I didn’t expect to leave Peace River after eight months.
There were several competing circumstances, which eventually led to my decision to change jobs. I have now been in my new home, Whitecourt, Alta. about 300 km southeast of Peace River, or 175 km northwest of Edmonton working at the Whitecourt Star, the weekly newspaper in town, for just over a month.
More to come on Whitecourt, though in another post – for now a wrap up of Peace River.
Below is the text of my final column in the Record-Gazette, it sums up my feelings on leaving the town pretty well. Below that, are a bunch of photos from the summer in Peace River, June – until my departure in early September.
The opening ceremonies of the first day of the Peace River Pow Wow hosted at the fairgrounds in Peace River Alta. on Saturday, June 14, 2014. Adam Dietrich | Record-Gazette/QMI Agency
From the Peace River Record-Gazette Sept. 10, 2014
Well Peace River this is it for us.
This will be my final column in the Peace River Record-Gazette and this is the final issue I will be working on.
Starting this Wednesday I will be taking up a position at the Whitecourt Star.
Peace River will forever hold a special place in my heart. Not just because this was my first full-time job in journalism but because Peace River is a truly special place.
This is a town where a trip to the grocery store can involve seeing the northern lights, deer, or a moose or two.
It’s a place of immense natural beauty coupled with great opportunity. Not every small-town is like that.
One of the indicators I noticed are the number of young professionals in town who are from town. The number of kids who move away for post-secondary then return to pursue a career here must be disproportionate, compared to other similar sized towns.
What it says, is that even after ‘getting out,’ seeing the world, and living in the city, lots of the youth still want to come back.
That really says a lot about this place.
What is stunning is the self-awareness of the people here as well. Many of the people I talk to understand not only what a gift a place like this is but also the responsibility it entails.
You see that in the community groups that spring up and the ability of the community to fundraise for certain projects.
Urban centres would pay untold amounts of money to have this kind of community spirit and Peace River has it in spades.
It’s going to take a while to digest all the things that Peace River has taught me.
However, to everyone in this community I want to say thank you, thank you for reading, thank you for caring and thank you for being you.
For all of us here at the Record-Gazette, you stay classy Peace River.
– Adam Dietrich
Mona Weaver has Botox injected during the opening of Zen Spa in Peace River Alberta, on Thursday June 5, 2014. Botox is one of the new services the spa offered. Adam Dietrich | Record-Gazette/QMI Agency
Neil Parman, a crane operator and inventor, races one of his inventions called a ‘head sled’ down 99 Avenue in Peace River Alberta on Thursday June 5, 2014. Parman, who is from Nanaimo British Columbia was in Peace River to help with the maintenance at the DMI pulp mill outside of town. The sled can reach speeds of over 90 km/h. Adam Dietrich | Record-Gazette/QMI Agency
From left to right, drag queen Victoria SecRet, Amber Pratt, Mayor Tom Tarpey and Ashley Pratt lead the Peace Regional Pride Parade through downtown Peace River Alberta on Saturday June 7, 2014. Adam Dietrich | Record-Gazette/QMI Agency
Half marathon runners run down the dyke path at the start of the Heritage Run in Peace River Alta. on Sunday June 8, 2014. Adam Dietrich | Record-Gazette/QMI Agency
From left, Ali Dalman and Ming Gaunt work to prepare pizza dough in the back of Matt’s Pizza prior to opening on Saturday, June 14, 2014 in north-end Peace River, Alberta. Adam Dietrich | Record-Gazette/QMI Agency
Braider Cyrina Bull, a Cree dancer from Red Pheasant, Sask. braids the hair of Ojibway dancer Rolanda Wilson from Fox Lake, Alta. while Cyrina’s son, Bradson Crain watches from the trunk of the car, on the second day of a Pow Wow hosted at the fairgrounds in Peace River Alta. on Sunday, June 15, 2014. Adam Dietrich | Record-Gazette/QMI Agency
Elder Stan Testawich from Duncan’s First Nation is pictured at his campsite at the Peace River Pow Wow in Peace River Alta. on Sunday, June 15, 2014. The pow-wow included a gathering of elders from all over, Testawich was one of the ones who made the journey. Adam Dietrich | Record-Gazette/QMI Agency
