Ammeter reflects on Sylvan Lake then and now

Pat Ammeter changed her usual Father’s Day plans this year, and decided not to head out of town with her family.

Pat Ammeter changed her usual Father’s Day plans this year, and decided not to head out of town with her family.

Instead, they stayed together at Jarvis Bay so they could be closer to centennial celebrations taking place in Sylvan Lake.

With the time Ammeter has spent in Sylvan Lake over the years, it was, after all, an occasion she did not want to miss.

“For nearly 30 years we have celebrated with family out west for Father’s Day and this time we said we were going to stay close so we can take in what we want,” she said.

Of Sylvan Lake’s 100-year history, Ammeter has been in town for more than half. She was born in Sylvan Lake, and even when, at the age of 19, she moved to a farm just south of town with her husband Dietrich, she continued to call Sylvan Lake home.

“We farmed, but this was my hometown,” she said. “It’s where our kids went to school, it’s where we went to church, it’s where we did everything. So I always said I lived here.”

During her time in town, Ammeter has seen the town grow substantially. In doing so, she’s seen plenty of what she refers to as “ups and downs” — changes that have occurred throughout the years for better and for worse.

“There was a timeframe when Sylvan was kind of grungy, and it wasn’t a desirable destination,” she said. “People still came here, but it wasn’t a ‘wow’ place to go. People still came to the lake and loved the lake, but people weren’t moving here.”

She said some of the biggest changes came when the farm implement dealers began to leave town, and Saturday night shopping was eventually stopped.

“That’s when all the farmers came to town to do their shopping. We’d work all week and then Saturday night was when you went and got your groceries and went to the café and met some of the neighbours.

“Once they’d closed down Saturday night, farmers couldn’t get their supplies and they all went to Red Deer. That had a very big impact on the town of Sylvan Lake.”

Ammeter remembers a time when everybody knew everybody in town, and feels people today don’t know their neighbours like they used to. Yet, although she often walks the streets without seeing anyone she knows, she claims to love the town today as much as she ever has in the past.

“It’s not just Sylvan, the whole world is changing, and I really love the changes of beautification of the town,” she said. “I really feel good about the changes to do with the sidewalk along the beach, and I was overwhelmed with the new town office.

“It is an absolutely beautiful building.”

She also acknowledged the many years it’s taken for Sylvan Lake to become the place it is today.

“Very few people, I find, can visualize something through to the end, and only see what’s in front of them today,” she said. “I love it here and I have no plans to leave here.

“I don’t know a place where I would rather live.”