CELEBRATES 95 YEARS
"Who says you can’t go home?"
Close to a thousand people thought
they could and they did!! That’s what happened when Simpson celebrated
95 years as a community and held a homecoming to welcome friends and
family home from places near and far, on the weekend of June 30, July 1
& 2. People arrived from all over Saskatchewan, Ontario, Manitoba,
Alberta, British Columbia, Kansas, California, England and Mexico.
By Friday afternoon, the town looked
spiffed up; the tent was erected; ball diamonds readied; beer gardens
created; town lot signs placed to show where people had lived, and
businesses had been over the years. Potted plants made up by Rose Potts
were placed around town to add some color. Two new, large metal signs,
purchased by the village had been erected coming in and out of town to
welcome everyone arriving. Also, there were several RVs camped in
yards, empty lots, and at the sports ground.
Promptly at 5:00 PM, Friday afternoon,
people started arriving at the registration table set up in the tent.
By 7:00 PM when the first shift was finished, over 200 people had
already signed in. Also set up in the tent was the most amazing array
of prizes that had been donated by businesses (local, Watrous and
Imperial) and individuals. Colleen Hunt was in charge of this, and it
was unbelievable the items that came in. Everyone was most generous
with their donations. You could buy an arms length of tickets for $5,
and place them in a pail for the prize you wanted. Some unfortunate
individuals placed all their tickets in the pail, not leaving any to
check their tickets against. Names will not be mentioned to protect
those who made such a grievous error! Business was brisk in this area,
and the lucky tickets were drawn on Saturday night. A partial list of
winners are as follows: (sorry we don’t have all the names) Lorna
Rodman, Debbie Gullacher (2), Bev Hunt, Kathy Rintoul, Marilyn
Crawford, Elaine Wilson, Marilyn (VanZandt) Galang, Gilbert Burkitt,
Eldon Norum (2), Dianne Richardson, Dawn (Abrey) Fleischhacker, Dale
Abrey, Darlene Gross. In the tent, as well, were some other items for
sale--cookbooks, school and church plates and souvenirs.
Also starting on Friday evening was
the ball tournament with 18 teams entered, which were mainly family
and/or friends getting together for fun and games. This continued
throughout the weekend, but as mentioned, was not all fun and games.
Several injuries occurred, the first being Stewart Elder who was
pitching and got smacked in the face with a ball driven by his son, no
less. When team members ran in for ice, which was not immediately
found, two frozen hamburgers were sent to do the trick until the real
thing came along. After a trip to the hospital for stitches, Stewart
took the rest of the day off, but was back on duty the next day. After
all, he is the Chairman of the Homecoming Committee!! There were
several more injuries--torn Achilles tendon, broken ankle, blown finger
plus a couple of more, I am told. Apparently overheard by a medical
professional was, that perhaps the next time Simpson held a Homecoming,
they should play checkers!! Winners of the "A" side was the McCallum
family, who were undefeated, and only allowed a few runs for the whole
tournament. Congratulations! I can’t find out who won the "B" side. No
one knows for sure, so obviously, I haven’t talked to the right people.
The smell of hamburgers cooking Friday
night, spread through the tent and the sports ground, as men from
Watrous flipped the burgers with great ease. Our appreciation to
Maynard Fossen, Murray Westby, Lionel Sproule, and Lorne Bradbeer. This
was done to repay a Simpson crew who cooked burgers for one of the
Manitou Country Jamborees.
The beer gardens opened Friday night,
and was on for the next two days. This was managed by the Demons Hockey
Club with the help of the "Hockey Bags" aka the local women’s hockey
team. Two jerseys were donated and raffled. They belonged to Josh
Elder, son of Stewart, who plays for P.A. Raiders; and Matt Rintoul who
plays for Humboldt Broncos. Ironically, Matt’s jersey was won by his
great uncle, Brian Federspiel; and Josh’s jersey was won by his uncle
Ross Elder. Sounds fishy!
Saturday morning, bright and early,
workers were at the rink to prepare for the pancake breakfast that was
to take place from 8-10 AM. This was organized by the UCW; sponsored by
Affinity Credit Union; coffee was supplied by the Co-op; and other help
came from family, friends and visitors. No one seemed to mind waiting
in line for their breakfast, as there was always another new face to
visit with. A good crowd attended and then made their way to a prime
vantage point to watch the parade that was slated for 11:00 AM. Leading
the parade were two young men, who are sons of local girls. They were
Doug McLaren, son of Dave and Judy (Saelhof) McLaren, who is a member
of the RCMP in Pelican Narrows; and Brandon Mudry, son of Brian and
Carol (Saelhof) Mudry who is with the P.A. City Police. Grandmother,
Thelma Saelhof, of Watrous and formerly of Simpson, was watching
proudly from the sidelines. They were followed by Pat and Cori Kindrat
of Colonsay on the bagpipes and drum. Also included were business
floats, the Homemakers with their beautiful handmade quilt, old and new
machinery and vehicles, clowns, the "Simpson’s" of television fame,
horseback riders, the cadet squadron, the community band, and special
guest, "Gainer the Gopher", the Roughrider mascot, to name a few.
