West Smoky Legion #244 News

Robert & Mary Burrows had Seven Sons Serving in WWII

On a crisp winter day in January, I spent a very enjoyable afternoon with Helen (Burrows) Horrigan. I had just read an archived article in the December 2, 1943 issue of the Herald Tribune where Robert Burrows (Helen’s father) stated he had six sons and one step-son in the military. Not only was it very interesting to hear about the military tradition of this family, but the entire “family story” in itself was a fascinating one.

Read More

2019 West Smoky Legion Ski Bus

It’s ski season again! The West Smoky Legion #244 is taking registrations for the 2019 season for Bezanson children and their parents.

The Legion will be subsidizing 3 outings; January 18th, February 1st and February 15th, 2019. Please download the information and signup packages here and submit to the school with payment by December 13th. Packages will also be distributed at the school. It is important to note that all children grades 3 and under require a parent to attend as well. The program requires at least 5 additional parents to supervise, and yes all students are required to take a lesson. Join our facebook group for up to date information.

The Legion is also recruiting new members. We are looking for members that are interested in board positions including the memberships chairperson, as well as event and youth programming. The ski bus in particular requires a new volunteer co-ordinator for 2020. Membership is $30 annually and we meet monthly September until May.

To submit your forms or enquire about membership or the volunteer coordinator position, please contact Katherine Cissell, kat@wildwestventures.ca

Ski Form 2019

SkiBus Info 2019

No Stone Left Alone

By: Mia and Chloe

On November 6 the Junior Highs went to the Glen Leslie Cemetery and laid poppies on all the veterans graves. Wanda Zenner gave us a brief description on all the different veterans who lay in Glen Leslie Cemetery. Everyone was given the name of a soldier. The Junior High students would search for their soldier, once they found their veteran they would lay a poppy on their grave, then respect them with a minute of silence. Chloe and I felt that this expanded our understanding of the effect the war had on our little community. We all enjoyed No Stone Left Alone because it felt as if we were honoring their legacy and remembering the soldiers’ sacrifice. The contrast of red poppy on the white snow will probably draw people to the cemetery to the veterans’ graves. Thus allowing the soldiers to not be forgotten. Overall this was a very heartwarming and a great experience. Chloe and I feel that this should become a Bezanson School Remembrance Day tradition for the many years to come.

Come support the community at the Golden Leaf this Saturday

Get your flapper dresses ready gals and mark your calendars for November 24th. Join us next Saturday at the 8th annual Golden Leaf Dine and Dance, the Roaring 20’s Golden Leaf Dine & Dance with Corinne’s Catering!

Tickets are being sold at  Bezanson General Store, $60 each. Over $3500 in cash prizes!

The 2018 Golden Leaf Dine & Dance is a themed 1920’s event scheduled November 24, 2018 in the newly completed Knelsen Centre. If you have ever attended our Golden Leaf Events you know that they are fun filled nights with lots of opportunities to win cash and dance the night away while supporting the efforts of two community organizations; the Bezanson Agricultural Society and the West Smoky Legion #244.

Come join the community to have a fun filled eventful evening! There will be silent & live auctions with many great items, games, fun food with Corinne’s Catering and dancing with Night Ryders. Thank you to all the sponsors who have already sponsored this event, there are still more sponsorship opportunities available, contact Katherine Cissell for more details. 780-832-8033.

Local Couple Honour Veterans

Remembrance Day
Newsworthy Event From 1992
“Local Couple Honour Veterans”

With Remembrance Day fast approaching, it is certainly time to reflect on all the veterans who served our Country and more specifically, those who had served locally.

In 1992, a local couple, Allie and Earl Weegar along with Allie’s son Keith Patterson, decided to honour the local veterans by constructing an array of framed pictures complete with name plaques. The frames were then presented to the West Smoky Legion #244 to be displayed in the Bezanson Legion Hut. The couple had thought about and discussed the project for seven years before they actually seriously delved into it. The Daily Herald Tribune interviewed the threesome and published the heartwarming story on February 14, 1992.

