Life & Style

What’s your escape plan?

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Written by Alisha Sims, Sun Times   
Wednesday, 10 October 2012 15:09

Alisha Sims
Sun Times
Mark Hoveling knows the importance of having a family escape plan.
   The fire prevention officer for Lethbridge Fire & Emergency Services recalls a kitchen fire that sparked in a home near a middle school in the city. The children that were in the basement at the time escaped through the back door and walked to the front of the house where they informed firefighters the family dog was still inside. The dog was rescued.
“Instead of standing in the back alley, not knowing what to do, they knew to go to the meeting point in the front,” Hoveling said.
“When we get to a house, we’re hoping to find someone (in front) because it’s our first point of contact.”
The front of the house is typically where fire hydrants are located, too.
The account stresses the importance of having a family escape plan with two ways out of every room if possible.
Fire Prevention Week is Oct. 7-13 and this year’s theme is “Have 2 Ways Out.”
The week leading up to Fire Prevention Week, Lethbridge Fire & Emergency Services distributed fire-safety books to more than 3,000 students in kindergarten to Grade 6 that included an interactive DVD.
This week, there will be school fire drills.
“The theme builds on rabbits’ instinct to always have at least two exits from their underground homes leading to safety,” he said. “Throughout the week we will conduct fire drills at schools blocking an exit so that students understand there is another way out.”  
Also during the week, Lethbridge Fire & Emergency Services will discuss how the theme coincides with the city’s secondary suite program. This program awards citizens of Lethbridge 50 per cent of receipts up to a maximum of $2,500 to legalize secondary suites. Legalization of a suite can be as simple as increasing the window size, increasing the door size or installing handrails.
The week caps off with the Fire Chief for a Day event. Students from kindergarten through Grade 3 from around the city entered the contest and the winner will receive a certificate, prize package and firefighter uniform.
Lethbridge Fire & Emergency Services has responded to 140 fire calls in the city this year as of Oct. 5, said Hoveling. A fire call is defined as one where members pull the hose off the truck or flow water. He added that number is lower than in past years.
Calls for home kitchen fires are the most common.
An escape plan helps families respond more quickly and calmly when faced with a real fire situation. A free home escape plan template and more family fire safety tips can be found online at the campaign website
Other tips to make homes escape-ready include maintaining and testing smoke detectors, checking to see that all doors and windows open easily, practising using different ways out, remembering to close doors during the drill, practising getting low under the smoke where the air is cleaner and practising fire drills during the day and night.
“We stress practising day and night because night is when there is a higher chance of a fire happening when the kids are at home.”
He adds that smoke alarms wear out so they should be replaced every 10 years whether they are battery operated or hardwired into your home’s electrical system.


‘McLean Lake is so much nicer’

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Written by Alisha Sims, Sun Times   
Wednesday, 03 October 2012 14:46

A Lethbridge woman is floating the idea of officially naming a lake east of the city after an influential cattleman and politician.
The body of water immediately west of the Lethbridge Correctional Centre that’s commonly referred to by most locals as “Jail Lake” is, according to the province, nameless.
Belinda Crowson, president of the Historical Society of Alberta, would like to see it appear as “McLean Lake” on provincial maps, in honour of the late Hon. Archibald “Archie” J. McLean.
“The people of McLean district 100 years ago called it McLean Lake but McLean Lake was never official . . . It’s funny how things have historical names but no name in the province’s mind.”
McLean, who died in 1933 at the age of 73, was a cattleman, politician and one of the Big Four Calgary Stampede founders, according to a blog entry written by Crowson earlier this year. He was born in Ontario and at the age of 21 moved to Montana where he worked as a ranch hand. He moved to Alberta in 1886. A few years later, he joined the C.Y. Ranch first as an employee, then a manager and later a partner.
In 1909, McLean was elected as an MLA for the rural Lethbridge District. He was one of the first two independents to be elected in Alberta when he won the seat as an Independent Liberal. McLean joined the Liberal party in 1910. 
Following electoral district changes, he was elected MLA from the Taber area in 1913 and was re-elected in 1917.
He left politics in 1921 to return to ranching when the United Farmers of Alberta swept to power.
During his political career, McLean served as minister of municipal affairs and minister of public works, and instrumental in setting up what would become Alberta’s highway system.
McLean’s contributions did not go unnoticed. In 1963, the man, who also started and managed an overseas cattle exporting company, was inducted into the Canadian Agricultural Hall of Fame in Toronto. Closer to home, McLean School was a rural school east of the city and the surrounding district was McLean District. In the Oldman River valley near Taber, there’s the Archie McLean Memorial Bridge. Today, the country schoolhouse is no longer used to educate students, only the locals refer to the area as McLean District and the bridge is more commonly known as “Park Bridge.”
“He’s losing any recognition,” Crowson says.
“There’s the jail nearby so people today call it Jail Lake. And even they’ve renamed themselves a correctional centre, so let’s get McLean Lake on there.”
In the coming days, she hopes to submit an application to the province’s geographical names program to have the body of water “beloved by birders” officially named McLean Lake. Signatures have been gathered, and letters of support have come in from the city, the Lethbridge Research Centre and Calgary Stampede.
The program’s website says the final naming decision rests with the Alberta Historical Resources Foundation board of directors with the concurrence of the Minister of Culture and Community Services. The only roadblock may be the similarly named McLean’s Lake east of Ponoka, she says.
“McLean Lake is so much nicer than Jail Lake. I realize people will know it as Jail Lake for a long time but it’s what’s on the map that counts.”


