THE PAGE – April 27, 2016

A dry winter and a dry spring has farmers on their fields early this year. That’s the good news.

The bad news right across the board is low moisture levels and a fire season shaping up to be one of the ugliest on record.

As of this writing, there are fire bans across Alberta. Most are south and east of Slave Lake and south all the way to Cochrane in southern Alberta. There are fire bans and fire restrictions in the Fairview area already.

Meanwhile, lake levels are down across the province, including Lesser Slave Lake. Hilliard’s Bay, Shaw’s Point Resort, all the marinas at Joussard and launches at Slave Lake are looking grim. The Joussard Mission Creek marina was dredged over the winter, something that was badly needed with weeds and grass actually growing in the marina. The public launch at Faust, and the Bayshore Campground marina seem in decent shape.

Right now, it all depends on what the weather will be like between now and the May long weekend when, as they say, all heck will be breaking loose!

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Speaking of Lesser Slave Lake, there are actually a few boats out already. Pack ice is gone, with a few “berg” spotted here and there, and a mass of slush that usually gets blown to Slave Lake by prevailing westerly winds. This past weekend it ended up pushed into the area off Joussard by strong east winds.

Folks might recall a few years ago, much heavier and thicker ice was actually wind blown right up against the cabins at Joussard about this time of year. Folks might also recall this is one of the earliest years for the big lake to be mostly clear. There have been years when at beginning of the May long weekend there was still masses of slush ice moving around.

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Silver lining: Mosquitoes are few and far between! Really few! Really far between!

But one good rain will bring out a storm of ‘em. Oh, well!

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The Edmonton Queen riverboat is up for sale. As of the weekend, the top bid is $38,000. The closing date of the auction is May 2. The reserve bid for the boat was $10,000 so the boat will be sold.

The boat was built in 1995. It weighs 210 tonnes and is parked on the North Saskatchewan River, overlooked by the McDonald Hotel and Marriott in downtown Edmonton. It was used as a restaurant and often made runs up and down the river, entertaining wedding and other celebrating crowds.

It has changed hands over the years with the latest owner being Lesser Slave Lake Indian Regional Council. That’s right, our own local folks. They bought the Queen in 2002. According to the auction company, they have been considering selling for a few years.

Says Mickey Spencer of Century Auctions, “It’s definitely an Edmonton landmark and it cruises up and down the most beautiful river valley in Western Canada. I don’t want to see it go anywhere. Hopefully, the new owners feel the same way.”

There is no word on what kind of shape the boat is in.

Meanwhile, Gillian Caudron was quoted as saying. “We think that would be just ‘Great’ on Lesser Slave Lake, but how movable is it? It would definitely boost the tourism trade for northern Alberta…and we don’t think that lake will run dry anytime soon…just say’n…”

Now, there’s quite the thought!

Of course, Edmonton and its river has the same issues as Lesser Slave Lake – not enough water to float the boat.

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