It’s three years this week since much of our world was stopped in its tracks by the COVID-19 pandemic.
That week, and this week, the Elk Point Review office would have been celebrating the anniversary of the paper’s first edition under the St. Paul Journal’s ownership in 1984, and while those events didn’t and won’t be happening, we’re still here, in a different form, as is the St. Paul Journal, now as part of a regional paper, Lakeland This Week.
Yes, I miss our office, whose sign is still in place and will eventually have to come down, and I miss the camaraderie of being part of the Journal gang on Fridays and Mondays, but other than that, I still cover the same events and they still get in the paper, and working from home just seems normal to me now, and saves me a considerable amount of both time and gas money.
Not only do I not drive to and from one or the other office each day, I don’t even attend a number of the meetings in person. I think I’ve only been to two or three town council meetings in person in all that time, with the rest joined on ZOOM, as are other meetings from Alberta’s Lakeland, Riverland Recreational Trail Society and sometimes the chamber of commerce meetings, where I also have been serving as secretary for many, many years. I do try to attend those in person, and it’s good to see everyone in person when I can.
That sudden shutdown in 2020 came at a very unfortunate time. The issue just before the shutdown had one of our Avalanche hockey teams serving up burgers to raise money for their trip to Provincials, and those Provincials never happened. For a long time, no one was sure if and when any hockey action would resume, but once it did, the enthusiasm returned and expanded, and this year we have one team hosting the league finals this past weekend, another hosting provincials this week, one heading off to Tofield for provincials next week. I’m inclined to think that the shutdown gave the many volunteers involved in minor hockey a well-deserved rest, because once things opened up again, they were eager to get back to their efforts, and to recruit newcomers as well.
That seems to have happened for other groups and events as well. After only a last minute, barely-a-block-long parade on July 1, 2020 and a free takeout lunch provided by a very generous local restaurant, the community braved the germ potential to attend a volunteer-led parade later in the summer, and were eager to take part in both a short, impromptu parade on July 1, 2021, after a hastily arranged by volunteer pancake breakfast, and a longer parade that was fortunately over before a deluge delayed much of the Heritage Days events later that summer. Last year, everything was largely back to normal for July 1, except for the weather. We on the Canada Day committee are hoping for better this year.
Students studied on line, briefly coming back to class at times, but most school functions that were held, took place with no audience, and F. G. Miller’s 202O graduation was celebrated with an outdoor event arranged by the parents. They
finally had their turn for the traditional pomp and ceremony, a year later, following in the footsteps of the Class of 2021, both ceremonies with only parents in attendance. Fortunately that got back to normal last June, with much delight, both here in Elk Point and across the whole school division.
Even 4-H, from public speaking competitions to steer shows and sales, went virtual for one season, and moved shows outdoors after that, one year for parents only.
Strangely enough, most of our businesses survived. Restaurants switched to takeout and back to full service when they could, and those businesses that closed their doors or went to ‘by appointment only’ opened them as soon as they could. One or two changed hands or changed locations, and amazingly new businesses started up once restrictions eased.
Apparently it takes more than a worldwide pandemic to shut this community down, and that’s a very good thing.