Visiting Heritage Chapter in Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Written by: Lynn Young, President General
June 11, 2015

After two wonderful days with the New Caledonia Chapter members, Virginia Lingelbach and I flew from Vancouver to Calgary on May 5th to visit the Heritage Chapter.

As we exited Customs, we were startled to be pulled aside by an airport official.  My first thought was that they had weighed my bag and knew it was over the weight limit!  Much to our relief, Holly Clark, Regent, her sister, Wendy Tymrick, and Lavon Whiteside were with the officials.  Holly had arranged for a White Hat Welcome for us.  We were given white cowboy hats and asked to raise our right hands and repeat the following:  “Having just arrived in the only genuine Western City in Canada, namely Calgary, will be duly treated to exceptional amounts, of heart-warmin’, hand-shakin’, tongue-loosenin’, back-slappin’, western spirit, I do solemnly promise, to spread this here brand of hospitality, to all folks and critters, who cross my trail hereafter.  On the count of three, we will raise our hats and give a loud YAHOO!”  The official declared us Honorary Calgarians, much to our delight and relief.

The welcome set the tone for two days of fun with the Heritage Chapter.  Wendy and Holly drove us around the city and explained some of Calgary’s history.  That evening we enjoyed the chapter meeting and a delicious meal at the Willow Park Golf and Country Club.  Heritage Chapter was organized in Canada in 1982 and was the first NSDAR Chapter in Canada. All enjoyed viewing the Chapter Charter.  Several years ago the Chapter formed a Chapter Rejuvenation Committee and successfully strengthened their membership.  With members widespread across the Alberta Province, they began having some meetings in Edmonton as well as inviting members to join meetings electronically.  Comprised of both American and Canadian citizens, the chapter now has 61 members.

Like many of our chapters, the ladies of Heritage Chapter actively support our veterans.  They participate in the Field of Crosses in which 3,000 white crosses, one for each Southern Alberta soldier killed in action, are displayed each year from Nov 1 to 12.  On November 5, the American soldiers who fought alongside Canadian forces are honored.  Last year they joined American Consul General Peter Kujawinski in paying tribute to the fallen.  On November 11, they placed a DAR wreath at the Cenotaph in Calgary in a Remembrance Day ceremony.  The chapter also supports the Veterans’ Food Bank and contributes to the Can Learn Society, an organization which addresses learning and attention difficulties and family literacy programming.  The chapter also supports a University of Calgary student majoring in American History.

Todd Buziak, Crown Protector (similar to a prosecutor) spoke on The Devil’s Brigade , a group of American and Canadian Special Forces/Commandoes, who served from July 1942 until December 1944 primarily in Italy and France. Among the recruits was the highest decorated First Nations Soldier from Canada.  Using the training, the strategies, and the lessons learned from the Devil's Brigade's missions, the force evolved into specialized forces such as the Green Berets, Delta Force, and the Navy SEALs. In Canada, today's elite and secretive JTF2 military unit is also modeled on the Devil's Brigade.

The next morning Wendy, Holly and Chapter Vice Regent Dixie Dahlstedt, Chapter Chaplain Lavon Whiteside and Janis Buziak drove us to Banff National Park.  They very thoughtfully had extra coats available and presented us with Canadian mittens and a pair of socks.

On the way to the National Park, we drove past the site of the 1988 winter Olympics.  The scenery along the way was absolutely gorgeous.  Our first stop was at an overlook where we saw the majestic Fairmont Banff Springs.  The ladies pointed out Hoodoos and we learned that they are sedimentary rock, covered by a harder type of rock.  Once the softer sediment erodes, the rocks needle or tower like natural obstacles.

We had a delicious lunch at the Maple Leaf Grill in Banff and Virginia and I were the most excited of the group, to put it mildly, when it began to snow. 

From there we drove on to the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise built on the edge of an emerald green glacier lake among the soaring mountains.  The park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is visited by tourists year round for skiing, hiking and outdoor activities. The lake was still frozen but we managed to find a small patch of snow and practice making snowballs. 

The area was not discovered by Europeans until the 1700s.  Just prior to the completion of Canada’s first transcontinental railroad in 1883, the hot springs were discovered on what is now called Sulphur Mountain. By 1885, the springs and surrounding area were set aside as Canada's first national park. The Canadian Pacific Railway immediately recognized the tourism potential of the Canadian Rockies and opened the elegant 250-room Banff Springs Hotel in 1888.

The railway then constructed a series of grand hotels along its main line and began advertising Banff as an international tourism stopover on the steel highway that had suddenly become the fastest and most direct route from Europe to the Far East. The Rockies quickly became popular with the Victorian gentry, who came to drink in the scenery and soak in the soothing hot springs. After a wonderful day enjoying the majesty of God’s creation, we headed back to Calgary, enjoying delicious dinner in Canmore, which is nestled in Bow Valley. 

Our Canadian adventure ended very early the next morning as Virginia returned to Georgia and I flew to the Arizona State Conference.  I have had the privilege of seeing so much of this beautiful continent and look forward to returning to Banff National Park one summer soon.

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