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Westview Co-op celebrates Eagle Hill store's 90th anniversary

Formerly an independently-operated community business run by members, Eagle Hill joined regional co-op that has since kept growing
Westview Co-op’s Eagle Hill store was incorporated 90 years ago. File photo/MVP Staff

MOUNTAIN VIEW COUNTY – Members of Westview Co-op are getting ready for some family-friendly revelries alongside a nostalgic stroll down memory lane this coming Friday in recognition of the co-op's Eagle Hill store’s milestone 90th anniversary.

“Westview Co-op all around is celebrating because we are one,” said Diane Hogeland, Eagle Hill store manager.

But the 90-year anniversary celebration is in recognition of the Eagle Hill store, which was incorporated in 1933.

Hogeland became the manager more than 10 years ago, following a path previously walked by her mother back in the 1970s, but said she has been with the co-op for 30-plus years.

“I’ve lived here all my life,” she said.

“When I was in high school, I worked in the old store on Saturdays…and some (shifts) through the summer one year,” she said, adding that the close proximity to home made for an invaluable opportunity to gain work experience early on.

“We only live like four miles from the store,” she said. “So, we always shopped there and it was always a big part of the community.”

While the store has always been on the same property – situated roughly between Sundre and Olds a little to the north at the southeast corner of the Range Road 40 and Township Road 340 intersection – it wasn’t always in its current location, where it has been since being rebuilt and reopened in the fall of 1979, she said.

From putting in part-time hours as a student in high school to participating in community events and eventually stepping into the managerial position, Hogeland developed a life-long connection of being involved with the Eagle Hill store.

“It’s a great place to work…I just like the way the business operated,” she said when asked what has kept her motivated to remain involved throughout the years.

To this day, the store offers nearby rural youth an early opportunity to work and start building their resume without having to factor in a more time-consuming commute to town, she said.

“We’ve put a lot of students through there. There’s always opportunity for them to move on through the co-op as well, if they so choose,” she said.

“It didn’t really get boring,” she said, speaking from her own personal experience.

“There was always different things to do,” she said, adding there has over the last couple of decades or so also been a substantial evolution.

“We’re a lot larger now than we were, so there’s a lot of diversity,” she said about available stock and services, which “all under one roof” now includes groceries, hardware, farm supplies, oil, feed, animal health supplies, retail pumps and even lotto and liquor sales.

“It’s great to be able to have more offerings for our community,” she said.

But perhaps the biggest change, she said, was joining the co-op and amalgamating with other stores.

“Before, we were managed on our own,” she said, adding it wasn’t until about 2010 that the Eagle Hill store merged with the locations in Olds and Carstairs.

That momentum continued to build, and it wasn’t much longer before other locations such as Drumheller, Hanna and Consort were brought into the fold, along with a cardlock in Sundre, she said.

“We’ve really spread over the years; it’s been interesting,” she said.

Being a somewhat smaller store, the Eagle Hill operation substantially benefited from joining the co-op as the partnership with other locations facilitated the ability to bring in from other places items customers want, she said.  

“It’s been a great help that way,” she said.

Additionally, the co-op provides people in the community an opportunity to shop and support local without resorting to patronizing big box stores, she said.

“We have a lot of local products in our stores,” she said.

As a co-op, the stores are entirely locally-owned by the membership, which throughout Westview amounts to more than 20,000.

“We have a few members still around that are in their late 80s and into their 90s. Some of those families had their parents manage the store,” she said.

“That’s the whole thing with Westview Co-op; we’re 100 per cent locally owned by the members,” she said. “We’ve always been involved in the community every year from when I was little.”

Hogeland for example recalled the annual Christmas party put on by the board and staff as well as the Eagle Hill store’s community picnic at the ball diamonds, which will also be hosting this Friday’s anniversary celebration, she said.

“We’ll be inside (at the Eagle Hill Memorial Community Centre) if the weather isn’t good, but we’re hoping to have it all outside,” she said, adding everything gets underway at 11 a.m. with plans to wind up by 3 p.m.

Dustin Farr will be performing some live musical entertainment throughout the event, which will also feature a barbecue cooking up hot dogs and burgers that will be served with salads, as well as activities and games for children including face painting, and of course an opportunity to visit, reconnect and socialize, she said.

Organizers also extended some special invitations to former members who no longer live in the area but were once very connected with the co-op, she said, adding they were asked to consider writing up some of their fondest memories to be shared during the anniversary celebration.

“Hopefully, it’ll just be a great time for people to reflect back over the years,” she said, emphasizing that anyone is more than welcome to attend.

“We make it like family,” she said. “You’re at home here, so that’s how we try to treat our guests.”

Simon Ducatel

About the Author: Simon Ducatel

Simon Ducatel joined Mountain View Publishing in 2015 after working for the Vulcan Advocate since 2007, and graduated among the top of his class from the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology's journalism program in 2006.
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