – Side Street Fashion & Accessories

Joseph Ribkoff multicolour tunic – Side Street Fashion & Accessories Black leather woven belt with silver buckle – Side Street Fashion & Accessories White bead & Swarovski crystal necklace – Stella & Dot Silver cuff bracelet – stylist’s own

38 | summer 2011

full bloom

Shot on location at Frog Hollow Garden Center

Inset Image:

Large Image:

Joseph Ribkoff apple green ‘60s-inspired tank – Side Street Fashion & Accessories Joseph Ribkoff white stretch skinnys – Side Street Fashion & Accessories White & silver pearl necklace & earrings – Side Street Fashion & Accessories White resin watch – My BFF Closet Pink floral clutch – My BFF Closet Pink leopard shoes – stylist’s own Chanel-inspired scarves – My BFF Closet

Joseph Ribkoff coral stretch mini – Side Street Fashion & Accessories 7 For All Mankind skinny jeans – My BFF Closet Multicolour scarf – Side Street Fashion & Accessories Tri-metal necklaces & bracelets – My BFF Closet Silver leaf earrings – My BFF Closet

summer 2011 | 39

life in the moment | column

Yoga fitlife

with Joan Bell

is for men, too!

Mention yoga and most men run in the other direction! Yoga is typically viewed as an activity for women. Times are changing, though, and more men are recognizing the benefits of yoga. Professional athletes – most notably hockey and football players – are incorporating yoga into their cross-training programs to increase flexibility and stretch their muscles. Men are getting into yoga for several reasons. For some, it is on the advice of a doctor to help them deal with such ailments as back pain, arthritis and muscle stiffness, or even such chronic conditions as fibromyalgia. Others are looking for ways to increase strength, balance or flexibility to improve their overall athletic ability for such activities as running, biking and hiking. Then there are those who adopt yoga at the urging of their spouses, friends or family. Airdrie’s Brad Sadoway relates the following experience: “My wife and kids bought me a two-month unlimited pass to the Airdrie Yoga Studio for Father’s Day. When I opened the gift, I was a little surprised and skeptical, but thought I would give it a try.” No matter what leads men to yoga, they are discovering the benefits of practising the discipline. Unlike many sports, yoga provides a workout that covers every muscle, joint and organ. Yoga works for every size

40 | summer 2011

by increasing flexibility, endurance and muscle strength. Many men are active in sports, but often do not spend enough time stretching their muscles … and then wonder why they are not as flexible as they used to be! Yoga decreases muscle soreness and restores energy levels. In addition to the physical benefits of yoga, there are mental advantages as well. “I find that yoga gives me a perfect opportunity to focus only on myself and block the rest of the world out,” says Sadoway.“I look forward to the yoga class to give me the time to relax and focus.” Another Airdrie yoga participant, Stewart McLeish, says,“Each class I go to reinforces my belief that I am getting stronger. I feel better about myself and more positive that I am improving my health and welfare.” Some men are intimidated by the group atmosphere of yoga and the fact that the majority of participants are women. As Sadoway found, though, it can actually be quite motivating to be in a whole group and he encourages other men to give it a try.“Does it get any better than doing hot yoga with 15 women … especially when your wife gives you permission?” he laughs. When I asked the men what they would tell other men who might be considering yoga, Mark Jurkowski summed it up the best:“A direct Nike ripoff, but just do it.” life


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summer 2011 | 41

life in the moment|events

What’s Going On? Summer in Airdrie Airdrie is host to a variety of events over the summer months, literally from the ground up!

Ongoing: AIRdirondack Art Project – 12 chairs, 12 artists, 12 locations Tour Airdrie to discover these amazing works of art to be auctioned off later in the fall. You will find the chairs at Airdrie Co-op, Brewster’s, City Hall, Genesis Place, Fulton’s Home Building Centre, Airdrie Public Library, both TD Bank locations and the showhomes in Ravenswood. Get more information at Iron Horse Park Iron Horse Park is a re-creation in miniature of the Canadian West’s railway pioneer days. Train rides every Sunday from now until Oct. 9 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more special events, check Airdrie Farmers Market Royal Canadian Legion, Wednesdays 3:30-7 p.m. Airdrie Farmers Market has approximately 40 full-time plus a large variety of drop-in vendors, offering the public a total of 50-70 different merchants each week. Finds include fresh fruit and vegetables, flowers, herbs and spices, salsa, gluten-free products, perogies, buffalo meat, preserves, pickled items, cookies, sausages, antiques, jewelry, handmade soaps, clothing and much more.

42 | summer 2011



Proud to be a partner in your commitment to the Airdrie Community.

I joined SFL because I felt overweight and did not feel comfortable. I wanted to look and feel better. I have a busy lifestyle and find it hard to eat properly and exercise. I was looking for a way to change my life for the long term and make myself happy.

New Residents & New Mothers Susie Spurgeon 403-829-1773 New Businesses Shira Bejoo 403-945-9971


Friends told me about the Simply For Life program. They said it was great and it worked for them. I decided to start the program in April 2008. I set my goal and started on my journey. With easy to follow meal plans and suggested physical activities, I was able to achieve my goal in only 5 1/2 months. I lost 45 pounds and I love it! I would recommend this program to anybody and I already have. - Sharon Boyd

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life in the moment|events

What’s Going On? June 11 5th Annual Empty Bowls Arts Festival Nose Creek Park, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. A celebration of the arts that will include handmade pottery bowls, musical performers and local artists. This event is designed to build community spirit, raise awareness of the need for food banks in our area and raise funds for Food Bank operations. It is also the Food Bank’s way of thanking a great community for all it does to support those in need. Soup and Bowl Saturday will include soup donated by more than 15 local restaurants. Along with soup, attendees will have the opportunity to purchase (with a suggested $20 donation) a handmade pottery bowl. These bowls act as a reminder that many in our community have “empty bowls.” Later, wander through the children’s area, sponsored by Airdrie Rotary Club, which will include a fish pond, face-painting, clowns and other children’s entertainment. There will also be the RE/MAX hot air balloon and a bounce house for the kids. Also visit with local artists, such as potters, painters, cartoonists and more. All events are free of charge! At the silent auction area, bid on bowls made by local VIPs and special art pieces donated by artists from the community. June 25-26 Airdrie Relay for Life East Lake Field (behind Scouts Hall), 7p.m.-7a.m The Canadian Cancer Society Relay For Life is more than just a fundraiser. It is an opportunity to get together with family and friends and celebrate cancer survivors, remember loved ones

44 | summer 2011

lost to cancer and fight back in the hope of finding a cure for this terrible disease. This inspirational overnight event is fun and fulfilling and your participation gives strength to the mission to eradicate cancer. Teams, normally made up of 10 or more people, can register online at June 28-July 2 Airdrie Pro Rodeo Every year, world and Canadian champs are part of the record number of contestant entries at the Airdrie Pro Rodeo. (In 2010, APR had more cowboys and cowgirls than any other Canadian Professional Rodeo Association event.) It’s the seventh-largest professional rodeo by payout in Canada and 2011 marks the 44th year of rodeo in Airdrie. Four action-packed days include bull riding, bareback, saddle bronc, team roping, tie-down roping, ladies barrel racing, steer wrestling, boys steer riding and junior rodeo events, plus children’s activities, beer gardens and shopping. Get the complete schedule at July 1 Canada Day Parade 10 a.m. Canada Day in Airdrie is a blast! The most popular event is the annual Canada Day parade hosted by the Airdrie Pro Rodeo Association. A rousing parade with floats, bands, horses and lots of family fun. The route winds along Main Street so get your sidewalk seat early to join the celebration. Stick around after for fundraising BBQs at M & M Meat Shops and Airdrie Public Library.

July 16-17 Airdrie Air Show Canada Takes Off, Eh? Gates open at 10 a.m., show at 1 p.m. PLAN TO ARRIVE EARLY! The second annual Airdrie Air Show features the Canadian Forces Snowbirds and the Viper West Demo Team, as well as Paul Brandt singing the national anthem (Saturday only)! Lots of on-ground activities include aviation displays, children’s activities, a marketplace and live entertainment. Parking is $5 per car. General admission tickets, grandstand (new) or VIP tickets available; visit Aug. 6 Batting Against Breast Cancer™ 2011 Chinook Winds Ballpark Step up to the plate and join together to create a future without breast cancer. With both recreational and competitive games, the third annual Batting Against Breast Cancer™ Slo-Pitch Tournament will be a full day of action and fun. Live music, beer gardens, kidszone, marshmallow golf and much more. Sign your team up today with Willow Ridley at

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One bright future for arts & culture in Airdrie Discover the chairs around Airdrie this summer at: Airdrie Co-op, Fulton’s Home Hardware, Brewsters, City Hall, Airdrie Public Library, both TD Bank locations, Genesis Place, and the showhomes of Ravenswood. Watch for details on the 2nd Annual AIRdirondack Auction & Gala this fall.