Keith Patterson, Earl & Allie Weegar photo in Daily Herald Tribune’s article entitled:
“Photo History of War Vets”

Allie and Earl took it upon themselves to locate as many pictures of the local veterans as they could. There was a slow start to the project to begin with until the Community realized the importance of such a unique way of honouring the veterans. Leads were provided by family members or local old-timers who knew the whereabouts of several of the veterans who had moved away. The cost of the wood for the frames, glass, matting and backing material was borne by the Weegar’s. Ralph Selke constructed the five frames following which they were stained by Allie and the end product was nothing short of being a work of art. Each frame would hold 20 pictures along with gold identifying plaques. Plaques were still provided for veterans when a picture was not available. What an endeavor that would have been to collect over 100 photographs in the early 1990’s.

The Community thanks the family of Earl, Allie and Keith for the unique and remarkable way in which they honoured the local veterans. Keith Patterson passed away in 2015, Earl Weegar in 2001 and Allie Weegar in 2016. They are buried in the Glen Leslie Cemetery.


By Wanda Zenner – written October 30, 2018
Reference Val (Patterson) Williamson


September 29, 2018

By Wanda Zenner

September 29, 2018 brought to a close the summer-season that the Glen Leslie Church would be open to the public. As such, it was decided that an event should be planned for the last day and what would be more fitting than a “Remembrance Tour” of the Cemetery. In preparation for the tour, the Cemetery grounds had been manicured to perfection and the Church had been cleaned and decorated.

As it would not be possible to include all of the veterans’ graves in one tour, a poppy was placed on each headstone in an effort to honour all of them. A list was taken from the Smoky to Grande Prairie History Book and cross referenced to the burials in the Cemetery to come up with 40 veteran names.

As there were originally five school districts in the area, it was decided to pick one veteran from each school district to research and present on. As well, it only seemed fitting that the tour would start with a member of the Leslie family. It was very interesting to trace the history of the veterans chosen – although each had a specific story to tell, there was a common thread amongst all of them – to answer the call of duty to Country to uphold freedom.

Corporal Norman Leslie (1888-1972) – Regimental # 101212, 66th Battalion/4th C.M.G.Coy, enlisted in September 1915, served in France. He received the British War Medal & the Victory Medal. Norman was discharged on demobilization on April 5, 1919. During WWII, Norman became a member of the Veterans Guard of Canada.


Private/Lance Corporal Vernon (Bud) Patterson (1917-1958) – Regimental # M/56286, enlisted in the army in February 1942 and served his country in Sicily, Italy, France, Holland and Germany. Bud was 2

discharged on demobilization in January 1946. Bud received the 1939/45 Star, Italy Star, France/Germany Star, the Defense Medal, Canadian Volunteer Service Medal & Clasp. Bud passed away in a farm accident in 1958.


Sapper John (Jack) Wales (1916-1985) – Regimental # M/67154, enlisted in January 1942 and trained as an engineer. Jack served in the United Kingdom and Continental Europe. He was sent to France with the invasion of Normandy in June 1944. Jack was discharged on demobilization in November 1945. He received the Volunteer Service Medal and Clasp.


Private Roy Robideau (1889-1984) – Regimental # 3207274, enlisted in June 1918. He served in England with the Canadian Army Medical Corps. Roy was discharged on demobilization on October 24, 1919. Roy received the British War Medal. During WWII, Roy was an orderly for 1 . years in the hospital of the Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps at the Barracks in Grande Prairie following which he became a Veteran Guard.

East Kleskun

Private Ray Boyer (1924-2012) – Regimental # K737, enlisted in November 1943 with the Seaforth Highlanders. He served in the United Kingdom, Italy, Netherlands and Germany. Ray was discharged on demobilization in May 1946. Ray received the 1939-45 Star, Italy Star, France & Germany Star, Canadian Volunteer Service Medal & Clasp.


CWAC Bertha Dillabough (1919-1986) – Bertha enlisted with the Canadian Women’s Army Corps. She received her training in Kitchener, Ontario where she met and married Jeff Dillabough. Upon demobilization, they returned to the Fitzsimmons area in 1946.

Following the walking portion of the Remembrance Tour, everyone congregated in the Church where information was presented on the six men who never made it home. Framed certificates that are available from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission were displayed. The certificates included pictures of the exceptionally well-maintained cemeteries that they are buried in. It was a very poignant display as you realized the magnitude of the ultimate sacrifice these young men had made. 3

During WWI, 620,000 Canadians enlisted in the Canadian Expeditionary Force with 420.000 serving overseas and 200,000 in Canada. 60,000 lives were lost with 172,000 being wounded. Many more returned home broken in mind and body. During WWII, 1.16 million enlisted with 42,000 casualties and 60,000 wounded. It is interesting to note that during WWII more men enlisted per capita from the Peace Country in Northern Alberta than anywhere else in the Dominion.