Muhammad Ashiq, left, prays with fellow Muslims at the Peace River Islamic Centre in Peace River, Alta. on Friday, June 20, 2014. Ramadan, the Muslim holy month, began on June 28, 2014. During Ramadan, Muslims fast and abstain from all food and water from sunrise to sunset for 30 days. In Peace River, a small group of Muslims hold weekly prayers, alternating each week who leads the prayer. Adam Dietrich | Record-Gazette/QMI Agency
Luminaries, used as memorials by those who have been affected by cancer, are pictured next to the Glenmary High School track, while walkers from the Relay for Life walk it during the Relay for Life on Friday, June 20, 2014 in Peace River Alta. After taking 2013 off, the relay this year head hoped to raise $25,000 for cancer research – they succeeded by raising $36,666. Adam Dietrich | Record-Gazette/QMI Agency
Luminaries, used as memorials by those who have been affected by cancer and bearing personal messages, are pictured next to the Glenmary High School track, during the Relay for Life on Friday, June 20, 2014 in Peace River Alta. The relay raised over $36,000 for cancer research. Adam Dietrich | Record-Gazette/QMI Agency
From left, Aireen Gorman, her daughter Kimberly and her son Clarke play with bubbles during the Relay for life at the Glenmary High School track in Peace River Alta. on Friday, June 20, 2014. Adam Dietrich | Record-Gazette/QMI Agency
High Level Aurora Boriellas’ Kiw’d Up, falls to the ground during the Solstice Slam Jam roller derby at the Baytex Energy Centre in Peace River, Alta. on Saturday, June 21, 2014. Roller Derby, typically popular in urban areas, is starting to gain popularity in Alberta’s north. Adam Dietrich | Record-Gazette/QMI Agency
Elder Dave Matilpi performs a dance, in front of a crowd of Good Shepherd elementary school students, on the last day of the Sagitawa and DMI living tipi village at Misery Mountain ski hill in Peace River, Alta. on Thursday June 26, 2014. The event was meat to promote reading, literacy and awareness of Aboriginal history. Adam Dietrich | Record-Gazette/QMI Agency
From left, Tyler Adamson, Brianna Thibault and Lisa Wedderburn participate in an event called ‘Run and Scream,’ which helps build endurance on the last day of the Sagitawa and DMI living tipi village at Misery Mountain ski hill in Peace River, Alta. on Thursday June 26, 2014. Adam Dietrich | Record-Gazette/QMI Agency
A security guard from Patman Productions is tended to after his leg was broken while trying to remove an unruly person from the Peace Fest beer garden on Saturday, July 12, 2014 in Peace River, Alta Adam Dietrich | Record-Gazette/QMI Agency
A Peace River firefighter checks out a RCAF Snowbird on display at the Peace Regional Air Show on Sunday, July 13, 201 in Peace River, Alta. Adam Dietrich | Record-Gazette/QMI Agency
Steven Turner, from Cochrane, Alta. tries to wrestle a steer during the second day of the North Peace Rodeo on Saturday August 2, 2014 at Lac Cardinal in Grimshaw, Alta. Adam Dietrich | Record-Gazette/QMI Agency
Left to right, Nicholas Lavoucan and Bryn Lizotte both 15-years-old from Peace River and Jesse Lawson, also 15, from Grimshaw, watch as Darren Kramer, from the Ottawa Senators, demonstrates a drill during a morning dry land hockey camp at Glenmary high school field in Peace River, Alta. on Monday, Aug. 4, 2014. Kramer, who is originally from Peace River, helped to coach a six-week skills camp for elite Peace Country hockey players by using some of his conditioning knowledge learned in the NHL. Adam Dietrich | Record-Gazette/QMI Agency
Dennis Simoneau, one of the co-owner’s of Simoneau’s Honey Buzziness in St. Isidore, Alta. checks on his bees. Adam Dietrich | Record-Gazette/QMI Agency
Dennis Simoneau, one of the co-owner’s of Simoneau’s Honey Buzziness in St. Isidore, Alta. drives back from his bee hives with his dog after checking on his bees. Adam Dietrich | Record-Gazette/QMI Agency
Jessica Raymond, from Peace River, celebrates after completing the Paddle the Peace event in Peace River, Alta. on Sunday, Aug. 17, 2014. Adam Dietrich | Record-Gazette/QMI Agency
Parmdalip Goais runs through a field outside St. Isidore, Alta. during the Guru Nanak Shahi Langar celebration at Hilltop Auto Wreckers on Saturday, Aug. 23, 2014. The event is a Sikh religious and community event where a member of the community opens a free kitchen to the community. Sikhs from Alberta and B.C. came to celebrate. Non-Sikhs from the region also came out to join in the event, which was organized by Bill Singh Dhaliwal, who owns the auto wreckers. Adam Dietrich | Record-Gazette/QMI Agency
