UPDATED: Swift Current celebrates Centennial Day in gala fashion

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Published on January 16, 2014

A series of historic exhibits shared a glimpse at the past during the Centennial Day Extravaganza at the Credit Union iPlex on Jan. 15.

Published on January 16, 2014

Joseph Naytowhow provided a traditional opening during Wednesday's Centennial Day Extravaganza.

Published on January 16, 2014

Swift Current Centennial Committee Co-chair Dave Spencer speaks during the opening of the Centennial Day Extravaganza on Jan. 15.

Published on January 16, 2014

Swift Current Centennial Committee Co-chair Pat Friesen speaks during the opening of the Centennial Day Extravaganza on Jan. 15.

Published on January 16, 2014

Shaynee Modein performs in a dramatic scene during the Centennial Day Extravaganza on Jan. 15.

Published on January 16, 2014

Traditional activities like skipping and hopscotch were popular activities for younger visitors to Wednesday's Centennial Day Extravaganza.

Published on January 16, 2014

Bakersfield performed as part of Wednesday's Centennial Day Extravaganza.

Published on January 16, 2014

Backstage Dance students performed a 20s style dance during Wednesday's Centennial Day Extravaganza.

Published on January 16, 2014

Face painting was a popular attraction for youngsters during Wednesday's Centennial Day Extravaganza.

Published on January 16, 2014

Members of the SCCHS 9 O'Clock Jazz band shared their talents during the Centennial Day Extravaganza on Jan. 15.

Published on January 16, 2014

Members from the Swift Current Filipino Association wowed the audience when they shared a traditional folk dance during Wednesday's Centennial Day Extravaganza.

Published on January 16, 2014

A series of historic exhibits shared a glimpse at the past during the Centennial Day Extravaganza at the Credit Union iPlex on Jan. 15.

Published on January 16, 2014

One of the popular historical pieces at the Centennial Day Extravaganza was a list of individuals from the region who signed up for the 209th Battalion to serve as part of the Canadian Expeditionary Force during World War I.

Published on January 16, 2014

Premier Brad Wall was one of the dignitaries speaking at the Centennial Day Extravaganza at the Credit Union iPlex on Jan. 15.

Published on January 16, 2014

Mayor Jerrod Schafer shared an important message during Wednesday's Centennial Day Extravaganza.

Published on January 16, 2014

The SCCHS Chamber Singers shared their talents during Wednesday's Centennial Day Extravaganza at the Credit Union iPlex.

An estimated crowd of 3,000 people helped the City of Swift Current celebrate turning 100 years old in style on Wednesday night.

A grand Centennial Day Extravaganza was hosted at the Innovation Credit Union iPlex on Wednesday, with the large audience treated to an entertaining evening of stage performances plus a large selection of informative displays.

January 15 marked the date Swift Current was incorporated as a City in 1914, so the Centennial committee chose Wed., Jan. 15 2014 as the date for the Centennial Day Extravaganza to launch a year of centennial events.

Swift Current Centennial Committee Co-chair Pat Friesen said the Extravaganza was an ideal celebration of Swift Current pride.

"When I'm asked to summarize what do I think of Swift Current in two or three words, I always think of "Community Spirit" and "Community Pride", and how the people of Swift Current always make things happen, always get the job done. And there's a tremendous sense of pride in this community, and it was alive and well tonight."

"I just can't say enough about the show and the exhibits, and the crowd. It's been a great evening, and I think everyone that was here thoroughly enjoyed themselves," Friesen said following Wednesday's Centennial Day Extravaganza.

She admittedly was wowed by the live performance which encapsulated Swift Current's century long history.

"It's impossible in a very short show to depict everything that's happened in the City, but I think they selected the highlights, they portrayed them in a great way. And people got a real sense of the City and where we've come from, and to a degree where we're going."

Wednesday's well attended event was also a rewarding payoff following months of pre-planning for the centennial year.

"We spent a lot of time organizing and planning and thinking about our vision and what it was we were trying to achieve. And then all the time to organize the details of this event, so there was a lot of effort put in. And it seemed like it took forever to get here, but yet all of a sudden here it was. I think its been a great evening."

The evening was attended by a series of community dignitaries included former mayors along with past and current city council members, with the audience reminded that we are indebted as a community to each individual who has served on council and has contributed in making Swift Current a community we are all proud of.

Current Mayor Jerrod Schafer talked about the importance of people in the community making the difference in how successful Swift Current is.

"Pitching in for the common good is part of the fabric of who we are as a people and as a community," he said during his address at the Centennial. "Honouring the past and remembering those who made our present possible demonstrates the respect and the admiration that we have for each and every resident who has ever called our City home, and has had a hand in weaving the tapestry that we enjoy today."

"Swift Current was born a railway town, but it quickly grew from there with deep roots in agriculture, oil and gas, culture and performing arts, sports and recreation, and most of all in a people who believed in their community and in their communities future."