Private Donald Rooney – Regimental # M/105982, served with the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry Division, R.C.I.C. Killed in action in France on August 12, 1944 – three weeks after his 21st birthday. Buried in the Bretteville-Sur-Laize Canadian War Cemetery, France.

Sergeant Paul Smashnuk – Regimental # M/4075, served with the Royal Canadian Artillery Unit. Killed in action on November 24, 1943 and buried in the Moro River Canadian War Cemetery, Italy.


Cook George Fish – Regimental # V/49455, enlisted with the Navy and served on the H.M.C.S Chegogue that was torpedoed by a German U-1227 submarine on October 5, 1944. George was one of the seven casualties. George is commemorated at the Halifax Memorial, Nova Scotia.

East Kleskun

Lance Corporal John Purves – Regimental # M/17199, enlisted with the Loyal Edmonton Regiment, Royal Canadian Infantry Corps. He was killed in action on December 16, 1943 during the Ortona Battle. He was only 22. He is buried in the Moro River Canadian War Cemetery, Italy and left behind a wife and young son.


Sergeant Charles Dorscheid – Regimental # M/45559, enlisted with the 2nd Armoured Brigade Head Quarters Squadron, 7th/11th Hussars R.C.A.C. Was killed in action on August 19, 1944 and buried in the Bretteville-Sur-Laize Canadian War Cemetery, France.


Corporal Willis Johnston – Regimental # 18208, enlisted in August 1914 with the 101st Edmonton Fusiliers. Transferred to 9th Batallion then to the Canadian Army Service Corps. Died from the Spanish Flu on January 3, 1919 and is buried in the Kortrijk Communal Cemetery in Belgium.

Following the presentation, 10-year-old Nelson Zenner who is the grand, grand, grand-nephew of Corporal Willis Johnston read “In Flanders Fields” that was written by Lieutenant Coronal John McCrae of the Canadian Army Medical Corps. 4

The afternoon continued with Anna Ladwig and another member of the “Christensen and Friends” group singing several old-time songs. All those present joined in.

The door prize of a basket filled with home-made jams and pickles was won by Anna Ladwig.

The afternoon concluded with coffee and a large selection of desserts that were enjoyed by all.


GPRC Bursary Winners

Every year, Bezanson and the Grande Prairie Regional College team up to award 3 students from the community with a bursary. These students can receive the award if, prior to high school, they had attended Bezanson School and if they have or are attending GPRC. This year, our three local recipients were Emma Doris, Daylan Walker and Jess Gomery.

Emma Doris

Emma attended Bezanson School from preschool to Grade 9. Afterwards, she ventured onto Peace Wapiti Academy where she academically exceeded. Graduating in 2017, Emma moved on to the Grande Prairie Regional College where she switched from a Bachelor of Science Degree to a Bachelor of Education, Secondary Route with a Science major and a Math minor. This will be Emma’s second year at the college and she plans to continue on for a year or two at GPRC until she transfers to the University of Alberta. Emma says, “I’m so lucky to be able to do the first few years of college close to home. It makes the transition into adulthood way easier, and I currently don’t have to pay rent, as I am still living at home. GPRC is also a great choice because of the smaller classrooms, lesser tuition and a wonderful student community.”

Students all over the world need scholarships or bursaries to pay for tuition, books, rent and so much more. School is very expensive and without this financial help, some can not afford it. Emma says, “Scholarships are so helpful to college students. Even working all summer, you don’t always have quite enough saved up for tuition, books, parking passes, lab fees, food, etc. It also feels great to be rewarded for being a student and community member in good standing!” She also says that she is, “very grateful to have received this scholarship” and “it is just one more incredible opportunity that the Ag Society has presented me with in my years as a Bezansonite.”

