Two days after the meeting we painted the skating shack yellow and black and everyone said, ‘what’s going on here?’”
If you ask what’s going on in Scandia, you’re going to get a rather lengthy answer. And most of it will revolve around bees. The 125 townsfolk of Scandia, Alberta have hitched their hopes and dreams to honey, using the hamlet’s biggest business as the launch pad for economic development.
“We want to attract urban people to come here and see this peaceful way of life and to see what we are producing out here,” said Echo Chandler, owner of Scandia Honey.
As one of the driving forces behind this small hamlet’s revitalization plans, Chandler said using bees as a theme was a natural fit since Scandia Honey is one of the community’s major employers and is already a recognizable symbol.
With Scandia Honey as the inspiration, the hamlet is launching several bee-related projects, including the establishment of “Bee Mine Weddings.”
Since the community has a hall, an RV park and its very own marriage commissioner, the ambitious leaders of Scandia saw a wedding-hosting project just waiting to happen.
“We looked around and we saw that we have everything here — a hall, a Lutheran Church and beautiful grounds for outdoor weddings and photos,” said Chandler.
Another asset that Scandia hopes to capitalize on is its E.I.D. Historical Park which features the community’s original elevator, as well as a blacksmith shop, barn, general store and museum. With the popular park being open from May until September, the volunteer economic developers of Scandia have decided to set up a food trailer in the park that will serve coffee, snacks and — honey — of course.
“We have a large number of people coming off of the highway to stop at our park, and they’re always asking where they can get a coffee,” said Chandler, explaining that Scandia has very few services of that kind.
The food trailer was the community’s way of responding to a need, and Chandler said it will provide summer employment for a few of Scandia’s students.
The community also plans to decorate itself in bees, with a local volunteer welding metal prototypes of the honey producer which will be spread around town.
“I think every town has a uniqueness to it and something that is special, you just have to search it out,” said Chandler.
While Scandia is a tiny community, marriage commissioner Sharon Fisk said its spirit is bigger than that of towns several times the size.
“Scandia has positive people and that is what has been key in making things happen. There is life here,” said Fisk, who jokingly says the population of Scandia leapt to 127 when she retired there with her husband.
Chandler added that her honey business, which employs 20 people, will continue to do what it can to keep Scandia on the map.
“Our workforce comes from all over the world, so on downtimes, they’ll take on projects like building our community sign,” said Chandler. “Our workers also built our volleyball court and they look after it, so it’s just an inspiration to see that kind of commitment to Scandia.”
Chandler says all communities on the Prairies have something to offer and she encourages them to expand on their individual strengths.
“You have things right in front of you, you just have to pull out what is special, share your beauty and be proud of it.”
For more information on Scandia’s E.I.D. Historical Park, visit http://eidmuseum. eidnet.org.