Gainer stayed around for a while after the parade to spend some time
with the children.
Following the parade, there was a flag
raising at the Legion, the singing of O Canada, led by Tanis (Elder)
Sherstobetoff; and official welcome by Mayor, Kurt Vanthuyne and MLA
Greg Brkich. Then everyone enjoyed a slice of anniversary cake.
Once again, hamburgers were tempting
the crowd, the ball games resumed, and an ice cream parlour was set up.
The Legion, United Church and Museum were open to the public with
displays and pictures for viewing and coffee and cookies in some
places. The register at the Museum showed that 225 people had
been in to have a look around.
At 3:00 PM, the youngsters in the
crowd were treated to a peanut drop, thanks to Neil Anderson of Venn
who flew the plane over the grounds. Those who were fortunate enough to
find a red peanut could claim $5 at the registration tent. This event
was sponsored by Crawford Acres and D. Moren Ent.
The crowd started to drift toward the
rink shortly after 5:00 PM in anticipation of the chicken supper that
Colleen’s Cafe was serving. The line grew long, the aroma was making
mouths water, and the supper, as usual was delicious. Later in the
evening, a cabaret was held in the rink with two bands in
attendance--Stars Without Stripes and F3. A large crowd enjoyed this
until the wee hours of the morning.
Sunday morning, back to the rink, this
time for a continental breakfast provided by the Homemakers. This
included muffins, fresh fruit, cheese, coffee and juice. Mmmm mmm good;
and of course, more visiting over another cup of coffee.
At 11:00 AM, an ecumenical church
service was held in the hall. A choir consisting of local residents and
visitors led us in old familiar hymns, with piano and organ being
played by Carol Hicks and Lil Gingrich. Special music was a piano solo
by Melanie (Brown) Mooney of Watrous; Kelly and Becky Stein sang "The
Prayer", and Alan Young of Lumsden, sang "Friends and Neighbours", an
added bonus that was not on the program. The offering of over $900 was
designated for the Cemetary Fund.
Then the moment that everyone had been
waiting for--the draw for the beautiful quilt that the Homemakers had
created especially for this occasion. It was done in black and white,
with pictures of homesteads and other pictures pertaining to our area.
The lucky ticket was drawn by Louise Stewart who has been a member for
50 years. You could almost feel the collective breath being held in
anticipation and hope that it would be their name drawn. And the lucky
winner is............Nancy (Abrey) Persaud of Saskatoon. Nancy grew up
in Simpson and took all of her schooling here. What a wonderful
The afternoon continued with the same
agenda as Saturday--hamburgers cooking, playing ball, sipping a cool
one, licking an ice cream cone, visiting, visiting and more visiting,
and checking out the lot signs and other local places of interest.
There were also games and activities for the children for two hours in
the rink, under the direction of Joan Vanthuyne and a group of young
Around 5:00 PM the activity shifted to
Main St. in readiness for the evening program. This time it was the
Dale Milligan family of Watrous and some relatives that manned the
barbeques; what a great help to our tiring committee. The line seemed
to be endless, but they never gave up until the last hungry soul was
fed. Jim Zitaruk had a large open air beer garden at the end of the
street, and a variety show began, but was plagued with several
electrical problems. Again, no one seemed to mind, and patience seemed
to be limitless, as the crowd sat in the cooling evening and enjoyed
their last chance to visit and reminisce with friends and family, they
may not see for some time. Once the problems were solved, we were
treated to several musical items. Interspersed throughout the evening
names were drawn (if you remembered to hand in your name tag) for many
prizes: potted plants, shirts, and a couple of larger totes containing
several prizes. Children were given glow sticks, so there was little
bits of light here and there, around necks, ankles and arms.
When it was dark enough, it was
finally time for the fire works. This was sponsored by AgriCore, and
what a beautiful display it was. A visitor from a large B.C. centre
remarked that they were the best they had ever seen--not so bad for a
little prairie village!! HammerJammer from Manitou Beach then
took over the stage and played for a street dance.
At least two class reunions were held:
the class of ‘71 and the class of ‘87. The stories of escapades
remembered, and the renewal of friendship must have been great.
One of the items at the variety show
was a song sung by Tanis (Elder) Sherstobetoff and her brother Ross,
from Kenora, Ont. It was "Who Says You Can’t Go Home?" This echoed the
sentiments held in many hearts as they listened to this fine duo. You
can go back. It may not be the same, but it is comfortable and
familiar, and it creates a warm, fuzzy feeling in just about everyone.
It takes a great
deal of commitment and work to create a weekend such as this;
especially in a village of our size. The community spirit was
strong, willing and able to pull this off. Volunteers were ready
to do whatever was asked, which makes it easy for the committee in
charge. But even with all this, it wouldn't have been a success
without the enthusiasm and participation of all those folks who came
"home". The positive feedback that has been received has
been overwhelming and gratifying. Thanks for still caring enough
about your "roots" and your "hometown" to make this one of the best