Jesse Labatiuk drinks some water before starting the bicycle portion of the TriRiver Triathlon in Peace River, Alta. on Sunday Aug. 24, 2014. Adam Dietrich | Record-Gazette/QMI Agency
People in a boat fish in the Peace River on Tuesday afternoon in Peace River on Sept. 2, 2014. Adam Dietrich | Record-Gazette/QMI Agency
The Northern Lights are pictured over the Peace River, near the north-end boat launch in the town of Peace River, Alta. early on Thursday morning, Aug. 28, 2014. Adam Dietrich | Record-Gazette/QMI Agency
Well that’s it.
Next post will be about Whitecourt I guess.
It’s been four months since I updated this blog – I think that is some record.
This will be the first part in a four part series catching my blog up to the point where I’m at.
My previous post, just Instagrams and my own personal story left off with my arrival in Peace River, Alberta. Where I started work as THE reporter – photographer at the Record-Gazette newspaper.
The Record-Gazette serves the town of Peace River and its surrounding communities.
It’s a beautiful town – in the middle of nowhere – a small bastion of progressive principles in northern Alberta. Which is odd because we’re in the heart of Conservative oil country.
There is an incredibly strong sense of community here. People work long hours, then volunteer to coach soccer, ref hockey, fundraise, or run some sort of non-profit. Despite the fact that the town is near the heart of a swirling oil and gas controversy, and has experienced some abhorrent environmental and social behaviour from that industry in the region decades ago, the people who live here – in Peace River – see themselves as guardians of a valuable commodity and a pristine wilderness setting.
That dichotomy – and the conflict that comes with it – has made Peace River into a very interesting place to live.
There is an enviro-friendly café that serves great coffee down the road from a major oil company’s office. There is a Yoga studio and wellness store across the road from a western menswear store (with a huge selection of cowboy boots).
This first photo came from my first week on the job solo, in late February. We have a weekly feature called ‘Seniors of the Peace.’ Essentially I sit down with a senior, any senior who wants to tell me a story about their life, and I do my best to tell it.
I liked the idea – though at first it intimidated me a lot – Betty-Lou was the first one I interviewed, her story is here.
Betty-Lou Munro, 77, is pictured in the living room of her Peace River home on Friday February 28, 2014. Munro has lived in the same home since moving to Peace River in 1979. ADAM DIETRICH/RECORD-GAZETTE/QMI AGENCY
My first couple of assignments were school-related events. This one was from a diversity day event at Good Shepherd, the local Catholic elementary school.
Sheaya Himer, grade one, dances during Good Shepard School’s Pink Day Assembly on February 26, 2014 at Good Shepard School in Peace River, Alberta. Students celebrated anti-discrimination and anti-bullying by wearing pink. ADAM DIETRICH/RECORD-GAZETTE/QMI AGENCY
Crossing into March I was still VERY green. One of the ironies early on was, while I had strong sports photography skills, I had terrible sports writing skills, more of that in part three though.
Deanne Nichol from Peace River throws a rock down the ice during the final game of the Peace River Ladies Bonspiel on March 2, 2014. Grand Prairie’s Team Sharon Chrenek team defeated Peace River’s Team Deanne Nichol team in the final game 9-7 in seven ends. ADAM DIETRICH/RECORD-GAZETTE/QMI AGENCY
This photo required me to get up early, truck out in cold weather and was never published – it’s not even a great pic. But it was a sentimental one to take for me. The war in Afghanistan began when I was in Grade 7. I remember growing up with the conflict on the constant periphery of Canadian society, culture and politics. Regardless of your views on the war it’s shaped Canada dramatically. Peace River High School was going to lower their flag to half-mast at sunrise on the day of Canada’s withdrawal. Unfortunately we’re in a valley and at sunrise the sun hadn’t come over the hills so we were in one big shadow. I remember thinking about where I was when airplanes of soldiers landed over seas – there is so much that has changed, everywhere since then.
