Why Irma?

Besides all the recreational activities, social events, museum, Library and businesses located in Irma, why wouldn’t anyone want to live here?

It’s a small town, with a big history. This is the home of Jean Pare, founder of Company’s Coming. Why not read the inspirational words of a long time resident?

Speech given in December of 2004

I would like to take the first moments to introduce myself. My name is Darlene Lovig but most people call me Dinny. I moved to Irma in 1954 and lived on a farm after having lived in the city of Calgary. I have made Irma my home for the past fifty years and have never really regretted it, except in very mundane ways. I was surprised when Mrs. Mark asked me to give a speech about what it was like living in Irma and I’m sure I surprised her by agreeing.

To me, Irma is not just a little town, but a community that works together that most of us call home. It is a community that shelters the people I love and care for. We have had a very good life here and I’m sure it could not have been better anywhere else. As a younger person the town of Irma offered wonderful Saturday nights where our whole family cleaned up and came to town for shopping and walking the streets. Some of you here are old enough to remember how much fun we had.

The town of Irma has always been a town involved in sports. During the months of June, July and up to the long weekend in August, fans came out to watch the Irma Tigers take on the Albert Royals. Competition was fierce. As you can see our interest in ball has resulted in a very well kept and spiffy ball and fair grounds where youngsters and oldsters can play in the leagues in the district.

The winter brought a new sport to Irma. The old rink down where the greenhouse is located provided countless hours for boys and girls to skate. Boys to practice their hockey and girls to figure skate. It was a wonderful step forward when the new outdoor rink was built at the present location along with a lobby and dressing rooms. I can remember standing on the snow piles cheering on the Irma Aces. Later the arena cover was built and my dad was the foreman. I think he said he got $800.00 for the job. The arena in Irma is the main attraction during the winter and I can remember the cheering and screaming when Irma and Wainwright hit the ice. During all the years that have passed I don’t think there has been any greater competition than between Irma and Wainwright.

Irma has always been blessed with people who believe in community and they give of their time unstintingly. They belong to the Agricultural Society, Recreation Board, The Elks, The Kinsmen, Ladies service club, Masons, Curling Rink, and Golf Course. These volunteers have one aim and that is the betterment of their community. Through the work of these volunteers and past volunteers Irma has been fortunate to have an excellent curling rink, a far cry from the dark little rink that I can remember playing in. Three sheets of ice that reacted to the weather. We had fun but I don’t know how we saw what we were doing. Maybe that was the idea.

The last years have seen a golf course being built and improved upon. We sport grass greens going from artificial to well kept holes. Many people enjoy the golfing as well as the friendship of the game over a well cooked steak. In the last two years emphasis has been put on creating a gymkhana area at the fairgrounds. The 4-H Beef Club draws a number of farm children with the number being twenty five this year.

The town has improved facilities that enable us to host a number of events. The curling club is famous for its summer spiel and the Agricultural Board and Recreation Board have added trailer hook ups that feature complete sewer, water, power and full showers to accommodate the people who come for the provincials that Irma has hosted.

These amenities were absolutely necessary when Irma hosted their school reunion in July of 2004. At this reunion a former resident was honored, namely Jean Pare of “Company’s Coming” cookbook fame. Irma had been her home for her growing years and the house she lived in is a landmark in Irma. The house had been shipped in from Eaton’s and is in wonderful condition. The Kinsmen have also built an outdoor rink that now has floodlights so the skaters can skate all night.

The town of Irma offers many opportunities for sports with the school offering other types for those not inclined in skating and curling. I have been teaching in Irma School for thirty-seven years. Irma school is the largest employer in Irma with sixteen teachers and seven support staff. If I were moving to a new community and had children the first thing I would do would be to investigate the school. In Irma they would find that we have a community library, resource personnel, for those who are in need and have established a very fine record as far as testing goes. To explain, provincial testing is done in grades 3, 6 and 9. These tests are called Achievement Tests while grade 12 tests are called Diploma tests. All marks are on file and each jurisdiction must do assessments, these are done on a five year basis. All schools are compared to the provincial average. Proudly I can say that Irma has been above the provincial average in all three grades in all tested subjects for the last 5 years. In the diploma subjects we were only below the provincial average in Chemistry 30 and Pure Math 30. Something to be proud of since our attendance rate is much higher in the academic areas.

Irma has much to offer, our recreational needs can be satisfied, our intellectual needs can be satisfied, and our spiritual needs can be satisfied through the three churches in town. We have a very pleasant manor for people who do not wish to live on their own. Also a visiting doctor comes once a week to the manor.

Irma can be very proud of their administration and fire hall with their new equipment. We are blessed with absolutely dedicated fireman and emergency technicians. They are so dedicated that they will even leave their children’s graduation supper to attend a fire alarm.

When thinking about Mrs. Marks request I thought of all the good things I have enjoyed from living here. Namely I feel safe at night. I asked the students at school of they locked their doors at night. Most answered in the negative. To not have to worry about your own safety is a great boon but to not have to worry about your children is extra special. Young people in Irma can walk down the streets in safety as well as play at the playground without fear of being molested.

Irma may not be a perfect place but we have all the amenities that other towns have. We are absolutely fortunate in having excellent tasting dinking water, something other towns are not so fortunate in having. We have two motels, a hotel, a green house, a co-op grocery store, two banks, post office, small engine repair shop, a garage, an auto body shop, lumber yard, convenience store, gift shop/luncheonette, fabric store, gym/tanning salon, two hairdressers, Excel enterprises, Az-tec reclamation, plus a local electrician and Irma also has a fun-can for hire.

I know that this information is easy to verify but all of this makes living here much easier.

The things that might bother me but not a whole lot are that I wonder what it would take to make people clean up their properties. I realize that my ideas are not everyone else’s but I would like to see the empty houses removed so maybe people would be interested in building on them. From the highway you do not realize the potential or the beauty of the trees and yards in Irma.

Irma offers much. We chose to build in Irma, to spend our retirement years here. Lots in Irma were cheaper than other places. Taxes I don’t know about. I would like to see the roads a little smoother, not paved, but graded. I would also like to see an improvement in the food service industry, such as a nice café and I would also like a change in the layout of the Co-op store.
The best thing about Irma has to be the people. We are told that if you are born here in Irma, you’re okay, but if not, you’ll have a hard time fitting in. Maybe we need to put a sign on the highway that says if you have the following qualities stop in Irma and you’ll be welcome.

  1. Good Looking
  2. Smart
  3. Talented
  4. Energetic
  5. Hard working
  6. Loyal

Irma people are successful. Is it because they have lived in Irma3? I think so. The environment created the people and a loving, caring community can be the best place to bring up children.