Page 1

winter 2012-2013


Canada’s Fastest Paralympic

Just how AWESOME is Airdrie?

sEE pAgE 44 to FinD out



how habitat for humanity has changed the lives of two Airdrie families

Flying High

What WestJet founder Don bell is doing now

Closet Rescue!

1 jacket = 11 new looks

PLUS Meet everyday heroes who quietly make a difference in your city



Festiva 012 l of Li Guide ghts


Have a Safe and Happy Holiday Season From our Family to Yours ...

12-5pm sat, sun • 2-8pm Mon-Thurs Please call or email Kevin d’Costa 403 605-5559 for more information

Get Side by Side in Bayside with Genesis

in Airdrie

Experience all the benefits of home ownership. Our Side by Side homes provide comfort, quality and generous living space both inside and out. A home to call your own with privacy and piece of mind at an affordable price - without the burden of condo fees.

Get Side by Side in Bayside with Genesis starting from the



Visit our Side by Side Showhome in Bayside Phase 7 at 2306 Baywater Cres SW, Airdrie No Condo Fees Granite Hardwood, Ceramic Tile, Carpet Stainless Steel Appliances Sod and Fence 5 Models to Choose From Show Home Hours Monday - Thursday: 2:00 pm - 8:00 pm Friday: by appointment only Sat., Sun. & Holidays: Noon - 5:00 pm


Proud of your home? The homes at Williamstown in Airdrie bring new meaning to the phrase ‘curb appeal’. Upscale architecture, rich designer color schemes, thoughtful exterior detailing and contemporary landscaping make for distinctive looking homes that still feel part of a unified community. It’s a great way to protect your investment and one of many reasons you’ll be proud to call Williamstown home.


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• From HWY 2, exit west onto HWY 567 (Airdrie), west on Veterans to 8th street

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DOUBLE FRONT-DRIVE GARAGES Located in Southwest Airdrie, Hillcrest offers easy access to shopping, schools, parks and downtown Calgary. Showhome builders offer an excellent selection of home styles and floorplans. Excel now selling single front-drive garage duplexes starting in the $280’s.




8th St. SW



Visit or contact our showhome builders. Excel Homes Contact: Angela Kolewaski Phone: 403.948.9359 Email:

Shane Homes Contact: Jeff Brodowski Phone: 403.536.2316 Email:

Trico Homes Contact: Cory Baiton Phone: 403.980.8510 Email:

Showhome Hours: Monday to Thursday 2-8pm | Weekends & Holidays 12-5pm | Closed Fridays.

Contributors winter 2012-2013

Our writers and photographers enjoy working on


stories about your city. check out some of their favourite


assignments for this issue.




“Flying High,” pg. 82 My favourite assignment this issue would have to be my interview with Don bell. The guy is just so full of life. ADVERTISInG SALES pRInTInG

Sherry Shaw-Froggatt Anne Beaty Vanessa peterelli Kim Williams Sergei Belski, Michelle Carre Leslie Davies, Sarah Deveau, Alex Frazer-Harrison, Ellen Kelly, Kurtis Kristianson, Tina McMillan, Carl patzel, Kristy Reimer, Kent Rupert Sherry Shaw-Fraggatt print West

ContACt us

Editorial Advertising Accounting

CARL PATZEL, WRITER/PHOTOGRAPHER “Staying Sharp,” pg. 20 Coming up with unique ways to portray local musicians has become a rocking challenge, matching a band’s visual image with their musical styles. Writing and photographing the Sharp Hill band was no different. I’m always fascinated how unique talent is grown in Airdrie’s backyard.

KRISTY REIMER, PHOTOGRAPHER “on The Right Track,” pg. 57 The assignment I enjoyed most this issue was photographing Earle Connor in the studio because he is such an inspirational, positive person and it was really cool to see his different legs!

WhErE to FinD us

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. 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.


ISSn 1916-355X

Contents copyright 2012 by Frog Media Inc. May not be reproduced without permission. The publisher does not assume any responsibility for the contents of any advertisement, and all representations of warranties made in such advertising are those of the advertiser and not of the publisher. EDitoriAl poliCy

airdrielife editorial is not for sale. Editorial is completely independent from advertising, and no special editorial consideration or commitment of any kind can form any part of the advertising agreement. All editorial inquiries must be directed toward the editor. A copy of Frog Media Inc. Writers’ Guidelines can be downloaded from the editorial page on our website. airdrielife does not accept unsolicited submissions. Freelance writers and photographers interested in assignments are asked to send an inquiry, with samples from at least three published magazine articles, to airdrielife is produced from well-managed forests, printed with canola-based inks, and is 100% recyclable.

8 | winter 2012-2013

editor’s note We invite you to visit McKee Show Homes in these fine Airdrie communities. Bayside

2429 Bayside Circle

King’s Heights

1191 King’s Heights Road


1313 Ravenswood Drive


2378 Reunion Street

Cooper’s Crossing 1161 Coopers Drive

One of the things I love about this job is learning about the fascinating people who make up our community. Friends, neighbours, colleagues, complete strangers – all have a story to tell. Often these people don’t see their own lives as anything to shout about. I beg to differ. Local residents put up their own cash to reward awesome ideas. A community gathers to build homes for two families. Actors give their time to entertain. A woman starts up a business dedicated to offering assistance and companionship to seniors. Several local men put up with laughter and jokes about their facial hair as they take part in a fundraising initiative. Generations of skaters work together to provide a fun and healthy athletic outlet for children of the community. All these people – and countless more in and around our city – deserve to be heralded for the difference they make in the lives of others. To me, they are heroes. Yes, we do have heroes in uniforms who risk their lives to ensure the safety of others, and they should be celebrated for their dedication and sacrifices. However, heroes are also the guy next door, or the woman behind the counter at the grocery store, or the couple putting past on a Harley, or the snowplow driver, or the neighbourhood business owner, or … well, you get the idea. This issue we are happy to bring you some of those fascinating people who make Airdrie the unique and special place it is. The subjects may not see themselves as heroes, but we do. And I think you will, too, after you have been introduced.

Airdrie’s Family Builder for


So read on and enjoy. • 403-948-6595 Anne Beaty, EDITOR

10 | winter 2012-2013

We build Sweet Dreams. For 25 years, we’ve built the best into every detail of every McKee Home. Because we know what life’s dreams and memories are made of.

Airdrie’s Family Builder for



57 On the Cover

Paralympic athlete earle connor PhOtO BY KristY reiMer

life in the moment



Painting, by George – Meet artist chelsea George


staying sharp – Musician profile


Outside the Box – diary of an amazing art project


events – Add some wow to your winter


A touch of taj – new chef inspirations


holiday Bites – recipes


closet conundrum – leslie davies to the rescue

life in the

community 50 44

Making Airdrie Awesome – One pitch at a time


Men of Movember – Guys groom for a cause


enter stage left – nose creek Players


Future heroes – Airdrie cadets


Airdrie skating club - Great gliding


community of compassion – hopes for the hospice society

life at home


Columns and regular features 30

More Life Online


Lifetimes with Ellen Kelly


Petlife with James Froese




Lifemoves with Michelle Carre


Lifestyles with Tina McMillan


Businesslife with Kent Rupert


Last Look

12 | winter 2012-2013


A Place to call home – habitat for humanity changes lives


cooper’s crossing – explore the neighbourhood


Family reunion – showhome parade


the Perfect Kitchen – ideas for your home


Make Mine Multi – condo options

life at work 82

Flying high – don Bell explores new heights in retirement


On the edge of Glory – the 2012 winning edge Awards


they Make that here? – Manufacturing marvels in Airdrie


ten things You didn’t Know About – tim Bolton


A Friend indeed – Business profile


40 and Fabulous – Airdrie chamber of commerce

We Know What The Well-Dressed Home Is Wearing This Year.

Create Your Own Personal Style From Our Design Centre Choices

A Mattamy Design Centre is like a fantasyland for home décor. Everything you want, need, dream of and desire is on display at the Design Centre. And we have Consultants who really know their stuff when it comes to latest trends and colour palettes. Our regularly scheduled visits to the Design Centre allow you to choose the décor that will help make your home a reflection of your style. n Mai

Str eet

Sales Centre



Range Road 11

W in Dr dso ive ng

8th Street W

Yankee Valley Blvd.

Nose Creek

Village Homes From $218,990 Urban Townhomes From $248,990 Single Car Garage Homes From $282,990 Double Car Garage Homes From $330,990

10 Minutes To Calgary

566 Balzac CrossIron Mills Mall

These prices include the lot, the home and GST. There are no condo fees on any Mattamy home.

Sales Centre Hours: Monday to Thursday 1pm-8pm; Friday 1pm-6pm; Saturday, Sunday and Holidays 11am-6pm All illustrations are artist’s concept. All dimensions are approximate. Prices, specifications, terms and conditions subject to change without notice. E.&O.E.



If Frank Lloyd Wright lived in Airdrie, he’d live here. The famous architect believed in building homes in harmony with people and their environment. Add in a reasonable budget and that’s the kind of home you’ll find in Ravenswood. So why choose a community that only offers shades of beige when you can have a home that’s alive with color for the same price. Visit Ravenswood today to see for yourself how you can get affordable homes without sacrificing style. Eight showhomes now open Monday through Thursday from 2pm to 8pm or Saturday, Sunday and holidays from noon to 5pm. Broadview Homes (403.980.5600), McKee Homes (403.980.1092), NuVista Homes (403.980.9525) Pacesetter Homes (403.980.8625) Crestmont • evanston • silverado • the hill • ravenswood • redstone Coming soon – Painted sky • double Creek


starting from the mid



Hillcrest was inspired by the community's ideal location

■ Easy access to shopping, schools and medical clinics

on Airdrie's picturesque southern hillside. With natural

■ Close to many outdoor parks, picnic areas and greenspace

topography, trees and viewpoints incorporated into the

■ Minutes from a variety of recreation such as Airdrie’s

design, this unique community doesn't attempt to shape



Recreation Centre and Woodside Golf Course

its setting but, rather, to be shaped by it.

■ 20 minutes from Calgary and 15 minutes from Calgary Airport ■ Close to CrossIron Mills shopping centre

Single Family Two Storey Homes with a Front Double Attached Garage Homes ranging in size from 1767 - 3686 sq. ft. with numerous optional floorplans to choose from such as deluxe kitchens and ensuites and four bedroom layouts

Showhome Location: Airdrie

Yankee Valley Blvd


Hillcrest Way


Highway 2

8th Street SW




Turn off for Yankee Valley Blvd

2 & 6 Hillcrest Street SW, Airdrie Showhome Hours: Mon to Thur: 2 to 8 pm Sat, Sun & Hol: 12 to 5 pm Call Jeff at 403-536-2316 for more info Find us: Follow us: *Price includes house, lot and GST. Subject to change without notice.

winter 2012-2013 | 15

moment life in the 33 Street Art

20 staying sharp 31 Closet rescue

life in the moment | artist profile

18 | winter 2012-2013

Artist Chelsea George reflects on her passion

Painting, by George!

story by Ellen Kelly | photos by Sergei Belski


s long as she can remember, Airdrie artist Chelsea George has loved to draw. However, painting became her focus after she helped her mom paint a mural in a child’s room in 2001. For the next 10 years, George continued to paint murals for businesses and in private homes. After finishing high school at Koinonia Christian School, she attended ACAD for a year; but it was after graduating from the University of Calgary with a bachelor of arts degree in linguistics that she decided to take her art in a different direction. “I decided to wean myself off painting murals and start working on canvas for a couple of reasons,” she says. “You can’t take wall art with you and it devalues the art. “I had that not-so-pleasant feeling of Oh dear, what’s going to happen to that in 25 years?” she adds. (If asked to paint a mural again, she says that she would paint it on a panel or very large canvas so it could be moved.) George also made the decision to find out who she truly was as an artist. She knew she could paint pre-existing concepts, but, she says, “It was always for someone else, never for me. I felt like I wasn’t a true artist, just an empty vessel that didn’t contain its own substance.” She then decided not to look for outside inspirational sources but instead look inside herself and figure out what she really wanted to paint.“It really made me anxious to stare at a blank canvas. I wondered if I would ever find a source of inspiration,” she says. But with her love of culture, history and music, ideas began to form and the apprehension lifted when George discovered her subjects. Her interest in history took her back to the Middle Ages, the Renaissance and the Gothic era. Eventually it was looking at those paint-

ings very closely and realizing the extensive detail in each piece that inspired her own work. When visiting the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, Italy, in 2010 and seeing the paintings, panels, tapestries and altarpieces up close, George noticed the intricate detail, tricks and brushstrokes of great masters. “I took fervent notes in my travel sketchbook” she says. “This experience added to my already strong whimsical, romantic and mystery-soaked perspective of history.” She also noticed that sometimes the artist pushed holes in the wood to make lines, making the piece an etching as well as a painting, and she feels that this inspired texture in her art. “When I was able to find my own thing, that’s when the joy came,” says George. “It’s special because half the time I don’t even know how I’m doing it. I just pick up a brush and start.” Currently, she is finding the balance between the commissions she does for others and the time left over for her own painting. The artist works about 60 per cent in textured oils (sometimes acrylic) and 40 per cent in mixed media. She combines her love for world music and Middle Eastern culture by painting musical instruments that look like fruits, such as pomegranates and figs, and incorporates elements of Turkish architecture in some pieces. She admires the work of Gustav Klimt but finds it difficult to pick a favourite among the Renaissance artists. And she loves the Old Masters – Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo. George has her frames built and stretches her own canvas. “I like to be involved in the process as much as possible, from beginning to end,” she says. In 2011 she began experiment-

ing by adding fibre to her work. “It is a tricky business coming up with ideas that work with a painting but the concepts have been developing and growing gradually. I am very excited about the new ideas that I have,” she says. She hopes her art makes people curious. “I feel very blessed when people are captivated by my art. If it is mysterious or gives them something to think about, then it is meaningful. Then I feel whatever is inside me is transcribed for other people in a special way. That’s where I get my satisfaction,” she says. George’s art has been displayed at Genesis Place and City Hall. A piece has been included in Art in Motion and two full-sized pieces are on display at Rico’s in the Village. Further afield she’s had her art displayed at The Coup and The Holy Grill in Calgary and she has participated in a collaborative show at ACAD. Currently George is working on commissioned pieces and her art can be viewed online at Sparrow & Fig. Other interests include photography, fashion design and interior design and she has recently completed illustrations for a children’s book – about 20 pages of large, landscape-type drawings. “That was really fun,” she says. “I hope in the future, I can continue doing that.” In addition to her art and other interests, George works as a community outreach support worker while contemplating how she will use her degree in linguistics. And she is very pleased to see the evolution of Airdrie’s art scene. “I think the art in Airdrie is awesome,” she says. “I think that art, along with culture and music, is what makes a city have colour and brightness and light. I’m really happy to see more art everywhere.” life winter 2012-2013 | 19

life in the moment|musician profile Frank Wiebe is a real original. Driving through Airdrie 15 years ago, the local songwriter never envisioned making feel-good music in a backroom, Main Street studio. At the time the then Calgarian was just looking for a nice drive and tasty breakfast, never thinking he would find himself onstage with the Sharp Hill band. “About 15 years ago I came to Airdrie for Sunday brunch and on my way home, east of the highway there were these big Hollywood letters in this field that said Sharp Hill. I didn’t see any hill, but I just put it in the bank of band names,” he says. now years later, with a clear focus on producing original music, Wiebe has been leading the Sharp Hill quartet of himself, Jeff Schauer, Zach Martin and Scott Gillett for more than four years. Originally scattered across the country, from Calgary to Ontario, the long and winding road eventually steered the members’ musical journey toward Airdrie. Times were definitely changing when the rockers became serious after an open-mike, three-song performance that put a spell on the audience. Wiebe was approached by club management to have the band take centre stage and headline a show. “I was like, ‘Wow, that would consist of quite a bit of music,’” says Wiebe. “So within about a month we went from about five or six songs to about a two-hour show.” Four-hour sessions, five nights a week, and probably a few blistered fingers later, the group was ready for a walk on the wild side. But while many musicians are dazed and confused by the songwriting process, the singing, guitar-playing piano aficionado Wiebe was crafting good vibrations from a very early age. Tickling the ivories at the tender age of seven, Wiebe quickly moved on to being leader of the pack in a school rockand-roll band. “I traded a moped for a set of drums and away we went,” says Wiebe. Influenced by his musical family and the church choir, his first performance came when he was seven, at the church Christmas music night. “I played Oh Holy Night and holy cow, I thought I was going to fall off the piano bench I was shaking so bad,” he remembers. Wiebe’s stage fright long forgotten, Sharp Hill combines the tight lead guitar of Schauer with a strong cover-band background, the back-bass sounds of Martin (a heavy metal enthusiast) and the rhythmic drums of former punk-rock skin man Gillett.

