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Bergen News Bergen Ladies Aid Report by Phyllis Cormack
Thirteen ladies made their way into the Nitchi Valley to Maureen Worobetz's home for our April meeting.The snow fell gently as the meeting started and increased during the afternoon. Little did we know how much would come down. Betty Josephson read scripture in place of Helga Sadlowski. Ferrell Haug sent a "hello" to everyone as she wasn't up to attending. We had our usual reading of minutes and other reports.The Hospital Auxiliary is hosting an appreciation supper for volunteers the same day as our next meeting. Linda Ross and Maureen will attend to represent our group. We have completed our quilting for this year's sale. A few ladies were very eager and have one quilt ready for next January. Way to go girls! Janet Cummins, Rose Mariak, and Linda Ross helped prepare food for Nutrition for Learning. The Bergen Cemetery clean-up day was set for June 5 with the 12th as alternate. Last year we had numerous bedding plants left over so we will cut back on the number we buy this year. Marilyn Walker will take care of purchasing them. We will have another meeting prior to the clean-up so will finalize remaining preparations then. There was a very good turn out at the County Office for the Whiskey Jack hearing and we were very pleased with the outcome. Thanks so much to everyone who spoke in our defence as well as all who were able to attend. There is strength in numbers and moral support is always welcome. The Bergen Hall is having a fund raiser on June 12th. Evelyn Mill is doing the organizing and questioned whether our group would have anything we would like to donate for the silent auction. We decided to give a stitched quilt as it would bring the best price. As well as the silent auction there is a good line-up of musical entertainment from the community and beyond. A pie auction will also be part of the fun. The funds raised at the event will go to operational costs at the hall, as expenses are rising all the time. Pat Ball would like to host our May meeting. Wendy Young and Phyllis Cormack will join her in providing lunch. Helga is to read scripture. For a bit of fun at the end of the meeting, Rose read a humorous clipping. Maureen, Marilyn, and Dora Wilson served a wonderful lunch. Visiting was somewhat shortened due to the increase in snowfall outside.
Come help celebrate Jim and June Haug’s 60th Wedding Anniversary! June 19th at the Bergen Hall from 2:00-4:00 p.m. No gifts please.
Bergen News The
Bringing Bergen Together
Birds, Beasts and Botany in Bergen by Robert Griebel Richardson Ground Squirrel (Spermophilus richardsonii): Growing up on the prairie, sighting the first robin and the first gopher were always sure signs of spring’s arrival. I grew up calling Richardson Ground Squirrels “gophers” and still feel most comfortable referring to these little creatures by that term. Technically however, the term gopher refers to pocket gophers and their kin, while Richardson Ground Squirrels are members of the squirrel family and are hence related to prairie dogs, marmots (the largest members of the squirrel family), chipmunks, tree squirrels and flying squirrels. They were named after Sir John Richardson, a remarkable Scottish surgeon and physician who accompanied Franklin on two arctic expeditions. Richardson was also a keen naturalist who documented and studied wildlife on the Canadian prairies in the early 1800’s. The appearance of the Richardson Ground Squirrel is, I’m sure, familiar to all readers of this paper. The animals are approximately 30 cms. in length and their weight varies from 200-400 grams in the spring, to almost twice that weight by fall, when fat stores have been laid on. The animal’s constantly trembling tail has earned it the name “flicker tail” south of the border. Although most animals have a dark brown coat above and a light tan belly, there is considerable variation in shading, as anyone who has visited the Torrington Gopher Museum will have noted. Albinos are rare, but do occur. Ground Squirrels, like prairie dogs, live in colonies. An extensive network of underground passages and chambers with several entrances characterize their burrows. While the animal does emerge to forage, most other activities, including sleeping, procreating and hibernating, are carried out underground. The hibernation lasts from September or October through until late March or April. While the squirrel is hibernating its temperature drops from 38 degrees to two or three degrees. Rewarming to normal temperature requires 3 to 6 hours. Mating occurs shortly after emerging in the spring and the young are born following a 22 day gestation. There is an average of 8 pups in a litter, but this varies considerably depending on food supply. The young are born naked with closed eyes and ears, unerupted teeth and fused digits. By a month of age, however, they are sufficiently developed to leave the burrow and are sexually mature by a year. Like humans, females tend to live longer than males, averaging 5 to 6 years, while males, because of greater predation, seldom survive more than 4 years. The Richardson Ground Squirrel provides food for many other species including hawks, weasels, rattlesnakes, badgers and coyotes. They also provide sustenance for ticks, fleas, mites and lice, and tend to become heavily infested with fleas over the winter. They themselves live on seeds, grain, grass and insects. Their taste for agricultural crops has led to their being hunted, trapped, gassed and poisoned by the thousands. This assault does not seem to have greatly affected their numbers, however, and they are presently not at risk of extinction. They have been declared an agricultural pest by the government of Saskatchewan. Outside their geographical range they are sold and often adored as pets. I found one site advertising a pair of Richardson Ground Squirrels for $250, a far cry from the nickel per tail we used to receive as bounty money.