Mark Owens, Principal of Peace River High School lowers the Canadian flag in front of the school to half mast, in Peace River Alberta on Wednesday March 12, 2014. Flags across several provinces were lowered at sunrise, to be raised at noon at government buildings and offices in honour of the end of Canada’s military mission in Afghanistan. March 12 marks the official withdrawal date for Canadian soldiers after more than 12 years of the Afghan mission. ADAM DIETRICH/RECORD-GAZETTE/QMI AGENCY
I shot a lot of hockey this winter. That shouldn’t come as a surprise, I am in northern Alberta after all. My ONLY issue is, the lighting at the local arena sucks… the bulbs are all on different colour balance settings, so it is actually IMPOSSIBLE to get a clean looking white balance. Also there aren’t any port holes in the glass for cameras and it looks like they’ve never washed the puck marks off the glass.
THAT BEING SAID – the North Peace Navigators is another sign of Peace River’s uniqueness – the ‘Navs’ took the cup this year, first time in six years in the Northwest Junior Hockey League (NWJHL). I arrived just in time for the start of playoffs and despite the lighting/glass issues I got some fun photos.
County of Grande Prairie JDA Kings defence Colton Sandboe, goes to the ice after colliding with North Peace Navigators forward Dustin Gach and JDA Kings goalie Tallon Kramer during the opening game of the NWJHL playoff finals at Baytex Energy Centre in Peace River Alberta on Thursday March 13, 2014. The Navigators defeated the JDA Kings 4-2. ADAM DIETRICH/RECORD-GAZETTE/QMI AGENCY
This goal was disallowed. Lol.
North Peace Navigators forward Samuel Lauzon ends up in the County of Grande Prairie JDA Kings net instead of the puck following a break away during the opening game of the NWJHL playoff finals at Baytex Energy Centre in Peace River Alberta on Thursday March 13, 2014. The Navigators defeated the JDA Kings 4-2. ADAM DIETRICH/RECORD-GAZETTE/QMI AGENCY
In neighbouring Grimshaw they have a newer arena with consistent white balances, I photographed a minor hockey game there.
Wainwright Polar Kings goalie Paul Laferriere watches the puck bounce back out of the net after a Peace River Royals goal was scored during the second game of the NAMHL semi-finals at the Mile Zero Regional Multiplex in Grimshaw Alberta on Saturday March 15. The Royals lost to the Kings in overtime 4-3 but won the next night to win the series 2-1. ADAM DIETRICH/RECORD-GAZETTE/QMI AGENCY
But then that minor hockey series returned to Peace River.
Peace River Royals forward Dolan Bjornson, puts the puck in the net during the final game of the NAMHL semi-finals against the Wainwright Polar Kings on Sunday March 16, 2014. The Royals defeated the Kings 5-1 and won the series 2-1. ADAM DIETRICH/RECORD-GAZETTE/QMI AGENCY
The senior feature has given me a chance to learn about Peace River and the area from people who have lived here for decades, their stories range from happy, sad, heartwarming, full of lessons and everything in between. It’s also a chance to do a quick on the spot environmental portrait once a week.
Arlene Staicesku is pictured in her Peace River home on Sunday MArch 16, 2014. ADAM DIETRICH/RECORD-GAZETTE/QMI AGENCY
When I spoke about Peace River’s dichotomy earlier – the Alberta Union of Public Employees (AUPE) office is two stories up and directly across the road from the local Progressive Conservative MLA’s constituency office. Which mean AUPE’s office is LITERALLY looking down on the MLA.
In March, in minus 18 weather, AUPE and other supporting unions came out to picket new changes to public service pensions and labour negotiating rights.
