BONNYVILLE – Big milestones are always a time to reflect on the past and a moment to look forward.
The Town of Bonnyville’s 75th anniversary of incorporating as a town was officially on Feb. 16, 2023, but was celebrated by the municipality and its residents on March 18.
For Elisa Brosseau, the Town’s current mayor, the greatest change she has seen over the years is the growth in population and the new faces adding to the social fabric of the community.
“The biggest thing that's changed that I've noticed is just the growth in population growing up,” she said. “It was always very much a generational town. You've got big families and you've got grandchildren, great grandchildren, grandparents, and great grandparents all living in the Town of Bonnyville or surrounding the town.”
Brosseau’s comments are mirrored by the most recent data from the 2021 Government of Canada Census.
Generation status for the population reflects that out of 6,160 Town of Bonnyville residents who completed the census, 4,740 respondents consider themselves third generation Canadians or more.
Those who identify as being first generation total 765, while 655 respondents who live in the Town of Bonnyville identified as being second generation Canadians.
Between 2020-21, Statistics Canada shows 910 people moved into the community during one of the hardest hit economic times in recent years. Of those who relocated to the town, 305 arrived from elsewhere in the province, 60 people arrived from another province, and about 370 came from abroad.
And while the presence of generational families has not changed much over the decades, new families continue to settle in Bonnyville, laying down roots and making their own mark on the community.
“Over the years, the growth and the different people that have migrated to the Town of Bonnyville has been the biggest change,” said Brosseau, referring to a growing and vibrant Filipino community.
Other nationalities adding the community included Jamaicans, South and Central Americans, Sri Lankans, and Pakistanis, according to Statistics Canada.
“Yes, we have a transient population when industry grows and when it decreases. But for the most part, the base that we have here, I think it's because Bonnyville has grown on them,” noted the mayor.
“There's a lot of opportunity in Bonnyville and around Bonnyville to have a long-term career and job. And they know that there are amenities that we can access in and around Bonnyville, but it still has that small town feel where you can grow old and raise a family.”
As time goes on and as the town’s story continues to be written, Brosseau says it is important to remember the history that made Bonnyville the community it is today.
“There are deep roots here. There is a long history and it's important not only for my generation but the younger generation to be able to pause and reflect on what built our community, to talk about some of those pioneers and settlers that came to the Town of Bonnyville and created the town we celebrate today. Look how we've grown and look at all the people in our community.”
Brosseau said once we have looked back, then we can start looking to the future.
“These are the younger generations that are going to define our community. So, we celebrate what has defined our community and we celebrate what is going to define it as well.”