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The May 2010
From the Editor by Laurie Syer
Is it just me or does spring seem extra busy this year? It’s a good thing there is a lot of daylight to fill with jobs. I hope you will notice the drawings in this month’s paper. They are the work of a young friend of mine, a former violin student. She has agreed to be The Bergen News artist for this month. You will see Ailsa’s work in the header and scattered throughout the paper, and you can read about her on this page. Please note that we have a new mailing address for snail mail subscriptions. I don’t have anything else to say except to wish you all luck with your spring work and let’s hope we get enough rain this summer! Submissions of articles or comments can be sent via email to email@example.com, snail-mail to The Bergen News, Box 21, site 9, RR2 Sundre, T0M 1X0 or call Marilyn Halvorson at 638-2245. If you would like a subscription it is $15 and can be sent to our snail-mail address. Remember, subscriptions are coming due for this year. Your subscription expiry date will be highlighted on the label. Thank you for your continued support.
Where Are They Now? by Laurie Syer
Ailsa Long Ailsa lived in Bergen when she was very young, and probably doesn’t remember much about it from that time, since she moved away when she was three years old. The move took the Longs back to the family farm just outside of Mortlach, Saskatchewan. Ailsa describes Mortlach as a very friendly village. The family moved back to Sundre when Ailsa was thirteen. She became a student at the Sundre Learning Centre. The Learning Centre is a facility attached to the Sundre High School. It consists of a room full of computers where students are given their assignments, and another work room where they can do their work. There is a teacher available to help where needed, but the students work on their own, at their own speed. In addition to the core subjects at the Learning Centre, Ailsa took art courses at the high school and attended occasional weekend art workshops. Ailsa graduated three years ago and moved to Vancouver where she took a series of art courses through the Vancouver Community College. She is currently taking a correspondence art course through the London Arts College. That’s London, England. Ailsa enjoys working in pen and ink, watercolour, gouache paint (pronounced gwash), and pencil crayon. Ailsa hopes to become a children’s book illustrator, and is very excited about her first book, “O Ducky Day”, which will be published this fall by Gumboot books. It is a humorous book written by Kari-Lynn Winters about two ducks competing for one worm. After her first three years in Bergen (which were clearly important developmental years for her) Ailsa’s strongest connection to Bergen was through her violin studies. She enjoyed the weekly scenic drive to Bergen for her violin lessons. She was a student at Strings and Keys for seven summers. She remembers with especial fondness being part of a string quartet that played Christmas carols for visitors during the Bergen Store’s Christmas open houses. Ailsa is an optimistic, engaging young person with lots of potential. We are very pleased to have her with us for this edition, and hope that she may be willing to join us often. If you would like to keep an eye out for her book, when it becomes available, you can find it at www.gumbootbooks.ca .
ANOTHER FUN EVENT! Join your neighbours at the Bergen Hall on June 12th, 7:00 p.m. for an evening of music, food, visiting and fun. Bryn Thiessen will act as MC and Auctioneer, and entertain us with his poetry. Music will be provided by Four ‘N’ Affair (Barbershop Quartet), Gene Fehr, Chelsea Cunningham, and Jamie and Laurie Syer joined by Gerald Ingeveld. There will be a silent and live auction. Tickets: 10.00 for adults. Children under 12, free. All proceeds to benefit the Bergen Community Association.