Learn more and meet the artists at co-sponsors:

summer 2011 | 45

life in the moment|events

What do you think about a community where residents, organizations, businesses, professionals, cultural and sports groups, volunteers and social clubs all work together in support of one another? Learn more at

What if there really is such a thing as too much golf when you retire? As an RBC® mobile financial planner, I can come to your home to help you answer this and other unexpected questions about your retirement. Using our unique discovery and planning process, we can work together to develop the retirement plan that’s right for you. Call me to make an appointment. Carman Thiessen, CFP Investment and Retirement Planner Royal Mutual Funds Inc. Airdrie, AB T4B 0R3 Cel: 403-462-7727

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Registered trademarks of Royal Bank of Canada.

46 | summer 2011

Trademark of Royal Bank of Canada. © Royal Bank of Canada 2010.

Aug. 6 The Airdrie Summer Classic Car Show Nose Creek Park 11 a.m.-4 p.m. ‘Doin’ it on the grass’ Join the Time Travellers and check out more than 400 collector cars on display. The park will also feature food vendors, children’s activities, a few silent auction items and a raffle for a 42-inch HD TV. Admission is free but visitors are encouraged to bring a food bank donation. (Rain-out date Aug. 20.) Aug. 19 Airdrie Chamber Golf Classic Woodside Golf Course Time to take the business to the tee box. Airdrie-area businesses host their annual golf tournament. To register go to

Coming in September Sept. 10 Airdrie Fest A community street festival that will showcase many community groups and small businesses in a fun environment. Visit

Sept. 17-Oct. 2 ARTember Watch for Creative Airdrie’s biggest celebration yet, with three weeks of events and activities celebrating Airdrie’s diverse cultural heritage and the talented artists and performers in the area. Get involved now at

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945-1877 403 191 edwards way airdrie ab

945-0988 101 191 edwards way airdrie ab summer 2011 | 47











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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.

© April 2010, City of Airdrie

48 | summer 2011


To Calgary & International Airport


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Visitor Visitor Information ? Information Services/Shopping Services/Shopping

Shopping Grocery Grocery Shopping


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( ! ( ! Curling Curling Club 3 Club ( ! East East Park Lake Park 4 Lake ( ! 5 Fletcher Fletcher Park Park ( ! Genesis 6 Genesis Place Place ( ! Monklands 7 Monklands Soccer Park Soccer Park ( ! Nose 8 Creek NosePark Creek Park ( ! Plainsmen 9 Plainsmen Arena Arena ( ! Skateboard 10 Skateboard Park Park ( ! Splash 11 Park Splash Park ! ( Spray 12 Park Spray Park ! ( Ron 13Ebbesen Ron Ebbesen Arena Arena ! ( Woodside Golf Course Golf Course 14 Woodside ( ! BMX 1 Track BMX Track

Chinook 2 Chinook Winds Park Winds Park

Airdrie’s Korean Totem Poles are 1 of 36 community icons across Alberta.


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Banff Banff

30 km

m m 145 k 145 k

270 km

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Edmonton Edmonton QEII

Alberta Alberta

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US Border US Border (340 km) (340 km)



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CalgaryCalgary International International 1 Airport Airport CalgaryCalgary Downtown Downtown

Explore the world in your backyard!

Visit Alberta’s Icons & Win Great Prizes!

Download your passport from Visit the Korean Totem Poles in Nose Creek Park and get your passport stamped at Nose Creek Valley Museum or the Airdrie Public Library. summer 2011 | 49

A splash of excitement...

We’ve created a big splash with Phase 4 of Bayside in Airdrie. Classic maritime themed architecture and the area’s natural beauty presents a laid-back community beaming with small town charm. 6 kilometers of canals and a 5 acre lake form an oasis for all ages in all seasons. So what are you waiting for?

...dive in Home, Lot and GST starting at

$299,900 Show Home: 2433 Bayside Circle SW, Airdrie Ph: 403.980.3105 Anni Jansson

Hours: Mon - Thurs: 2:00 pm - 8:00 pm Fri: By appointment only Sat, Sun & Holidays: Noon - 5:00 pm

50 | summer 2011

community life in the 53 Free-wheeling 58 Strength of spirit 62 Sleight of hand summer 2011 | 51

life in the community | column


with Linda bruce

Taking it to the Man


riting my first contribution to airdrielife was relatively easy since it was on a subject with which I am familiar … women. This edition features the other half of the equation, men, so I wondered how hard this task could be. I found out that it is REALLY HARD! I thought I should seek some guidance, so I asked my gal pals for some pearls of wisdom. I didn’t get much that was printable. (Gems like “You can’t live with them, you can’t shoot them” weren’t really what I was looking for.) Perhaps the best source of inspiration would be from the horse’s mouth. I know a few guys and surely they could get me started. The most important man in my life (my husband) shook his head, started on a tirade and finished with Women are from Venus and Men are from Earth while acknowledging that one can still be manly while cooking and cleaning toilets (not at the same time). This wasn’t quite what I was looking for. Most mornings at 5:30 a.m. I arrive at the gym and there happen to be GUYS hanging out there. One of my exercise buddies, Mike, offered that it is tough being a man in a woman’s world, especially while doing toilets (definitely a toilet theme going on here). Chad concurred with a far-off look, as if remembering a time long gone. Oh, brother, I was not getting the inspiration I needed. Then it came in an odd way … from my eldest son. Hanging around the kitchen island we got on the subject of feminism. I was explaining to him once again that Gloria Steinem defined feminism as equality for humanity – for all. But he would not accept this. As this has been a repeated argument between us, and my son was being a surefooted debater, we were in a circular discussion. Except I found myself listening to this young man tell me that the definition of feminism that I had so proudly embraced since Grade 7 (a very long time ago) excluded him and all men. The name itself is exclusionary. If women truly want to include all people in their vision of equality, how can we use such an exclusive title? My son woke me up at that moment. Society speaks about gender bias in language and that language must constantly change to reflect societal norms. We see “chairman of the board” shortened to “chair.” Recently Calgary changed from “alderman” to “councillor.” So, as women, have we become guilty of the very behaviour of which we have often accused men – exclusivity? Feminism was/is important to highlight women’s issues and we know there is still work to be done. Is it time that we change our language to reflect our large societal concerns of equal rights for all? I love my husband and three sons and have a deep affection for many of the men who have come into my life. The future I want to build is one side by side with the wonderful (if slightly odd) other half of society. After all, who wants to go back to cleaning toilets? life

52 | summer 2011

life in the community | pathways

Easy Rider

Get to know your community up close

Turn the pageto

for a guide cling Airdrie’s cy paths

Whether you only take your bicycle out of storage in July, ride it for a month and then put it away again, or it’s your means of transportation year round, proper maintenance is essential – and relatively simple.

• Every month, check that all the screws and nuts on your bicycle are properly tightened. This only takes a few minutes, but you’ll need a good screwdriver and wrench set. • Check to ensure that the gears are shifting properly and if your chain looks at all dry or rusty, lubricate it. If it needs replacing, do so. Lubricate your chain on a regular basis. • Regularly check the amount of air in your tires. Too much or too little pressure will adversely affect your ability to ride, as well as the smooth running of the bicycle. If you keep having to add air, you may have a hole and need to replace your tire. • Hand brakes need to be checked periodically as well. If you are applying the brakes to their fullest (i.e. pulling the brake levers all the way in) and the bicycle can still move forward, the brakes need adjusting. • Is your seat at the right height and angle? Check at the beginning of riding season, adjust if necessary, tighten the post clamp so the seat doesn’t move and away you go! summer 2011 | 53



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North, south, east and west, Airdrie has more than 75 kilometres of bike and pedestrian paths. A great way to tour the city is on two wheels, taking time to stop and smell the roses along the way. Photographer Aaron Holmes did just that and got a whole new perspective on his community.



