99th Annual National Convention
Thursday, August 22, 2019
While the national executive met for a post-convention meeting and the convention committee packed, some lucky members got to go on a tour. Tour choices were Banff or the Badlands around Drumheller. I went on the Badlands tour.. 7:00 a.m. saw participants on the bus heading to Drumheller. Perhaps appropriately for the badlands the weather was not good, cool and drizzling rain, but that did not dampen the mood. A lively and informative guide pointed out things to see on the way and taught us a great deal about such diverse subjects as irrigation, fish rescue, seeding clouds to make them rain and that the lakes of southern Alberta are man-made. She claimed that the coolest summer job for students is at Lake Swather, which involves driving a large orange coloured boat like machine designed to remove weeds from lakes. Bits of history were included such as how one town was moved from one side of the river to another by the act of kidnapping the post office and rebuilding it on the other. We also learned about the many mining towns that once covered the land back when coal was king and about the struggles to unionize and provide a better life than that provided by mine owners who literally owned the town and the miners.
Land formations unique to this part of Canada intrigued us. We had a chance to see the wonderful shapes of the land in Horseshoe Canyon and the hoodoos formed from sandstone and shale, formations that can only be found in Canada and Turkey.
Roar, roar dinosaur: Drumheller is home to all things dinosaur. Statues of the creatures are scattered throughout the streets. The Royal Tyrrell Museum provides displays, walking tours and interactive programs in an area rich in fossil finds.
The highlight of the tour was a visit to Badlands Amphitheatre in Drumheller, site of the passion play, a twenty five year running portrayal of the life of Christ. After a delicious dinner we toured the amphitheatre and, for those interested, the backstage and costume area. The acoustics of the site are phenomenal and the structures impressive. Are you looking for something to do either by yourself or with your family next summer? Consider being part of the cast of the passion play, the majority of whom are amateurs. Or, at the very least, see the play.
One last adventure was the opportunity to cross a miners’ suspension bridge. The well-protected structure was intimidating enough, but imagine it being only one work boot wide with a single cable and no protective fencing. This was a daily trek for the coal miners. Some interesting facts about mining communities: miners who went to enlist during the war were signed up and then returned to the mines; however as armed forces they received much better pay and benefits. The mining town of East Coulee boasted 12 churches and 16 brothels.
We returned to bright sunshine in Calgary. All that remained of convention was to pack and return home, albeit with many fond memories of our stay in Calgary, a city that lived up to its reputation for hospitality thanks to the many CWL members responsible for hosting us.