Bergen Church News by Betty Josephson Located approximately 1 1/2 miles west of the Bergen Store. Our Sunday Worship time is 11a.m. with Sunday School for all ages beginning at 9:45a.m. Children's church is offered during the message as well as small child care. On Mothers' Day, we were pleased to welcome our former minister and his family,Stuart and Jessica and Gracon to our service. Stuart gave an excellent message about self-preservation. It was a good reminder that often, maybe always, protecting ourselves becomes a lie to those around us. He took us to several passages of Scripture including 1John 1:5-10, Colossians 1:27 and Philippians 3:7,8. The question was asked “Do we want Jesus or do we want greatness for ourselves?” Christianity is really dying to oneself so Jesus is glorified. This is not always the picture we portray, is it? The WMS meetings have a time change. They are gathering on the second Wednesday of each month at 1:30p.m. instead of 1p.m. The ladies have finished their quilting for the year, taking their quilts to the Mustard Seed in Calgary. They just have one more meeting before the summer. The 55+ is at the Church on May 27th. They were snowed out last time. Hopefully, we just get rain from now until late fall!! The Youth Group have lots going on elsewhere this month, including a trip to Edmonton for YC. Also on June 4th they will have a worship night with a guest speaker from Prairie Bible Institute. Any questions may be sent to Trevor and Aimee Essington at 403-638-2759. Beginning June 1st, we will have an interim pastor coming to Bergen with his wife. Helmut Schultz has spoken to us several times and we have appreciated his messages. They will be staying in the parsonage and be here most of the time. The Pastoral Search Committee is still prayerfully searching for full time pastoral staff. Olwyn is in the Church office Tuesdays and Fridays 10-4p.m. Liz and Allan Cunningham are the Church Administrators prepared to help anyone in need. They can be reached at 403-638-4188 or 403-636-1157 (local number). They are doing a good job. The Church's number is 403-638-4010 and the fax number is 403-638-4004 and the email address is firstname.lastname@example.org
STRINGS AND KEYS FUND-RAISER A BIG SUCCESS 7th
On May an enthusiastic audience gathered at the Bergen Hall for an evening of musical entertainment to help fund the annual Bergen event, Strings and Keys. This project, spearheaded by Laurie and Jamie Syer, brings students of all levels to study with top-notch music teachers from across the country.
The evening’s entertainment included the group, Seven Fiddlesworth, the instrumental quartet, Four 4 Treble, Jamie and Laurie Syer, and Gerald Ingeveld and the Bergen Choir (which turned out to be the entire audience.) All the performances were excellent and we were once again reminded of how fortunate we are to have so much talent in our own neighbourhood. Equally important to the evening’s success was the baking auction. Pies, cakes, buns, bread, and numerous other delicious items brought spirited bidding due to the efforts of intrepid auctioneer, Ken Walker, and his irrepressible assistant, Gerald Ingeveld.
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The May 2010
Greenedge Precision Fencing Multi-species... Electric... Wire and Rail Fences Contact Lloyd at 403-335-4886 email@example.com
Welcome Wagon If you are new to Sundre or the surrounding area, have a new baby or are getting married, we have free gifts and information for you. Please call Bobbi Jean at 403 637-2441
Thank You! Jamie and Laurie Syer would like to thank everyone who attended the Strings and Keys fund raising concert on May 7th. Many thanks also to those who brought baking and bought baking. Your support is important to us and we appreciate it very much. We feel fortunate to be part of such a generous community.