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Rural (East)

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City Boundary

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High School Heroes

life in the community | high school sports

56 | summer 2011

Tim Wallace

Bert Church sports stars prepare for a future after the bell story by Alexa Kanters photos by Olivia Condon

Whether it’s on the court, pitch, field or ice, Bert Church High School (BCHS) students Mitchell Quong, Spencer Hamilton and Tim Wallace lead the local sports scene with their determination to show excellence. The passion and diversity these athletes demonstrate truly embodies the ‘Charger Spirit.’ A member of the Bert Church senior basketball team, Hamilton credits his coach, Mike Sera, with instilling the desire to embody the school’s motto: Quaerite Excellentiam – Strive for Excellence. “Before a game, Coach Sera would always say, ‘You are not playing for your Mitchell Quong (left) and Spencer Hamilton

friends. You’re playing for yourself, for each other and for the school. Look at the crest on the front of your jersey. It says“Chargers.” It’s an honour to play for this school!’” Hamilton says. Similarly, Quong, a Grade 11 student who participates in a diverse range of sports – basketball, volleyball, track and field, crosscountry running and badminton – and Wallace, senior member of the badminton, soccer and football teams, point to the supportive environment in which they learn and compete. “What makes me love sports, particularly at Bert Church, is the positive and supportive environment,” Quong says. “I love our Bert Church fans; they’re the ones who bring all

the excitement to the games. The support they bring our teams really impacts our performance in a positive way.” Within the BCHS athletics department, the three young men have attained several awards for their excellence in sports performance. Quong – who received the MVP Award for junior basketball, the MVP and All-Star Awards for track and field, and the Bert Church Junior Athlete of the Year Award in 2010 – acknowledges local support as a large contributing factor to the success of the teams. “Our school gets a lot of support from local companies and businesses,” he says. “Of course, our parents who volunteer so much of their time really help us out, as well. There isn’t a chance in the world that I’d be as successful as I have been if I didn’t have my parents’ support the whole time.” Hamilton, who won the Most Improved Player Award in 2008, the MVP and AllStar Awards in 2009, and Bert Church Rookie of the Year Award in 2010, agrees that parents play a critical role in the success of student athletes. “My mother has inspired me ever since I was little. She started me off with hockey at the young age of four, and I started playing basketball competitively in Grade 9 at Bert Church,” he says. “My mom helped me excel in these sports and her support helped me win quite a few awards.” It is no surprise that the success of these three young men has attracted the attention of several universities and all three have plans to pursue athletics in post-secondary education. “I’ve been offered a football and fullride scholarship at Vancouver Island University and Kamloops College,” says an excited Wallace. For Hamilton, who plans to go to college or university and specialize in sheet metal, heating and insulation, his educational and athletic future also looks bright. “I [have] athletics scholarships lined up for Medicine Hat College,” he says, “and Mount Royal University [is] also looking at scouting me for basketball.”

And Quong is equally optimistic. “I’d really like to go into a career in sports after high school. If I had the opportunity to take an athletics scholarship, I definitely would. Now I just need to pick one sport to focus on,” he laughs. Outside the athletics department, these young men also excel in other areas. Wallace has made multiple appearances in BCHS drama productions, participating in the 2009 show of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, and landing the lead role of Matthew Cuthbert in the 2011 musical presentation Anne of Green Gables. Likewise, Hamilton exercises his leadership skills by actively participating on the BCHS 2011 graduation committee. Working in other areas of the school has allowed him to utilize teamwork and co-operation, skills he has developed through his participation in sports. “Excellence means to thrive above average in sports, education and a lot of other things. It involves going above and beyond in more than just one area,” he says. “I have heard that I show [excellence] through leadership from my teachers, but I’ve also heard that I show it on the basketball court from my friends.” The three students agree that this season has been exceptional. “Last year, we focused on two mottos to motivate us,” Hamilton says. “For football, it was ‘No excuses!’ It led us to work harder as a group because we couldn’t complain. We just had to work through it. Having that motivation led us to a divisional championship. “For basketball, the motto that we all used was ‘Players win games, but teams win championships.’ This motto led us to an amazing season. In every tournament, we either won first [or] second place. We won the divisional championship and the zones championship.” Bert Church is very proud of its outstanding young athletes and the excellence that Wallace, Spencer and Quong demonstrate within the school is an inspiration for all Charger fans and the community as a whole. “To be a Charger means to be part of a family. It’s not just a team to me anymore,” says Hamilton. life summer 2011 | 57

life in the community | youth

The Mind & Spirit of

John Pirzek J

story by Anne Beaty photo by Kristy Reimer

ohn Pirzek is known around town as the unofficial CEO of Airdrie Festival of Lights. That may seem a bit unusual, considering it’s a volunteer organization … and Pirzek is only 14 years old. But the teenager brings with him unique qualifications when it comes to organizing the yearly Christmas lights display. His ability to remember what everything is and where it goes, what needs fixing and how, where everything is stored – pretty much anything and everything needed to ensure the annual event is a success – has proved invaluable to the organizing committee and the other volunteers. During the Christmas season, Pirzek helps with setting up and maintaining the displays – last year, he even headed up his own volunteer crew. The rest of the year is devoted to equipment maintenance, such as changing bulbs and welding, and cutting grass at the Nose Creek Park parking lot. “He’s most loved at Airdrie Festival of Lights,” says his proud mother, Michelle, who, along with husband Rob and daughter Jennifer, also volunteers with the organization. “He’s certainly gained the respect of everyone who’s there.” This story could stop there – another example of the fine teenagers to be found in the community. But John Pirzek’s story is a bit different. While he may at first come across as the average, albeit rather quiet, teenager, John has Asperger’s syndrome, an autism spectrum disorder that can cause difficulties in social interaction and communication. From his early years to today, John, who also has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, has faced numerous chal-

58 | summer 2011

An Airdrie youth takes charge of his life lenges, especially when it has come to schoolwork. It really wasn’t until this year when the Asperger’s diagnosis was made that he and his family began to get a better understanding of his life’s journey. The diagnosis has made a world of difference, with the Pirzeks now knowing what they’re dealing with and how to discover the best ways for John to gain and retain knowledge. “It’s been a learning process from day one,” Michelle says, adding that Jennifer, now 18, was a completely different type of learner and had no problems with school. Having dealt with teasing, bullying and other issues in previous schools and school systems – “They called my son stupid,” Michelle says – the Pirzeks are now seeing a light at the end of the tunnel. The first glimmer came when John began attending Airdrie Middle School, where he received “phenomenal support,” Michelle says, and earned his way onto the honour roll. Now in high school – he’s just finishing off Grade 9 at George McDougall – John continues to discover the best ways for him to learn and he and his family are taking advantage of the resources the school system provides. Math comes easily, but he still struggles with reading; however, when he has something read to him, he instantly grasps it. (For several summers, Michelle read the Harry Potter books out loud to John. When they first began when he was much younger, he would spend the time running around and distracted. Yet when she asked him about what she had just read, he could almost recite it chapter and verse. This year, when his English class took Homer’s The Odyssey, Michelle read it to John and he got top marks on his assignments.) According to the Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, children with Asperger’s syndrome often demonstrate an “obsessive interest in a single object or topic to the exclusion of any other.” For John, this characteristic has been honed and been put to good use with

his volunteer work, as well as his other interests. His knowledge and memory skills mean that the young man learns quickly, absorbing new information like a sponge, and is willing to devote whatever time it takes to master a particular subject. “I have patience,” he says. As a young child, he loved to take things apart in order to see how they actually worked, then put them back together (properly) or find new uses for anything that was broken. His favourite TV show has been MythBusters, whose hosts seem to share his enthusiasm for understanding how things work – or don’t, as the case may be. Now, John is into larger construction projects. He and his father built a deck last year and have lately been working on a basement renovation for a friend. Despite his young age, the adults around have no problem with John working without supervision.“I trust him with whatever tools he’s got,” Rob says. (Michelle has a slightly different take on the whole construction thing: “I can’t watch when he uses the power tools … but that’s the mom in me,” she laughs.) For Rob, working with his son provides a special chance to bond, as they brainstorm and problem-solve. “No matter how frustrated I get, he’s always there to make it better,” Rob says. John’s volunteer work with the festival has also proved to be a gift – for himself and everyone with whom he has volunteered. For the teen, the camaraderie is something he can’t get anywhere else. “I do it all for, like, the fun,” John says. “The feel of it I like.” And for the Pirzeks – who began volunteering with the festival as soon as they moved to Airdrie eight years ago – the experience is something they all cherish. “We [love] it,” Michelle says, “because it’s something we can do as a family.” Despite the rough road he has traveled and the challenges he still faces, John is looking

forward to the future. Ultimately, he wants to go the route of the registered apprenticeship program, although he is adamant that he earn his high school diploma. He plans to go into the construction industry, but wants to leave all options open. “If the market crashes, I’m out of a job, what else do I do?” he says. Outside of school, John’s circle of friends may not be large, but his friends value his uniqueness and accept him for who he is. Many of them are adult, such as the Festival of Lights volunteers. “That’s been huge in his life, having those relationships,” Michelle says. He does well with younger children, teaching them the social aspects of life, as well as mentoring his peers, especially those having difficulty with such classes as math and shop. The young man is also a treasure around his neighbourhood, providing ‘snow angel’ services (he saved up his money to buy a snow blower) and even building a shed for a neighbour. “He’s always willing to help,” Michelle says. “He’s the most earnest, hard-working kid I know – giving, giving, giving.” The future is, as always, an unknown, but for the Pirzeks, things certainly are looking up now that they know what they face in terms of John’s challenges. After their years of uncertainty, Michelle has a message for other parents in similar situations. “Parents should never give up. Trust your instincts and follow through,” she says.“You have to advocate for your kids. They can’t always do it for themselves.” And John, whose path is becoming a little clearer, has a message for young people who may be struggling, as he has. “Find something you like to do and keep working at it,” he says. That message applies to everyone else, too. “You could be sitting behind a desk making millions and not like doing it,” John says. “Do what you like to do.” life summer 2011 | 59

