Heavy rain and unseasonably cold weather force the organizers of the McLennan Canada Day celebrations to opt for the contingency plan of moving the occasion indoors at the Elks Hall.
While it was a different celebration to sitting outdoors in the sun and enjoying a barbeque, games and music, at the Kimiwan Lake interpretative centre and Northern Alberta Historical and Railway Museum, (NAHRM) it was still a wonderful celebration.
However, the weather and change of venue kept some people from attending as the event had a somewhat smaller turnout than previous years.
Members of the RCMP McLennan Detachment were also unable to attend as they were called out, but local EMS members stood in as the honor guard at the flag raising.
Those who did attend participated in the flag raising ceremony, games and colouring activities were put on for the kids and around noon, a free hotdog lunch, coffee and refreshments were available.
Local musical duo, Trin and Arianne performed from noon to 3pm, offering compelling renditions of an extensive variety of standards.
Roger Bruno emceed the event and Mayor of McLennan Michelle Fournier said a few words, wishing everyone a happy Canada Day.
Therese Demeule, who along with Nancy McNeil worked on the DVD tracing the history of the Town of McLennan and Northern Alberta Railway reminded the crowd that the historical DVD is still available for purchase.
All proceeds from DVD sales go towards the relocating of the NAR Station in Falher to the NAHRM site in McLennan.
Another event scheduled to follow the flag raising ceremony had the weather proved more favourable, was the dedication of the model of the Avro “Avian” Biplane flown by “Wop” May on a mercy flight from Edmonton to Fort Vermillion to deliver an antitoxin due to an outbreak of diptheriaa in the area.
Francis Lessard gave a brief presentation on Wop May and displayed an information plaque on stage outlining the historic mercy flight.
The information plaque is to be displayed at a kiosk on the lakeside trails, which will be installed in the near future.
Using the Edmonton – Dunvegan and British Columbia Railway to navigate, Wop May and navigator Vic Horner left Edmonton on January 2, 1929 in -33 Celsius weather to deliver the diphtheria antitoxin to Fort Vermilion.
Flying an open-cockpit biplane in extremely cold weather is a valiant act by most people’s standards, but Wop May, a distinguished First World War pilot, seemed to be in his element the more perilous the circumstances.
The mercy flight landed on Kimiwan Lake just after 3.pm on January 2 to refuel and for Wop May and Vic Horner to rest in McLennan overnight.
The flight continued to Peace River the next morning, leaving McLennan at 9am.
Julian Gervais created the biplane model, made to scale and faithful in detail to the original. The model is mounted on an oscillating pedestal in the McLennan hospital grounds.
Royal Purple Elks, Town of McLennan and G.T. Electric, Catholic Women’s League, McLennan Railway Museum, Yvonne Sawchyn and the Ladies Auxiliary Manoir Du Lac sponsored the McLennan Canada Day event..
Kimiwan Birdwalk and NAHRM summer staff facilitated the kids’ activities and numerous volunteers contributed to the success of day’s celebrations.