20 | winter 2012-2013

p r a h S g n i y a St story


tzEl Arl pA

by C photo

The band’s original tune, Take Me Back, combines a slow, flowing acoustic guitar mixed with piano while building to a crescendo of full band sound. Other songs – Trip, Outside and Us – give a taste of Sharp Hill’s pop styling. Wiebe, who writes 90 per cent of the music, says his greatest influence comes from the pop sounds of the 1980s. “The ’80s music was really awesome and you can hear that in the music that we’re doing now,” he says. “You may write a song but you need the other influences to make it completely original. You get different genres [with our band].” never born to follow, Sharp Hill has had audiences dancing in the dark at several music showcases at The Blind Beggar pub in Calgary, Dick’s pub and several summer festivals. The group plans to pump out a 22-song album and bring Sharp Hill’s engaging sound to more live venues. “people want to hear live music. They want to see the musicianship and see their writing capabilities,” says Wiebe, who is also the vice president of SLAM (Supporting Local Area Musicians). “people have said we sound a little like Barenaked Ladies there, or you sound a little bit like Bon Jovi, and here you sound a little like pink Floyd,” adds Wiebe, who can also throw a little country groove into the mix. “You’re going to get a little bit of everything when you come to our show.” life

sharp hill bandmates from left: scott gillett, Jeff schauer, zach Martin and Frank Wiebe winter 2012-2013 | 21

life in the moment | works of art

Painting Outside the Box Artist Veronica Funk kept a journal of her experience turning a plain traffic utility box on Main Street into an original work of art. (See the related story about Awesome Airdrie on page 44.) I have admired the painted utility boxes in Calgary for several years, so when I originally saw the call for Sherry ShawFroggatt’s painted utility box project in Airdrie, an Awesome Airdrie winning idea, I was thrilled. For the past two years my work has focused on the influence of the aboriginal culture which is the heart of our country. This work is a reference to the history of the area, including both animals and arrowheads, and Nose Creek, which has been a vital part of the community.

Sept. 4, 2012: Beginning....

The first layer of warm colours is on the utility box project on Main Street and although my hands were freezing from those gale-force winds I can’t wait to get back tomorrow to add a layer of cool colours. It was so nice to hear encouraging comments from both drivers and pedestrians. I’m working in oils, which is a bit of a challenge as I haven’t used them in a few years, but the effect is perfect.

Sept. 6, 2012: More layers....

It was so much nicer to work without extreme wind conditions today, although I forgot how physically taxing a large art project is – I’ll be in desperate need of a massage when I’m done. But it has been an absolutely amazing process. Today a number of people stopped by to chat and take photos. A gentleman from Poland spoke of how public art has been successful, changing the face of vandalism in Europe while giving the creative people an opportunity to share their gifts. An elderly lady asked if I might stop by her complex and add colour to their building (I suggested the landlord might not be impressed). A little girl apparently stops by every day to see the progression. Others told me that they voted for my design, for which I am extremely grateful. Someone else stopped by to tell me he has taken to walking down Main Street just to see it. I’ve been asked for my inspiration and about my history in this community. I’m so pleased to be in a place that is honouring its arts community. I’m so grateful for the people [with whom] I have the privilege of sharing my community. And I’m so glad to call this home. Tomorrow I begin adding symbols and imagery … very excited for the next step!

Sept. 7, 2012: Two steps forward....

Another exhausting and exhilarating day at the utility box. Many more great conversations on the street and one side is almost totally complete. I’m thinking the other three will go a bit faster as I will mix the last two colours I need before I go – a nice light turquoise and a deep rich navy blue. And I am so grateful to my friend Sherry Shaw-Froggatt for this opportunity and for the green-tea latte – it kept me going until mid-afternoon. Another treat was speaking with Zach Abbott, who was adding graffiti to Sully Boardsports down the street. I love my town.

Sept. 11, 2012: Finished!

I have worked under almost every weather condition on this project, but it has been such an honour for me to be selected that it’s actually been a pleasure. Tomorrow I’ll stop by to see if it needs any final touches and then in a couple of days I’ll give the piece a final coat of varnish. I feel really honoured to be part of a growing arts community and especially grateful to have had this opportunity to share my work in the place I have chosen to call home and where I have raised my family. It was a real pleasure to interact with people on the street while I worked. It feels as though Airdrie is really on the cusp of more great and positive change and I am so pleased to be able to contribute in a small way. life

22 | winter 2012-2013

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life in the moment | events

Culture Calendar From local crafts to award-winning acts – it’s all happening in Airdrie DEC. 6-8 Annie Bert Church Theatre, 7 p.m. Also, matinee performance Saturday, Dec. 8 at 2:30 p.m. Under the expert direction of Scott Bloxham, the talented students of Bert Church High School perform the muchloved classic Annie. A treat for young and old alike. All ticket proceeds go to Bert Church High School. Admission: $7

Nov. 23 Evening with Phyllis Wheaton Airdrie Public Library, 7 p.m. Meet this singing songwriter and author of In the Mood for Peace: The Story of the Izzy Doll. Registration required. Call 403-948-0600 or visit Nov. 30 - Jan. 11 Annual Teddy Bear Festival Nose Creek Valley Museum Come see the hundreds of bears on display and celebrate the festival’s 15th (and final) year! The museum is open Monday to Friday 1-5 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays 1-4:30 p.m. Admission: $2 for adults; children under 12 free Dec. 1 Christmas Mall in the Hall Royal Canadian Legion, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Carter’s Quest for a Cure is hosting a Christmas shopping experience fundraiser. Enjoy the jewelry, fantastic bake table and visiting with Santa (pictures available). Also check out the kids buying section (completely curtained off so children can buy a gift for Mom or Dad, with a little help from volunteers as needed). Visit Dec. 1 George McDougall High School Cheer Craft Sale 10 a.m.-3:30 p.m. More than a craft sale; enjoy local school choirs and the GMHS Sax Quartet. Face painting, balloon creations and more at this fundraiser for the GMHS Cheer Team. Admission: free

Dec. 1 Jason McCoy The Perfect Gift – Christmas Tour Bert Church Theatre, 7:30 p.m. Laugh along with CCMA- and Juno-award-winning artist Jason McCoy as he shares favourite home movies, sings your favourite Christmas classics and new originals, and chats with special guests via a giant video screen. This one-man show is different every night as audience interaction is such a big part of the show. Country music fans are certain to make memories during this up-close-and-personal show. Admission: advance $38.55; $43.05 at door. Visit

Dec. 1 6th Annual Artisans Holiday Market Town & Country Centre, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Enjoy handicrafts (jewelry, clothes, ceramics, paintings, photographs, woodwork, textiles, drawings, etc.) uniquely made by local and surrounding-area artisans. Dec. 1 Santa Claus Parade 4:30-6 p.m. Gear up for the holiday season with Santa as he cruises down Main Street between 1st Ave. and Ridgegate, then heads over to the kickoff of the Airdrie Festival of Lights to turn on the big switch!

24 | winter 2012-2013

Dec. 1-31 Airdrie Festival of Lights, 6-9 p.m. nightly It’s the 17th year Airdrie has played host to the largest outdoor walk-thru light display in Western Canada. Look for the complete guide inserted into this issue of airdrielife or get details at

Dec. 10 SingFest 2012 Bert Church Theatre, 7:30 p.m. Enjoy performances by Bert Church High School Choir along with Airdrie Community Choir and other Airdrie-based choirs at this annual charitable Christmas concert. Admission: donation to Airdrie Food Bank. Call 403-948-3800 for more information. Dec. 12 Bert Church High School Christmas Concert Bert Church Theatre, 7 p.m. Featuring all BCHS music ensembles including Grade 9 Concert Band, Jazz Band, Choir and Senior High Concert Band. Raffle items and refreshments. Admission: free. Call 403-948-3800 for more information. Dec. 16 Lunch at Allen’s Bert Church Theatre, 7:30 p.m. This is no ordinary songwriter’s circle. Lunch at Allen’s is an extraordinary musical revue starring internationally renowned singer/songwriters Murray McLaughlan, Cindy Church, Marc Jordan and Ian Thomas who appear on stage as one, swap stories and perform each other’s songs. An unforgettable concert featuring beloved songs such as Marina Del Rey, Painted Ladies, Perfect World and more, Lunch at Allen’s will leave you feeling like you’ve experienced something special as they deliver an intimate evening of music and good-natured humour. Admission: $38.85. Visit

Come in and experience a classic feel with an edge. Indulge in luxury products and enjoy a relaxing atmosphere.

3, 125 Main Street 403.912.9099 A Kevin Murphy Session Salon


FEb. 8 Dennis Chang Manouche Quartet bert Church theatre, 7:30 p.m. When one thinks of Gypsy jazz, one doesn’t automatically think of Canada, or of a Canadian musician of Asian descent. But the wonderful guitar virtuoso Dennis Chang of Montreal has already been playing with some of the top names in the world of jazz guitar. This young guitarist quickly developed his own style inspired by various styles of music. Among his biggest influences are Bach, Chopin, George Benson and Michael Jackson. Admission: $23.10. Visit MArCh 2 Celtic tenors bert Church theatre, 7:30 p.m. The Celtic Tenors have established themselves as the most successful classical crossover artists ever to emerge from Ireland. In 2000, following an impromptu audition at EMI in London, the Celtic Tenors were signed on the spot to an international record deal, a highly unusual event that was the talk of the music industry. The Celtic Tenors’ live show is an experience overflowing with vitality and variety from start to finish and leaves the audience thoroughly uplifted. Admission: advance $39.90; $43.05 at door. Visit MArCh 10 Calgary opera hannaraptor bert Church theatre, 2:30 p.m. The Emerging Artists of the Calgary Opera produce a 45-minute work, fully staged with set and costumes, piano accompaniment, and a Q & A following the show. past presentations have been based on Cinderella, The Magic Flute and The Brothers Grimm. These performances are a wonderful fit for students in kindergarten through Grade 9. Admission: $12.60. Visit

Glowing Nightly 6 pm – 9 pm December 1–31, 2013 Nose Creek Park

• Santa Visits • Fire Pits • Movie Night • Craft Market • Hot Chocolate & Food Service • Fireworks New Year’s Eve


winter 2012-2013 | 25

life in the moment | chefs

GURU & CHELA (teacher and student)

Head chef and guru Duwar Singh Bhandari (left) with his chela, Vinod Singh Bhatti Ka Salad

When we sent photographer Kristy Reimer to meet the new chef at Taj, she got a taste of what everyone can look forward to


ead chef Duwar Singh Bhandari came to work at Taj Indian Restaurant two-and-a-half months ago after one of his past culinary students, who was already working for Taj, suggested his name. Bhandari has 40 years of cooking experience and has worked in India, Dubai, Japan, Germany and now Canada. He was working at a top restaurant in India when he was asked to take this job at Taj and move to Airdrie. Bhandari’s favourite thing about being a chef is when guests really appreciate the food. He also loves to try to guess which dishes each guest will like best! The butter chicken is Bhandari’s favourite! (I think mine was the Bhatti Ka Salad. The flavour was incredible!!!)