life in the community | passions

Tim Thorsteinson shows off his real, honest-to-goodness truck, a 1967 Ford F100

Time Machines story and photos by Carl Patzel

Classic car enthusiasts rule the road

60 | summer 2011

Car collectors and restorers are turning back the clock to a simpler time when classic style and solid steel ruled Main Street. Tim Thorsteinson is one auto enthusiast taking a temporal journey while cruising the streets of Airdrie in his time machine, or in this case a 1967 Ford F100. “The new trucks are too much like cars. This is a truck,” says Thorsteinson, who spent four years restoring the classic. “It still doesn’t stop on a dime like the new ones and the steering isn’t super sharp and responsive. It feels old. That’s what I really like about it.” Like many auto optimists, Thorsteinson has an intimate connection with the small half-ton, which is similar to the very first vehicle he owned. Just beginning a new family at the time, the truck fanatic opted to sell those first wheels, going against the advice of new wife Sigrid. “She said, ‘Don’t sell it, you’ll regret it.’ I sold it, then I regretted it,” he says. Moving to Alberta several years later, Sigrid never forgot the sacrifice and found a replacement for the 1967 Ford. Although originally the truck was complete and more-or-less drivable, Thorsteinson has spent the past four years searching for replacement parts for the ’67 classic, a sometimes daunting task for that make and model. “It was supposed to be a nice fixer-upper, then ended up being a total restoration, from the wheels to the top,” he says.“It was a little bit of a learning process on what works and what doesn’t work.”

Attracted to the body styling, unique grille and smaller frame, the truck owner admitted the project got a little excessive, with the initial plan being just a bit of body, motor and transmission work. He says restoring a 42-year-old automobile is neverending. There’s always something to fix or improve each summer season, but that’s the way Thorsteinson likes it. “A lot of people said you should really redo the bed, the floor is all wavy from 42 years of work. But no,” he says, “it’s a truck. It’s got to look like a truck and it has to drive like a truck.” A fellow antique auto aficionado, Fred Urquhart, can relate to the psychedelic ’60s through his 1968 Mustang coupe. Past president of the Time Travellers Car Club, Urquhart has been driving and showing his machine for more than 10 years. “The Mustang came up for sale and I had it shipped from Winnipeg to here, and it’s been my pride and joy,” says Urquhart of the pony car that was originally restored by his stepdaughter. With a deep-seated fondness for Mustangs, the Ford fanatic couldn’t shake the longing for another muscle car after owning a very fast, quarter-mile-racing Mach 1 in his younger days. “I got rid of it many years ago because I’d either be dead or in jail. I just couldn’t keep it, but I’ve always loved muscle cars,” he says. Now cruising the streets at a more leisurely pace, the 1968 teal-green machine is close to being fully restored and still sports a brilliant paint job.

“That was painted about 17 years ago in a car wash. We still have a Manitoba mosquito painted into the roof of it,” Urquhart laughs. While acknowledging the two-door still needs a little work, the car buff has changed some electronics and higher-grade wiring on the Mustang. The ease of working on older cars is appealing to Urquhart – that and the feeling of being transported back to his youth. “It’s the old style,” he says.“What I think has been lost right now is everything is electronics. You have to have a university degree and $8,000 worth of equipment to do anything to a car. “The old Mustang, the pony car, is plugs and points, spark plugs and condenser,” he adds. “[ Just] change it and you don’t have to take it to a garage.” These two beauties and more than 400 cars, trucks and motorcycles can be seen at the Airdrie Summer Classic Show & Shine for Charity running Aug. 6 at Nose Creek Park. The Time Travellers Car Club, which raised more than $12,000 for charity last year, asks for only a food bank donation for admission. life

Fred Urquhart loves cruising in his beloved muscle car, a 1968 Mustang

summer 2011 | 61

life in the community | illusions


sually, when mild-mannered circulation desk librarian by day Ryan Stolearcius leaves his job at Airdrie Public Library where he has worked for the past two years, he goes home to his wife. But sometimes he enters a world of wonder and magic and becomes Ryan Jade, magician extraordinaire. Although introduced to magic by his uncle, who tweaked his interest by showing him his first card trick, Jade wasn’t really bitten by the magic bug until a trip to Las Vegas with his family. A performance by Lance Burton with silks, cards and doves astonished and amazed him. From then on, that’s what Jade wanted to do and he couldn’t wait to get started. On that same trip, he stumbled across a magic shop. “I went in there and got a magic trick – it was a vanishing handkerchief and a book on how to do this kind of magic,” he says. The man at the shop taught him how to do the trick, he practised faithfully and shortly after, when the family went out for dinner, he went from table to table performing his trick for other diners. He was 13 and a showman was born. “Even though it can be very hard work, it’s a pleasurable thing to do,” says Jade, for whom magic gives balance.“As with any art, people don’t do it if they don’t enjoy it.” At the time Jade discovered his new passion, he was taking Grade 8 by correspondence. It allowed plenty of time to focus on magic when his studies were done. He started his own business, had business cards made up and began entertaining at birthday parties. The business grew by word of mouth. “My first show was for my mother’s co-worker. I borrowed a rabbit,” he says. He has been performing magic steadily since then, while attending university and later, in Japan where he taught English for five years. That first magic trick was followed by a magic set which included some cups and balls and a thick book full of various kinds of magic. Serendipitously, Donovan Atreides, Jade’s friend and mentor, whom he met in Vancouver, eventually introduced him to Gary Darwin, author of that first magic book. Jade spent a summer in Las Vegas under Darwin’s tu-

62 | summer 2011

telage going behind the scenes to various magic shows and learning the ropes. Jade studied drama at university and has a bachelor of fine arts degree in theatre, which ties directly to his interest in magic and performing. His education in the world of magic has come about through reading books which, he says, allow a magician to interpret the magic in his own way. Sharing expertise with other magicians is also very important. “That’s how magic survives,” says Jade. “We prepare it so others can see this entertainment … they know we’ve prepared this and thought through how we can trick people for fun and that’s what it’s all about.” He has attended conventions organized by the Society of American Magicians and the International Brotherhood of Magicians and has competed and won first place for his closeup magic (sleight of hand) with a cards-and-coins routine. Busking on the streets of Vancouver for four summers during university was a great way to train and test material, he says, and was also a great learning experience. “I’m not so much of a busker anymore,” Jade says.“I prefer the excitement of the event now where people come to see the magic.” Jade has performed at various Fringe Festivals including several appearances at the Edmonton Fringe Festival. His audiences include people aged three to 99. He does children’s parties, public events, fundraisers and company parties. The Airdrie man says he can’t pick a favourite type of audience, because they are all different.“I like to watch and see how the children are so fascinated with the magic,” he says.“At the same time, I enjoy seeing adults get stumped with the magic, too.” Children are often harder to fool because they have fewer preconceptions, Jade says as he pulls out a deck of cards and changes one card into another. “Adults try to analyze how you did that. They get all messed up,” he says. When asked if making a rabbit disappear is the same concept as making a tiger disappear, Jade laughs and says that he can’t divulge any of those secrets. “It’s not the same concept,” he says, “but it’s the same result. The result is that magic happens.” life


“Magic is both an art and a craft. It’s not only crafting your dialogue and your material, it’s an art form like theatre … a chance to express myself and help people express themselves. It helps people connect with each other and that’s a nice thing to do.” - Ryan Jade


story by Ellen Kelly photos by Kurtis Kristianson

summer 2011 | 63

life in the community | rural roots Chuckwagon racing star Jim Nevada can’t leave the track behind story by Alex Frazer-Harrison | photoS by Kurtis Kristianson

Wagons Ho!

64 | summer 2011

Former world-class chuckwagon driver Jim Nevada is now at home in his Airdrie office


hether racing at the Calgary Stampede or showing off his riding skills for the Sultan of Oman, Jim Nevada has seen it all. And now the Airdrie-bred chuckwagon racing star is also making his name in the field of western apparel. “I started working for Ronnie David back in the 1970s – I started outriding in 1979,” says Nevada. “I always had to use my outriding to subsidize my driving. I used to ride every heat except for the one I drove – that was the only way I could afford to do it; it wasn’t a cheap sport.” Nevada’s love of riding dates back to when he was a teenager at his grandparents’ farm.“When I was 13, I was working for a neighbour, and you can’t have a car [at that age], so I got a horse,” he recalls. “Ronnie would see me riding down the road, and it’d be 40 below and he asked … if this kid might be interested in working for him in the summer. I started as a barn boy and after I turned 15 I started outriding for him. “Now I’m 47, and I still get on horses,” Nevada adds. Since his rookie year as a full driver in 1984, Nevada has collected several honours in both the Canadian Professional Chuckwagon Association (CPCA) and the World Professional Chuckwagon Association (WPCA). The WPCA named him Top Rookie Driver in 1986 and Chuckwagon Person of the Year in 1999, and the Calgary Stampede awarded him the Guy Weadick Award in 1999. “It gets in your blood,” Nevada says.“I just like working with the horses, and the people [on the circuit] are like your second family.” In 2006, Nevada retired from competition. By this time, he had become involved with Roper Apparel & Footwear, a Denver-based company that distributes shirts, hats, boots and other western wear to such stores as Lammles and Cowboy Country, and promotional creations for companies. “As a chuckwagon driver, you work all winter so you can play all summer,” Nevada says. “I was asked to do some marketing stuff for the chuckwagons, and they’d opened up a souvenir booth. I found every chuckwagon sponsor needed shirts and logos, so when Roper sponsored us, they had a warehouse in Calgary and I started selling. They said, ‘Do you want to work for us?’ Seeing as I was selling thousands of shirts with no territory, I went to work for them.”

