CELEBRATE BEZANSON A Canada 150th Celebration – Glen Leslie Church Tour

One of the many events scheduled for “Celebrate Bezanson” was a tour of the Provincial Historic Site – the Glen Leslie Church. Saturday August 26, 2017 dawned warm and sunny – a perfect backdrop to view the Church and Cemetery. Wanda Zenner facilitated the tour.

The tour started with a stop at the new entrance sign and landscaping that had been finished earlier that same day. The Church sparkled after a thorough cleaning and had been decorated inside and outside with home-grown flowers and plants.

The tour continued with a stroll down the new sidewalk to the brick “Donor Wall” that had been built to honor all of those who had participated in the restoration of the Church. A few steps away was the “History Timeline”that had been installed by the County of Grande Prairie. Many made note of the Hansa roses that had been planted at the entrance along with the large boulders that were the original foundation. Once inside, many took advantage of the home-made desserts and drinks that were prepared by Evelyn Ingraham.

Wanda gave an overview of the restoration process itself. Many were astounded at the thought of the top three rows of logs and roof being lifted off in one piece. She explained that although the Community had maintained the building over the years, the ravishes of time had taken its toll and the Church had reached a point where it could have easily collapsed into itself.She explained that the Community held a meeting and “The Glen Leslie Church Preservation Group” was formed in 2011 with one mandate and that was to restore the building to its former glory. She explained that once the roof was off, the walls came down easily. The old foundation was replaced with a new one with vent holes for circulation. As lead paint had been applied to the ceiling and floor at one time and along with the discovery of mould, all had to be remediated. The work continued with refitting the original windows with new wood where necessary along with the original door that had been pain-stakingly restored. By 2014, the restoration was complete and the “Group” received a favorable final inspection report by the Provincial Government’s representative. As such, the Church was designated a Provincial Historic Site.

The organ had been brought back and placed in its original location. Maryanne Halwa offered to play a tune on the organ and what a wonderful tune it was. Wanda pointed out the picture of Reverend and Agnes Forbes that had been placed on the organ along with a photo of Harold Bulford, County Councillor and Wanda Zenner of the Glen Leslie Preservation Group, receiving the prestigious award for Heritage Conservation from the Alberta Historical Resources Foundation. She pointed out the picture of Thomas and Margaret Leslie for whom the area was named after. Following which, she drew attention to the picture of the six teachers who had taught there when the Church was utilized as the school house for the Somme School District. Wanda also provided a binder that contained biographies of the teachers. Along the back wall was a photo of Elizabeth Johnston, the first secretary-treasurer of the Agnes Forbes Auxiliary along with a photo of the original bible (which had been stolen) that had been donated to the Church by Irene Hildebrandt.

From there the tour congregated at a stately new stone at the First Burial Site in the Glen Leslie Cemetery. The beautiful stone had been donated by Elizabeth and Gerald Fritsma. Wanda gave a brief history on Grace (Brookbanks) Parker and then on behalf of the entire Community, thanked the Fritsma’s for their generosity.

The tour continued on to the “Ingraham Mediation Area” that had been landscaped by Evelyn Ingraham. It is a beautiful spot to sit and remember those that are buried in the Cemetery.

A very special thank-you goes out to Evelyn Ingraham for all her hard work to ensure that the tour of the Glen Leslie Church and Cemetery was a success.

By Wanda Zenner

Another Busy Race Day at the Old Bezanson Townsite

The 8th Annual Bezanson Bog Cross Country Running Race was held at the Old Bezanson’s Townsite on Saturday, September 16, 2017. This race is a part of the Peace Country Wolves Cross Country Running Series, a series of local cross country races that occurs every fall in our region.

GPRC Wolves cross country runner and Bezanson’s own Anna Vandergiessen volunteers as a ‘rabbit’ leading the junior and senior elementary groups around the race course. Photo courtesy of Rick Scott.

“The Wolves X-Country running series is a group of informal, low key cross–country running races. The races and one relay are being held over a ten-week period beginning August. The Series has been set up to develop the sport of cross-country running in the Peace Country. The aim of the series is to encourage participation from athletes of all ages and ability levels.”

Excerpt from www.wolvesxcseries.com

This year’s race at the Old Bezanson Townsite saw 151 runners from all ages groups tackle the trails while enjoying the spectacular fall colours of the beautiful Smoky River Valley. Runners came from across the County of Grande Prairie and also from places like Peace River, Donnelly and Dawson Creek. The Bezanson School team had 27 runners in this year’s event and Coach (and Assistant Race Director) Chris Vandergiessen could not be more proud. 2017 age group winners at this year’s Bog include local runner Margaret Friesen who captured first place in the Master’s Women 5km race in a time of 28:23. Full race results are available at Peace Country Wolves Athletics Club .

The increase in interest over the past few years in this race is in part due to the hard work and dedication of the volunteers who help out on race day. “We cannot always count on the weather to cooperate with our race day plans, but we can bring together a great group of volunteers that are dedicated to keeping the runner’s safe and making the day a lot of fun”, says Carolyn Goetjen-Pilgrim, Race Director for the 2012-2017 Bezanson Bog. “This race brings runners and spectators from across the region in to our community and in to our historic park. Not only are we showcasing our community and history, but we are making sure they are safe and that they leave happy.”