Notes from a First Time Farmer by Sandy Easterbrook
Most people get eggs for Easter. Some get bunnies sporting bowties and baskets, or even hens. This year Bob and I got lambs. But they weren’t the chocolate kind. They were snow white, pink-nosed, and baaing. We’d been invited to Bob’s brother in Castor for an Easter feast of heritage turkey. As soon as we stepped out of the car, we were greeted by a wee, tail-wiggling lamb, not more than two days old. She appeared delighted to see us, but I knew better. Already she’d learned that milk bottles were attached to people! Bob’s brother, Richard, stepped onto the deck. “You like her?” he asked. “She’s yours. And there’re two more that go with her.” Richard has Bob and me all figured out. He knew that Bob, on his own, would refuse to take the lambs. He also knew that I’m a marshmallow. So he got me cornered, and proceeded to explain how the milk cow hadn’t calved yet, and how he was going to have to bop the lambs on the head because he had neither the time to keep feeding them, nor the money to buy milk replacer. He followed this threat with a heart-rending tale of how the lambs were the oldest of triplets and how, in the confusion of the delivery, the mamas had had no time to lick them before the next delivery, and had thus rejected them. Three guesses as to whether the lambs came home with us! Richard had named the little critters Roy, Larry and Pete but, when we checked their gender, they all turned out to be ewe lambs. So now they are Royal, Rosie and Roo. As I write this, they are a month old and just starting to eat hay and grain. They prefer the new spring grass, but strong winds and a series of snowstorms have kept them in the barn. Thank goodness for Lűtsi, our milk cow, because Richard was right—milk replacer would have cost a fortune. Bob looks at Royal, Rosie and Roo and has visions of lamb roasts and chops. I see the foundation of our own herd. They are mixed breed, mainly Est á Laine, but with some East Friesian blood. If bred to a Friesian ram, they should be pretty good milkers. Maybe we will compromise by butchering one and keeping the others. Another Easter adventure was borrowing an egg incubator and filling it with chicken, duck and goose eggs. All seemed to be going well until a three hour power outage on April 29th. At first we tried sandwiching the incubator between hot water bottles, but the temperature gradually declined. So then we warmed the oven—gas, luckily--and put the incubator in there. However, the temperature wouldn’t stabilize. With the oven door closed, it got too hot; with the door open a crack, the temperature fell. We shoved in a pan of hot water and even candles, but only succeeded in melting one of the foam sides of the incubator. Our hatching success rate was zero—a great big goose egg! One more reason, I guess, for going back to the way that Mother Nature intended. Hatching eggs in an incubator means keeping a close eye on humidity as well as temperature, rotating the eggs at least three times a day (unless your machine turns them automatically) and spraying the waterfowl eggs with a mister toward the end of the incubation period, to imitate the mother’s wet breast. Isn’t it wonderful how mama birds have all the specifications worked out? I have been watching a Canada goose setting her eggs down by the Red Deer River. If only I could persuade my female ducks and geese to take a lesson from her, instead of dropping eggs all over the farmyard. It’s no fun playing Easter egg hunt on a daily basis.
• * * * * * * Just before sending this piece off, Bob and I lost our lamb, Rosie, from bloat. It was all over in an hour, despite our measures to keep her alive. Too much milk, maybe, or too rich a hay. “April is the cruelest month’” says T. S. Eliot in his poem, The Waste Land and it proved that way for us. Stockmen must necessarily get used to death. Inevitably some animals become sick or diseased, or fall prey to carnivores. Those that survive are then shipped off for human consumption, unless they are lucky enough to be dairy, fibre, or breeding stock (in which case, they get to live longer and end up as pet food). Babying livestock so they end up in the food chain--a farmer’s life is replete with irony. Being new at the game, however, I took Rosie’s death awfully hard. This column is dedicated to her.