Within two years, Nevada was the Alberta sales representative for Roper, and now his territory covers all of Canada, based out of a warehouse in Airdrie. But the chuckdriving bug wouldn’t go away, so several years ago Nevada re-entered competition, with hopes of a CPCA top-10 finish this year. An unusual invitation in 2008 coincided with his return to the track. “I took five wagons to Oman in the Middle East and put a show together for the Sultan of Oman,” says Nevada. “They’ve been over and seen the Stampede and said, this is cool. Everyone with money there tries to outdo their neighbours … they wanted to have a kind of Wild West show. “I was the only driver ever to drive a racing chuck outside North America,” he adds.“It’s so uniquely Albertan.” For now, Nevada has his eyes on further expanding the apparel business. Capitalizing on his race team’s nickname, the “Coconut Crew,” he’s looking at launching a line of tropical-themed western wear called Coconut Wear. He’s also happy to lend his experience and support to local ag-related endeavours. He currently hosts office space for the Airdrie & District Agricultural Society, and says he’s always willing to lend advice as plans continue for a new ag/rodeo complex. “My business is growing so quick, I want to contribute more, but I don’t have the time!” Nevada says. life

This medal is a memento of Nevada’s time in the Middle East, where he put on a chuckwagon show for the Sultan of Oman summer 2011 | 65

life in the community | column


with Ellen Kelly

Fishy Subjects N

ever underestimate your goldfish. I learned this a few years ago after rescuing our koi from the garage floor, but let’s start at the beginning. We built an outdoor pond a few years ago and purchased five koi to inhabit it. (We should have stuck with actual goldfish – no one told us how long koi live, how fast they grow or that they eat every bit of vegetation, preferring tender water lily shoots to common duckweed.) They thrived and grew and we put them in a stock water trough in the garage for the winter. The next summer, they grew larger and bolder and again spent the winter in the garage. By the third summer, the original five were each roughly 14 inches long. I spent time staring into the water, watching them among the rocks, nudging pebbles with their snouts and eating. Often, any one of them would come close to the surface and stare at me. When we cleaned the pond, they nudged the net or the hose, curious and no longer afraid. That fall, we placed them in their winter home, expecting them to settle quickly. The water outside was very cold and the fish were easy to catch, almost dormant. They seemed ready to settle in for their winter sleep. We went out for dinner. But, who knew – koi can jump, and jump two of them did. Out onto the garage floor, where we found them when we returned. Both were

66 | summer 2011

stiff – the expression is “dead as a mackerel” – and stuck to the garage floor. I’m not sure why, but we pried them off the floor and immersed them in the tank, zooming them forward like free-floating push cars, moving water through their gills. Amazingly, their gills began to move and they would swim a bit before dropping to the bottom. We’d pick them up again, move them forward and let them go. After several tries, they became stronger, moving slowly on their own. And that’s when the amazing thing happened. The other three koi took over. Water bubbling into the tank from the side-mounted filter created a small waterfall of fresh aerated water. Two koi would flank one of the rescued fish, swim beside it and with their bodies guide it, face first, into the bubbling stream, then swim away allowing the injured koi to sink. They would then swim beside the other struggling fish and do the same. They repeated this over and over and over. Fascinated, we watched the three strong fish take turns guiding the two injured fish around the tank and into the running water. By the time we turned off the light more than an hour later, the two injured fish were swimming steadily upright, on their own. All five survived the winter and went outside the next spring. That summer I watched them again with wonder and new respect. Who would have thought … after all, they’re just fish. life

home life at 70 Indoors out 74 BFF renos 78 Quintessentially male

life at home | showhomes The Excel Weston is a well-designed 1,756-square foot two-storey home with a gourmet island kitchen and expansive front foyer.

Top of the Hill The Excel Clarington is an elegant two-storey with three bedrooms, two-and-a-half baths and bonus room. Featuring a convenient main floor laundry, spacious master bedroom and gourmet island kitchen. Worth checking out the basement – it’s finished with another 1,000 square feet of home theatre, rec room and man cave!

68 | summer 2011

Airdrie’s newest neighbourhood is Hillcrest, perched on the highest point in Airdrie with views of the prairies and mountains. Featuring four fabulous showhomes by Excel and Shane all with front-attached garages, Hillcrest is located in the city’s southwest quadrant off Eighth Street.

Shane Home’s Fiesta II, one of Shane’s most popular models with fantastic options and upgrades, is a spacious 1,890 square feet including nine-foot ceilings on the main floor and railing on the stairwell that helps create an open feeling.

Shane’s Tofino is a stunning two-storey with three bedrooms and two-and-a-half baths stretching out in 2,426 square feet. Everything from the open foyer to the private main floor office and upstairs IT centre for the kids, plus a loft-style family room, creates a perfect family home.

summer 2011 | 69

life at home | column


with Tina McMillan

Inside Out I

t’s here – that time of year when you can double the size of your house! Now you can have an extra kitchen, dining room and living room (sometimes bedroom?) outside in your backyard. Summer is the one season when we can turn our living spaces “inside out.” As Albertans, we are nothing if not resourceful when it comes to finding ways to create the perfect outdoor oasis on our patio, porch or deck, even if it is for a limited time. I hate to say it, but you need to plan, plan again and then plan some more if you want to maximize the quality of time spent outside. But this is the fun part! You can use your imagination and conjure up visions of your perfect getaway on any budget. First, you need to decide how you would like to use your space: play areas for children and/or pets; gardening; entertaining; cooking; and relaxing. What is the exposure (north, south, east, west)? This is very important to know because it will tell you the best time of day for every activity. Lighting is another factor to consider. Installing the proper outlets/power sources is necessary in order for you to stay outside longer. This is achieved with the use of lanterns, torches, candles, solar-powered units and sconces to add ambience. The goal is to make the outdoors an appealing and functional extension of your interior space. The least expensive way to add colour and interest is by adding decorative pots or planters. Then there is a wide range of table-and-chair sets available in resin, wood, metal and plastic to make the space more inviting. Recycling and reusing household or even found items is extremely popular and economical. You can create an entirely different mood by using such objects as driftwood, barrels, metal chair frames, wooden crates as planters and ceramic bowls on stumps for birdbaths. Lastly, consider the exterior space a reflection of your interior space. I like to create vignettes to demonstrate and define each section of the space. This also breaks up the space into more manageable parts so that it’s not so overwhelming. The important thing to remember is to enjoy the process; sometimes the journey is more exciting than the destination. When in doubt, think “inside out”! life Tina McMillan, CID, (a.k.a. The Decorating Diva) is a local interior designer who has lived in Airdrie for the past six years and looks forward to finally finishing her own landscaping projects!

70 | summer 2011

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McArthur Fine Furniture and Interior Design 141 Gateway Dr. NE Airdrie, AB Ph: 403-960-1030 summer 2011 | 71

life at home | gardens

Blooming E

Ideas story and photo by Anne Beaty

very year, local garden centres seem to have an endless choice when it comes to perennials that do well in our occasionally (all right – usually) harsh climate. Given the huge menu of shapes, sizes, colours and placement options, it’s almost impossible to go to a garden centre and come home with only one or two plants. Some perennials continue to be top preferences, such as bleeding heart, a shade-loving plant that does well in the Airdrie area. When it comes to varieties of bleeding heart, there are a lot of choices in terms of flower colour, foliage and size. “For those dark areas, they’re pretty, because they add some colour,” says Denise Smith of Blue Grass Nursery and Garden Centre. Other ‘usuals’ – from coral bells to cranesbill, stonecrop to salvia – are also high on the local gardener’s list. These can run from creeping groundcover to high-climbing vines, from floral spectaculars to non-flowering foliage, and it can be quite enjoyable trying out different plants to see how they will fit into your overall garden vision. However, if you are truly only looking for a couple of plants to fill your gardening needs, Smith has some favourites of her own to add a splash of colour and interest to both sunny and shady areas of your garden.