The Glenmary Saints Cross Country team from Peace River, Alberta poses for a team picture in front of the Historic Timeline of the Bezanson Townsite. Photo Courtesy of Jordan Loughlin

Both racers and their families show up on race day and it makes for a lot of visitors to the park. The views of the Smoky River Valley never disappoint and most runners thoroughly enjoy running along the top of the river valley. This event is also part of the Wolves Series and so it is not unusual to see the GPRC cross country athlete’s participate, as well as young up and coming college runners. The support of the GPRC college team and their volunteers also helps make the day run smoothly.

GPRC Wolves Alumnus Hayden Hollowell keeps pace with some younger members of the Peace Country Wolves cross country team. Hollowell, originally from Hythe, Alberta is a past volunteer of the Bog. Photo Courtesy of Rick Scott.

“Event’s like these do not happen without the support of our volunteers and as organizers we would just like to say Thank You to all those who help out on race day,” says Goetjen-Pilgrim, “we often enlist the help of spectators, coaches and fans and we are very grateful for everyone who steps up to lend a hand, even if it is just cheering our racers on.” Organizers also would like to thank Lighthouse Mechanical, Vector Communications, Lefty’s Café, Bezanson 4H Multi-Club, Bezanson Agricultural Society, the Old Bezanson Townsite Committee, County of Grande Prairie and the Peace Country Wolves Athletic Club for their continued support of our race.

As the 8th Annual event is in the books, local runners including the Bezanson School cross country team, will be looking forward to next weekend’s race, the Steve Burgess Memorial Race, at the Wapiti Nordic Ski Trails.

By Ally Pilgrim


Bezanson Brown Bears Junior Forest Wardens Club

Junior Forest Wardens is an exciting and educational opportunity for young people and their families to have fun, develop skills, and get educated in the many and diverse aspects of our natural environment. The Junior Forest Wardens have built their programs foundation using the four components of:

Forestry – Ecology – Outdoor Skills – Leadership

Parents are encouraged to participate with their children, in any aspect of the club program; from providing their expertise in a leadership or resource role, parent supervision, to learning right along side of their kids.

Junior Forest Wardens is an outdoor oriented program, with an emphasis on the experience. The program is committed to providing opportunities to get outdoors: camping, backpacking, canoeing, mountaineering, tree planting and more! And to prepare for adventures like these, education is offered and promoted in wilderness skills development, first aid, trip planning and survival. To provide a greater appreciation of the natural resources while outdoors, Wardens are taught about tree, plant and animal identification, soil types, weather and water, resource management, threats to the environment and our resources and the list goes on…

Bezanson Brown Bears Club meet the first Tuesday of the month at the Legion Hut in Bezanson at 6:30pm and also have 1 or 2 outdoor events per month – dates decided by parents at the monthly meeting. There are also event or camp offerings through the Regional and Provincial councils that give the opportunity to share the experience with a larger audience, networking with other clubs, and enhancing the experience.  Fees are $60/warden/year, not including uniform costs.   Right now we have 2 age groups – Pathfinders (6-8) and TrailBlazers (9-11)  If there is enough interest the older age groups could be added Adventurers (12-14) and  Challengers (15-17) 

Registration is closed for the 2017-2018 year after Sept 16th 2017

Please contact Erika Backmeyer (Club Co-ordinator) for more info.


Local Rodeo Star

Photo Credits: S & S Photography

Recent high-school graduate Dustin Shaver has accomplished great things in the last couple years, moving to Texas being one of the biggest. Dustin has moved to Texas to begin his college life as a College Rodeo Star. “The reason [he] went to Texas was to become a better bareback rider as they will be teaching [him] better ways to ride and also teaching [him] to have a better thought on winning,” says Dustin as he fulfills this college athlete position. Some of Dustin’s accomplishments include: winning the Canadian high-school rodeo finals, placing 6th in the Worlds high-school rodeo finals, and winning the Lakeland Rodeo Association (LRA) in his rookie year. He plans to win the college finals in his new adventure as well.

Dustin has been involved with the rodeo lifestyle for about 4 years and has had tremendous support from his family including his uncle, his dad who drove him across the country, and his mom and step-dad Todd who always continued to encourage him to stay strong as well as letting him know that it is okay to fail. Dustin will be participating in college rodeo and upgrading his schooling as well as taking a 4-year bachelor of science program.

Photo Credits: S & S Photography

Coming from a small town can be difficult but it also has its advantages. Dustin had only positive things to say about coming from Bezanson. He says, “For how small Bezanson is everyone was extremely helpful. Teachers like Mr. S giving me advice on how to block out the “white noise” before getting on and neighbours like the Auclair’s encouraging me a lot. Plus, I’m a LaValley so I’m pretty much related to half the town.”

Photo Credits: S & S Photography

Some advice from Dustin to others from Bezanson: “The advice I would give would be that just because you’re from a small town where the big bucks is in the oil field you shouldn’t just go along and do what everyone else does. Take a chance and move away and aim for bigger goals.”

We wish Dustin the best for his new adventure in Texas and hope to see him continue to do great things. Good luck on your 2017-2018 college school year Dustin.



Ally Pilgrim

Photo Credits: S & S Photography