Hidden Valley – A Community Lost

The Siksika Nation chose not to renew the Lease for Hidden Valley. Insurance companies will likely refuse to compensate cabin owners for loss from the  overland flooding of the Mighty Bow River in Alberta. Provincial and Federal Governments might choose to provide Disaster Assistance to some who lost their primary residence. The result: the majority of people at Hidden Valley will have to walk away with nothing to show for years and years of pioneer like effort. With the stroke of a pen, the people in power will finish the destruction of a Community. None of them will think to ask what was, in years gone by, perhaps the most important question, “What is the value of a community?”

Unlike some of the people at Hidden Valley, my cabin is not my primary home. But like so many other people out there, Hidden Valley is the only community I really belong to. Yes, my principal residence is in a rural area that is high and dry (except for the hail and now – more rain), but I only know a handful of my neighbours and though we watch out for one another, we don’t socialize much. We just all happen to live in the same general area.

Hidden Valley was my Community. It was the place where I could chat with my neighbours over the tops of the dogwood and rose bush ‘fence’; meet for supper at the only restaurant for miles; discuss the state of the world with passers by while watching the river flow. It was where our family all gathered, where I watched my grandchildren pass from childhood to pre-teen. It was a little lending library that kept growing;  hunting for lost golf balls in the dim light of late dusk. It was lying on the grass watching satellites and observing stars in the black of the night. It was little bush bunnies on the lawn and watching for snakes and rare frogs in the back water. Bonfires and s’mores and games of golf where you counted how many balls you lost in the river rather than how many strokes you took. (Okay, maybe I’m the only one that kept score that way…) It was where many of us chose to be after a lifetime of working and saving.

The first ‘on the ground’ photos of our community are now being posted thanks to the opportunity yesterday to see the destruction from inside the safety of a bus. (Many thanks to the Siksika Nation for making this possible.) Although I wasn’t able to be there, I’d like to thank Chelsey for letting me post her photo.

Some of the houses, like the one that once graced this lot, are gone. All that is left is the litter – and the headboard of a bed stuck in the mud. Think about that. That was someone’s bed. That bed was once in someone’s house. That house was once in a Community – a community that is now gone. We didn’t even get to say good-bye…

Just over a year ago, I posted this video about my province – Alberta. I watched it again today, and it lifted my spirits while breaking my heart. My Alberta, but with Our Community gone.

67 thoughts on “Hidden Valley – A Community Lost

  1. This is so very sad and you bring it down so perfectly to all the memories of the best times of your life. How horrible that there are so many who will not have the opportunity to rebuild. And how disappointing to lose the joy you all found in that community.

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  2. Loss of property is hard enough, and yet you capture well the greater loss of community, a rare and hard to replace gift. You are a good spokesperson for your community, and it has been interesting, though sad, to follow this story.

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    1. It was all the more awesome because it was also such a simple place. It was what we would think of as a very small prairie town from decades ago – only with a small golf course instead of a hockey rink!

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      1. I understand somewhat. I grew up in Dover, New Jersey and for a good time it was a little town with some nice features. Then it grew into a bigger town with some not so nice features.

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  3. Loss of community. When we lose something, we tend to think of the tangibles. Your explanation of the loss of community puts a whole new perspective on the void this disaster has left in peoples’ lives. Well done, Margie, for helping us understand the true sense of loss you and your neighbours at Hidden Valley are feeling. My heart goes out to you all.

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  4. Am sorry about what has hapeend at Hidden Valley. Nature’s fury knows no bounds these days. We in India, are still trying to bring back normalcy at rain-ravaged Uttarakhand.

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  5. Community, like happiness or success, is a state of mind. So is victimization. All are concepts you choose to have in your life. I don’t understand the “can’t rebuild” comment. You may not be able to rebuild in the same spot but you can always rebuild. And what you rebuild can be even better than what you lost.

    A woman once said to me, “If you ask God for a new roof don’t be surprised if He burns down your house.”

    So God burned down your house. Now you’re free to go after a bigger, better roof. Or you can sit there and cry about the tiny roof you lost. It is completely up to you. That’s the truly scary part.

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    1. I appreciate you taking the time to leave a comment. I expect you are speaking hypothetically, since you really don’t know enough about my community or my situation to suggest we can just rebuild somewhere else or that I’m sitting here crying about my tiny roof!

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    1. Pardon me!? Wait, I’ve got to go check my mail.

      Okay, I see I got an email this morning from WordPress.
      Oh my. I’m going to have to resign as President of ‘The Never Been Freshly Pressed Club’!