26 | winter 2012-2013

Naan bread

Paneer Tikka

Veggie Korma and Butter Chicken

Some of the most common ingredients used throughout Indian cooking are spices such as cloves, cardamom, saffron and cinnamon sticks. The student who suggested Bhandari’s name is Vinod Singh and he has been working as a second chef at Taj for a year-and-a-half. Something new at Taj is the thali – a mini lunch buffet suggested by their guests. This is a smaller, cheaper alternative for those wanting something lighter for lunch. The thali is $8.99 and available on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. The regular lunch buffet is still available on Thursdays and Fridays. And yes, I got to take some of the food home!!!  Yum, Yum, Yum!!!!!! life

winter 2012-2013 | 27

life in the moment | gifts

Le Creuset French Oven A classis for generations, the round French oven from Le Creuset is ideal for one-pot recipes and slow-cooked hearty stews. The enameled cast iron is available in eight colours. Sizes 2-12.5 litre. Made in France. $184.99, available at the Kitchen Boutique, 208, 960 Yankee Valley Blvd. SE •

Emile Henry Tagine A tagine has a conical-shaped lid which allows condensation to circulate stopping your meat, fish and vegetables from drying out. Stove-top, oven and microwave safe. Made in France. $99.99, available at the Kitchen Boutique, 208, 960 Yankee Valley Blvd. SE •

Bodum Coffee Grinder Coffee beans can be ground right before coming in contact with hot water using this adjustable Bodum coffee grinder. Features a glass container and tight plastic/ rubber lid for a spill-free experience. $114.99, available at the Kitchen Boutique, 208, 960 Yankee Valley Blvd. SE •

Global Santoku Knives Two innovate features of Global Knives are their edge and balance. A high-carbon stainless steel blade that is fluted allows food to slip off easily. Made in Japan. $119.99, available at the Kitchen Boutique, 208, 960 Yankee Valley Blvd. SE $119.99

Microplane Grater All Microplane Artisan series graters feature a wide-blade design that is sturdily framed on all sides in a highly durable, soft-touch rubber material which won’t crack after extensive use. Dishwasher safe. $17.99, available at the Kitchen Boutique, 208, 960 Yankee Valley Blvd. SE •

Christmas Shopping Made Easy Great ideas for that hard-to-buy-for person on your list are available right here in Airdrie Desigual Fashions Known for bold colours and a sense of fun, Desigual fashion lets you stand out in a crowd. At Pharmasave you’ll find lines for women, men and children, from fashion toques, to ballerina flats – head-to-toe style. Pharmasave, 101, 209 Centre Ave. SW

Echo Touch Gloves These gloves work with any screen device by using specially engineered eLink fabric panels on the index finger and thumb. Great with your touch-screen smartphone or tablet! $35-38, available at Bijou Clothing, 207, 960 Yankee Valley Blvd. SE

Bijou Gift Cards Not sure what to get that special someone? Do they love to shop? A Bijou gift card is the perfect solution. Choose any denomination and it’s a one-size-fits-all gift! Available at Bijou Clothing, 207, 960 Yankee Valley Blvd. SE

28 airdrielife | winter 2012-2013

Christmas Figurines The Store Upstairs has your seasonal inspiration: Enchanted Christmas figurines and decorations from Department 56. From “Claus for Celebration” to “Big Top Christmas,” and a large assortment of village themes, including The Grinch and Peanuts Christmas, your seasonal celebration wouldn’t be complete without them.

Welcome to Nose Creek Dental Centre Our team of dental professionals has been bringing friendly, top-quality dental services to the families of Airdrie and area since 19944.

Happy, healthy smiles are what we do best.

Nose Creek Dental provides professional general dentistry services for every member of the family. Our friendly team will make every visit an enjoyable one, for any treatment that you may require. General dentistry services are the foundation of dental care, and include your regular cleanings, examinations, and restorative procedures. Our commitment to innovative technology means that we can transform your smile in less time and in less invasive ways than ever before. Products like Zoom! Whitening, Invisalign, and CEREC Ceramic Restorations are convenient, long lasting and safe ways that we can help you get the smile you’ve always wanted.

Nose Creek Dental Centre • #1-409 1st Ave NW., Airdrie, AB T4B 3E2 403-948-6684 (tel) • 403-948-6691 (fax) •

life in the moment | online

There is always more life online at We have so many yarns to share we can’t fit them all in one issue! Go online now and read about:

The close-knit camaraderie of the Airdrie Knitting Club The history buried at the Airdrie Cemetery Trading culture with the Rocky View School’s International Student Education program Adding colour to the golden years with arts programs for seniors Making newcomers feel at home with Welcome Airdrie

PLUS Nominate an Amazing Airdrie Woman Enter your wardrobe for a Closet Rescue with Leslie Davies Win the new ATCO Holiday Collection cookbook

And follow us on


with value. (No room for condo fees.) 8 smart semi-detached designs with attached garages. Decks, big yards, green space, and much more. $1000 landscaping certificate included. And no condo fees!


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Hours: 2-8pm Mon-Thurs, 12-5pm Sat, Sun & Holidays  115 King’s Bridge Road, Airdrie. Contact: Al Stuckert, Sales, 403-620-1744.

30 | winter 2012-2013

life in the moment | column C’mon, admit it! You have a clothing orphan or two hanging in your closet, growing lonelier and more dejected by the moment … and making you feel guilty in the process!



You know the scenario. Your heartstrings got pulled the moment you saw that great big “SALE” tag – and you just couldn’t walk on by, could you?

Well, you’re not alone. Meet Marlene Mack, a passionate Airdrie fashionista who loves clothes, loves to look great AND loves to shop! We met Marlene while she was at My Best Friend’s Closet donating a few bagfuls of clothes that had become closet orphans – some of them even still had the tags attached and had never been worn. Ooooooh, we began to salivate! In my experience, where there are a few bagfuls being donated, there may just be a few more ‘orphans’ left hanging in that closet. This was a job for Leslie – Leslie to the ‘closet rescue’! And Marlene, being a great sport, invited me into her home to throw a lifeline to those lonely garments. My goal was to take a key piece she really likes, but seldom wears (in this case, a cropped red denim jacket), and create multiple outfits with it. The result? Eleven ‘new’ outfits using only pieces she already owns, many of which were closet orphans themselves. These outfits range from sassy casual (if you know Marlene, you know she likes sassy!) to outfits she can wear in her business casual work environment. Take this experience and apply it to yourself. Here are keys to rescuing your own ‘closet orphans’: 1. If you love it, it’s worth building around. If you don’t, donate it – someone else will love it instead. 2. Footwear and accessories pull the look together. Marlene has footwear in different styles and colours, allowing me to pull different looks together with ease. 3. Get creative! I took a bold, striped spandex skirt Marlene has and layered it as a tube top under a sheer lace top – fantastic! 4. Have fun! Getting dressed and wearing clothes should express your different sides. Enjoy and be prepared to make mistakes – it’s all part of learning what feels right for you.

The red denim jacket looking relaxed and casual paired with jeans, a navy tank and blue platform loafers

CRAVE YOUR OWN CLOSET RESCUE? Submit your dilemma to the airdrielife Facebook page along with some photos and you just may be our next featured recipient!

Are your closet orphans laying a guilt trip on you?

winter 2012-2013 |

airdrielife 31

life in the moment | column A shot of modern glam when teamed with a ďŹ tted charcoal skirt, tee, and an of-themoment print pump

See six more great looks with this jacket online at

The jacket transitions to a breezy spring/ summer-ready outďŹ t; the red wedges pull it together

Ready for fall with a kick of colour, paired with a lengthening, monochromatic combo of a turtleneck, mini-skirt, leggings, fantastic boots and a scarf

32 | winter 2012-2013

The red jacket adds some zing to black pants, a long white tee and a tie-front polka-dot blouse

Where Memories Are Made Affordable unique retail therapy at its finest Amazing customized gift baskets which don’t look like they’ve come off an assembly line and as unique as the person receiving it. We will work around your budget, within any price range and any design.

A beautiful selection of charms that will fit all European bracelets such as Pandora, SilveRado, Chamilia, etc. With some of the best prices anywhere, men love shopping here for the ladies in their lives without ever having to leave Airdrie!


n this era where the big box stores rule the consumer landscape, personal service is hard to find. "Whether looking to treat yourself or shopping for someone else, everyone is regarded as special in this store," says store owner, BerylAnne Hodgins, an Airdrie resident. A warm, welcoming atmosphere with exceptional personal service sets Where Memories Are Made apart and why loyal repeat customers keep coming back. Customers enjoy the comfortable, shabby-chic atmosphere that is a treat to look at as well as to shop in. If after looking at the impressive selection of great gift ideas – for every occasion from babies, anniversaries, weddings and house warming - you are still undecided, gift certificates are always available. Where Memories Are Made offers big city selection with friendly, small city service. So for those who have never ventured inside this trendy, shabby-chic shop, you should because this is truly a store “where memories are made.”

For nearly four years, the owner BerylAnne Hodgins has been offering affordable and unique gifts, jewelry, wedding accessories, brooch bouquets, baby and anniversary gifts, home décor, and so much more!

Check for specials and deals on our website at: Or find us on Facebook by searching for memories are made.

As a master calligrapher, BerylAnne can offer personalized framed poems for those who seem to have “everything.”

Where Memories Are Made

Where Memories Are Made is Airdrie`s exclusive dealer for Kameleon jewelry – a complete line of sterling silver jewelry that is interchangeable and extremely popular!

203, 960 Yankee Valley Blvd. SE 403.912.4343 Find us on Facebook

Wife, sister, daughter, mother, co-worker, employee, boss, neighbour, friend…

life in the moment | recipes

H liday


Do you know an AMAZING AIRDRIE WOMAN? Nominate her in one of the following categories no later than Nov. 30, 2012. Amazing Courage (The Tracy Work Award) – a woman who has faced adversity with grace, dignity and spirit Amazing Leadership – a woman whose integrity, vision and discipline have proved an inspiration for others Amazing Determination – a woman who has confronted challenges with perseverance and resolve Amazing Heart – a woman whose humanity and compassion has touched the lives of others Amazing Promise (for women under 21) – a young woman whose initiative and enthusiasm promises for a bright future Nominate online at today. All nominees will be profiled in the March issue of airdrielife. This is your chance to give that special woman in your life the recognition she deserves. The 2013 Amazing Airdrie Women Awards are chosen in a combination of reader votes and a select jury process. Winners are announced in late April at the Amazing Airdrie Women Awards Luncheon.


Now available for purchase, the newest edition of ATCO Blue Flame Kitchen’s holiday entertaining cookbook is packed with more than 100 holiday recipes, from appetizers to desserts. As such, the 2012 Holiday Collection is the perfect complement to any celebration. Following is just a taste of what’s inside. Enjoy!

Baked Crab Dip in a Bread Shell 1 round loaf bread (20-cm/8-in) 500 ml (2 cups) mayonnaise 500 ml (2 cups) shredded Monterey Jack cheese 250 ml (1 cup) green onions, thinly sliced 125 ml (1/2 cup) capers, drained 120 g (1 can) crabmeat, drained, rinsed and flaked 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper French bread cubes (3.75-cm/1½-in) Preheat oven to 180 C (350 F). Slice 2.5 cm (1 in.) off top of bread; set top aside. Hollow out bread, leaving a 2.5-cm (1-in.) thick shell; set shell aside. Tear or cut bread insides into bite-sized pieces; reserve for dipping. Combine next 6 ingredients. Spoon mayonnaise mixture into bread shell. Replace top of bread. Wrap bread in foil. Bake for one to one hour and 15 minutes or until heated through. Unwrap bread and place on a serving dish. Serve with reserved bread pieces and French bread cubes. Serves 8 to 10. Cook’s Note: Check crabmeat carefully for any small pieces of shell and cartilage; remove and discard. The cookbook, priced at $14.99 plus GST, is available at the Learning Centre in Calgary. It can also be ordered online or by calling the order desk at 1-800-840-3393. Local ATCO Gas agency offices or operations centres have copies for sale as well.

Awards 34 | winter 2012-2013

Four copies of the 2012 Holiday Collection cookbook will be up for grabs through airdrielife’s reader giveaway. Check online at for details.

Sticky Toffee Puddings

175 ml (3⁄4 cup) water 125 ml (1⁄2 cup) pitted dates, diced 125 ml (1⁄2 cup) dried cranberries 5 ml (1 tsp) baking soda 250 ml (1 cup) flour 5 ml (1 tsp) baking powder 2 ml (1⁄2 tsp) salt 75 ml (1⁄3 cup) butter, softened 175 ml (3/4 cup) packed dark brown sugar 2 eggs 5 ml (1 tsp) vanilla 250 ml (1 cup) packed dark brown sugar 125 ml (1⁄2 cup) butter 125 ml (1⁄2 cup) whipping cream 5 ml (1 tsp) vanilla 1 ml (1⁄4 tsp) salt Whipped cream Preheat oven to 180C (350F). Combine water and dates in a small non-reactive saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes or until dates are softened. Remove from heat. Stir in cranberries and baking soda; cool to room temperature. Combine flour, baking powder and 2 ml (1⁄2 tsp) salt in a bowl; set aside. Using medium speed of an electric mixer, beat together 75 ml (1⁄3 cup) butter and 175 ml (3⁄4 cup) brown sugar until fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in 5 ml (1 tsp) vanilla. Add flour mixture to butter mixture and beat just until blended, about one minute. Stir in date mixture. Spoon batter into greased muffin cups, filling cups three-quarters full. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until a cake tester inserted in centres comes out clean. Meanwhile, to prepare sauce, combine 250 ml (1 cup) brown sugar, 125 ml (1⁄2 cup) butter and cream in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring frequently. Reduce heat and cook, stirring frequently, until slightly thickened, about 7 to 8 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in 5 ml (1 tsp) vanilla and 1 ml (1⁄4 tsp) salt; set aside. Cool puddings in pan for 5 minutes. Remove from pan and place, top side down, on individual dessert plates. Serve warm with sauce and whipped cream. Makes 12. life

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winter 2012-2013 | 35

life in the community | column

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Does anyone else have a problem with doors?

Other ‘lefties’ can probably identify with this seriously funny (to everyone else) problem that I have, but it is becoming ever increasingly NOT funny to me. One would think that the law of averages would dictate that at least 50 per cent of the time I would choose the right door, the one that opens the way I push it, to allow me to enter stores, banks, offices and restaurants. But that’s not the case. Inevitably, if there are two doors, the one I push is locked and the other opens freely. Why do they put two doors there if only one opens? I mutter as I try to switch to the other door unnoticed. If there is only one door into an establishment, also inevitably, I push when I should pull or pull when I should push. The frequency that this happens has become a joke, like: Let her go first and watch her go through the door. Even in places that I visit often – our favourite coffee shop comes to mind – I can’t remember which door I am supposed to use and, with a reverse savantlike determination, nearly 100 per cent of the time I choose the wrong door. The first door problem I can remember occurred in high school. I took public transit in the days before backpacks when binders and textbooks were strategically balanced as we made our way on and off the buses. Off was the problem. While balancing my books in one arm, I would step onto the two stairs down to the exit door and notice, time and time again, my free hand was on the opposite side from the bar that pushed open the door. The bar was always on the same side, but try as I might I couldn’t remember. I would have to quickly shift

my load from one arm to the other, not an easy task when carrying two or three binders and an equal number of textbooks. Or I would have to reach across my torso, push and, as the door opened, hop out (most times successfully) sideways.


Step out of the ordinary and into...

I also have a problem with sliding doors, specifically the one at the local library. As most people approach, the door opens and they walk right through without breaking stride. I, however, must sidle in on an angle because the door rarely opens until it and I are almost glass to nose. I have also been known to stand in front of the wrong glass panel waiting for a tightly sealed window to open. So today, as I walk up to the door at the drug store, I ponder, How many people do you know who think about how a door is going to open when they reach it? That’s how neurotic I am becoming. I check it out and decide, Ah, only one automatic door – piece of cake. So I walk boldly and with confidence toward the door and … it doesn’t open. The door is broken. I have to stop abruptly to keep from running into it. Behind me, my husband wisely squelches a guffaw as I pull – no push – open the door and march in. life

Sunday Brunch at the WOODS

Waking up to strong coffee, Eggs Benny, French toast and bacon may seem like a dream - but The WOODS makes this a reality every Sunday morning. The selection is enormous and ranges from traditional breakfast faves to seafood, prime rib, a chocolate fountain and beyond. What are you waiting for? Make your reservation now and experience panoramic views while living the moments we all dream about...

