Grande Cache is celebrating its semicentennial throughout the hamlet during the 2019 Canada Day long weekend.
Photo courtesy of Grande Cache 50th Anniversary Facebook
After a recent transition from a town to a hamlet, Grande Cache is now marking half a century since its founding with festivities over the long weekend.While previously working on the 40th anniversary for Grande Cache, Yvonne Rempel had been asked what the planning committee would do for the semicentennial. She answered, “We’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.”“And here we are,” said Rempel, who now chairs the 50th Anniversary Planning Committee. “We are 10 years later and we’re about to celebrate a milestone here in the community of Grande Cache—50 years of Grande Cache.”Grande Cache is celebrating its 50th anniversary from Friday to Sunday. It will also combine its anniversary and Canada Day events Sunday, which include fireworks and a parade.Situated on a mountain plateau 188 kilometres south of Grande Prairie by road, Grande Cache first began in 1969 due to the opening of McIntyre Mines. Mining has since served as a major industry for the community despite its ups and downs.“Grande Cache has been famous for our booms and our busts over the years like any other resource-based community,” Rempel said.She noted that the mining industry had attracted a variety of ethnic cultures to the region, which was one of the reasons the main theme for the anniversary is “Decades and Diversity.”In addition, the theme reflects how the regional economy had diversified to include employers such as Foothills Forest Products and the Grande Cache Institution.“We also have a very rich Indigenous community that was here way before Grande Cache became a community in 1969,” Rempel added. “We have the opportunity not only to acknowledge them as part of our community but anyone past or present who has helped make Grande Cache that it is today fifty years later.”Anniversary festivities such as an Indigenous performance and a miners dedication ceremony will help acknowledge the important characteristics of Grande Cache, Rempel explained.A memorial for the 50th anniversary will also unveil Sunday. Rempel revealed that the memorial would “encompass” parts of the blue bridge, which had spanned the Smoky River before it was taken down this spring due to its age.On New Year’s Day, Grande Cache officially dissolved from a town into a hamlet with the Municipal District (MD) of Greenview. The dissolution occurred due to a declining population and a lack of revenue to maintain infrastructure and cover the costs of services.Rempel described this as “part of the evolution” of Grande Cache rather than a downgrade.“What’s really kept us all together as a community is we’ve been the community of Grande Cache and we will always be the community of Grande Cache,” she said. “But now we have better support, that infrastructure peace with the MD of Greenview, so I believe it’s a win-win situation all around.”A full schedule and other information on the anniversary celebration is available here.