Fun in the Sun • A great choice for a tall (24-30 inch) sun-loving perennial is echinacea, commonly called coneflower, with its pink, double pink, white or yellow blossoms. “They flower a little later, because they need to put on their size,” Smith says. • A medium-sized perennial for the sun is Veronica spicata Royal Candles, which grows to eight to 12 in. high and 12 to 18 in. wide. “They will flower all summer and they have beautiful heads of kind of a deep blue,” Smith says, adding that the plants are very hardy. “Once you get them stabilized, you just can’t kill them.” • For ground cover, Smith recommends saponaria, also known as soapwort, which grows to six by 18 in.“They get beautiful pink flowers,” she says.

Filling out your garden is a creative project 72 | summer 2011

Made in the Shade • A tall (up to five feet) shade-loving plant that comes in several varieties is ligularia. “They have huge leaves on them and they either have yellow or orange daisylike flowers or they have a tall … spire-type flower, depending on the variety,” Smith says. “They really look sort of tropical.” • For a medium-sized choice, Smith is a fan of brunnera, which grows approximately 15 in. high by 15 in. wide. “They have little … blue flowers and the foliage actually has silver streaking through [it],” Smith says.“They’re just stunning in the garden.” • Bringing a burst of ground colour to shady areas, gallium odoratum (eight by 24 in.) is also a great way to hide dying-down bulbs. “They get beautiful, slightly scented little white flowers,” Smith says. life

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life at home | specialists

business really moves story by Sarah Deveau | photo by Sergei Belski

74 | summer 2011

‘Sturdy’ best describes Airdrie’s Richard Baptist (left) and Jeff Landels, the ‘boys’ of Fat Boys Renovations


ocal home renovators Richard Baptist and Jeff Landels are known as the ‘fat boys,’ but it’s no slight against their girth. In fact, they could be more accurately described as sturdy rather than fat. However, the moniker is of their own choosing. Baptist and Landels started their residential renovation business, Fat Boys Renovations, two years ago. While the name (prominently displayed on their large black work truck) may catch the attention of prospective clients, it’s their work ethic, skill and maybe even their ‘aw shucks’ demeanour that has propelled them to the top of the pack amongst Airdrie renovation companies.

Although their size might be intimidating (Baptist is six-foot-two; Landels is six-footseven) it’s apparent these boys are gentle giants. They’re quick to laugh and trade quips, and their likability factor is high. I caught up with the boys at Landels’ home in the Canals, where one of their subcontractors was helping himself to lunch from the fridge and a cuddly Rottweiler puppy slobbered over the boys. Had I visited them at Baptist’s home, he says his tiny wiener dog would have been underfoot, making the boys look even bigger in comparison. Best friends since high school, the boys grew up playing hockey and basketball together and sharing a love for hunting and fishing. They each stood up for the other as best man at their weddings, and have been virtually inseparable. So when Landels moved with his wife, Jenifer, and two children, Hannah and Hunter, to Airdrie four years ago, he began trying to talk Baptist into joining him in the familyfriendly city. “When the opportunity arose to start a business, it was an easy decision for us to move to Airdrie, as well, and for the boys to concentrate their efforts close to home,” says Baptist’s wife, Tyler Kaluzniak, who is expecting the couple’s first child in June. At the time, the two men had been working for major home builders and had more than 20 combined years of experience in construction management. Going out on their own and reaping the benefits of being their own boss seemed the natural next step. They now have subcontractors in every trade at their beck and call, depending on the needs of the project at hand and regardless of how unusual the request. “These days we do a lot of man caves,” says Landels. So do the boys have decadent man caves of their own? Or are the cobbler’s children going barefoot? Landels admits he does have a great man cave. “I do have a walk-out basement with a pool table, fireplace and entertainment area for

having the guys over to watch the game,” says Landels, who has decorated his retreat with a few of his prized hunting possessions. In his new home for less than a year, Baptist still hasn’t found the time to finish his basement. “We’re weighing out the options for our basement,” says Kaluznia. “Rich is pushing for a man cave, but the baby will need a place to play!” With summer approaching, the boys are looking forward to more outdoor projects. “During the winter we do a lot of basements and in the summer we work mostly outside building decks, fences and garages,” says Baptist. “Although we don’t claim to be interior designers, we quite often help our clients with selecting finishes, too.” It’s that full-service attitude that has meant the boys see a lot of repeat and referral customers. “Most of our customers come to us from word of mouth,” says Landels. “We treat everyone with respect and offer honest quotes and impeccable workmanship. We live here – so if a customer is not 100 per cent satisfied, they just call us, we come back and make it right.” In just two short years, the two have not only proven themselves savvy business owners, but have stood out in the field of community service, as well. “Being responsible community members is more than just being honest and likable for us,” says Baptist. Fat Boys Renovations recently volunteered time to contribute to the Creative Airdrie Main Street Art Project. Over the course of a weekend Baptist and Landels constructed the walls of a 300-foot-long sign wrapping around the former Old Hotel site on the corner of Main Street and Centre Avenue. “We jumped at the opportunity to help out with this project because we’re strong supporters of the arts and want to do anything we can to bring more arts and culture programs to Airdrie,” says Landels of the recently unveiled public art space. “We’re looking forward to seeing the project unfold and enjoying the art over the next year.” life

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showhome: 403.948.4635 office: 403.948.4111 summer 2011 | 75

life at home | building dreams

Home Handyman How one do-it-yourself guy turned a hobby into a successful business

story by Anne Beaty photo by Kurtis Kristianson

Mike Fulton (front right), wife Colleen (front left) and their second family – their supportive staff summer 2011 2011 76 || summer


t’s a dream come true for Mike Fulton. A handyman from waaaay back, Fulton finally decided to change career paths a few years ago to pursue his passion. “I enjoy doing a lot of my own stuff – electrical, plumbing … construction,” he says.“I think I’ve always got some stuff going on [at home].” So after 20 years in the wholesale and manufacturing industry, traveling from coast to coast in Canada and across 25 states, the local resident decided to come off the road to run his own building supply business. Now, Fulton and wife Colleen (formerly a market analyst in the oil and gas industry) are in their fourth year as owners of Fulton’s Home Building Centre, a Home Hardware franchise. “Together, that’s what makes it work for us. It’s a team effort,” he says. “We enjoy it.”

airdrielife recently caught up with a busy Fulton to learn more. • On the new job: “Retail … I think, is more challenging. We’re learning every day. It’s never boring, never. We find that every day is different.” • Essentials to business success: “What’s very, very important is the [staff ] surrounding us here. We’re a close bunch. Our confidence in our people is tremendous. I can’t reiterate enough how much it is a group effort.” • Core values: “I just don’t like to let anybody down. Be it a weekend handyman or a professional construction [customer], there’s a responsibility that we get everything right for them.” • Fun part of the business: “We try to endeavour to find what the customer needs. We sort of challenge ourselves.” • Customers support: “It’s a good core group of customers. A lot of those relationships become personal relationships over time.” • Best thing about being part of the Home Hardware chain: “You really do have the flexibility to do what you need to do in your marketplace. You really are your own business owner.” • Community involvement: “Being part of the community I think is pretty important.” (Along with raising children Matt and Kate, the Fultons have hosted Japanese exchange students. As well, Fulton’s Home Building Centre has sponsored several events, including Festival of Lights, Airdrie Airshow, Airdrie Pro Rodeo and 55 Plus Games.)

The Fultons’ next move is building a new store in southeast Airdrie, a Home Hardware Building Centre, a hybrid of the current Home Building Centre (which focuses on building construction and carries electrical, plumbing and painting supplies, as well as offering a lumberyard) and a Home Hardware (which is smaller, but carries such items as housewares, sporting goods and automotive and farm supplies).“We’re very excited about that,” Fulton says. And despite the fact that the couple has found that the business has become virtually a 24-7 experience – “It almost becomes your life,” he says – Fulton is making the supreme sacrifice by setting work aside this summer to take a real holiday, when he and a buddy fly to a remote cabin in northern Saskatchewan, where they’ll be fishing for walleye and northern pike, away from cell phones, computers and anyone who needs anything. “We’re on our own,” he says with a smile. life

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summer 2011 | 77

life at home | personal style

For Al Winslow it’s MORE than a garage


story and photos by Carl Patzel

adiating machismo from ceiling to floor, Al Winslow’s treasured backyard retreat cannot just be called a garage. Probably one of the best-kept secrets in Airdrie – at least among the male population – it’s the ultimate among manly sanctuaries, with enough toys to weaken the knees of even the most masculine. Given the moniker the ‘Ghia Barn,’ after his love for the classic German-made Karmann Volkswagen cars he restores, Winslow’s manly refuge houses two 10-seat poker tables, pool and foosball tables, a classic pinball machine and more antiques than can be easily counted. Forget the Bat Cave – with the addition of satellite television and radio even a masked marvel would be jealous of this magnificent man cave.