525 Woodside Drive Airdrie Reservations Recommended 403.948.7416

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Call 403 283 7843 today for a complimentary estimate and to book your Christmas Light Set-up. Remember, WE LOVE LARGE TREES.

CALL 403.283.7843 AND BOOK TODAY BUGABOO Lights is Fully Insured, has WCB and practices Safety First at all times. winter 2012-2013 | 37

life in the moment | pets


with JAMes FrOese

Pet Food in the Spotlight ... Again One way to feel less vulnerable when choosing pet products is to learn how to interpret the ingredient panel on a bag or can of dog or cat food. Firstly, items on the panel are listed in order of their weight before cooking. For example, if “chicken” is the first ingredient listed, and the next four ingredients are various forms of rice, there could actually be more rice than chicken in the food, because raw chicken contains about 50 per cent water. Secondly, the difference between the words “meal” and “byproduct” as outlined by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) can be a bit confusing. Chicken meal, for example, is clean chicken flesh and skin with or without bone which has been cooked (or rendered) before it is added to the primary cooking process. This keeps the protein concentration higher in the food (as compared to just “chicken” because the water has already been removed), and essentially makes it easier for food companies to create a higher-level protein food. In contrast, byproduct includes slaughtered animal parts that do not have meat, such as, but not limited to: lungs; spleen; kidney; brain; liver; blood; bone; stomach and intestines freed of their contents; and partially defatted low-temperature fatty tissue (definition from AAFCO). On Sept. 28, 2012, CBC Marketplace aired a show called Fighting for Fido. The program discussed issues with chicken jerky coming from China, with reference to how a few thousand dogs in the United States have become sick from chicken jerky treats. Two pet owners from Manitoba whose dogs developed kidney problems were also interviewed. One dog recovered, but sadly the other did not.

You may have also seen the general terms “meat” or “animal” preceding a term such as “byproduct” or “meal.” What you need to know is that this general term could include: expired meats from the grocery stores; road kill; dead, dying and diseased animals, such as cancerous animals and organs; euthanized animals, including animals from zoos; and euthanized pets!

I am not specifically familiar with the chicken jerky brands that were highlighted, as these are not brands that we carry. However, watching the documentary made me think of the largest pet food recall in history (only five years ago), in which pet foods containing cheaper products from China were hit hard, as they were tainted with melamine.

So the next time you are shopping for pet food, take a good look at the ingredient panel. If you see things like “meat meal,” “meat byproduct,” “animal by-product” or “animal fat,” you may want to reconsider before making that purchase, and talk to someone at your local pet specialty store regarding pet food ingredients. Don’t settle for ‘mystery meats.’ Your furry family members will thank you for it, and everyone will benefit from their improved quality of life. life

It is a sad thing when our beloved pet becomes sick, especially when it seems to be from foods that we thought were good quality.

– James Froese is owner of Global pet Foods in Airdrie

38 | winter 2012-2013


Raclette cooking expands recipe repertoire A Swiss tradition brings Canadian congeniality home for dinner Yes, there’s a (whiff of winter) nip in the air ... but why say goodbye to casual backyard barbecues and easy entertaining? Bring the party inside with a Canadian twist on a time-honoured Swiss tradition — raclette cooking for family and friends. Raclette dates back to the days of melting half a round of cheese in front of an open fireplace and recapping the day’s events at Swiss farmhouses. The aromatic melted cheese was served simply as a topping on sliced potatoes (with finger foods like gherkins, pickled onions and thin slices of air-dried beef). Today, Kitchen Boutique offers a variety of electric raclette machines in different models and price ranges to bring home the conviviality of this casual dining experience. While the principle remains the same — ingredients are placed in small, non-stick dishes to cook under a heating element — the modern version invites participation. Diners relax and share stories over drinks while creating their own personalized dishes. Raclette slows the pace and builds rapport, encouraging conversation and friendly banter. Even better, today’s raclette equipment let’s you prepare ahead — you’ll be cooking with your friends, not for them. Reversible grill plates and hot stones are perfect for cooking vegetable, meat and seafood dishes above the heating element, while cheese sizzles below. Add a leafy salad and dinner’s on the table. A reversible grill allows desserts like crepes and pancakes to be cooked alongside the entrée. Whether you prefer your cheese pungent or mild, Swiss raclette or French raclette, Kitchen Boutique’s full line of Swissmar raclette equipment frees you to savour the moment. *Starting from $110.00

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40 | winter 2012-2013

community life in the 57 Star Athlete

46 Men of Movember 50 nose Creek players

citylife | ice time

Ice Heroes story by Alex Frazer-Harrison

Meet the unsung heroes who keep Airdrie on ice

42 | winter 2012-2013

Ice rinks are as much a part of Canadian culture as the Mounties.

Holmes studied his trade at SAIT and worked in Strathmore and at Calgary’s Don Hartman North East Sportsplex before joining the City of Airdrie six years ago. “You have to be a jack of all trades,” Holmes says of his employees, who have to be current on not only ice-making but also working with

Whether indoors at the Ron Ebbesen and Plainsmen arenas, carved out of snowbanks or surrounded by wooden boards across the city, rinks are part of what makes Airdrie a great city for those who love to strap on their skates. But the rinks don’t magically appear once the mercury drops. The City of Airdrie has teams of workers who make sure the ice stays smooth. “Mother Nature has a lot to do with it,” says Kevin Brinson, team leader with Parks Operations, whose group responsibilities include maintaining ice rinks and checking water-body ice. “For natural [outdoor] ice, it has to be -10 C or better. We want to give it [a thickness of] at least one to two inches before we let anyone on it. “If it’s a water body,” Brinson adds, “we can’t tell [users] if it’s safe or not, because of liability, but we can tell them how thick it is.” Brinson, like many who get into ice-rink maintenance, was driven by a dream shared by many a hockey fan: “The Zamboni drew me to it – and now I get to drive a Zamboni!” (The ice resurfacer used by Parks is actually pulled by a tractor, rather than being the street-sweeperlike hot rod you see between NHL periods. But it gets the job done.) But what Mother Nature giveth, she taketh away, too, and Brinson’s team is always on its toes. “We have a crew working around the clock for about a week … sometimes we have two or three crews and all they do is flood rinks,” he says. “We could do all that and one chinook wind comes and wipes it out and we have to start again!” Chinooks and storms are less of an issue for the three Cityowned indoor ice sheets at Ron Ebbesen and Plainsmen, the domain of arena operations co-ordinator Jeremy Holmes and his team.

the refrigeration plants, boilers and maintenance aspects of the arenas. “Our biggest goal is to always improve, move forward, and that’s the best part of this job. “We upgraded our refrigeration plant … putting in new technology, getting rid of the old,” he adds. “It’s just improving operation and efficiency and it’s always fun to get new stuff, so it’s like Christmas!” (One example of the “new stuff” used in Airdrie’s arenas is the Olympia IceBear, an electric, laser-guided ice resurfacer that has succeeded the traditional Zamboni. The IceBear was front and centre at the Vancouver Olympics.) Holmes says that close to 10,000 gallons of water are needed to flood the average rink, and it’s a four-person job to pump-and-boom the hockey lines into the ice. “We have a slurry tank and we mix up three combined coats of paint and use a 14-foot spray boom; one [person] controls the pump, two control the hose and one controls the boom and we walk … a lot!” he says. For Brinson, flooding of outdoor rinks usually starts in November, and he loves seeing children and families using the finished product. “Our goal in Parks is to make sure everyone is active,” he says. Holmes, too, often sees youngsters watching in fascination as the rinks begin to transform into hockey and ice skating meccas. “The little kids always wave – and they’ll wait for [a] wave back,” he says. “There’s a lot of enthusiasm.”


FOR MORE INFORMATION on Airdrie’s indoor and outdoor rinks, visit

winter 2012-2013 | 43

life in the community | innovators Of course, everyone already knows Airdrie is awesome, but over the past year a local initiative has taken the idea one step further. Inspired by the keynote speech at the 2011 Winning Edge Awards, Awesome Airdrie was established by Creative Airdrie to give a leg up to local initiatives of all shapes and sizes. Several times a year, submitted ideas are judged by a panel of 10 who have each ponied up $100; that $1,000 is then awarded to the best-judged idea. “It felt like, for a number of years, we were just on the cusp of where we could be a bedroom community of Calgary, or become that true quality-of-life community,” says Awesome Airdrie chairperson Leona Esau. “This reflects how we’re growing as a community, and it’s amazing the ideas that have come out.” Jay Stoudt, who by day works in technical services for the City of Airdrie and by night plays with the band Steady the Wheel, received the first Awesome Airdrie grant, story by AlEx FrAzEr-hArrison photo by CArl pAtzEl

Making Airdrie


An inspiring concept arrives in the city

Clockwise from top: Awesome winners Chris haacke, nicole haacke, sherry shaw-Froggatt, Jay stoudt and Alicia laurin

44 | winter 2012-2013

which he used to help establish Supporting Local Area Musicians in Airdrie (SLAM), a non-profit geared to promoting the city’s growing musical scene. “We jumped on this chance,” says Stoudt.“When we won the money, we had no operating funds at all, and this got us on our feet. We were able to register as a non-profit society, get some promotion materials, and it helped us book our first venue at Bert Church Theatre.” In its first year, SLAM has hosted several music events, partnered with Air 106.1 FM on a songwriting contest, organized entertainment at Airdrie Fest (a long-term goal, Stoudt says, is expansion of the event) and attracted more than 100 members ranging in age from 14 to 73. Other Awesome Airdrie recipients include airdrielife publisher Sherry Shaw-Froggatt for her idea to beautify downtown traffic light control boxes; Chris and Nicole Haacke for Reaching for the Stars, a proposal for a climbing festival that’s now set for May 2013; and the most recent recipient, Alicia Laurin, for Club Cre8, which supports youth in paying it forward and doing something to help their community. “Perhaps someone wants to make peanut-butterand-jam sandwiches for the homeless, or bedtime snacks for the children of the women’s shelter,” Laurin says of her idea. Cre8, similar to Awesome Airdrie, considers idea proposals – a learning experience for the committee she’s forming, she says, since it’ll include teens aged 13 to 17. With the $1,000 award she received going into the fund, says Laurin,“We won’t have to do any fundraising right off the bat.” Rob Christensen, president of Goodmen Roofing and a member of the selection committee that chose Laurin’s idea in September, says he’s been impressed by the range of ideas presented to Awesome Airdrie. “We had ideas ranging from far left field to far right field. Alicia’s [proposal] involves so much of the community … it’s a nice, clean, simple idea that could benefit a lot of people,” Christensen says. “That got us really stirred up.” Inspired by how Calgary has covered many of its utilitarian-grey traffic light control boxes with colourful, artful designs, Shaw-Froggatt used her award to kick off a similar project, beginning with the traffic box at Main Street and First Avenue. “Everything we do successfully in this city has been grassroots,” she says. “These awards are all about creating a great community. I think it’s important we keep the momentum going.” The next Awesome Airdrie award is scheduled for Dec. 12, with the submission deadline set for Nov. 23. For more information, visit life

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life in the community | well-groomed guys

Local Airdrie men take up the challenge of


story and photos by Carl Patzel


nitially Rob Jamieson thought he was just a couple of whiskers away from getting a few laughs and raising a bit of money for a good cause. Soon though, as he decorated his upper lip with an impressive, albeit out-of-fashion, moustache, the Movember project hit home for Jamieson and began to take on more significance. “I’ve been doing Movember for two years now,” he says.“My grandpa passed away about four years ago and I didn’t actually realize it was because of prostate cancer.” Sporting an evil-villain, Snidely Whiplash-like ‘stache, the local radio personality was part of 22-member Team Hairdrie, which raised more than $6,000 during the Movember campaign of 2011. On the 2012 entry, Jamieson was going for a tougher frontier look that wouldn’t be out of place on Hell on Wheels. “I may do the handlebars, getting it to go all the way down to the chin. It will be a little bit more bad ass,” Jamieson, who was sporting a full beard in October, adds with a laugh.“I’m not a cop, plus I work in radio so it doesn’t matter whether I shave or not.” Last season the locals officially joined a 39-strong group of Airdrie firefighters who also brought in more than $11,000 for the prostate cancer annual benefit.

46 | winter 2012-2013

“It’s an easy thing to do,” says Jamieson.“I have breast cancer survivors in my family and knowing that my grandpa passed away because of it … all it is is growing a moustache. “The comparison is, grow a moustache and ask some friends for a little bit of help,” he adds, “or watch people you care about have to go through what our family has gone through.” The Movember campaign was officially introduced in 2007 as a means of raising money and awareness for men’s health, specifically prostate cancer. The initiative drew 9,000 participants from across Canada in that inaugural season, with Mo Bros and Mo Sistas, as participants are known, raising more than $550,000. That number grew to more than $22 million for the 2010 outing. Funds raised go to the Movember men’s health partner, Prostate Cancer Canada (PCC). One in seven men will be diagnosed with cancer – occurrences of the disease are compared with breast cancer numbers in the female population – and PCC’s goal is to eliminate prostate cancer through education, research, support and awareness. Kent Rupert, team leader for Airdrie Economic Development, didn’t need much encouragement to launch Team Hairdrie and start on his

Men of the ‘stache in 2011 included Mayor Peter Brown (in front, third from left)

own upper-lip fuzz. Comprised of City of Airdrie employees, Mayor Peter Brown, local business owners and residents, the group formed after a casual conversation on the subject. “One of our City staff came up with the idea of calling it Team Hairdrie, then it just took off from there,” says Rupert. Raising awareness for a cause that was considered a taboo topic just a few years ago takes on a serious tone for the group. But the manly competition leaves plenty of room for a bit of entertainment and goodnatured gibes. “It is serious, but it’s a good way to raise some money and have a lot of fun,” Rupert says. Those taking the challenge begin November with a clean-shaved upper lip and see what develops in the hair department during the 30-day growth period. By the end of the month, sporting nostalgic styles last seen in the ’70s, several Team Hairdrie members compare each other to a few unsavoury actors and rock stars of eras past. Others are mocked for the lack of felt achieved on their upper deck. “It’s a fun campaign,” Rupert says, “because you see guys who wouldn’t normally have moustaches and probably shouldn’t normally have moustaches.