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to code. Research and Development proceeded with remarkable results. By 2006, a larger shop was needed. The hunt ended in East Bergen on the former Russ Holmes place, where we now live. As you drive the Bergen Road from the store to Highway 22, you can see samples of the fruits of this “labour” including 3-wire, 2-rail fences; the rail construction being another innovation since the original. Not only does the fencer vibrate posts into the ground in an average of 3-5 seconds, it drills holes through the posts and strings any type of barbless, poly or hi-tensile wire in one pass. Since the wires go through the posts, no staples are needed. Corner and end posts are anchored and spring braces installed to allow the wires to be tightened or loosened and automatically adjusting to temperature throughout the year. The wires, anchors and braces create a triple grounding making electrifying the fence more effective, another safety feature for the animals. If rails are wanted for visibility or that “ranch look”, pins are inserted through the holes instead of wire and rails attached sequentially. Safety, speed, efficiency and longevity make it a “lifetime” fence. So far, it has been featured on the Prairie Farm Report, won a small grant from the National Research Council of Canada and an innovation voucher from the Alberta government for developing a GPS system to direct the machines for planning and accuracy. Lloyd is marketing the One-Pass Fencemakers as a type of area-licensed franchise and welcomes any inquiries. The fencing journey is only one aspect of our sometimes busy lives. We are blessed to have two sons who are also entrepreneurs. Each has a wonderful wife who plays a prominent role as their business partner and in the raising of the 6 grandkids who love to spend time at Bergen Bluffs, but get here all too seldom. Retired after 25 years as a teacher with the Koinonia Christian School system, I enjoy travelling with Lloyd and looking after business details and our comfortable country home. We enjoy playing piano and guitar as part of a musical group which performs at Bergen Church and Clearwater Cowboy Church at Dovercourt Hall. We keep looking for better ways to do things in this interesting journey and seeing some of our many dreams come true.
CHICK FEVER Wasn’t that 18” (ok, 46 cm) of wet snow in late April wonderful! Now maybe we’ll have grass in the pastures and a bit of hay for next winter. We knew something big was coming when the deer moved into the yard and settled in for the night. This picture was taken just as the storm hit. The picnic table shows the aftermath two days later. At least this time the power (and lights) stayed on for the duration, although the fireplace did feel nice.
As you may have noticed I’ve taken a break from amateur astronomer back to weather and wildlife… BUT I’m still using a camera and telescope. This little rodent decided the snowy weather just was no good for scavenging in the forest and decided to live the easy life on top of our bird feeder. So happens I had a telescope and camera set up for alignment in my office and he (or she) made an excellent target, although I did shoot over 200 pictures before I captured a few that were keepers (the deer was also taken with the same equipment).I’ll be back next month with the continuing saga of outer space, heavenly bodies and starry nights.
By Pat Gibbs “Hey Mom! I’ve bought some chicks to hatch, some turkeys and some ducks!” I waited for more details, then I wished her lots of luck. I mentioned she already had four “chicks” aged zero up to four, However would she have the time to hatch two hundred more? Well, hatch them out she surely did, and it kept her a-hoppin’ What started slowly soon sped up; it was just like popcorn poppin’! She was up all night like a good mother hen and didn’t get much sleep, By morning she said she did not want to hear another little peep! The children were delighted to hold and touch those babes, At times you had to check on them; there were lives you had to save! I looked in once and little Robyn had Dudley by the neck, He hung suspended by his head and it gave him quite a stretch! I quickly took him from the hand that held him rather tight, So Dudley Duck was safe again and seemed to be all right. Yes, hatching eggs of any kind requires a lot of time, So if I should ever want some chicks, I`ll let the hen hatch mine!
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The May 2010
GARAGE SALE A GREAT SPRING OUTING Saturday, May 15 dawned warm and sunny—just right for the crowd that gathered outside the Bergen Hall waiting for the doors to open on the semi-annual Bergen W.M.S. Garage Sale. Inside, the eager shoppers found everything from plants to popcorn poppers, not to mention the ever-popular bake table, loaded with all manner of home-baked goodies. After making their selections of merchandise, many shoppers took the opportunity to sit and visit over a coffee and tasty snack. The shoppers had fun, the Bergen ladies made a good sum of money for Kids to Camp and their numerous other worthwhile projects, and the day was a great success for all.
Novel in Progress by Marilyn Halvorson Working title: TEACHER: By Marilyn Halvorson. Synopsis: After the frightening night when Jim Grayson drove into the MacPherson place with his wounded wife, Ida, in the back of the wagon, all has turned out well. Kate O’Rourke did an excellent, if somewhat unconventional, job of looking after the Grayson children and Ida has been safely delivered to the hospital.
