Local class of 1967 recalls Airdrie’s past

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Some say one of the biggest draws Airdrie is the small-town feel and, when compared to Calgary, it is small. But what about for those who have been around since Airdrie was even smaller?

Rosalie Pedersen has lived most of her life in Airdrie, spending her childhood and later adult life living within the city, but said what she misses most is the small-town feeling.

“When you went to buy your groceries, you knew most of the people that were around you and (could have) lots of casual conversation,” Pedersen said.

Suggesting the importance of community seemed to be more prevalent back then, Pedersen said she still thinks Airdrie is a great place.

“I’ve been very, very lucky in being part of that small town…. It gives a person a good foundation to know you’re part of a bigger place,” she said.

Jean Fortna, a lifelong Airdrionian, agreed the city of Airdrie’s growth has been the biggest change she’s seen.

“Now Airdrie has everything…back in the ’50s and ’60s you went to Calgary for most things – there were no doctors, no dentists or any of the bigger stores,” she said. “It was always a big deal to go to Calgary and go downtown shopping on the Saturday.”

Fortna still lives in the same house her grandfather homesteaded in 1903. When asked if she’d ever move, Fortna just laughed.

“Where would I move to?”

Pedersen, 69, and Fortna, 68, are both looking forward to seeing Airdrie grow with all of their close friends they’ve met through the city.

“There’s still a real core group of people that have been here (for a long time),” Fortna said.

This year was the 50th reunion the 1967 George McDougall High School graduating class and both Pedersen and Fortna, who helped organized the event, were in attendance, along with many other longtime residents.

The reunion was held Nov. 4 at the Goldenrod Community Hall and more than half of the original class attended, according to organizers.

“We have held reunions every 10 years,” Fortna said in a press release to Airdrie City View. “This might account for the success of our 50th reunion.”

According to the release, the Class of ’67 entered George McDougall as Grade 9 students in 1962-63, the year the school opened.

While many of the pupils came from Airdrie schools, students from surrounding communities swelled the numbers and fostered new friendships.

“It is important to catch up on each others’ lives and maintain our school friendships,” said another reunion organizer, Nancy Jeffray, in the release.

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