Rob Jamieson makes the most of the Movember movement

“Most of the ridicule comes from family, friends and co-workers,” he adds. For Jamieson, who is venturing into his third Movember campaign, the event is a free ticket to a change in style, even if it rubs a few people the wrong way. “My wife doesn’t really like it but she understands why I’m doing it,” he says with a chuckle. “But you get conversation going [about] why you’re doing it. Obviously with most forms of cancer it’s all about detection and understanding that getting to a doctor right away can be a life-changer.” And with its in-your-face approach, Movember has made it tough to ignore the issue of prostate cancer, what was once considered an embarrassing condition. “The last three or four years [Movember has] become something that people look forward to,” Jamieson says.“I hate to say it but it’s almost like a holiday – people mark the calendar for Movember.” The 32-year old is all about getting out the message of early detection and early treatment. “If conversation about a moustache says maybe I should get my prostate checked,” he says, “then I’ll grow a moustache 365 days a year if I have to.” life winter 2012-2013 | 47

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life in the community | theatre

e g a t S r Ente story by Sarah

Deveau | photos

by Kyle Wudrich

g in g in r b e r a s n ia p s How local the


50 | winter 2012-2013

Airdrie resiom at Genesis Place, ro ity un m m co all n a sm inary audience peers out at an imag dent Anne Mulders en of Bingo. amatic comedy Que dr e th r fo s se ar he re the as she people spread out in n ze do lfha a of e Mulders is on sing costumes g lines, others discus sin ar he re e m so , ayers room rt of Nose Creek Pl pa all e r y’ he T . ns io and stage direct pporting the zation devoted to su ni ga or t ofi pr nno a (NCP), . theatre arts in Airdrie name, Airdoup by its previous gr e th ow kn t igh m for 25 Locals irdrie Little Theatre A e th re we e “W . re rie Little Theat the new exe president resigned, tim ng lo e th n he w t e for a years, bu d decided now was tim an n io vis s hi of ld ecutive took ho t Kim Cheel. ge,” explains presiden an ch e m na a d an rt ted by fresh sta policy was implemen al nt re w ne a e, tim At the same ers to re-evalng Nose Creek Play iri qu re , rie ird A of Genesis the City e been rehearsing at y’v he T e. ac sp e us uate how they ding Goldenvarious venues, inclu at g in rm rfo pe le hi d we Place, w footing a little bit, an r ou ng di fin ll sti e r Rod Hall. “We’ re we can find s dependent on whe It’ . on as se t se a ve e plays; don’t ha year we’re doing thre s hi “T t. en id es pr e space,” says th tival.” and then a one-act fes ts and last year we did two trained in theatre ar lly na sio es of pr is el While Che veral years in ittrick worked for se cK M n bi Ro t en id es have little, vice-pr e group’s members th of y rit ajo m e th the industry, ion for theatre. d simply share a pass an g, in in tra tre ea th stripes, if any, d area residents of all an rie ird A s ise pr m The group co der. k.“And from 17 to 55 and ol is year,” says McKittric th s ce fa sh fre of t lo “We have a sive group, and le. We’re a very inclu op pe w ne g ein se ants to be we love le for anyone who w ro a d fin n ca we y we always sa

t f e L

e r t a e h t e v li o t e f li w e n

help with ge or they want to sta on be to t an w ey involved, whether th else.” stumes or anything is quick to directing, writing, co ired, but McKittrick qu re e ar ns tio di au the For onstage roles productions around eir th an pl s er ay Pl Creek en the most point out that Nose can find a role for ev d an , rs be em m s p’ Little interest of the grou took from Airdrie we gs in th e th of “One d can find a inexperienced actor. nyone who is intereste A n. sio clu in of t ep Theatre is the conc ys McKittrick. CP to be inplace in our group,” sa ual. Gross joined N vid di in ch su e on is acMelinda Gross to grace the stage as an y ad re ily ar ss ce ne t wasn’t behind-thevolved in the arts, bu other valuable role – an l fil to y pp ha an th er for tor. She was more t as the stage manag ac to d re ee nt lu vo ly recent rk with the scenes support. She to continuing to wo d ar rw fo g in ok lo is ith an a production, and ys Gross. “Anyone w sa ” g, in m lco we so e ey’r arms, whether group. “I love how th welcomed with open is y cit pa ca y an in interest in theatre en lighting. acting, writing or ev mmunity and they’re interested in ionate about their co ss pa e ar s] er ay Pl “[Nose Creek ds. way they can,” she ad y an in ity un m m co group offers involve the nt opportunities the re ffe di e th t ou ab s rformed Gross also rave ast summer they pe “L d. te lec se s ce an rm to mingle with in terms of the perfo , with local vendors de tsi ou , ry te ys m r ey prea historical murde . “Then in the fall th ys sa e sh ” , ce an rm perfo s, performed by before and after the ritten by local writer w s rk wo nt re ffe di sented three very ities.” the ARTember festiv festival at Bert local players during esenting a one-act pr o als is p ou gr e group In January, th by community and ed rm rfo pe d an n ritte wrights to find Church Theatre, w allow emerging play to nt rta po im ry ve le write members. “It is different reasons peop y an m e ar re he “T el. ty about sometheir voice,” says Che sis and to tell socie ar th ca y, m fa in eir ld of this plays: to find th y enough to take ho ck lu as w I t. ou ab gly e opportunity thing they feel stron fitting we open up th ly on s it’ d an P, C N opportunity with to everyone.” life winter 2012-2013 | 51

life in the community | youth

future heroes

story and photos by Carl Patzel

Cadet training creates solid citizens


eroism can come in many forms, and for some it begins with the simple task of being a good citizen. This is just one aspect of military life being passed along to Airdrie cadets learning the ways of the peaceful warrior. Discipline, structure, camaraderie – all can be attained through the cadet program as its young members, aged 12 to 19, trade childhood games for salutes, marching and fine-pressed uniforms.

52 | winter 2012-2013

“The first aim of the cadet movement is to instil citizenship and leadership. As we’re teaching them to be a leader in their peer group, we’re also teaching them to be good citizens to the country,” says Dylaney Thompson, a 17-year old university student and warrant officer with Airdrie 88 Lynx Air Cadet Squadron. The decision to adopt the regulated world of a cadet came easily for Thompson, who signed up on his 12th

Plenty of spit, shine, polish and discipline goes into being a cadet as the 3016 Army Cadets stand at attention while being inspected before parade night

birthday. Like his older brother, putting on the uniform was an aspiration at an early age, and Thompson quickly learned the meaning of ‘brothers in arms.’ “It’s not for everyone, but for a lot of people [with] the Airdrie Lynx squadron there’s a huge emphasis on the feeling of family,” says Thompson, who was hooked on building model rockets in the early days and eventually earning his powered plane licence. “I didn’t really see anything [else] anywhere close to what the leadership values are and the citizenship emphasis is in cadets,” he adds. Part of the goal of the not-for-profit, military-funded cadet organization is to create interest in the Canadian Forces, says Lynx commander Capt. Paulette Curtis. Through the three-day-a-week training regimen and glider training, she has witnessed graduates enter Royal Military College of Canada using the life-skills lessons taught through cadets. “I see kids coming into the program playing with their Legos and Barbies just years ago, but they come out … as young men and women [who] are able to walk into jobs and be professional and hold their own,” says Curtis. “The professionalism we see these kids walk out with is just phenomenal.”

While air cadets dream of soaring through the clouds, army cadets have their feet planted firmly on the ground. Still, the two have much in common, including biathlon and drill teams and marksmanship training. Life inside the parade lines of the 3016 Calgary Highlanders (Airdrie) Army Cadets has also offered an outlet for parents and youngsters looking for structure, discipline and a feeling of belonging to a group of peers. Spit-and-polished black shoes gleam as these young soldiers stand at attention shoulder to shoulder. Superior officers, displaying an impressive line of medals, inspect uniforms, hair and general neatness during their weekly parade meeting. Newcomers, many with puzzled, apprehensive faces, stand off to the side watching the precision drills and obedience displayed by the more experienced cadets. Many of these fresh faces are looking for a new experience, while many parents are looking for an outlet to help their child mature into a complete adult. “Sometimes parents will bring the cadets because they need discipline or maybe they’re not doing that well in school,’ says Capt. Tanya Mark, who took over as 3016 commanding officer in 2009.“But we see all types. We’ll see kids [who] are on the honour roll and kids [who] play football.” There is no typical cadet. Youngsters are drawn to the land training, expedition and wilderness training (utilizing map and compass) and the highly disciplined shooting instruction. Parents are looking for an organization to instil structure, discipline and respect in their child, Mark says, adding that cadets is also attractive as a free program being funded by the Department of National Defence. “They’re also looking for something to keep them off the streets and keep them busy, because we are super busy,” adds Mark, who is planning to take a group of cadets to the historical military sites in Europe while they research fallen soldiers. Both groups, with numbers around 70 cadets (30 per cent of those female), are highly visible in the community, volunteering for events and helping at the Royal Canadian Legion and Bethany Care Centre through the Cadets Caring for Canada program. “Most kids nowadays don’t want to volunteer, but we have kids asking if they can go help at the Legion on the weekend,” says Mark. That caring, respectful attitude attained while in a cadet uniform easily spills out into daily life and routines, says Thompson, who continues to give lessons to younger air cadets. “There is [a] big feeling of respect and that is something that we do teach,” the warrant officer says.“It’s just the small things. I will say thank you to somebody who is opening the door for me and I’ll make sure I hold open the next one. “It’s all about how you see society,” he adds. “You get to see the respectful side of society.” life Note: While Airdrie does not currently play home to navy cadets, there are Sea Cadets programs in Calgary winter 2012-2013 | 53

life in the community | sports

Airdrie Skating Club story and photos by Carl Patzel

54 | winter 2012-2013

For generations, Airdrie Skating Club has been sharpening interest for sport and recreation. Celebrating its 35th season in the city, the skating club is now recognizing generational interest on the ice with former and current students. “We’re actually at the point now where we are registering children of parents [who] used to skate with us. That speaks to the longevity of the club,” says Airdrie Skating Club vice-president Teree Hokanson. Much more than just a figure skating club, the ice experts pride themselves on being the first stop for many beginners on blades. With their CanSkate program they help newcomers of all ages (beginning at age four) smoothly glide across the ice, eventually building good balance, power and speed. “That reflects why we are actually called the Airdrie Skating Club and not the figure skating club,” Hokanson says.”Our goal is ultimately to provide that enjoyable atmosphere where children learn how to skate and decide that skating becomes a lifelong skill and enjoyment.”

Over the past few years the atmosphere has changed in the skating world. As such sports as ringette and hockey acknowledge the evergrowing importance of strong skating skills, more emphasis has been placed on the CanPowerSkate program. Sweeping across Canada, and having an impact on skating clubs, the program is attracting coaches and teams looking for that on-ice skating advantage. Club instructors require specific training for the program in order to help their students develop basic skating skills, with the emphasis on backwards drills, balance, endurance, stroking and turns. This year the Airdrie club introduced a reorganized program with full-ice, full-gear training for hockey and ringette players. “Coaches, parents and skaters need to come out and see what that program looks like,” says Hokanson, “and see the benefit it could be for their team and their players. “Whether it’s hockey or ringette,” she adds, “developing those really strong skating skills are going to take you a long way.” The club relies on a strong core of coaches to guide its students. Bobbi Magee, a former two-time provincial dance champion, brings 12 years of experience to the club. Lynnell Moss has more than 19 years of teaching experience and received the Skate Canada club and recreational coach award of excellence in 2012. Magee and Moss round out their coaching staff with occasional new additions and former students.

Hokanson says many students are brought to the club initially for basic skating skills and eventually feed into the local hockey and ringette programs. Of course, the club does encourage students to pursue the pure form of competitive figure skating, as well, through CanFigure and Junior Star programs, she adds. “Figure skating, different from the team sports … is very self-directed. The skaters have to be very self-disciplined and have to take responsibility for their own athletic training,” Hokanson says of the athletes who dedicate many hours to on-ice and dry-land training. “We’ve seen girls build their confidence and it builds their ability to take responsibility for other things within their lives. It’s not surprising when we start asking around that the vast majority of our skaters are all honour roll students.” Last season Airdrie Skating Club attracted close to 450 skaters, with 150 on waiting lists, mostly for the popular evening programs running from September to March and the spring schedule in April and May. But ultimately the skating club is committed to encouraging and enhancing enjoyment of this pastime to help create more generations of lifelong skaters. “If you believe being able to skate is one of those requirements of being Canadian, then this is the opportunity,” Hokanson says. “Years from now,” she adds, “the fact that [former members] can still go out and skate on the weekend with their families – we hope it’s because we did a really good job in giving them the fundamentals of how to skate.” life winter 2012-2013 | 55

life in the community | caring

A community of compassion How the Airdrie Hospice Society sees the future No one dies alone. That’s the vision of the Airdrie and District Hospice Society. And those involved in the creation of this compassionate organization know that the Hospice Society is something the community needs, wants and is ready to support. “If you lose somebody in the community, the community loses,” says society chairperson Wendy Timmermans, “and so we need to be supporting the people who are left.” Fellow society member Maggie Armstrong agrees. “Unfortunately, death happens to all of us, loss happens to all of us,” Armstrong says. “Life continues … I think people want to help.” The concept of hospice is about more than simply easing physical symptoms for those facing what society calls “life-limiting illness.” It’s also about helping them live with dignity while staying in their own homes, and supporting them and their loved ones facing the psychological, emotional and spiritual issues that can come with imminent loss. Such support can be in the form of simple help with everyday chores – grocery shopping, shoveling the walk, mowing the lawn, walking the dog – so families can spend precious time with their terminally ill loved one while maintaining a sense of normalcy in their lives. “We as a community can be there to help them through it,” says society member Michele Gray, an RN who works in palliative care.“What comfort for the dying person to know that the community is helping [his or her] loved ones.” When the Hospice Society was in its infancy a couple of years ago, members had already identified the needs for local families facing end-of-life issues and it wasn’t a matter of finding hospice beds, which already exist. “There’s very good care for people who are dying,” Timmermans says. The stresses on the family, however, could be addressed. As such, the society has three main goals: to develop a volunteer base; to develop a compassionate care fund; and to develop a good program of education and support. The compassionate care fund, Gray says, will be established to assist families with the extraordinary costs they may face, from time off work to transportation. The