78 | summer 2011

“It’s been a labour of love out here,” says Winslow, owner and operator of Lone Pine RV. “It’s a fun place to hang out. “It does get pretty busy,” he adds. “I’m always playing and I’m [a bit of ] a party animal.” Taking up a good portion of the large metal barn are two of the restored Karmann Ghias, one a brilliant wine red 1959 rag top and the other a stunning white 1963 coupe. Winslow has spent more than a decade bringing the empty metal shells back to life. “Those have been a 13-year labour of love … and I have two others coming in. It’s an active garage. We will pull these out and start restoring a couple of more,” he says. Winslow acquired a fondness for the Italianinspired Volkswagen, labelled the poor-man’s

Al Winslow’s ‘Ghia Barn’ offers virtually everything a man could want, including pinball, foosball, classic vehicles, poker and a pedal car

Porsche, after purchasing his first from an uncle who owned the car for more than 40 years. The collection grew from there with the need for extra parts. Needing an outlet for his custom-car work became the initiative for developing the coveted man cave. Next came the billiards table, poker tables and other guy-type gaming equipment that originally had a home in the Winslows’ bonus room. Moving these and most of Al’s antique collection to the barn didn’t hurt his 25-year marriage and came with full support from wife Chris. “I’ve been collecting some of these antiques for my whole life. She was happier than hell to get [them] out of the house and make a wholesale change in the bonus room,” Winslow chuckles. A voracious collector and avid visitor to yard and garage sales, Winslow has filled the barn with many curious items with a story behind each one. A quick look around reveals an official Bus Stop Manitoba Motor Transit sign sitting right above an outdated AGT wall-mounted pay phone. Also spotted in the collection are items from eras past, including: antique gas pump and early oil cans; a Pacesetter pedal car; several neon signs promoting beer companies Molson, Heidelberg and Coors Light; an antique keg complete with matching tap; a working street light which can shine green, yellow or red; and Dominion Royal Tires and 10-foot-tall Goodyear Tire signs that would make any American Picker drool. Decorating the ceiling are antique golf clubs, skis, a New England snow sleigh from the 1940s and several bicycles, including a rare John Deere model.

Coca-Cola products of all shapes and sizes are scattered throughout the barn. “That’s really how it all started, by collecting some of the antique Coke stuff, which of course years ago was more available,” Winslow says. Many of the items were gifts, among those a large beer-filled, glass-door Coke cooler. In fact, walking through the front door of the Ghia Barn you could easily mistake the building for a local corner store or small bar. “It’s fun. Even the chip racks are antiques. Rather than simply having empty chip racks I fill them up,” Winslow says.“We spend a lot of time out here, whether it’s working on the cars, or every now and again the odd poker game breaks out.” Winslow hosts a weekly poker game – sorry, guys, it’s invitation only – and has been known to organize charity poker tournaments to help out several of his wife’s charities. With three Crock-Pots, a microwave and a popcorn maker, as well as a large barbecue outside, Winslow has been known to feed many of his card-playing buddies. “Admission’s free,” he laughs. “When we do have a poker game or if the guys are over for a beer, it’s probably the only smoking establishment out there.” From a psychological point of view, Winslow will admit the sanctuary offers familiarity, peace of mind, relaxation and an outlet for his many manly pursuits. “Well I think it’s every guy’s dream to have a man cave,” he says. “For me, to have one location to consolidate absolutely everything over the years and be able to work on the cars – it’s selffulfilment, absolutely.” life summer 2011 | 79

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life at work | highway economics

Location, location, location story by Alex Frazer-Harrison

Why Airdrie makes more sense to relocating businesses


pril’s closure of Barlow Trail in Calgary has led some business people based at the south end of the Calgary International Airport to consider relocating to Airdrie, a fact not lost on Airdrie Economic Development. The road was closed to allow construction of a new runway at the airport. Although a tunnel has been on the books to replace Barlow Trail for years, delays on a final agreement to build it have left some businesses in limbo. The general manager of one business, many of whose employees relied on Barlow to get to work quickly, says that he wouldn’t hesitate to relocate to Airdrie if the opportunity presented itself. “It takes my employees an hour and 20 minutes to get from Harvest Hills to this place – they’re further ahead going to Airdrie,” says Jeff Runciman of Canadian Aero Accessories Ltd. Runciman says that many of his 26 employees chose to live in north Calgary because of their proximity to the airport. “They made a choice and now we’re finding people in the south [part of Calgary] getting to work a lot faster. “We’ve often considered getting off Calgary Airport Authority land,” he says, adding that several small airlines based at the airport have even considered at one point moving to Airdrie Airport. Kent Rupert, Airdrie Economic Development team leader, says

82 | summer 2011

that ease of access to the Calgary airport is yet another selling feature of this city. “Certainly we’re watching what’s going on with Barlow Trail,” Rupert says. “Being 12 minutes to the airport, we do think there will be a drive northward from some of the businesses [and] we’re watching the hotels.” Airdrie does have some competition, Rupert acknowledges: the Calgary Airport Authority has its own land being developed north of the airport, and there’s all the commercial/industrial development happening at Balzac. “Part of our job is to set the business atmosphere – the fact we’re business-friendly, [have] no business tax – and sell the benefits we have,” he says. The results of a recent Business Satisfaction Survey, conducted on behalf of the City by Banister Research & Consulting Inc., don’t hurt. Of the 522 businesses that responded, 89 per cent rated Airdrie positively as a place to do business. Location (86 per cent), access to customers (77 per cent) and business support services (72 per cent) all ranked high, although Airdrie’s quality of life scored the highest with 92 per cent. Of those surveyed, 245 were in the commercial/industrial sector, with the remainder being home-based businesses. life

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403-948-0512 | summer 2011 | 83

life at work | profiles

Jim Hasset story by Alex Frazer-Harrison photo by Sergei Belski


Best job ever: The best job I ever had was as a garbage man. I used to drive a garbage truck from Radium to Banff every day for Parks Canada. I have a little picture of my garbage truck on my desk at home and I always tell people that’s my inspiration.


Involvement in your community: Being the chair of the board of directors for Airdrie Housing … is my way of giving back to Airdrie – and specifically the real estate industry and residential rental market. We recently received a letter from a former client who stated that … because of the assistance he received at the time, he was able to work and get established. He later accumulated enough money for a down payment for a house and is now a homeowner. Most important people in your life: My wife and two boys are the most exceptional part of my life. They are supportive of my career and my dedication to clients. Although I spend countless hours at work, when I am home with my family, it is family time. Views on your chosen profession: I did a ridealong with the RCMP in Radium when I was a kid, and when I went to law school, everyone talked about wanting to save the world by doing criminal or matrimonial law. But, in my opinion, all the criminals are guilty and it’s just a case of negotiating their sentence – I’m biased, I know that. My [criminal law] instructor made me promise never to practise criminal law!

Read more about Jim Hasset online at

84 | summer 2011

Don’t miss out. Advertising deadline for the September issue is August 1, 2011. Contact Featuring the ultimate guide to arts & culture in the city!

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ever leaving home. In partnership with eCampusAlberta, we offer 60+ programs and 600+ courses online. And we’re working with your community to develop a post-secondary education strategy for Airdrie and area. Learn more. Earn more. Do more. For more information, contact the Airdrie regional representative: 403-355-1910 Fill out the survey and let your voice be heard

community vitality • economic growth • education summer 2011 | 85

life at work | business profile


Safety Dance

Story by Ellen Kelly | Photo by Sergei Belski


Starting this business was no accident

n 1995, rig worker Armand LaSante suffered a serious work-related accident that changed his life. “I looked at the importance of safety in the workplace and thought – I’d like to make a difference here,” says LaSante, owner and CEO of Safety Man Canada Limited.

Aurora LaSante ‘supervises’ dad Armand, owner of Safety Man Canada Limited

86 | summer 2011

The accident provided him the opportunity to retrain so, with support and encouragement from his wife, Heidi, who now does the accounting for the family company, he completed the Occupational Health and Safety certificate program at the University of Calgary, as well as several related instruct-

or courses. In fall 2000, Safety Man sprang into action. “I give my wife full credit for helping me,” says LaSante,“and every day when I see my little girl it makes me realize how important safety is.” LaSante began working for Safety Boss, whose specialty is well controls, and was trans-

ferred to Grand Prairie as the company’s training manager. Then, in spring 2003, he moved back to Irricana and started his own company. At first, Safety Man Canada was run from home but after moving to Airdrie in 2005 and their daughter’s birth in 2006, the LaSantes decided it was time to find office space.“I basically worked out of my house,” he says. “To this day, about 80 per cent of what we do is going out to our clients. We’re very portable.” Safety Man Canada is dedicated to providing industrial occupational health and safety training, consulting and other services. From LaSante’s perspective, workplace safety always comes first. Every worker wants to go home to his or her family at the end of the day – and LaSante’s personal mandate is to help make it so. “Training is the most important part of safety,” he says. LaSante’s passion for safety spills over into community involvement. He offers driver training to high school students for the cost of

the manual and donates the instructor’s time. “I love to give back to the community,” he says. “I’m from Saskatchewan and that’s how I was brought up.” He often offers discounted first aid courses and also makes his classrooms available to non-profit organizations that need a meeting space. In the future, he would like to obtain a bigger facility with six classrooms, a couple of them large enough for 40 people. LaSante loves Airdrie because of the smalltown atmosphere. Residents can walk down the street and run into people they know. Airdrie is a great place for his business, too.“Traffic is good coming out from Calgary, we’ve got free parking and they can get here in less than 30 minutes,” he says, adding that proximity to the airport and no business tax are added bonuses. A wide selection of courses – including oilfield safety, construction safety, gas detection, H2S Alive, PATCH (Petroleum Advanced Training Certificate Holder), first aid and driver

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education – are taught either on location or in one of the two classrooms at the Safety Man Canada offices. Fifteen instructors, chosen for their practical expertise in the various fields, administer the training. Consultants are also contacted when necessary and, through partnership with eCompliance in Calgary, some courses are offered online. Consulting services include building safety programs tailored to a company’s unique needs, audits performed at plants, drilling rig inspections, service rig inspections, job contacts and resume development. The company also does recertifications, as well as COR (for companies with more than 10 employees) and SECOR (fewer than 10 employees) audits. The company is currently branching out by going into medic units, emergency transport, ambulances and air trailers at H2S sites, and the development of a new website will allow clients easy access to data and other pertinent information. life

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in Airdrie

– within reach yet beyond expectations.