Schafer felt the spirit of volunteerism which has driven the community over the years is a major factor in Swift Current's success.

"Every event, every sort of memory I've got is tied to the people in the community pitching in and all pulling in the same direction. I know that's the theme of this community, and it's evident in everything that's happened here the last 100 years, and it culminated in a fantastic performance tonight with lots of great performers and fantastic volunteers and the effort they put in."

Schafer also was impressed with the evening's live show and the obvious talent in the community that was featured on stage.

"It was a real great walk down memory lane. We had various types of music, everything to be proud of with our High School groups, and I loved the aspect of the Newcomers having an opportunity to share where our community is going and where we've come the last number of years. Even some of the sketches, some of the topics are very similar to what we talk about today, so as much as things change there's lots that stays the same."

"Everything was just done first class today. I'm so proud of Swift Current, and I think everybody that was here tonight is and should be too," Schafer said.

It was pointed out that in 1914, Saskatchewan's premier was Thomas Walter Scott, and the Swift Current MLA served as Saskatchewan's first premier from 1905 to 1916. Now, 100 years later the MLA for Swift Current is again premier of the province. Premier Brad Wall recalled that Southwest Saskatchewan has come a long way since John Palliser's expedition in the mid 1800s determined the region was not suitable for agriculture or settlement. Despite this bleak outlook, Wall highlighted that those individuals who helped build Swift Current had a different view of what could be achieved here and understanding of what was possible.

"Our fore bearers, lead by those who had vision, why they just defied the experts. They defied Palliser and they built a community. They built a way of life, and we benefit from that heritage today. In fact, they didn't just build a community, but they named buildings here after the guy that said we shouldn't live here. It's quite remarkable."

Wall also shared excerpts from a poem written as part of Swift Current's 50th anniversary celebration in 1964, which shared a vision of hope for the future and gratitude for the past.

"Tonight, I think the very best 100th birthday present we can give this community is that same vision. Is that same gratitude for what's come before, and hope for what we can build together to continue to make Swift Current the best place to live and work and raise a family," Wall said.

Former Swift Current Mayor Paul Elder was one of the dignitaries returning for the Centennial Day Extravaganza. Having served as mayor from 1994 to 2003 before leaving the city to pursue opportunities in British Columbia, Elder was impressed with Swift Current after not being around the city for a decade.

"It has been a wonderful, wonderful homecoming, but it had a little twist to it, because I've been gone for 10 years and there was this little peak of awe. The things that we put in place 15 years ago, 10 years ago, 12 years ago, are built now. And the place is thriving. I remember 20 years ago when I came on as mayor and we were thinking 'we've got to do something with this place'. I mean the whole province was suffering to some degree. And certainly the city it was difficult enough to attract somebody to Saskatchewan, much less to a small place like Swift Current."

Elder said it took some energetic, forward thinking from a group of people thinking the community can be better.

"I remember those years when we created a problem because we brought in so many businesses. We had 72 new commercial buildings in a five year period, and we created a problem of not enough housing for all of the workers."

"So when I drive around it's such a wonderfully cool feeling to see all of this stuff that we started."

Elder also recalled spending a summer meeting with reeves in surrounding RMs and talking to them about raising funds for the new Cypress Regional Hospital. However, he never saw the completion of the hospital project as it opened in 2007..

"Now, seeing it built, and driving around seeing the new school, and all of the new businesses, is so really, really rewarding. It was just wonderful."

Elder was mayor when Brad Wall worked for the City as Director of Business Development and Promotion, and was also pleased to see Wall's emergence as a top political leader through his forward thinking ideas.

"It's so wonderful just to see Saskatchewan in the forefront, and Brad Wall is the most respected Premier in Canada, and that is so cool," admitting that they worked on a lot of projects together, and while Wall did not think highly of all ideas, a number of ideas which are now a reality in the community came from Wall.

"We made a difference in this entire province and we made a difference in this City. And just seeing the whole thing with what's happening to Saskatchewan with the economy and everything booming, and Swift Current is just wonderfully booming and everything's thriving. That is so heartwarming."

And while January 15 kicked off the Centennial year, Swift Current residents can now gear up for the Centennial Homecoming Weekend on June 28 and 29, hosted in conjunction with Frontier Days.

"The more I hear and the more I talk to people, I think that's going to be huge," Friesen said. "There's lots of other events being planned along side the Centennial Committee's event - there's school reunions, there's different things happening. So I think when you combine all that with Frontier Days, and it is going to be a big weekend. We are sure hopeful that a lot of former Swift Current residents will come home and join us."

"I think this really ups the expectations for everybody. The bar is very high now, and I'm excited because this is just the first of three fantastic events," Schafer said on Wednesday night.

Organizations: Swift Current Centennial Committee

Geographic location: Swift Current

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