What a weekend it had been! After my faux pas of getting caught peeking in the school window at the dance Friday night, and the near-disaster with Ida Saturday night, I was more than ready for life to return to normal. I spent the early part of Monday nervously expecting some dear little soul to ask me how I enjoyed my brief glimpse at the dance but it didn’t happen. The closest anyone came was to tell me that I had missed a wonderful time. Needless to say I didn’t bother to mention that I hadn’t missed as much as they thought I had. The highlight of the week came Thursday afternoon when there was the sound of hoofbeats and the jingle of harness chains outside the school. I looked out the window in time to see the Graysons’ team of paints pull up, hitched to their buggy this time. There, sitting up on the seat next to her husband, was none other than Ida. Her arm was in a sling but, otherwise, she looked totally recovered. A couple of the students also stole a look out the window and a shout went up, “Mrs. Grayson’s back!” In seconds every desk emptied and the whole class poured out the door, with me bringing up the rear. I shuddered to think what Mr. Andropolus would have said about that performance—but I couldn’t have been happier. We all gathered round the buggy while Ida gave a dramatic description of her adventure from beginning to end. To hear her tell it, the whole thing had been a lark! It was that kind of spirit, I realized, that kept these hardy homesteaders hanging on through all the trials of their lives out here. Then, as they prepared to drive away, Ida reached under the seat and brought out a brown paper bag. “Since I was in the big city of Olds, I stopped and picked us up a little treat.” She held out the bag to each child in turn and each reached in and brought out a piece of licorice. Fixing me with a stern look, she asked, “Well, Miss O’Rourke, since this is special imported licorice, are you going to allow these children to eat it in class?” I pretended to think that over. “Well, since it’s imported, I guess I could.” “Good,” said Ida, with a laugh. “In that case, you can have a piece, too.” We all said our thank yous, and black-lipped headed back inside. As the Graysons drove away I heard Ida admonish Jim. “Ease up on that left line a little, you’re aggravating Warpaint.” Yes, Ida Grayson was alive and well. That night winter arrived. It was only October so this was no doubt just a warning shot across our bows. Still it snowed throughout the night and by morning several inches of wet snow clung to the trees and covered the ground and more of it continued to fall. It was time to give my new overshoes their initiation. I slipped and slithered up the hill to the school, occasionally straying too close to a spruce tree and receiving a cold shower down my neck as a reward. A plume of smoke rose from the school chimney so I knew that Bob Sutherland had braved the weather to faithfully do his job as janitor. Soon I was standing next to the old stove, warming up and drying off with my students as they gradually trickled in from their walks or rides to school. Most seemed adequately, although often shabbily, dressed for the wintry day. Except for the Rundle family. I could scarcely believe my eyes when the older ones arrived wearing the same footwear as the day before. The girls’ low shoes were no match for the depth of the snow and they were filled with it. I quickly had them take them off and hang their soaking stockings by the stove to dry. It took several minutes of rubbing and warming to return their poor little toes from blocks of ice to warm, little piglets again. The boys had fared slightly better with sturdier boots and they insisted they were fine. It wasn’t until John was at work on his arithmetic that I spotted the big hole between the sole and upper part of his boot. His foot had very nearly frozen and it took even longer to get it warmed to a normal state. This simply would not do.
