SUNDRE — After being postponed in June due to the pandemic, the Alberta Royal Purple Society’s annual conference went ahead at the local Elks hall.
In all, there was representation from 16 lodges — with one or two members from each — attending on Saturday, Oct. 3.
Although it wasn’t the first time Sundre hosted the conference, the last time was about five or six years ago, said Brenda Johnston, honoured royal lady of the Sundre Royal Purple No. 191.
“We had 40 registered delegates,” said Johnston.
“So, we thought that was very good for amidst the pandemic.”
Every year, there is a bidding process among the lodges throughout the province to host the conference.
“Any lodges in the province of Alberta can bid for a conference. Usually, these days, we’re having a struggle trying to get lodges to bid,” she said, citing the pandemic as the primary culprit.
So the lodge in Sundre — where there have barely been any confirmed cases in the area — decided to step up to enable the already delayed conference to proceed. Typically a two-day event, the format was tightened up and reduced to one day this year to simplify matters, she said.
“Because of COVID-19 — and we knew we were going to have a lower turnout — it’s going to be here again next year.”
Although the pandemic protocols involved an additional logistical layer of planning, she said the conference worked out well.
“We did the social distancing, and some people wore a mask — we left it up to them. There was hand sanitizer, we had anti-bacterial soap in the washrooms,” she said.
However, she said the otherwise generally affectionate group had to refrain from embracing one another.
“People were very careful — normally Royal Purple people are big huggers, and there was no hugging going on!”
Asked what type of business is conducted during the annual conference, Johnston said, “This year, we were dealing with our provincial bylaws. Every year, we deal with our budget.”
Among the matters addressed was a minor rebranding.
“So, our legal name, with the Society’s Act, has been Alberta Royal Purple Lodges Association. And now, it is changed to Alberta Royal Purple Association Society,” she said.
“We felt that the word ‘lodges’ was redundant to our name.”
With many of the attendees spending a portion of the weekend in town, Johnston expressed gratitude to the local businesses for their hospitality in accommodating the delegates.
The closest lodge to Calgary, which no longer has any Royal Purple lodges, Sundre’s has managed to maintain a steady membership.
“We’re doing not too bad. We can always use more members,” she said, adding there are currently nearly 40.
Anyone interested in learning more about the local lodge is invited to either call Johnston at her business — the Bear’s Den Clothing Company — at 403-638-3711, or simply drop by the shop in person during regular hours.
Among some projects on the lodge’s docket include looking into installing new signage at the recently upgraded Royal Purple playground, as well as setting aside some funds to donate to the municipality to help offset the cost of the new equipment, she said.