As she prepares for her 80th birthday, Joan Grant looked back on why she made the decision to move to Golden on Oct. 1, 1976.
Grant was born in Edmonton but grew up in Jasper. Her childhood in the mountains would eventually influence her to move her family to Golden.
“I wanted to get back to my roots. I was raised in Jasper and this was the closest we could get back to moving to Jasper.”
One of the things she remembers as a child was travelling through the Rockies by train on family visits to Edmonton.
“All I remember is that I used to get train sick almost every time. I don’t know how my parents dealt with it. I also remember watching out for the big W on the Woolworth building as we got close to Edmonton,” she said.
After many years all over the world, the family came to Golden.
“We were everywhere for many years and I really missed the mountains. I had children born in Nova Scotia, Germany, Edmonton and Jasper.”
Though she did not know much about Golden, it did not take long to determine Golden was a place they wanted to call home.
“It was a great place and the perfect house was for sale. When we saw it we decided this must be the place for us,” she said.
Grant worked at NAPA Auto Parts with her brother Dave McNeilly, who moved into the house across the road from her with his family.
“We did everything together. We bought our property and ran the business,” she said.
Over the years, Grant has not seen much of a change in Golden itself.
“I don’t find it much different today than what it was then. People were easy to talk to and they still are. The only difference I see (in Golden) is that young people are not as involved in the community. Organizations back then would invite people to come and every age seemed to come. Now it is hard to get young people involved with formal organizations,” she said. “I don’t think that this is only in Golden. It seems to be everywhere.”
She added she hopes that things get better for young people in the area. Grant explained it has become very hard for young people to find a job where they can make enough money to be able to live here, which is sad.
A great deal of Grant’s life has revolved around dogs and she was involved with the start up of the dog club in Golden.
“I wanted to show dogs and you can’t take dogs that are not used to crowds to shows. To do obedience you need to learn with a group of people, so I started a club with people who helped me get my dogs ready to show while they got obedience lessons,” she said.
She started breeding dogs and ended up with a very special type of dog, a Finnish Spitz.
“At one point I had half the dogs in Canada of this breed.”
Her passion for that breed of dog led her to writing a book called Finnish Spitz: A Closer Look.
Grant said that when she was running her own kennel she had up to 55 dogs in her kennel and house.
Children especially loved dropping by her house because there were always puppies there.
Grant was also involved with the development of Abbeyfield House in Golden.
She said she came in as the treasurer to help the group who was working hard to get the ball rolling.
“I was asked if I would come in and I was there until we finished. It was a challenge and it took years from the inception to being completed. Merle McKnight did a lot of work for the organization,” she said. “We had a wonderful feeling from it. When we met at the 10-year anniversary we realized it really worked.”
Grant added, with a smile, that she is happy it will be there when she needs it.
On May 26, Grant will be celebrating her 80th birthday with family and friends in Golden. The grandmother of 13 and great-grandmother of five said that she feels older some days but does not let that slow her down too much.
“In my head nothing has changed but I still enjoy walking in Golden. I tried golf but it was not my thing. Horses and dogs were my thing and they still are.”
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