When seniors like Rosie Vallet look back on life, they usually talk about the good old days.
And that’s exactly how she recalls life in Donalda, now that she approaches a grand age of 96 on Aug. 17. She was honoured as the eldest senior in the Donalda area during the village’s centennial celebrations on the Canada Day weekend.
“I never expected to be in the parade and be recognized as the oldest,” said Vallet, who was born on the family farm northeast of Red Willow as the first child of Justin Hilker and Addie Chalmers and delivered by her grandmother Flora Chalmers.
Before the days of television in the 1950s and better roads and modes of transportations, families and communities seemed to be closer, recalled Vallet, who has lived in Stettler since 1975.
“We had to make our own fun,” said Vallet, who bore four sons, Donald, Aldon, Wayne and Dale, all of whom helped on the family farm 13 miles south of Donalda.
“There was more community interest and people couldn’t travel as easily in those days,” Vallet said.
During those years, she was active in the local schools that her children attended, and a longtime member of the Red Willow Cemetery Club and the Red Willow Agricultural Society, which gave her a life membership in 2007.
Family community dances were the big weekly event in those days, first in a family’s home before moving into community halls in the 1940s.
“There was always a dance somewhere on the weekend,” Vallet said.
Usually, 50 to 60 would show up, bringing instruments, foods and a lot of fun, often until three or four o’clock in the morning.
“They brought the whole family and the young ones would sleep on a pile of coats,” Vallet said.
When television arrived, that often distracted from visiting, she said.
Donalda was the shopping centre for Vallet and many other families who lived south of the village.
“We did all our shopping in Donalda until the farm machinery businesses were closing in the 1960s, so we started to shop in Stettler,” Vallet said.
“When people started to move to big towns, little towns lost out.”
While the village is small, Vallet still has a deep heart for Donalda, which she believes can also have a healthy future, just as she experienced the town in her younger years.
“Donalda still feels like home to go back and visit,” Vallet said.
“Donalda has many good old buildings with history, and they’ve kept things going.”
Besides being a quiet and friendly community, low taxes are also a benefit for people living in Donalda, she said.
Vallet valued the opportunity to reconnect with many former residents at the centennial homecoming. She thanked the organizing committee for creating a special event to celebrate Donalda’s past.
Vallet trusts the village can extend its history for “many more” decades and generations.