On top of the crazy difference in money while transitioning from highschool to college, there are many other ways that each student has to adjust. There is so much that is different from the bigger classes, more in-depth courses and so much more. Doris says, “My first year of college was so unlike high school. On one hand, it was an incredible year. I had a few outstanding professors teaching interesting classes, I made some new friends, and had a lot of fun. I also experienced vast emotional growth. On the other hand, your first year of college is a huge change and your first real taste of adulthood. To anyone about to go to college or university for the first time, you really do need to be prepared to take on the responsibility and put in the hours!” Although there are so many adjustments, Emma had a great first year and states, “GPRC is like the Bezanson of colleges. Not too many people, great parties, and a huge system of support between community members and organizations.”

These scholarships are so helpful to every student that receives one. It shows how the Bezanson community supports those growing up in the small hamlet and end up moving onto get a higher education.

I would like to thank the 3 main organizations in Bezanson who fund these scholarships. I also really want to thank the handful of outstanding junior high and high school teachers, as well as college professors I had who made such a positive impact on my school career and inspired me to follow in their footsteps.”

Daylan Walker

Daylan attended Bezanson School from for his schooling as well. He then moved onto Peace Wapiti Academy where he also excelled and moved onto GPRC. After asking Daylan about his post-secondary experience so far he says, “I loved my first year at GPRC. It was nice to experience post secondary, while still remaining in a small campus as well as a familiar town. The instructors who taught me are inspirational and amazing people, especially my English professor.”

From a small town, going to the college level is definitely a big step. But going to a smaller college, for sure helps with this. Being raised in the Grande Prairie his whole life, Daylan says, “it is where most of my family resides and is the place where I have made my closest friends. Coming from the smaller community of Bezanson and being so close to home, GPRC was the ideal next step.”

Daylan’s plans are not 100% set yet but he does plan to continue at the post-secondary level eventually. “ I plan to further my education next fall to either in Edmonton or Calgary. I love the sciences, but also just learning in general. Anything is possible.”

Jess Gomery

Jess attended Bezanson School from kindergarten to grade 6. After grade 6, Jess transferred to Holy Cross which then lead her to move onto Peace Wapiti Academy for grade 9 and St. Joseph High School for grades 10-12. She graduated from St. Joseph High School in 2017 and moved on to GPRC for her first year of college. After graduating, Jess was enrolled in a Bachelor of Kinesiology program at GPRC but currently has switched her degree to a Bachelor of Arts in Receation, Sports and Tourism at the University of Alberta. Jess will also be transferring to the University of Alberta to complete her degree for the next 3-4 years. She says, “I don’t have a specific profession in mind for when I finish my education but am hoping that while attending the U of A, I will be exposed to new opportunities that open doors to careers I don’t know much about yet. My goal is to travel globally to learn about other cultures and to live my life to its fullest potential with the knowledge and experiences I gain from that.”

Like the other two scholarship recipients, Jess understands the need and importance of this scholarship and explains this when she says, “I am incredibly grateful to receive this monetary award because having some relief about student loans allows me to focus more on my studies instead of the bills created by it.” But this isn’t the only important scholarship. Scholarships are key for college students because they support those who financially need it. Jess says, “The importance of financial awards like this one is that it gives the student a sense of achievement. Maybe they applied for dozens upon dozens of scholarships and bursaries and only one was granted; this award gives that hard-working student the feeling that they’ve accomplished what they set out to do and someone believes in them too.”

Jess has experienced many transitions when it comes to schooling, so college wasn’t that much different. She explains, “Because I was enrolled in 3 different schools since leaving Bezanson, it wasn’t so much of a drastic change for me to go to college.” The only huge difference she found was going from knowing everyone in your school to not even knowing some of the names in your own classes. Switching schools so much forced her to, “become more individual” and she says, “I’m glad to have become my own person by the time I made it to post-secondary.” Jess also had a typical college student experience for her first-year. She says, “I realized how much more effort is required than high school academics. It took about a whole semester to adjust, unfortunately, but I came out of my first year with knowledge and a GPA I can be proud of.”

“I would like to thank my mom for supporting me through my first year, especially when I failed my first class EVER during my first semester. I tried so hard to understand the material and all I could worry about was the “wasted” money but she reminded me that no matter what, she still loves me and just doesn’t want me to stop trying to do the best in the rest of my academics. Because of that, I was able to learn from my mistakes and have a more successful second semester, and hopefully a successful next few years.”

-Jess Gomery

All three of these young adults are moving further into the adult world and it is incredible to see the community supporting them in their journey. We wish them all the best on the rest of their academic path and all of their future endeavours!


Written by Ally Pilgrim