Verna (Ford) Crowe Demonstrates Her Artistic Talents
How many times have we all driven to Grande Prairie on Highway 43 and commented on the Wild Rose Elevation Rock? Many times I’m sure; however, how many know the background of the rock and who the talented individual is who had painted it?
Robert Cochrane was one of the early pioneers in the area and had homestead land that would eventually border Highway 43. The Cochrane’s and Ford’s were neighbours and quickly became close friends. Robert was even known affectionately as grandpa” to Verna and the other Ford children. He was interested in geology and once he realized that one point on his property was actually higher than a signed point in the mountains towards Prince George, BC, he decided the spot on his land needed to be marked. A gigantic rock was found which Robert thought would make an excellent visible “marker” of the
elevation to those driving by. However, once the elevation was painted on the rock, the artwork became subject to vandalism. This became very stressful for Robert who at that time had suffered a stroke and could no longer look after the rock. In 1963, Verna made a promise to her “grandpa” that she would always look after the rock and ensure the elevation was clearly marked. Robert passed away a short time later knowing that his “rock” was in good hands. Verna doesn’t think the “elevation” itself is of great interest but rather the fact that people associate the distance they still need to travel once they reach the vicinity of the rock. At 73, Mrs. Crowe was still touching up the paint on the rock but was becoming increasingly worried as to what would happen to it in the future. The land had been sold a few years prior but Verna still maintained the painting on the rock. Luckily
the new owners were interested in the history of the “rock” and commented that they would also always ensure that it would be kept painted and preserved. Verna and the new owner worked on the rock together for many years before Verna eventually handed the reins over to the Wells family knowing that the rock was in good hands.
Thank you Verna, for ensuring that this important piece of local history has always been wellmaintained. Thanks to you, it is definitely a source of Community pride.
October 2004 Peace Country Sun
Written by Wanda Zenner