CELEBRATING OUR RESIDENTS VIRGINIA WILSON
Interview by Marilyn Halvorson
Editor’s Note: Many of you will recognize the name Virginia Wilson from her fine paintings seen at local art shows and/or as the artist who did the drawing on the cover of our history book, FOREVER BERGEN. We asked her to tell us a little about herself and her career. The following are our questions and her answers: 1. Where did you grow up and what was your education? I grew up in the north of England on the coast of Lancashire. All my schooling up to the age of 18 was at this location…..a town called Lytham St Annes. It was a seaside resort, with hotels along the shore, a pier extending out into the sea and golden sandy beaches. It also had a bitter damp winter with constant winds blowing sand around. From the age of 11 to 18 I attended the local “grammar school” an all girls school with a good academic record, a staff of strict disciplinarians, one male teacher and a head art teacher who was also my mother. This is probably why, in spite of art being my best subject, I went to university to do geography. Also, at that time, one did not turn down a place in a university. Geography is a very visual subject. What I was studying was explaining the processes at work behind the landscapes I loved to hike through in my spare time. After finishing my BSc in Geography at the University of Hull in Yorkshire I was accepted into the Masters program at Simon Fraser University in BC. I thought that I had never seen any so beautiful as Vancouver on that sunny day in late August 1966. The rain on the other hand drove me nuts. 2. What brought you to Bergen and how long have you lived here? Bergen is the last stop in a series of moves. After Vancouver came Calgary where my husband did an Engineering degree and I worked as an instructor at the University; then a small acreage near Ottawa where we both worked for the Feds. I worked in thematic mapping, doing the research behind maps showing various aspects of Canadian History. Then I was a full time mom of three and busy volunteer in various community and sports groups. Later we bought a resort half way between Williams Lake and Hundred Mile House BC. Then, after selling that, we moved to Bergen. The East Slope of the Rockies was our choice for recreation reasons and, believe it or not, the climate, lots of sunshine, big seasonal contrasts and not too hot in the summer. Distance from an International Airport was also critical. No more than an hour was what I wanted and an hour an fifteen minutes is OK. We moved here in 1998. 3. What led you to become an artist? Do you have formal training in art? For as long as I can remember I have drawn, painted and doodled (which got me into a lot of trouble at school). Growing up in a home with an Art teacher meant having materials available at all times. Being an artist is not a conscious decision; it is just there. Devoting big chunks of time to art for me was a question of available time. Making a living took precedence as did (and still do) family matters. I started painting with more focus when my youngest child went to school full time. This stopped when we bought the resort. When we moved to Bergen I decided that I would see if I could make any significant progress with my art. I have no formal training beyond high school, and various local workshops. I visit public galleries, study books--and most important of all--practice, practice, and practice some more. In that way art is no different from anything else. 4. Did you have a particular mentor who inspired you along the way? I do not have any particular mentor--the landscape is my muse--which I borrowed from a favorite TV show. 5. Describe your art—realistic, abstract, etc. My art is realistic. I see my subjects as a complex variety of colour and texture and this is how I try to portray them. I also see them as behaving in balanced ecological relationships which will enhance the feeling of realism if accurately portrayed. Nothing bothers me more than seeing something like a generic tree in a picture. We don’t expect to see generic people so why do we think we can get away with generic trees or rocks or even mountains? I have done works which might be described as abstract but inevitably these are rooted firmly in some environmental pattern or texture that has caught my eye. 6. What media do you prefer for painting? Large studio pieces are done in acrylics. I like the permanence of acrylics and the huge range of colours available. Also they do not stink. Increasingly I do smaller pieces in pastels which I find work in very similar ways to acrylics. I sometimes play with collage. Whenever possible I work outside. Usually this work is in water colours with pen. This is Continued on page 6
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The May 2010
Virginia Wilson interview continued from page 5