56 | winter 2012-2013

by AnnE bEAty

fund can be used for such things as paying for a cab for someone in an outlying area to get groceries or ensuring a rural family has transportation to visit a dying loved one in Calgary. As for the education program, society members see this as essential in helping people cope with the stresses and challenges associated with terminal illness. Such resources as seminars can tackle difficult topics and get people talking.“Death is normal and we need to recognize that,” Gray says. “We need to normalize that, because it’s easier to navigate that journey.” While the Hospice Society is not yet at the stage of building the volunteer base, there are many ways the community can help. “Right now we need money, but more than that we need expertise,” Timmermans says.“We have the passion, but we don’t necessarily have the skills.” The society is registered, with a charitable status, so donations – individual, as well as corporate – are also welcome. While members are donating their time, there are costs associated with running a non-profit organization, such as office costs and ongoing training.“We have to stay current,” Armstrong says, adding that the society is also looking to secure funding through grants at various levels of government. For now, members are more than happy to do presentations to community groups interested in learning more about the Hospice Society. “People need to know what we’re doing, that we’re here … and we’re evolving,” Gray says. Ultimately, Armstrong and Gray say, the society would like to have a ‘home’ – a building which could serve as a gathering place for people to access resources they need, receive counselling and guidance or simply drop in for company and a coffee. “It’s very exciting … and a little daunting,” Timmermans says.“It’s a big dream, but every dream starts somewhere.” The Airdrie Hospice Society meets every second Monday of the month at 5 p.m. at the Airdrie Regional Health Centre. For more information, e-mail or call 403-880-0424. life

life in the community | cover story

Earle Connor proves he has a leg up on overcoming adversity story by Sarah Deveau | photos by Kristy Reimer


arle Connor is well-known for his exceptional accomplishments on the 100-metre track as a Paralympic athlete. What a lot of people don’t know about Connor, though, is that he seriously considered quitting athletics entirely at the age of 15. “I was the first disabled athlete to be drafted into the WHL,” he explains. “Making it to the WHL, and then the NHL, was a goal I had been working towards for what seemed like forever. But I was one of the first players cut from the Lethbridge team.” Born without his left fibula, Connor had his leg amputated at just three months old. He played sports as a child, never allowing his disability to detract from his enjoyment of sport, or accomplishment. “Being cut on day three of training camp was really difficult,” he recalls. “I had to really look and see if it was something I could change, or was it something I had no control of. I realized it wasn’t meant to be. At that level of sport, my disability had caught up to me.”

n o t k h c g i a R Tr winter 2012-2013 | 57

life in the community | cover story Connor turned his attention to other sports, spending his high school years trying everything else his school had to offer. After watching the 1996 Atlanta Paralympics on television, he took up the only sport he had never tried in high school – track and field. In 1997 he was named the Canadian Disabled Athlete of the Year, won $25,000 in an Ultimate Challenge track meet in the United States and set his first 100-metre world record. Just 19 years old, he realized he could make a living as a disabled track-and-field athlete, and had embraced sport in his life again. Eyes set on the prize of winning Olympic gold, Connor trained for three years before bringing home the coveted hardware in Sydney in 2000. He continued to train until 2003, when he realized something wasn’t right with his health. Just two weeks after seeing his doctor, he underwent surgery for testicular cancer. “I was hiding my health issues from nearly everyone in my life,” he says.“It was absolutely the worst decision I could have made.” Before the 2004 Olympics, Connor tested positive for trace amounts of testosterone and nandrolone from his treatment.“Not taking that accountably cost me two years of my running career. This was not the way I wanted to end my career,” he says. At the end of the two-year suspension, Connor began training again, this time setting his sights on gold in Beijing. He won gold again, and announced that he was retiring from the sport. “I was 30 years old and ready for a new challenge.” Connor joined the Airdrie’s Simply for Life office as a nutritionist, and began helping clients set and achieve their own fitness and health goals.

58 | winter 2012-2013

“Earle’s passion for life spills out when he is working one on one with his clients,” says Danielle Cobbett, Airdrie Simply for Life owner.“He is always positive, motivating and supportive. He understands the battles we must overcome to achieve our goals and always does his best to inspire his clients to be the best they can be in all aspects of their lives.” Connor opened his own Simply for Life franchise in Cochrane in 2010, and settled into a routine. International competitions were a thing of the past. Or so he thought.

“When I watched the 2010 World Championships in New Zealand I realized the winning time was on par with what I had run in Sydney, and what I thought I could run again,” he says.“So I called my coach and said, ‘Let’s see if I can make an unbelievable comeback.’ I didn’t want to be 40 wishing I had tried one more time.” With only 45 weeks to train, Airdrie rallied around him. “There’s no other place I’d like to live,” says Connor. “This city has been extremely supportive. My neighbours helped support me on my journey in so many ways, from shoveling my walk to mowing my lawn, allowing me the time to put everything into my training. I don’t think I could have asked to have done this journey anywhere but Airdrie.” Connor finished fourth in the London games in September, and while disappointed with his finish, he is excited about the next chapter of his life – his wife Stephanie is expecting their first child in February.“My life is filled with goals I’ve set and achieved, but also goals I’ve set and have not achieved,” he says. “I try to help my customers at Simply for Life understand that even when you’ve done everything you can but you don’t reach your goal, you can’t ever quit on yourself.” life

“I didn’t want to be 40 wishing I had tried one more time”

Speed Round with Earle Connor When I was five I wanted to be … a famous athlete. The best advice I ever got was … “You can’t expect to win unless you make this a great practice.” (Les Gramantik, coach since 1999) My least favourite workout/exercise routine is … stretching. I just can’t stand still. My favourite workout music is … the sounds in my head. I can’t seem to keep earphones or ear buds on so I stopped the constant fight to wear them. My pre-race ritual includes … relaxing and having fun. I always grab a piece of grass or dirt and think how thankful I am to be there at that moment. I keep my medals … in a drawer in the office. I love sharing them so putting them somewhere that is not handy just doesn’t work. My secret food craving is … nachos. I have had nachos from every corner of the globe … but couldn’t get them in London! Top of my bucket list right now is … climbing up to the Christ Redeemer Statue that towers atop the Corcovado Mountain overlooking Rio de Janeiro, Brazil after I run in 2016! When I’m 70 I want to be able to … tell my grandkids that a long time ago I was the best in the world, back when Airdrie was only 40,000 people! The thing I am looking forward to most with my first child is … holding her for the first time. Something nobody knows about me is … I would love to be in politics one day. My favourite thing about my wife is … how much better of a person she makes me. winter 2012-2013 | 59

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62 | winter 2012-2013

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Sales Centre Sales Centre 242 Williamstown Close NW 1813 Reunion Terrace NW winter 2012-2013 | 63

A place to call

life at home | giving back

At first glance, the two homes on a side street in Bayside

look like your average family homes, with clean layouts, func-

tional kitchens, attached garages and all the amenities you’d expect in a pair of good starter homes. But there is a big difference between these houses and many of the neighbours: besides the nails, rivets and paint holding them together, they are also built with blood, sweat and a huge helping of love. Last summer, Habitat for Humanity Southern Alberta unveiled its first two completed homes in Airdrie. Habitat gives families a “hand up, not a hand out,” helping them get into affordable single-family housing with affordable mortgage payments. In exchange, families put ‘sweat equity’ into building the home. It was a concept that appealed to Laurence and Linda Ray, who established Airdrie Faith Build in hopes of providing housing opportunities for local families. “We started out of Faith Community Baptist Church as a Bible study group,” says Linda. “We had been doing studies on social justice in our community, and we decided you can’t talk about this; you have to do something about it. From that, Airdrie Faith Build was born.” It took four-and-a-half years for the collaboration of Airdrie Faith Build and Habitat to bear fruit. During that time, Airdrie Faith Build fundraised approximately $250,000 through such events as the Diamonds and Denim Gala and by garnering the support of corporate sponsors, such as Scotiabank and Totem. “Definitely one of the biggest challenges was finding land,” says Linda, adding that the cost of land is expected to be an ongoing challenge for future faith builds. The key to Habitat is that it provides lower-income and single-parent families the opportunity to own their own home, says Leslie Tamagi, Habitat for Humanity Southern Alberta president and CEO. “In the Habitat model, the families get to build the home for their future and their children’s future,” Tamagi says. “They purchase the home with zero down payment and zero interest. Habitat holds the mortgage, so the mortgage payments are never more than 30 per cent of their gross income. They’re building equity … and often their payments are equal or less than what they’re paying in rent.” The new neighbours in the first Habitat/Airdrie Faith Build aren’t strangers to each other. Cory Mennear and Daniela Drew drove for the same school bus company, and Drew recommended her colleague apply for the Habitat build. (Mennear has since taken a new job as an administrative assistant.)

64 | winter 2012-2013

“What this means to me is freedom,” says Drew. “We’re no longer rent-poor, we’re mortgage-rich!” Drew has three children: Patrick, 10; Samuel, 9; and Jessica, 6. She had her children compose pictures of what their new home means to them. One crafted a picture portraying happiness, another drew fireworks, and one created an image representing having a roof over his head and his own room. “At the end of the day, this is our house,” says Drew. “I’m not walking into someone else’s house and paying his mortgage; I’m paying our mortgage.” A new home symbolizes new beginnings. In Drew’s case, she hopes to start a career in safety services. But, for Mennear, who hopes to study to become a nurse, having a new home means not only a new beginning, but literally a new lease on life for her family, with children Jessie, 9, and Cassidy, 7. “We lived in a variety of homes, one drastically filled with mould,” she says. “My son was on inhalers and had his tonsils out and had a lung collapse. We moved … to get out of that, and the rent was $1,500 on a single income. But this is a new start … to dig out from where we were, and it’s an amazing new beginning for me and my family. “My dad passed away two years ago and I said [to him] we’d change our stars,” she adds.“Habitat and all of the sponsors have changed our stars for us.”

Daniela Drew and her kids share a laugh


Two families have their lives changed thanks to Airdrie Faith Build story by AlEx FrAzEr-hArrison | photos by Kristy rEiMEr

The Mennears’ new home has already had a positive impact on the children: “Since we moved … I haven’t given my son his inhaler or anything. I never realized it was so bad.” The two homes cover about 1,360 square feet each. While contractors took care of the more technical work, such as plumbing and electrical, it was the 12,000 hours of volunteer time – including more than 500 hours of their own “sweat equity’ put in by the Drew and Mennear families – that made the homes a reality, says Tamagi. Some 28 regular volunteers were augmented by such companies as Scotiabank that brought employees out for build days. After this initial success, Linda says, the hope is for more Habitat/Airdrie Faith Build projects; another Diamonds and Denim Gala was held in early November toward that end. Adds Drew:“Are we going to advocate for Habitat? Absolutely. Are we going to try and get more into Airdrie? Absolutely.” life

Cory Mennear gives her kids a big hug

winter 2012-2013 | 65

life at home | neighbours


his summer, two of the Airdrie’s most highly anticipated events were organized not by the City or a volunteer organization, but by a neighbourhood.

Cooper’s Crossing story by Sarah Deveau | photo by Carl Patzel

66 | winter 2012-2013

The Cooper’s Crossing neighbourhood-wide garage sale, held annually in May, attracted thousands of people to the streets of this southwest community. Residents spent the day meeting their neighbours, making cash for cleaning their closets, and enjoying a partylike atmosphere. Then, in September, the community hosted the Cooper’s Twilight Carnival, featuring live music, entertainment for the children and an impressive fireworks display. “The homeowner’s association (which plans the garage sale) was developed for the community’s long-term viability and we couldn’t be happier with the outcome,” says Helen Shields, with community developer WestMark Holdings. “Family-friendly events such as the Cooper’s Crossing Community-Wide Garage Sale and the Cooper’s Carnival have been the grassroots vision of Cooper’s Crossing residents. The events provide opportunities for neighbours to connect and build friendships that last for years to come and [we know] connections lie at the heart of strong neighbourhoods.” The community, named after a grain farming family that arrived in the area in 1892, is an estate-style neighbourhood covering 320 acres on a gentle hillside, 44 acres of which consist of beautiful green space featuring ponds, parks, picnic areas and playgrounds. The majority of the lots back onto this linear park system, with miles of recreational trails connecting every corner of the community. Situated close to the Sierra Springs shopping complex, two schools and Chinook Winds Regional Park, great care has been paid to ensure the homes are unique and very stylish. “This is not your typical cookie-cutter neighbourhood where the same house plans are repeated over and over,” explains Shields. “Cooper’s Crossing is home to the most prestigious streets in the entire city and we offer some of the largest lots currently available in Airdrie.” Several large, well-respected builders have offerings in Cooper’s, as do a selection of boutique, custom home builders. “The people who already live here show a lot of pride in their home and community,” says Shields.“You can see this pride when you walk around the area. Many yards are beautifully landscaped and the homes are impeccably maintained, and our community events are extremely popular. It’s the pride of current homeowners that really speaks volumes about the community.” life

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life at home | column


with Michelle Carre

Art at Home The purpose of staging a house is to make it feel more like a home. We want potential buyers to feel like it’s a place where they could live happily and enjoy their life. To do this, we use items that create a sense of comfort, such as candles, throw blankets, a bottle of wine or fluffy towels. These items are all ‘lipstick.’ They are pretty finishing touches, but beyond that there isn’t much else to them. When you actually move into a property you decorate with these items, but they are there as a complement to things that truly reflect who you are.

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68 | winter 2012-2013

I think that the items that really tell our stories are pieces of art. Sometimes people see the word “art” and equate it with things of great expense, but I strongly disagree. Art is defined as “the expression or application of human creative skill.” You may have surrounded yourself with art and not even realized it. Photos are a great example of an art form that many of us own. While I have the greatest respect for such photographers as Peter Lik and Ansel Adams, I think it’s still important to also appreciate a goofy self-portrait from a recent vacation or an inspiring photo from a local artist who isn’t world-renowned. Sculptures are another thing that you may not realize you have, but take a look around. That funky jar you bought at a market or the handcrafted bowl passed down through family generations are both pieces of art. The written word is another art form. Maybe you have a collection of books from your favourite author or a book of poetry on your coffee table – that, too, is art. Sometimes when decorating we get caught up in colour schemes, but I’ve read that your art does not have to match your decor. At first I couldn’t understand how that could work but it does. Art is about authentically expressing who you are, where you’ve been and what’s important to you. It’s a visual way of telling your story and you don’t have to match your throw pillows to do that. As art can come in many different forms it can also come at many different price points. Building an art collection isn’t about a one-day shopping trip; it’s about a lifetime of collecting. Once you buy a house and move in, take time to build up and layer pieces that turn it into your home. – Michelle Carre is a Realtor with Re/Max Rocky View in Airdrie

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winter 2012-2013 | 69

life at home|showhomes

A Family Reunion is home to many of Airdrie’s most inspiring showhomes. Exhibiting the best of affordable style, Reunion’s laned and frontgarage showhomes are sure to confirm that you’ve found all of the space, style and livability you’ve been hoping for in a new community.

70 | winter 2012-2013

Laned homes

Find your perfect laned home in Reunion and enjoy the best of modern living in this community bursting with warmth and charm. With designer-selected interior specifications and character exteriors from which to choose, you can be sure your new home will reflect your personal style inside and out. Laned homes from the low $290s: Excel Homes, McKee Homes, Sabal Homes. Lot sizes from 30-32 feet. Floor plans from 1,033 to 1,704 square feet.

