At what point do 100 families, most of whom are strangers, become a community? It happens naturally.
The mine owners did what they could to help turn Logan Lake into a community. Homeowners were given money each year for the first few years to buy plants for their yards to make it feel more like home.
“The company bent over backwards to help people in the town,” recalls Reg Malmas. “If you asked for something, like that snowmobile track that we built, the company never had a qualm about bringing in equipment or even renting generators.”
Many found community develop through day to day activities. “We were all young,” Joan Saunders muses, “we all had young kids. Every day we walked to get the mail, which was at Naismyths’ house over on Beryl. It would take you a half hour to an hour sometimes to get the mail because we all were young with young kids and we all talked and walked together. That kind of thing is really neat. And it still takes me a long time to get the mail when I go downtown. I’m forever running into people I know.”
“It was great because I could even watch them go to school,” says Sheron Malmas. “The elementary school was just across from our place.”
“And the kids were close friends,” says Reg. Our son is still in the ‘Four Amigos’ as we called them – Keith and Grant and Paul and Jack.” This sentiment was repeated over and over during the interviews. Many of the friendships from the original children have remained strong over the years.
“The four of them are still very close,” Sheron laughs, “They still do things together.”
“They became good friends and I think it’s friends that stayed, almost forever because they had to work out their problems,” Reg explains. “There was nobody else around they could go and be friends with. They had to kind of work out their problems and figure it out. And of course after, when you’d get phone calls, ‘Did you know that your child was doing this or that?’ They knew they couldn’t get away with much neither. Because everybody knew everybody.”
“So the kids I think were closer because of everybody coming from a different place and everybody getting grouped together early on,” he adds, “and those friendships stuck.”
“And I think that’s what’s nice about a small place,” says Sheron. “And especially if you all come in there at the same time you’re even closer yet because if you’re out of milk you can’t just run down to the store and buy it, so you go next door and say, ‘have you got some milk that I can borrow?’ You know, you get to know your neighbours more.”
“I was excited,” remembers Gladys Mahon, “because it was really all brand new and everything was just exciting. I looked forward to it and it was really great raising the kids there. How can I describe it? There were no phones. If we had to use the phone for long distance we could go down to the construction site and use their phone.”
Willis McBride admits, however, that they were under no illusions, though, about how challenging it would be in the beginning. “We knew it was going to be hard,” he says. “It was going to be hard for the kids cause they had to ride the bus for the entire high school. And it had to be terribly hard on the women. It was okay for us, we could get up at 7 o’clock in the morning and head up to the mine with our group and get lost for the day. But they had to put up with all the shenanigans going on in Logan Lake. And there was a fair core of them that stayed right through, too. But there were houses up there, probably in the first two years that saw three or four families.”
But Willis is also the first to admit how great it was for the families. “Man oh man!” he laughs. “The boys had an old Jeep there, and I think they could pile 12 on it and run into the bush. In those days there were no fences or anything. Everything was wide open. They made friendships there that they still have for life. It was different.”
“But before you knew it,” Giselle Aichele explains, “we started our bridge sessions, the guys and the gals and the mixed, and then we had a progressive dinners, and we had tobogganing parties. Like we just created our own fun.”
“I just really enjoyed the open air,” Giselle admits. “And it felt so neat to be out there. It was a lovely feeling. I really really did like it. And the camaraderie was great.”
Some of the original children who moved to Logan Lake that year have returned. One of them was Keith Munro, who left Logan Lake after high school but returned with his wife, Elaine, who is also a long time Logan Laker, to raise their family. He is one of the ‘Four Amigos’ Reg Malmas described and still has many strong friendships that started in his childhood in Logan Lake. He sees himself as a true Logan Laker. “It’s kind of like a badge of honour to be one of the originals,” he grins.
Reg and Sheron talk about the boys having that friendship that has lasted, and yet they and the other families who moved in also built a community that lasted. Many of the people interviewed enjoy their strongest friendships with people they met in those early days in Logan Lake. Even after moving away, those friendships and that sense of community endures after 50 years.
“It sure has turned into one beautiful little community, eh?” muses Willis McBride.