for speed and ease of transportation. I have a small back pack which travels with me on all trips and contains my sketching materials. 7. Do you paint every day? Do you reserve a particular part of the day for painting? I paint most days, usually in the morning but view my schedule as flexible. Most of my works take days or weeks to complete and the morning is when I am at my most critical of what was completed the day before. This is another useful characteristic of acrylics; they can be changed, fixed or painted over. 8. Do you have a special “painting room?” Is natural light important to you or do you prefer artificial light? I have a studio in the walk out basement of my home, so I can leave a mess out at all times. I paint by a patio door which allows natural light but also have a battery of fluorescent lights. These can alter some colours but one can adapt to that and, after all, most paintings are viewed under artificial light after they have left the artist’s studio. 9. Do you always paint landscapes or do you sometimes do portraits as well? Most of my work is landscape. But I do some other things too. I have done portraits, florals and abstracts. Some of my more unusual pictures have been ones painted to welcome a new baby. Butterflies and puppies come to mind. And then of course there is pen and ink and Forever Bergen! 10. We know you have sold paintings in many places. Where have some of your paintings “ended up?” (Very bad English but you know what I mean.) I have many paintings that have gone off my radar. When a painting is sold from a gallery or is bought at an auction the buyers are not always made known to the artist. Occasionally I have been contacted by someone who has purchased a piece and wants information about the artist or better still, another picture. Of the paintings which I have sold at shows, many are in this local area or in Calgary, Red Deer, Edmonton; others are in BC, Ontario, Nova Scotia, and the US. 11. Are there particular places in this area which you have especially loved to paint? What makes them special? The most special places are the ones I know best. High on my list of favourites are various places and vignettes in the valley of the Red Deer River. Almost every day I am walking in the valley with my dog. I see it in all seasons and in all sorts of weather. If I have difficulty with something in the picture I can go and have a look at the real thing. I love painting water and gravitate to the little creeks and pools in the valley. Farther afield, I also love the mountains; again it is the places I know. I use my own photographic references because then I know why I was attracted to a place, what the light was like and even what it smelled like. 12. Is there one painting that you have done that is your all-time favourite? I don’t have an all-time favourite. More often than not it is one I have just finished. Of course, sometimes the one I have just finished is anything but my favourite. 13. Are there subjects you have in mind for future painting projects? At the moment I am working on some subject material from Southeast Utah where we spent some time recently. I may very well do some more from there. I don’t generally plan more than two pictures down the line. I work so slowly that I think a long term plan might be rather frustrating. 14. Any advice for prospective painters? Advice for prospective painters: Don’t expect progress without hard work. Get to know your subject matter inside out. Focus on a technique which suits you. Work with good quality art materials.
River Rocks by Virginia Wilson
Our Bergen Neighbours Lloyd and Sharon Quantz of Bergen Bluffs Ranch by Sharon Quantz
Dreams do come true! In August 2006, Lloyd and I moved from prairie grass and willow trees to rolling hills, springs and spruce trees; from south of Didsbury to East Bergen. And the dream? For me it was the peace of the hills; for Lloyd it was the need for a shop. Fondly named Bergen Bluffs because our brand is lazy B over B, we have enjoyed every day in these serene and sometimes wildlife infested acres here in Bear Country! As a perennial inventor, Lloyd is often heard to say, “There has to be a better way”. This has been his mantra over the past 30 years when solving problems in his own ranching operations or as an agri-business consultant. Simplicity and efficiency are his bywords. A few years back he undertook to manage LK Ranches at Bassano, Alberta. On Day One, a huge prairie fire burned up 45 miles of fence. The task of re-fencing was formidable. For months, crews worked to remove old wire and posts; then began the arduous task of pounding new posts and the relentless stringing of wire and hammering of staples. How else can you run a program dealing with 3000 cows and their calves on 200 sections of prairie land? Secure boundaries are needed. There had to be a quicker, more efficient way to build long-lasting fences. With that experience in the rearview mirror, Lloyd set out to find it! In quiet moments and restless nights, he set to work solving the fencing issue. Years of international travel had triggered some ideas forward but Canada’s challenging climate and geography needed something different. Much research on the Internet proved interesting but any new ideas seemed inadequate in the face of the many requirements of efficient Canadian farm fencing. Lloyd was looking for fencing that would be suitable for multi species,that was easy and efficient to build and maintain while keeping costs to a reasonable level. Taking all these requirements into account, Lloyd’s quest was to build a completely new style of fencing system. In 2002, he began in earnest to assemble and hone his ideas into a prototype for The Greenedge One-Pass-Fencemaker attaches to a HD Skidsteer testing. The three-car garage at Tanglewood shown vibrating, drilling and threading wire through a 5”X 8 foot post. Ranch south of Didsbury became a dedicated workshop and the sun-room of the house became a place for drawings and consultations. Piece by piece, concept by concept the prototype of the One-Pass Fencemaker was created. A manufacturing firm in Red Deer reverse engineered it making all parts according continued on page 9