Consul celebrates centennial in big way

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From less than 100 one day, to almost 1,000 the next, the small village of Consul ballooned in size for a once in a lifetime homecoming weekend in celebration of the community’s centennial.

Former residents came from as far away as China to celebrate the village of 84-strong, situated in the far Southwest corner of the province.  It was a higher than expected turnout for the July 4-6 event, and that loyalty and devotion wasn’t lost on the hosts.

“To me it’s really overwhelming,” Consul Mayor Linda Brown said of the turnout.  “It’s humbling to think that people would travel all this distance.”

Originally the community expected to get around 700 people for the event, but it quickly became apparent their numbers were going to be a lot higher.  Fortunately, in an example of the community spirit that made this event possible, local residents stepped up to contribute.

 “When people realized the 100th was going on, people just came from everywhere to make Consul look better,” Brown said.

 “We’re noted for (volunteering) in this community,” she continued.  “I think it’s because we live so far away.  Nobody wants to come here and work… so then you have to be creative and talented and just do it yourself.”

While today is a celebration of that community spirit and can do attitude that kept the village functioning for 100 years, getting this far hasn’t been easy.  Like most of the province, drought was a constant menace in the ’30s causing many to leave for better conditions.

“Like I tell my son, we didn’t have any money,” longtime Consul resident Cliff Smith said.  “He said, ‘you had to have some money.’  No, I said, you didn’t.”

Smith turns 90 this year.  He’s lived in Consul since 1929, when he family started farming north of the village, and he’s not kidding about many in the area not having cash on hand.

“As far as cash, you didn’t work with cash in them days,” Smith remembered.  “All you worried about was getting enough to eat.”

Smith survived, married and raised a family in the area.  A few years ago someone asked him if he would do things differently if he could, and move away from Consul at a young age.  He thought for a minute, and said that he wouldn’t.

“I’ve never been hungry.  I’ve always had a roof over my head, such as it was, and it’s a good place to raise a family,” he explained.  “We raised a family of three, so what more do you need?”

Fortunately drought and hardship aren’t as prevalent in the area.  During the centennial weekend residents were free to eat hot dogs and ice cream, play slowpitch, and admire the quilts and classic cars on display.

Of course, there’s also the opportunity to reconnect, something everyone seemed keen to do over the weekend.

“It’s quite a show for me because I’ve known lots of them,” Smith said of all the returnees.  “A lot of them I’d even forgot about until I see their face.”

It’s also a chance to honour the spirit and commitment of those who stayed.  Those, like Smith, who were glad to keep Consul going like it is today.

“I’ve went through it all, but I’ve never regretted that I stayed.  Never.”

Organizations: Village of Consul

Geographic location: Consul

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