Signs make it easy to find city history

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Written by Alisha Sims, Sun Times   
Wednesday, 26 September 2012 16:01

It’s a sign that history can be fun, says one woman with the Lethbridge Historical Society.
   In celebration of Canadian Sports 4 Life Week, the LHS has created a number of “On this spot” temporary historic signs with quirky or little-known history of our community.
The signs will remain around the city until Sept. 28. Everyone is encouraged to get out and be active, whether that’s walking, biking, skating, or whatever works for you, to find all of the signs.
“This is a fun project,” says Belinda Crowson. “I had to only put up six of the signs (on Sunday with LHS volunteers) and at three of the spots people walked up and read the signs and talked to me. I am so hoping people have fun with this.”
One sign marks Circus Flats, “which served for years as the location of annual circuses. Sell-Floto Company, Barnum & Bailey and Ringling Bros. circuses all played Lethbridge in the 1920s and 1930s.”
A sign downtown marks the approximate spot of the first appendectomy performed in Western Canada.
Another sign between Mayor Magrath Drive and Lethbridge College marks the site of Sunshine Golf Course, a crude golf course created in the 1930s by the unemployed.
Crowson says she got the idea from a politically charged art project that was done in the States. She tweaked it to suit the LHS’s lighter side.
“I just loved the idea of creating guerrilla art that went up and down. That’s what I thought about guerrilla history. It comes up for a week, find it if you can and then it goes away.”
LHS already plans to do a similar project again in the spring. Anyone with ideas for new signs or has questions, can contact This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or 403-320-4994.
“As soon as I showed City Hall, they asked when could we do it again,” she says.
Crowson would like to see the project go one step further with history-themed plaques permanently installed in sidewalks to mark places of historical importance.


City woman conquers habits to earn weight-loss crown

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Written by Alisha Sims, Sun Times   
Wednesday, 19 September 2012 16:46

