Hello. If you are new to the area, welcome. If you’ve lived here a while, hello again. Nice to see familiar faces. It’s been a while since many of us may have heard some general history of our bustling little community. Ready?
If you are new to the area, you may have heard others talk about the Old Bezanson Townsite, located on the banks of the Smoky River on Range Road 25, about 12 km SE of the hamlet. The original townsite was founded in 1910 by A. M. Bezanson on the hopes the railroad would be going through the community. However, when the railroad went north, people and businesses slowly moved out of the community, until the last inhabitant left in 1923. There is now a day use area and a great many wonderful hiking trails to explore, as well as markers indicating where the buildings had been. If you do go exploring the trails, just remember you will be sharing the trails with the local wildlife, too, so be careful. OBT is operated and maintained by the County of Grande Prairie and is open on Saturday and Sundays from May long weekend until Thanksgiving weekend.
When the railway went north, a new community of Bezanson was founded near the highway. The first school outside of the townsite was located at the top of the Smoky Hill and was named for the community’s founder, A. M. Bezanson. That school was eventually sold and moved to the Bezanson Village in 1951. That school was destroyed by fire in 1951 as well, necessitating the construction of the existing K to 9 school.
Across from the school is the Bezanson Community Centre of which the Knelsen Centre is an expansion of the Bezanson Memorial Hall. The original community hall was a log building built in 1923. Sadly, the log building burned down in 1949 and in 1950, the Bezanson Memorial Hall was built and named in honour of the men and women who served in WWI and WWII. The memorial hall has been renovated and upgraded several times, but in 2017, construction began on the new Bezanson Community Recreational Centre, eventually named the Knelsen Centre. The Centre offers a variety of programming and events while also renting out the Memorial Hall and the Gymnasium for events, recreational and sporting programs. This facility opened in 2018 to wonderful reviews.
Tucked in just south from the Knelsen Centre is the Legion Hut, home of the West Smoky Legion #244. The Legion was formed in 1949 with the building being erected in 1952. In the building you will find pictures of all the local men and women who served in WWI, WWII and Korea. Our Legion is a wonderful support of our local youth, including annual swim and ski lessons. Coming up in November is Remembrance Day, with poppies supplied to local businesses. All funds raised from the poppy campaign remain with our local branch and are used to support veterans and their families.
When you come to Bezanson, you see the Bezanson General Store and Lefty’s Café. The store has served our community since the 1950s and is currently owned by Jason Rycroft. Visit the store for a quick top up on your fuel or propane, mail a letter, grab a few snacks or groceries or grab a cold beer to be enjoyed at home. A true one stop shop!
If you are looking for some good home cooked meals, visit Ray Peterson and his crew at Lefty’s Café. Portions are generous, everything is homemade and service is always with a smile. The desserts are to die for, I promise! Oh, and they cater too.
Baba To Be Catering is the In-House Caterer at the Bezanson Community Centre. While specializing in Ukrainian favorites, she also has a great menu for those wishing for a variety of available meals. Experience her cuisine every Thursday from 4 – 8 pm.
To keep our hamlet and surrounding areas safe, the Bezanson Volunteer Fire Department has been around in its beautiful fire hall since 2005. These volunteers respond to accidents and fires throughout the County of Grande Prairie, and it’s a comfort knowing they are around.
Another recent addition to our Hamlet is the outdoor skating rink built in 2016 and is in the care of the Bezanson Recreational Board. The rink is located just south of the school and kids playing pick up hockey can be heard in the winter along with laughter and the odd slap shot hitting the boards.
That’s our community in a nutshell. Keep an eye out for additional articles talking about our man local celebs and businesses.
By Tammy Coulter