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  6. I did not realize you had a place in HIdden Valley. Why did you chose Alberta for 2nd home.? I am curious because I find B.C. more beautiful, etc.

    I’m sorry to hear of your home loss. I can’t imagine the frustration and helplessness of the people there.

    Anyway I’ll be cleaning out my fridge in Calgary. I was evacuated since am downtown and have been away for awhile.

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    1. Sorry to hear you were evacuated too, Jean!
      We chose Hidden Valley because it was where we already had family members, it was not all that far to drive to, and it wasn’t over the top expensive.

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  7. I especially like your idea that Hidden Valley is the place you really feel is home. I am sorry for your suffering in that community. I can relate to your feelings of this place. Fire almost took our weekend home in the Arizona high desert this summer. -Renee

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    1. Thanks Renee.
      We’ve been watching what is happening in Arizona too. Arizona is a second home to so many Canadian Snowbirds, and I know that many of them are very attached to their communities there, just as you must be.

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      1. Yes… I may not be as attached to my second home as some, but it’s sometimes tricky to write or talk about a second home, isn’t it, esp when so many people lose first homes to our increasingly violent climate.

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        1. I agree. Some people have difficulty accepting the fact that a person might have access to two homes. They don’t stop to think that one of the places might have cost less than a fancy truck with a trailer behind it.

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  8. While reading your post, I fall in love with this earlier unheard to me community. The story and Your calm report visualized the places that were the distinct in space to me – helped me to caught the oneness of the spiritual essence despite the differences in outward appearance – Thank you for the inspiring lesson.

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  9. I’m so sorry this was the cherry on top of your disaster sundae. Talk about adding insult to injury!

    On a positive note, you’re out as president of the NoFP Club. Congratulations!

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    1. I’m sure many people who are Freshly Pressed say, “Gee, this isn’t the post I would have chosen.” I would have to say, this really, really isn’t the post I would have chosen to cause my exit from the “Never Been Freshly Pressed Club”.

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  10. Although, the Siksika Nation chose not to renew the Lease for Hidden Valley you have made it alive in this awesome blog. Thanks for sharing this with your blog community.

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  11. Unfortunately, sometimes Mother Earth isn’t as respected as she should be. Sadly, when she gets dis’ed, she retaliates with what us humans call ‘disasters’, but are they really disasters? She just removed something that was growing on her like a cancer. I’m empathetic that your community has been disrupted, but there are still people alive to rebuild your community elsewhere and be good to your Mother Earth!

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    1. The community members were predominately senior citizens who have lost everything, including the investment they made. You can reassure your Mother Earth that she removed us once and for all.

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    1. I’m glad you reminded me of the phrase “A Sense of Place”, and you are right – you don’t just build one, or rebuild one. A Community is a certain place at a certain time with a certain group of people.

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  12. I was saddened when I read this. I have been watching the weather reports and you have experienced epic changes. Your use of the term “community” says so much about this unwelcomed change. I feel for you.

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    1. Thanks Patti. To very honest, this Freshly Pressed attention has been pretty much a non-event. I don’t think that many of the people who read Freshly Pressed posts choose to read stories like mine.

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  13. Viewing your work gave me the desire to work on Florida attractions. I worked on one that is now gone and slowing disappearing from the limelight. I put it on my blog today and if you get a chance to view it I would appreciate it. Your blog was the inspiration for my work today.

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  14. I understand, we are having similar problems with insurance companies and councils and govt all pointing their fingers while peoples houses still have raw sewage pooling outside, where houses broken in half by earthquakes and not weather proof are still being lived in by their owners because they can’t afford to leave, and we are in our third winter post quakes. Its horrible and sad and happens all round the world apparently!

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    1. Yes, it sounds like some of our problems are very similar! There will be as many responses to what is going on as there are people who are affected. Hopefully all will have the energy to find the resolution they seek.

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  15. Thank you for sharing your personal experience regarding this tragic flood. The news reports don’t quite capture the real perspective which is how events like this affect everyone so differently but so authentically. By the way, I am an Albertan too who watched the flood first hand from my kitchen window but luckily, was not adversely affected.

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    1. Welcome to my blog, Thea. How fortunate you are not to have had any damage! I’m sure you can appreciate the force of the water and how much damage it has done to both properties, and people’s lives.

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      1. I absolutely can. It was such a surreal feeling watching it all unfold and even now it has not only changed the landscape of the area but also the hidden level of stress that I sense. So appreciated when you wrote about not even being able to chat with a neighbour over the hedge can happen anymore. That is so true and something that we take for granted. Hope you are able to move forward and have lots of support. ~Thea

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