Front-garage homes

Discover the space you need, together with the quality, style and innovation you expect from our awardwinning builder group. Designed with family living in mind, your new front-garage home will feature designer finishes and appointments, and can be carefully tailored to reflect your personal style. Front-garage homes from the mid $300s: Excel Homes, McKee Homes, Sabal Homes. Lot sizes from 36-40 feet. Floor plans from 1,614 to 2,341 square feet.


winter 2012-2013 | 71

life at home | spaces

Creating the

perfect kitchen

by Sarah Deveau

“Come on-a my house, my house, I’m gonna give a you apple, a plum and apricot-a too, eh” – Rosemary Clooney, Come On-A My House, 1951


he sharing of the kitchen’s bounty with family and friends has always been an integral part of a home, whether the fridge was harvest gold or stainless steel. However, the style of a kitchen certainly influences usability and enjoyment, and local Airdrie designers are available to help families create the perfect environment for cooking, eating and socializing. In years past, the kitchen was separated from the rest of the home, often divided into its own room distinct from the rest of the house, explains Leah Buss, owner and principal designer at Basic Elements. “In contrast, homes today place kitchens at the heart, creating a central hub for families to come together,” Buss says. “Often much of the main level of the house can be seen from the kitchen, with an emphasis on openconcept design.”

72 | winter 2012-2013

Buss, who opened her doors in 2009, specializes in residential design. Her company oversees projects from basic refreshes to full renovations or new-home design. “When designing or renovating a kitchen you should keep in mind the function that this central room in your home needs to provide for you and your family,” she says. “If, for example, you love to cook, you could have very different space requirements from someone hosting frequent cocktail parties.” Buss says that once you’ve decided the type of environment you want to create in your kitchen, it’s time to start planning. She’s seeing a lot of demand for the ‘transitional’ style.“It’s a blend of both the traditional and contemporary. Transitional style combines finishes with simpler lines than traditional, but slightly more elaborate than contemporary, creating a modern-classic look,” she says.

Debbie Hassen of McArthur Fine Furniture has been an interior designer for more than 20 years, and cautions home buyers on getting too excited about embracing the most current design trends, especially for the average family. “I’ve seen a lot of trends come and go,” says Hassen. “It’s really the designers [who] dictate trends, and sometimes that’s not always in the client’s best interest.” Her vision is to focus on the clients’ individual needs based on family dynamic, and how they use the space. “Dark colours might be trendy,” she says, “but they’re totally impractical for a busy family. It’s far more important for that family to incorporate practicality, ease of maintenance and good durable materials, such as leather, into the design.” Hassen suggests that those buying a new home or redesigning a kitchen do extensive research on not only what’s trendy, but also what they like and don’t like about other kitchens. She encourages people to take advantage of interior designers. “I always like to say, use your head and save your feet,” she laughs.“Companies like McArthur offer complete interior design services, including kitchen renovations and custom blinds and draperies, from concept to completion. “We’ve also seen some changes in the direction of our company,” she adds, “and while of course we still carry fine furniture, we now have an increased focus on factoring in affordability along with quality.” Once you’ve designed your kitchen to maximize its usability for both everyday family life and entertaining, it’s time to take the next step – using it! Make family dinners a regular occurrence, and invite friends and family over regularly to connect and enjoy the space you’ve created. life

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life at home | condos

Clockwise from top left: open concept space of the Edge condo, kitchen view of the Williamstown Urban, Streetside condo exterior, Williamstown townhomes and the future Creekside development

Make Mine Multi by Sarah Deveau

Multifamily housing offers a multitude of choices


ith real estate prices on the rise, many families are looking for budget-friendly alternatives to a traditional single-detached home. Luckily, Airdrie developers offer a wide variety of multifamily housing options. While typically buyers think of apartmentstyle homes as condos, and side-by-side homes sharing a wall as townhouses, today’s multifamily homes come in all shapes and sizes. “Condominiums encompass all building types, and [refer to] a type of ownership, rather than a style of home,” explains Ashley Carcasole, sales manager at Streetside Development Corporation.

74 | winter 2012-2013

A condominium is a form of property ownership in which the buyer purchases their specific unit, as well as becoming a joint owner on the common property with the other unit owners. Condominiums might be apartmentstyle, townhouses or duplexes. “In general, people who purchase a condominium-style home are looking to simplify their lives – be it more consistent utility payments, no exterior upkeep, or security,” says Carcasole.“For first-time homebuyers, it allows them to purchase a home at an affordable price, while not requiring a lot of maintenance or upkeep. For empty nesters, the ability to lock up and leave for six months without worrying about security or exterior maintenance is very attractive.”

Curt Woodhall, vice-president of sales and marketing with Vesta Properties, agrees. “Our townhomes are popular because they offer low-maintenance living and very spacious interiors and outdoor areas. People don’t have to spend time shovelling snow at -30 [C] or mowing the grass in the summer when they’d rather be enjoying the sunny weather, Woodhall says. “Our Urban townhomes offer an affordable choice with plenty of square footage and bedrooms for first-time homebuyers and young families, while our Classic townhomes offer expansive space and an ideal location for move-up families and downsizers.” Condos are generally more affordable than single-detached homes, and their affordability is

Why not curl up with a good book this winter? a key selling feature, especially for those on a limited budget, or who want to decrease the percentage of their income spent on home ownership costs. As Woodhall points out, there are a number of options available in Airdrie. Vesta offers different styles of townhomes, with sizes ranging from 1,107 to 1,530 square feet. Streetside has built a four-storey apartment-style condo complex on the east side. The Carlisle Group is now selling in a new condo development, with units ranging in size from 558 to 1,025 square feet. “We want everyone to be able to afford the opportunity of home ownership,” says Erin Ius, Carlisle Group marketing manager. “There will also be 3,000 square metres of commercial space spread out between four of the buildings. Customers will have the opportunity to personalize their home with options … and features to make their new home unique and their own.” In King’s Heights, The Courtyards, which comprises 126 suites, is nearly sold out, and Mattamy Homes is developing townhouses in Airdrie’s southeast. With so many affordable condo options from which to choose, home ownership is closer than ever for many Airdrionians. life

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winter 2012-2013 | 75

life at home | column


with Tina McMillan, C.I.D.

Dress up your home with warm winter layers Winter is here in Alberta, and you know what that means … unpredictable weather! One week there is a blizzard; the following week a chinook wind blows in and melts all of the snow. So, dressing in layers is just the way of life and this can apply to our homes as well. Home decor and the fashion industry have always been closely connected. Clothing designers have a major influence on what the trends will be two to three years in the future for interior design. Nature is teeming with original and simple ideas. The following five steps will take you through the decorating process as it applies to your home.


Opening your closet…. This is the step that requires the most homework and will determine both the colour and materials palette. Collect photos from magazines and search online resources for images of things or objects that you like. Open your mind to artistic suggestion from any source. (Consider your favourite travel destination, scarf, painting, decade, nature, etc.)

Foundation The ‘supporting’ clothes

These are the more tangible elements: walls, cabinetry, flooring, lighting, furniture, appliances, hardware and last but not least, budget. Are these features possible to change or a challenge to overcome? Consider your lifestyle, purpose of the rooms, and who will be living in the space.

Design basics That little black dress

Always keep in mind these design elements: Balance - Look at the room as a whole to make sure there are heavy and light features (e.g. wool and silk, wood and metal, pattern and solids).

76 | winter 2012-2013

Scale - Measure, measure and measure again to be certain everything fits. Form vs. Function - Choose multipurpose furniture to increase its value and flexibility. Contrast - Decide how much contrast you are comfortable with (e.g. a black-and-white vs. monochromatic colour scheme). Overall Flow - Try to maintain some form of continuity throughout by using colours that have the same tones.

Style defined One size does not fit all!

Only you know what you like and do not like. Above all, consider how to make your home a reflection of your personality and cultural influences. Warm paint colours with yellow undertones help to liven up a room.

Final touches Accessories

The embellishments are what make rooms come alive! Pillows, throws and soft lighting can give you that heartfelt embrace. Natural fibres can also up the level of coziness. In essence, your home is an expression of you. “Be it ever so humble, there’s no place like home.” life

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winter 2012-2013 | 77

Escape to Bayside in Airdrie

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work life at 86 They Make That Here?

82 Flying high 92 40 and Fabulous

life at work | column



Everyday heroes

Airdrie has so many people I would consider heroes. They are heroes because of the causes they champion, the teams they coach, the volunteer hours they give and the vision they bring to Airdrie. These individuals give their time, knowledge and money to the community. And in doing so, it’s these people that make Airdrie a special place to live and do business. The heroes I want to talk about today are the ones we don’t always recognize or hear about, yet we see them every day. We say hello to them, we ask them questions and we rely on them seven days a week. From food to fuel to clothes, they provide us with the products and services we require to get through the day. (Yes, that means coffee too!) They are our local businesses. Every day, they take care of us, making our lives easier and more enjoyable. Why are they heroes? Local businesses not only serve the community with their products and services, they also support us through employment, purchases, in-kind donations, sponsorship and volunteerism. You see business owners at special events, in our schools and recreation centres, and giving back to the commu-

nity in so many other ways. These business don’t have to do it, they want to do it. They do it because they care about the community in which they do business. Airdrie is home to nearly 1,700 businesses. Business owners who live in the community, play in the community and support the community. The majority of these businesses (86 per cent, to be precise) have fewer than 10 employees and are owner-operated. And many have been in Airdrie for decades. Many of these business owners are our neighbours and friends. When was the last time you thanked one of them for choosing Airdrie? Every year during Small Business Week we formally celebrate and recognize the contributions of small business in Airdrie. Every day, we have the opportunity to informally thank them. So, the next time you’re at a community event or facility or flipping through the newspaper, take notice of the role businesses have played. And the next time you frequent an Airdrie business, don’t forget to say “thanks” for being part of our community, and for being our everyday heroes. – Kent Rupert is leader of the City of Airdrie Economic Development team

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winter 2012-2013 | 81

life at work | mentors

words of wisdom

Entrepreneur shares

story AnD photos by Kurtis KristiAnson


t’s been four years now since Airdrie resident Don Bell retired from WestJet, the hugely successful airline he co-founded in the mid ’90s.Yet being retired does not mean it’s time to slow down – quite the opposite, actually. Bell has started a new chapter and may be just as busy as he was before. These days, he has taken the opportunity to focus on his family while still balancing business interests and recreational time. If this doesn’t really sound like the traditional description of retirement, that’s because it isn’t. During a short flight over Airdrie in a Cold War-era Russian aircraft, Bell explains what it is that makes this new segment of his life just as successful as his last. Simply put, anything that Bell has ever done well in his career has been because he was passionate about it. Whether working directly with employees, flying aircraft or backcountry skiing with friends and family, he was doing what he loved to do. “In my early days [maybe] I was working hard and not playing enough, but I never quit pursuing my passions,” he says. This personal ethic worked in Bell’s favour during the early part of his career and especially his time at WestJet. Placing a high value on relationships and believing that “people make the business,” he knew that if his employees liked their jobs, they would like their customers – a win-win situation. Creating an environment focused on people and not bureaucracy made WestJet one of the fastest-growing airlines in history. Bell’s attitude on life is straightforward: roadblocks to a more satisfying life can be overcome with a little insight and personal discipline. “It’s just focus and commitment,” he says. “Keep everything in balance and focus on your priorities.” For Bell, his experience has given him insights into how to live a fulfilling life. What matters to people, he says, is evident by the things on which they spend their time and money. “If you want to know what people value,” he says,“take a look at their chequebook or calendar.”

82 | winter 2012-2013

His advice includes periodically asking questions of yourself: Am I happy where I am? Are my priorities healthy and meaningful? Am I following my passions? The other half of the process, he adds, is understanding yourself and making things happen. “If you love it, you’re probably good at it,” he says. “If you work hard, do your best, show up early, work late, put in 150 per cent all the time, you’ll always get ahead. It may not be where you’re working today but you will get ahead. You’ll get noticed or promoted; opportunities will present themselves. And then go out there and connect, follow your heart to the things you like – those things will turn into passions and those may turn into careers in some cases.” Connecting with others and being in the right environment are also essential to success. “It doesn’t just happen. You create those opportunities for yourself,” he says, adding that networking with others who have similar interests is a valuable use of time, as it broadens your horizons and hones your interests. So what’s next for Bell now that he has switched gears? Of course, his family is still central in his life and his love for flying will never diminish, but he does have a few new interests that he is looking to nurture. While he’s not looking for a job per se, he would like to be involved in business as a mentor and coach. “I think switching more of my time to charity and philanthropy is a goal,” he says. “I’m still really attracted to business – I like it and it is fun.” Clearly, Bell is excited for this new chapter in his life, but he is also very grateful, especially for what this area and the community has given him. “I think it’s important to give back – the community has been great to me,” he says. “We are so blessed to live here with the opportunities – where else could you start something like a WestJet and have it be so successful?” life

“If you love it, you’re probably good at it....”

winter 2012-2013 | 83

2012 Winning Edge Award winner Wendy bates-Wiebe, owner of the hair lounge inc.

on the Edge of Glory

Kristy rEiMEr

by AlEx FrAzEr-hArrison

Celebrating business in Airdrie


he brightest lights of Airdrie’s small-business scene shared the spotlight with Lady Gaga at the 2012 Winning Edge Awards. The awards, organized by the Airdrie Business Resource Partnership as part of Small Business Week, also paid tribute to a pioneering business owner. “Fifty years ago, if you were innovative you were almost a pioneer starting up a new business in the community,” said Airdrie Business Leader Award recipient Hugh Hamilton, owner of Airdrie Registry which he started a half-century ago as an offshoot of a golf course business. “My first thoughts of Airdrie were [initiated] in 1961 by a little piece of paper: ‘70 acres for rent in Airdrie; ideal for nine-hole golf course,’” Hamilton said in his acceptance speech. From selling $3 rounds, he opened Hamilton Agencies in 1962 and went on to help establish the Airdrie Chamber of Commerce and become a mentor to generations of small-business owners.