Members of the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE), United Nurses of Alberta (UNA), Health Services and other supportive unions march in front of the constituency office of MLA Frank Oberle in Peace River Alberta on March 20, 2014. The picket was part of a province-wide day of action held by several unions to protest proposed cuts to the pension plan for provincial employees and public sector workers. ADAM DIETRICH/RECORD-GAZETTE/QMI AGENCY
And then more hockey, this time it was the Navs final game of the playoffs, the Record-Gazette published a photo gallery here.
North Peace Navigators defence Maxime Richard, right, celebrates after the Navigators scored their first goal in the second period of the NWJHL championship game at Baytex Energy Centre in Peace River Alberta on Saturday March 22, 2014. he Navigators defeated the Grande Prairie JDA Kings 3-2 in overtime. ADAM DIETRICH/RECORD-GAZETTE/QMI AGENCY
Went looking for some creative crowd shots between periods.
North Peace Navigators goalie Talon Walton stretches outside the Navigators change room while Faron Knott, right, laughs with friends before the start of the third period of the NWJHL championship game at Baytex Energy Centre in Peace River Alberta on Saturday March 22, 2014. The Navigators defeated the Grande Prairie JDA Kings 3-2 in overtime. ADAM DIETRICH/RECORD-GAZETTE/QMI AGENCY
This puck got caught in the netting, with a boost this little girl went home with a game puck.
Taya Johnston, 7, with some help, pulls a game puck that was stuck in a netting after a high shot during the NWJHL championship game between the North Peace Navigators and the Grande Prairie JDA Kings at Baytex Energy Centre in Peace River Alberta on Saturday March 22, 2014. The Navigators defeated the JDA Kings 3-2 in overtime. ADAM DIETRICH/RECORD-GAZETTE/QMI AGENCY
And finally the ‘jubo shot,’ photojournalism slang for ‘jubilation shot,’ basically a photo of the celebration. My FAVOURITE part of shooting sports tournements is when the team wins and media/league people come on the game/ice surface, it’s the only time it’s allowed and it makes me feel bad ass. BUT you’re there to work, so I took a bunch of pics.
North Peace Navigators defence Joseph Doerksen celebrates with team mates after they defeated the Grande Prairie JDA Kings 3-2 in overtime in the NWJHL championship game at Baytex Energy Centre in Peace River Alberta on Saturday March 22, 2014. ADAM DIETRICH/RECORD-GAZETTE/QMI AGENCY
Finally March was capped off with a trip to the Underground Music society’s monthly show. It’s musical proof of that dichotomy I mentioned earlier. This is a country and western/classic rock town. But the Underground brings in bluesy, jazz, new rock stuff – it’s Peace River’s official underground music scene.
Ben Sures a singer from Edmonton, performs at the Peace River Seniors Centre in Peace River Alberta on Saturday March 29, 2014. Sures was in Peace River with his band the Son of Trouble Orchestra performing at the Underground Music Society. ADAM DIETRICH/RECORD-GAZETTE/QMI AGENCY
Coming into March I truly felt out of depth and green. By the end of it I finally felt like I wrestled the workload down and had gotten on top of it. That feeling definitely carried into April.
On the more personal side.
One of my first days here, while walking to my car, a heard of deer came rushing by. Later in the spring I found them grazing on the lawn outside my building.
This is the view from highway 2 heading into town, basically what it looked like when I drove in.
This is the mouth of the Heart river near my place. These are deer tracks over the ice in the winter.
When I first moved out here I was dating a girl who lived in Macklin, Sask. at the time. During one of my trips there we ended up in Denzil, Sask. which just felt like Corner Gas.
Right here, these are the essentials of my job, technology-wise.
Once again car problems, this time it was a frozen battery, but it was the start of a cascade of problems…
Peace River was beautiful in the winter, I thought. Locals kept saying, “wait until it gets green.” That was a fair statement, but still, it was nice here in the winter.
An early morning coming into the valley towards the bridge that crosses the Peace River.
A little over a week after I started at work I was in a local gas station paying for gas. The guy in front of me was buying the Edmonton Sun and the Record-Gazette, which had my first cover on it. I felt pretty awesome standing in line behind him.
Finally my companion, Cat. She’s adjusted to life out here by peeing on everything, we’re working on that. But I know she has an affinity for high places so I found a way to put her bed on a perch. She likes being able to look down on me.
Next will be about the month of April, posted on Monday July 14.