Bob and Joan Alexander and their two children, Lesley, aged four and a half, and Rob, aged one and a half years, arrived in Canmore in May 1971. Bob had accepted a position with the Banff Centre and was developing a two-year program entitled Visual Communications. This was a test case for the viability of establishing full programs in the Arts at the Centre. After a short search, with Slim EKlof’s help, we found a home belonging to Vic and Sybil Menegozzo, operators of the local Beaver Hardware. Located at 28 Mt. Peechee Place, this was pretty well the furthest extent west for the town. Our neighbours were Ed Hegerat, Jack and Sylvia Slavin, the Shiels in the pink house at the corner, and behind, Ted and Cynthia Brock. Ted taught science at the high school and Cynthia was head nurse at the Canmore Hospital, and next door to them, the Dowhans, councilor and local electrician, and the Jacksons nearby. The rest of the area was meadow land and trees, being once part of the original golf course. I remember the Slavins welcoming us and inviting us for coffee, and the bank manager knocking at the back door with our mortgage papers. Would that happen now? Joan remembers walking into the old Marra store and being greeted as “Mrs. Alexander”. How did Ronnie know?
The next few years went by with Lesley in kindergarten, run by Penny Morris in her home, and Rob in playschool at the United Church and then E.C.S. at the Scout Hall, which was painted and fixed up mainly by the mothers. The children were often babysat by friends, Bill and Ruth Chapman. Bill was in the mine office. Then many times exchanging kids and dogs with Judy and Don Blair. Don was with Calgary Power. Bob and Joan did volunteer work, Joan with the Recreation Board and the Canmore Hospital Board, and Bob on the first Economic Development Committee with Don Auger and Mayor Pat Burns, one term on the School Board, and two terms on the Canmore Housing Authority.
In 1980 Bob finished his work at the Banff Centre and joined Marg West as a realtor with Cowley and Keith, then with Don Auger and Paula Andrews at Alpine Realty, and finally with ReMax Realty. Joan decided in 1981 to renew her nursing and attended the refresher course at the Foothills Hospital to regain her registered nursing status. She renewed her career at the old hospital on the hill initially and moved with the staff to the new hospital. Lesley graduated from high school and gained her Bachelor’s degree from the University of Calgary, while Rob attended Red Deer College, then spent six months with Canada World Youth in Ontario and Indonesia. Upon his return, Rob earned a journalism diploma from Mt. Royal College in Calgary, and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Prescott College in Prescott, Arizona, and is continuing his education at the University of Calgary. Lesley is now completing her seventh teaching year at the Morley School working with Stoney Indian children.
In 1995 Bob and Joan retired from their respective careers and are quietly enjoying their freedom. Canmore has many happy memories, some of which are:
- Ben and Marg West arriving. Ben was Bob’s assistant at the Banff Centre and Marg worked with Alvin Clarke and his construction company.
- The mine train running to the main line with its load of coal.
- Ed Hegerat keeping our crescent clear of snow with his big grader.
- The kids taking swimming lessons at the A1 Motel (and freezing), and then at the Cave and Basin in Banff.
- Joan working at the old hospital, which was truly a family affair; Christmas dinner was served for those on shift.
- The packs of dogs that roamed free
- The old pool hall and barber shop on 7th Avenue.
- The horses walking across Ed’s newly seeded lawn.
- The flood of “74”, making sandwiches and filling sandbags.
- Few paved roads, no signposts, and directions given by the colour of the house or the type of fence.
- The old elementary school.
- The Continental Restaurant.
- Skating on clear ice on a backwash from the Bow River at the end of Main Street.
- Mr. Smaniotto building his wrought iron rooster.
- The library at the old town hall and fire station.
- The teens and their parties at the engine bridge.
In Canmore Seniors at the Summit, ed. Canmore Seniors Association, 2000, p. 2-3.