A few weeks ago, Mayor Lawrence Morris suggested to me that I should write about the rural municipality’s upcoming 100th anniversary.
Morris put me in touch with Doreen Negrich, co-chair of the organizing committee and a Ward 2 councillor. She is sharing the co-chairing duties with Ward 1 councillor Mike Wasylin. Planning for the event, which is slated for summer 2016, is still in the very preliminary stage.
Negrich explained that organizers have yet to decide whether the event will be a week-long or weekend celebration, but they are hoping to focus on lots of fun and plenty of local history.
This got us to talking about how this community has grown, certainly in the last 20 years that I have lived here. Negrich, a life-long resident, has seen far more changes than I, but agreed that the biggest boom has been in the last 30 years.
We got to chatting about all the streets that are named after homesteaders and how the town itself got its name and realized that many residents may not be aware that winged creatures have nothing to do with our town’s name. Instead, it is named after Dr. Curtis James Bird, whose family estate included the town site that was then known as the Village of Roseneath.
The hill part of the name came from an actual hill that we now know as The Pits.
I was surprised to learn the community was originally known simply as St. Paul and spanned both sides of the Red River. It was connected by a ferry that docked close to where Whidbey Harbour is now, and it wasn’t until 1916 that the community was split into East and West St. Paul.
A quick check of 411.ca revealed that there may still be quite a few residents living here or on nearby streets named for their ancestors. These folks include, among others, the Hoddinotts, Omeniuks, Pritchards, McGregors, Midfords, Neyedlis, and well, you can’t swing a cat without hitting a Rebeck.
"We have built an outstanding community here," Negrich says.
And thanks goes to those pioneer families who I hope are all honoured during the 2016 anniversary.
If you would like more information, have memorabilia you would like to donate, or wish to help celebration volunteers, please contact the municipal office for more information.
Cher Hebert is a community correspondent for East St. Paul. She can be contacted at email@example.com.