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'Can-can' you identify these Lac La Biche dancers from the past?

Newsroom and community visit 33 years after working at the Lac La Biche POST

The Lac La Biche POST newsroom had a visit from a past reporter a few days ago.

Andrew Leitch was only at the POST for a short time in 1991, but he enjoyed his stay in the community. Back with family for his first visit in 33 years, Leitch spent a few seconds outside the newspaper office's front door, looking at the building and looking across the street before coming inside. He told me that he hardly recognized the community — admitting with a laugh that the big construction project in the middle of downtown didn't help. 

Andrew said he stood on the sidewalk alongside the current parking lot that was the old Hamar's grocery store and hardware stores when he was last in Lac La Biche, and was pretty sure there were a few little buildings in the spot now occupied by the IGA. He couldn't quite remember where the old Aurora Theatre had been, but he knew the newspaper office was near.

Andrew had a tour of the current layout inside the Lac La Biche Post — which has changed significantly thanks to a building fire in 1993 that gutted the office. He pointed to where his desk would have been, along with former reporter Wendy Joy, past Editor Gary Elaschuk and production manager Eric Elaschuk. He remembered Dwayne Young as a boss as well. 

He remembered roughly where the old camera darkroom was. He couldn't quite remember how the basement of the building had looked back then, mainly because the old building had rented out two suites downstairs, and staff really didn't venture down there. He remembered the smell of the wax machine that would coat the paper to help stick the pages onto the giant layout boards, and he remembered the smell of cigarette smoke. He also remembered a few stories, interviews and pictures he did over his months. Former mayor and local historian, the late Tom Maccagno stood out in his memories — so did a few stories he did, like the early planning meetings for Lakeland Provincial Park and the Alberta Pacific Pulp Mill.

He remembered the sunsets on the original Big Dock, lots of gravel highways, and a few good nights inside the Eddy's Saloon at the La Biche Inn's Truckers bar. 

He flipped through the archive back-issues of Lac La Biche POST newspapers from his time at the reporter's desk, stopping on pages, headlines and photos. One of the photos was a front page from June 18, 1991 - an assignment at the current Portage College theatre, Alberta Vocational Centre at the time, for a Lac La Biche Players' theatre performance with an obvious cabaret theme. As a young man in his 20s at the time, the performance stood out, he said with a grin.

After Andrew's half hour visit, he thanked me for the visit and the walk down memory lane (I came to the POST in April of 1992 to replace Wendy Joy, a few months after Andrew's departure, so it was a nice bit of nostalgia for me too). When I went to close the store, I saw the newspaper page with the dancers was still folded open in the archive book that we'd left on the front counter. The photo has no names in the caption space. 

Going back all those years, it would be nice to know if we can-can identify them.

Rob McKinley

About the Author: Rob McKinley

Rob has been in the media, marketing and promotion business for 30 years, working in the public sector, as well as media outlets in major metropolitan markets, smaller rural communities and Indigenous-focused settings.
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