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Organizers didn’t want Hamilton’s award to be seen as a “lifetime achievement award,” said Airdrie Business Resource Partnership president Mike De Bokx. “He’s still active in the community, still doing a lot and still giving. I’m sure a lot of people went to him for advice.” Hamilton left the packed house at Woodside Golf Course with two pieces of advice:“You never give your customer an opportunity to go elsewhere if you give prompt, professional courtesy service … and you listen and learn in your interactions with people and you associate with and listen to your customer.” And:“If it is to be, it is up to me.” The Hair Lounge Inc. received the Winning Edge Award, which honours small businesses that excel in areas such as innovative practices, growth, customer service, contributions to the community and entrepreneurship. “It’s important to support your community – it’s our community that supports us [and] without the community, the Hair Lounge would not exist,” said owner Wendy Bates-Wiebe, who opened with six employees in December 2008 and has since doubled her staff. Her business has grown 46 per cent in the last year alone. “All that hard work and determination is paying off, and it’s nice to be recognized for the things you do in a community. Since the day I opened my doors and started joining committees and putting myself out there, the community has accepted me 100 per cent.” In her acceptance speech, Bates-Wiebe said: “This room is full of so many wonderful companies … every company here is deserving of the award.” Global A.P.E., a shop that sells eco-friendly fair trade products and encourages sustainability, picked up its second Eco-Edge Award. “Environmental issues are an important part of our everyday business – everything from how we operate our company to the products [and environmentally sustainable solutions] we provide,” said owner Jodie Simpson. “It is a challenge in this economy to do something different … but we’re stubborn, so we’re hanging in!” Simpson said, adding Global A.P.E. (Animals, People, Environment) ships Fair Trade products across Canada. The Family Friendly Business Award went to Michael and Kimberley Acheson of Rockyview Insurance Services – The Co-operators. “I think it’s important to support family-friendly practices in insurance, specifically, because it is a family product,” said Kimberley.“Being family-friendly means you should be able to support [customers] in doing what needs to be done … the easier you can make your office environment for customers, the better it will be.” Headlined by a performance by Lady Gaga, tying into the theme “On the Edge of Glory,” this year’s awards were a true gala affair, complete with red carpet, paparazzi, and MC Alan Tennant in a kilt. “This is our 15th year celebrating small business and we wanted to make this year special and really create an event that represents where Airdrie is going – not where it’s been, but where it’s going,” said Winning Edge Awards Committee chair Leona Esau. life

Do You Snore? Are You Gettinga Good Night’s Sleep? Snoring and sleep apnea is a serious health risk. It has been estimated that 90 million people in North America have breathing problems leading to snoring, sleep apnea and insomnia. Patients who suffer from snoring and sleep apnea are at greater risk of heart attacks and strokes Snoring and Sleep due to high blood pressure as a Apnea may cause: result of lack of oxygen.

Snoring occurs when the tongue partially blocks the airway while the patient sleeps on their back. Sleep Apnea occurs when the tongue completely blocks the airway. Both situations are harmful since the patient is deprived of oxygen. Some patients actually stop breathing for 10 seconds or more hundreds of times each night, causing them to wake up several times during the night gasping for air. When they are deprived of oxygen, a patient may have problems getting to sleep, wake up frequently at night, or experience loss of memory, difficulty concentrating and nighttime grinding of teeth.

CPAP Device

Oral Appliance

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High Blood Pressure Chronic Sleepiness Strokes Heart Attacks Heartburn Depression Morning Headaches Impotence Lack of Energy Loss of Memory Type II Diabetes

Many patients are prescribed CPAP units, which consist of an air compressor that forces air up the nose in order to open the airway. While the CPAP is successful when utilized, many patients are non-compliant after one year. Patients much prefer to wear an oral appliance that repositions the lower jaw and the tongue forward, which opens up the airway. Patient compliance with oral appliances is over 90%. 403.948.3342 • 229 1st Street. SW, Airdrie * All procedures are performed by a general dentist

winter 2012-2013 | 85

life at work | business profiles

They Make That Here? You’d be surprised to know how much manufacturing actually occurs in your city… from tortilla chips to tubs

story by Alex Frazer-Harrison | photos by Carl Patzel


rom the jungles of Brazil to the local corner store, products made here in Airdrie can be found around the world. Here are three companies that have helped put Airdrie on the map.


If you drive around northeast Airdrie, it seems Propak is everywhere. And no wonder; with some 1,000 employees, it is Airdrie’s biggest employer, and its modular energy processing equipment and plants for the oil and gas industry – all designed and built in our backyard – can be found on sites from Saskatchewan to the tip of South America.

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“It’s like we have 10 to 15 different businesses here,” says Don Marshall, vice-president of operations. “Our company being [involved in] engineering, procuring, fabrication and construction management … we offer engineering, drafting, business-type careers. You look at the [metal] fabrication side … we have roughly 600 employees and 10 different trades groups.” Propak needs a big team when it’s hired to, for example, design and build a plant to extract liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) from solution gas generated at an oilfield … and then transport 45 modular pieces of the giant construction puzzle from Airdrie to a remote corner of Brazil 1,700 kilometres up the Amazon. Fabrication facilities, a main assembly plant, engineering, a pressure vessel shop – all work

together to make such projects as that come together, says Marshall. You’ll also find Propak designs closer to home, such as at a heavy oil plant at Bonnyville and a SAGD (steamassisted gravity drainage) central processing facility in Saskatchewan. “A lot of people don’t realize the size of Propak,” Marshall says. “For years, we’ve been exporting around the world, to 40 different countries. And we have suppliers who have probably located [to Airdrie] because we’re one of their customers. “Speaking as an engineer, Propak has always provided me some really challenging environments and the ability to see something built,” he adds. “You don’t often get a chance to put your hands on the final product.”


The next time you enjoy corn chips and dip, spare a thought for the hard-working men and women at Condillo Foods. In 1980, the company was one of the first national-calibre manufacturers to set up shop in Airdrie, producing the first tortilla chips for Old Dutch (it’s been a division of the snack-foods maker since 2010). “When we started, we had 15 employees. Today, we have 124,” says business unit manager Derek Walker. “We’re the corn plant [for Old Dutch] – we do the tortillas, the corn chips. We’re its only corn processing plant in Canada.” And why Airdrie? “It’s strategically located to service Western Canada, and the labour force is readily available and [has] the skills we need. We have good people, people who are passionate about the business, and we have the strength of our brands,” says Walker, noting that some of his employees have been with Condillo for more than 30 years. There’s a lot of demand for Old Dutch products in stores across Canada, so Condillo runs its 120,000-square foot plant on East Lake Boulevard 24 hours a day, working with 12-13 million pounds of product annually. The plant has been expanded twice, most recently in 1998 as the company introduced a new line of corn chips. “We have a good relationship with the City of Airdrie, and we have a good labour force here,” says Walker.“Most of our people come from either Airdrie or the surrounding areas. “And it’s such a diverse [business] community. We’re one of the few food manufacturers in amongst all these medium- or high-tech employers,” he adds. “And our employees are proud of what they do … our product is within reach everywhere you go.” winter 2012-2013 | 87

life at work | business profiles


One of the newest members of Airdrie’s manufacturing family, last September Toronto-based Mirolin Industries Corp. officially opened its new manufacturing plant and Western Canadian distribution centre for its range of acrylic tub and shower products. “From a geographic perspective, we wanted to be in a market … that would continue to boom for a while,” says Robert Bartucci, vicepresident of sales and marketing.“Calgary, at first blush for an Ontario kid, seemed like an ideal location, but being inside the city posed challenges. So when you looked around the outskirts on Highway 2, close to the airport and for a good business environment, Airdrie seemed like a logical place to be.”

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A key was finding a location big enough to allow future growth for the company. A site once used by a homebuilder fit the bill; today, Mirolin covers 150,000 square feet on 13 acres of land. “The facility wasn’t intended to be a satellite location; it was intended to be a full-blown facility, identical to what we do in Toronto,” says Bartucci. The Airdrie site also includes a 2,500-square foot showroom. Mirolin products are sold to contractors and renovators through wholesale channels, and also through major retailers, he adds. Right now, the plant employs about 50 people.“Hopefully, that’s the tip of the iceberg,” says Bartucci. “The majority of people we employ come from Airdrie or the area, and the local area continues to grow [as] Airdrie continues to attract families and a bigger labour force.” life

life at work | profile story AnD photo by Kurtis KristiAnson

10 things

you’d never guess about

Tim Bolton

Airdrie Scotiabank branch manager Tim Bolton quietly showed us a new feature on his office wall a few months back – his Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal. Bolton was honoured for his work with the Canadian Chamber of Commerce where he served for six years including chair in 2011-12. Bolton is a past president of the Airdrie Chamber of Commerce, a director of the Airdrie and District Community Foundation and the new chair of the Creative Airdrie Society.


What would you love to be doing if you didn’t have to be at work? travel.


If you had to open the fridge or pantry at midnight for a snack, what would you be eating? Chips, probably a salty snack.


Where is the most interesting place you have been? great britain, the castles and all the history.


Where would you like to go? ireland, because of my irish roots – anywhere in ireland, Dublin to start.


Strangest situation you have been in? being hypnotized at a staff function a few years back. i didn’t think that could happen.


perfect getaway? Any golf trip, someday all the pgA courses.


Anything that recharges you? spending time with my six-year-old grandson.

8 9 10

You’re stuck on a train for five days – what do you bring with you? A good non-fiction book. Who in history would you like to spend a day with? someone like henry Ford. If you could be any kitchen appliance? First thing that pops into my head is the refrigerator, because that’s where all the good stuff is.

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life at work | work hero

It’s always nice when a friend drops by story by Ellen Kelly | photo by Carl Patzel

Robyn Pearson is the founder and owner of A that routine for a while. We bring light-heartedness while still doing what needs to be done. Time together is our top priority but it’s how we do it. Friend Indeed – Active-Life Assistance for Seniors. Our purpose is to give peace of mind to our clients and their loved ones. She started the business, which serves Airdrie and Who are your clients? surrounding area, two-and-a-half years ago. What does A Friend Indeed offer? A Friend Indeed offers companionship and non-medical support for seniors and their families on a scheduled basis. Friends visit where the client lives, be that in their own home, with relatives or in a care facility. Whether the senior wants to share tea and conversation, reminisce through photo albums, go for a walk or go grocery shopping, the minimum two-hour visit is tailored to meet his/her social and emotional needs. The best part of the visit, and what we want to encourage, is a sense of spontaneity and adventure.

What inspired you to do this? Undoubtedly the inspiration for the program is my mom – she was the lady who visited the relatives and neighbours to see how everyone was doing. She is the model of A Friend Indeed. I feel that growing old is a privilege because not everybody gets to. I have seen many older people whose days are full of appointments, medication requirements and rigid routines. We come in with that sense of adventure and it takes them out of

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Our clients, who direct the nature of our visits, are in their 80s and 90s. We also address the family’s needs and add to the team of caregivers. One lady told me,“I wish you would have started up earlier because then I could have been a daughter again.”

Who are your “friends”? Our friends are daughters who are receptive to the needs of others. We require a long-term commitment to our service so the client has a familiar regular visitor. Friends are an extra pair of eyes and hands for the families and are in e-mail contact after each visit. Every friend is certified in first aid and CPR and is bonded, insured and covered by WCB. They are interviewed, references are checked, and have submitted police checks and drivers abstracts.

How do you see your business developing in the future? I’d like to create small-scale senior housing with ‘friends indeed’ incorporated into it. It makes sense to develop the people part first but there is a place and a need for this type of housing. life


There’s still time to improve your hearing for the holidays.

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Call us at 403.948.4422 winter 2012-2013 | 91

life at work | milestones

40 and Fabulous The Airdrie and District Chamber of Commerce matures in numbers and services


story by AlEx FrAzEr-hArrison

lot can change in 40 years. Just ask the members at the Airdrie Chamber of Commerce, which celebrates its 40th anniversary on Jan. 29, 2013. Back when Gunsmoke was still on the air, the Chamber was established to advocate for local businesses at the municipal and provincial levels on ways to improve the community. Airdrie’s population in 1973? Only 1,000, but 24 businesses signed up. Today, Airdrie tops 45,000 people, Gunsmoke is ancient history and the Chamber boasts more than 500 members. It hosts a full schedule of networking events, seminars, workshops, fundraisers and special events, such as the Winning Edge Awards. The Chamber also supports members through such initiatives as a member-to-member discount program. “From starting in 1973 with nothing, to going as far as we are now … we still advocate for our members and we constantly try to bring more programs into the Chamber,” says current president Mike Watkins. “I truly believe in supporting members, advocating for members and having some fun, too.” The Chamber has had to constantly improve itself over the years, says past president Tim Bolton. “It’s grown significantly, keeping pace with the growth of the city, and I think in any community the Cham-

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ber of Commerce is an important part of the business scene,” Bolton says. “It’s an opportunity for businesses to get together and share ideas and challenges.” Some of these challenges have included the arrival of big-box retailers and, more recently, a megamall opening a few kilometres south of Airdrie. Chamber members, however, weathered both storms, Bolton says. Another past president, Mike De Bokx, says that one of Airdrie’s strengths, from a business perspective, is its “cohesive community. “As people get plugged into the Chamber and meet some of the other business owners … they realize they’re not just there to fill a seat, but want to be involved and part of events,” De Bokx says. Bruce Kerr, who was president from 2004 to 2006 but was a member for years before that, says that one of the Chamber’s biggest challenges – and successes – has been promoting Airdrie as a place to do business and shop, even for those who live here but work in Calgary. “Our challenge was if they live in Airdrie, they didn’t stop in Calgary to buy their groceries or cellphones; they did it in Airdrie,” Kerr says. “I think the challenge now is to keep that momentum going. The Airdrie Chamber is very well known for its success … I think they just have to keep getting new blood in there, the young people coming in and opening businesses.” life

grEg ovErWAtEr

sErgEi bElsKi

A bird’s eye view of the Chamber’s signature event, the home & garden show. inset: lorna hunt, Airdrie Chamber manager looks back on a collection of press clippings from Chamber files

Smile More.

New patients welcome. 403-912-9378

Thayne Blunston, DDS, General Dentist

1, 620 1st Ave NW Airdrie

life | last look

WINTER’S BEAUTY Artist and photographer Lori Presiloski is one of five artists whose work will soon be gracing FortisAlberta transmission boxes in Airdrie. Her image of a wintery farm scene was selected in a contest this past fall. Watch for the five boxes turned into art and read about the program in the spring issue of airdrielife. “This photo was taken Jan 7, 2009. It is from a shoot of about 45 pictures that day. The location is at home on my acreage. I had noticed the frost was heavy that day when I went to do the morning chores. I went and grabbed my camera and started shooting. My pictures that day were all shot in colour, but the greyness of the day and the frost made some of them look like black-and-white photos with just a touch of colour splashed in.” – Lori Presiloski, Chinook Winds Studio,

Share your photograph with airdrielife and you may see it come to life here in a future issue. E-mail a jpeg to

94 | winter 2012-2013


in Airdrie

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Image courtesy of Marre Design Group

Profile for airdrielife magazine

airdrielife winter 2012  

exploring the good life in Airdrie, Alberta

airdrielife winter 2012  

exploring the good life in Airdrie, Alberta