We were out of the country when Rachel Notley was elected as premier of Alberta. When we got home, I dug into some old boxes in the storage space under the garden room and came up with this photo I took of the Notleys at their home, probably in the mid-70s.
I spent my junior high, high school years and some time after graduation in Fairview, Alberta, too; when I was in high school Rachel’s dad, Grant, rounded up a few of us and took us to an NDP convention – my first political experience – at the Chateau Lacombe in Edmonton. Her mom, Sandy, was the librarian at our high school and she’d often give stern talks to girls who wore halter tops and too much light blue eye shadow. When I was still in high school, and just after graduation, I worked for the weekly newspaper, the Fairview Post, and wrote a piece about Grant Notley. I wish I still had a copy. They had an acreage near Dunvegan and I did the interview there; see, that’s my little car in the background. Rachel, just five years younger than I, must not have been home at the time I took this wintery family photo of Sandy, Grant and her brothers Paul and Stephen (armed with their Spiderman action figures), I’m guessing in the mid-70s.
Grant was an NDP pioneer and one-time party leader; my parents, who dairy farmed in Fairview, always spoke of him with high regard. A kind, decent man with a social justice approach. Mom says he never struck her as a politician who was ‘campaigning,’ but instead as someone who cared about the issues and the views of his neighbours. She remembers he stopped by after milking one day. She was in the kitchen separating cream. He came in and sat down on an empty cream can for a visit. My parents remember him fondly an an approachable, down-to-earth man. He was killed in a plane crash, along with five others, in 1984 when Rachel was only 20. Here we are, 31 years later and Rachel is the premier. I’m betting Fairview is feeling pretty proud right about now.