Flo Nyquist survived colon cancer but it was a single sugar binge that prompted her to shed almost 100 pounds.
   One day in July 2010 after visiting her mother at Edith Cavell Care Centre, she picked up some ice cream from a nearby shop that someone had earlier raved about. A rhubarb fan, she added to her order six rhubarb cupcakes that were sitting in the display case, along with six donuts. She planned to sample the sweet treats the following day.
“I went home and ate them all,” confessed the Lethbridge woman.
“I woke up the next day really ill and realized God saved me from cancer and that’s when I decided I had to change.”
She brought up from her basement a copy of “The G.I. Diet” by Canada’s diet guru Rick Gallop. Gallop authored the highly successful G.I. Diet series of books following his retirement as president and CEO of the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario more than 10 years ago. The books colour-codes food on a traffic light basis: red light, yellow light and green light.
Nyquist stuck to her healthy lifestyle plan, and with the help of a strong support system, she lost 89.5 pounds.
“The cancer diagnosis did change my attitude. I did start to eat healthy but it still didn’t click with me to lose my weight.”
The colon cancer diagnosis came in 2001. She beat the disease.
Then, her doctor told her she was on the threshold of becoming a diabetic.
The tipping point, though, was that summertime sugar binge.
“I had a terrible day. I was headache-y and everything, of course from that sugar. I knew sugar was a problem for me and I didn’t want to be a diabetic.”
Nyquist found support at West Lethbridge’s TOPS Club (Take Off Pounds Sensibly), the original non-profit, non-commercial weight-loss organization based in Milwaukee. She’s the westside group’s founding member, having started it in July 1981.
TOPS has about 170,000 members in nearly 10,000 chapters in the United States, Canada and numerous other countries throughout the world. Members include women, men and children.  TOPS promotes successful, affordable weight management with a philosophy that combines healthy eating, regular exercise, wellness information, and support from others at weekly chapter meetings. What gives TOPS its credibility is the organization’s focus on the individual instead of selling diets, weight-loss plans, or commercial products.
“It took me 30 years in TOPs and I never gave up. That was the whole theme, to never, never give up,” she said.
“There’s almost 30 years in there and I kept going to TOPS and I kept losing and gaining, never reaching my goal, and then for some reason, this happened, and I was so strict on that (G.I.) diet that I never cheated once.”
With a goal of dropping from 250 pounds to 160, Nyquist lost two to three pounds each week.
“Then come April (2011), it was my 65th birthday and I had a lot to celebrate. I was a 10-year colon cancer survivor and I had lost about 50 pounds.”
More than 20 pounds still stood between her and her goal, but she persevered.
On Dec. 19, 2011, she hit her 160-pound goal.
Her hard work did not go unnoticed. Nyquist was crowned the 2011 Alberta Queen using the support provided by the TOPS program.
“I lost the most weight (that year) in my group so I was the chapter queen and it just happened that I lost the most weight in Alberta at the end of the year.”
TOPS crowns a king, too.
Nyquist received her crown at the River Cree Resort and Casino in Edmonton earlier this year. In July, she represented the province at the international recognition days in San Diego, Calif.
She continues to be cancer free and is a still a KOPS (Keeping Off Pounds Sensibly), a group within TOPS that receives additional support in keeping pounds off.
“It’s a struggle to maintain,” she said. “It’s easier to lose it, so I’ve had to learn . . . I had to learn I can have a treat here and there. I’ve always been a binge eater, an emotional eater. I realize I can have a few chips. I can’t buy a dozen cupcakes and eat them all. I knew when I started that G.I. diet that it’s more than that diet; my habits had to change.”
The westside TOPS meets Monday nights at St. Martha’s Church. Weigh-in takes place form 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. and an hour-long program follows beginning at 7:30 p.m. Membership is $32 for the year and a monthly fee of $7 covers the church rental, contest prizes and charms, she said.
Those wanting to learn more are invited to visit during the open house on Sept. 24, or phone Nyquist at 403-381-7391 or co-ordinator Julie Dube at 403-381-0754.
“People just have to take that first step whether it’s finding a weight-loss program or an exercise program. It has to be something you can live with, not just lose the weight. It’s a lifestyle change,” she said.
“It’s hard to do it yourself. Support is so important. That’s why you can’t beat TOPS."


The art of preserving artists’ stories

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Written by Alisha Sims, Sun Times   
Wednesday, 12 September 2012 15:58

Interests in art, wildflowers and hiking served as the seeds for a Canmore woman’s third book.
   Mary-Beth Laviolette, author of “A Delicate Art: Artists, Wildflowers and Native Plants of the West,” explored the stories of six Albertans over the past 100 years who’ve made a significant contribution to wildflower art. She chose to feature Mary Schaffer and Mary Vaux, William Copeland McCalla, Robert Sinclair, Carole Harmon and Fort Macleod’s Annora Brown.
“I wanted to explore the lives of these artists, their approach to wildflowers and how they presented them to make people aware of this wonderful legacy,” she said.
Laviolette shares her findings at an illustrated talk on Sept. 19, 2-3 p.m. at the Galt Museum as part of its Wednesdays at the Galt program. Preregistration is not required, and the program is free with museum admission and for annual pass holders.
The avid hiker said it wasn’t easy to narrow down the list of artists to profile.
“I know there are lots of artists who like to paint but these are artist who’ve done serious investigations of their subject.”
Schaffer and Vaux, for instance, were “real adventurers” based in Banff around the turn of the 20th century, who produced books about wildflowers in the Rockies.
“I talk about how their lives, how they did their work. It was strenuous and they spent a lot of hours outdoors.”
Copeland McCalla’s family considered him an artist, even though the renowned local botanist only photographed wildflowers between 1925 and 1936 for glass lantern slides for his natural history class.
Brown is well known in the area for her oil, tempera and watercolour paintings of flowers and plants of southern Alberta. She illustrated books and magazines, and was commissioned by the Glenbow Foundation to paint 200 pictures of different Alberta wildflowers.
In 1955, Brown published “An Old Man’s Garden.”
“It was part history and guide to wildflowers and plants of the Oldman area,” Laviolette said.
“She was one of that first generation of artists who lived and worked in Alberta.”
The only two living artists Laviolette  profiled are watercolourist Robert Sinclair of Edmonton, who’s been involved in the Waterton Wild Flower Festival, and photographer Carole Harmon, formerly of Banff and now Vancouver.
“A Delicate Art” was released in April.

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