Homes Starting from the 390’s Everything’s within reach at Bayside in Airdrie. You can embrace the tranquility, enjoy dinner at a local restaurant, or hit the shops at Cross Iron Mills. Here, the pace is a little slower and the cost is a little lower – making waterside living surprisingly affordable. With two new phases of this award-winning community now selling – it’s time you planned your escape to Bayside.

Waterside living without getting soaked.

New Showhomes Now Open Showhomes located at: 2433 & 2437 Bayside Circle Mon-Thurs 2-8PM, Sat & Sun 12-5PM Friday by appointment only Ph: 403-980-3105

Another Genesis Planned Community

life at work | good taste


Sal Monna Owner, Napoli Restaurante story and photo by Kurtis Kristianson

What was the price of a plate of pasta in your first restaurant? Around $9 … about 30 years ago. What was one of your most memorable moments? The chef did not show up for a booked New Year’s Eve party; my wife (Anna Maria) had to step in. What do you love about Airdrie? The people; the people here make you feel good. Very supportive.


What is your go-to meal? I don’t have a favourite dish, because everything is favourite. Red or white? Red! Other than great food, what else does a good restaurant need to do in order to be successful? A good personality. Making you feel good as soon as you come in the door is true of any business. What words would someone use to describe a night out with you and your wife? Relaxed, a great night out. Who is one of your most famous customers? Richard Kline (Larry from Three’s Company).

90 | summer 2011

life at work | jobs

A profile of jobs that not everyone is qualified for or willing to do story by Alex Frazer-Harrison | photos by Sergei Belski

On his TV show Dirty Jobs, Mike Rowe pays homage to the people who “make civilized life possible for the rest of us.” From landscapers and groundskeepers to Public Works employees, they’re all here in Airdrie. AARON HATTY, equipment operator/ labourer, City of Airdrie Public Works

City of Airdrie employee Aaron Hatty’s job encompasses everything from snow to signs to sewers

Aaron Hatty enjoys the night shifts. Since joining the City of Airdrie Public Works department in January 2010 as an equipment operator and labourer, Hatty has had a chance to see how this city works from the inside out. If you were able to get to work after one of the many spring snowstorms, tip your hat to the father of two. Originally from Moncton, N.B., Hatty has been running heavy equipment for 13-14 years. “I was doing it part-time through college … I worked at the college during the summer months, running a loader part-time,” says Hatty, who earned a diploma in forest technology After spending seven or eight years in forestry management (“Some provinces were closing down sawmills; there were a lot of cuts,” he says), Hatty came west and resettled in Alberta. “I was working as a heavy equipment operator, labourer, foreman for a utility

summer 2011 | 91

life at work | jobs

Matt Jarmain (left) and Jeff Mokos, groundskeepers with Daether Maintenance Ltd., love working outdoors, even if it sometimes means a 3 a.m. start

company – underground utilities, mainly contracts for Telus,” Hatty says. “I lived in Calgary for three years and I moved to Airdrie in 2009.” As he speaks on a snowy April day, Hatty wears a “Snowfighter” T-shirt and is enjoying a few hours off before being called in to deal with another forecasted dump. “I actually do enjoy the night shifts,” he says, referencing the fact that he’s often called out for late-night work during the winter. “It’s quieter and there’s less traffic.” When it’s not snowing, Hatty can be found fixing potholes, cleaning signs and working in the water and sewer division. He says there’s a lot to learn in his profession. “I’m being trained on the grader, and we have sweepers, but I haven’t touched those yet,” Hatty says. “I’m being trained in the hydrovac – digging a hole using high-pressure water; if there’s utilities in the ground, it’s safer than a backhoe. “At the City, everyone seems to enjoy their jobs,” he adds.“It’s a good environment to work in.” MATT JARMAIN and JEFF MOKOS, groundskeepers, Daether Maintenance Ltd.

While many slave away in front of a computer, Matt Jarmain and Jeff Mokos are out enjoying the great outdoors. Their work as groundskeepers for Daether Maintenance Ltd. takes them to many commercial and condominium sites in Aird-

92 | summer 2011

rie, where they’re responsible for a range of maintenance work, from mowing lawns to garbage pickup. “I’ve been doing it for 14 years,” says Jarmain, adding that this was around the time Daether was established.“I really enjoyed being outside. I was still in high school and I was working summers. I went to SAIT (taking electrical engineering) but still worked here and decided this is what I wanted to do.” Mokos joined the company when he married the owner’s daughter and decided life on the high seas wasn’t for him anymore. “I used to work offshore on a ship that would lay pipe in the ocean for natural gas,” he says. “We did it all over the world. It was hard work and you’re never home.” As soon as he met his future wife, Jessica, though, he had to come home. “My dad did it for 30 years and he was never home, and I wanted my kids to have a dad at home,” Mokos says. The two men’s work includes landscaping, tree removal, leaf cleanup, snow removal and other contracted jobs at several mostly commercial sites around town. When asked their favourite job, Jarmain and Mokos both say mowing. “It’s relaxing, and you get to think about stuff … though if it’s cold out, it’s not as nice!” says Jarmain.

“It keeps you in shape, that’s for sure,” adds Mokos. Both were glad to see the end of Airdrie’s super-long winter, which often saw them called out at 3-4 a.m. to shovel. Still, “Not a lot of people get to enjoy working outside … and not take their work home with them,” says Jarmain. PATRICK GILES, owner/operator, Bugaboo Landscaping Ltd.

The love of mowing lawns transcends provincial boundaries – just ask Patrick Giles, owner/operator of the Airdrie franchise of Bugaboo Landscaping Ltd. Giles moved to Calgary eight years ago from Halifax and entered the landscaping business by way of the good-old lawnmower. “I used to work in the food service industry when I was in Halifax and I got out here and started my first job, which was mowing lawns,” he says. “I just love being outside. Whether it’s cold or hot, it doesn’t matter – as long as I’m not sitting behind a desk, I’m happy.” After a side-step of several years that took him to Nelson, B.C., Giles returned to Alberta and was given the opportunity to own a Bugaboo franchise, which today sees him with residential clients across Airdrie and into northwest Calgary.

Crew members from Bugaboo Landscaping Ltd. hang in there as they install Christmas lights on an Airdrie home

While his company does lawn maintenance, landscaping, planting, gardening and sodding – pretty much anything a customer wants to have done outside – one of Giles’ toughest jobs is hanging Christmas lights (local residents might have seen him scaling the sides of homes around town, giving them the festive look). “Every time I do a Christmas lights job, that night or the next I’ll get my friends and drive around and look at them,” Giles says. “I get a good sense of accomplishment – it’s a pretty hard job to do!” (And, of course, once Santa’s hung his hat for another year, Giles has to take the lights down again.) While some industries may slump, Giles says that he’s always assured of a busy time in Airdrie. “People are always going to need their lawn done … and for me it’s just fun work,” he says. “You stay in shape, you’re very active – you don’t need to work out in the gym!” But his favourite part of the job is meeting the people. “Finding out what they do, and making good connections,” he says. life MORE LIFE ONLINE Learn about a rodeo entertainer’s tough job at

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life | last look

Summer Job airdrielife photographer Carl Patzel gets close up and captures a perfect summer moment.

Do you want to share your photos with airdrielife? Go to and your photograph could appear here in a future issue

94 | summer 2011


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Cooper’s Crossing

Profile for airdrielife magazine

airdrielife summer 2011  

exploring the good life in Airdrie - meet high school heroes, find Airdrie's toughest jobs and explore a real man cave!

airdrielife summer 2011  

exploring the good life in Airdrie - meet high school heroes, find Airdrie's toughest jobs and explore a real man cave!