story by Christina Waldner | photography by Britton Ledingham
Community. It’s the one word that always comes up when longtime Crossfield residents talk about their town. They value Crossfield’s community spirit, community strength and community growth.
Family – and community – is what keeps people in the town or draws them back.
Beth Gabriel, a self-proclaimed “lifer,” said she gave the big city a try one summer when she was 18 but quickly decided it wasn’t for her.
“It was big and loud and overwhelming. It was scary after dark,” she said. “Because I’ve been so used to this kind of semi-rural life, the city just had no appeal for me at all.”
“As a child, you formed really close friendships. There wasn’t much else to do here so the strength came out of the schools, out of the friendships you built,” he said.
After completing post-secondary education in Calgary at the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT), Lang said he spent a few years working in the city but when it came time to open his own business – CP Gallery – he decided to move back to Crossfield.
“Raising kids in a small town is something that’s (important) to us,” he said. “That community background, too, is so strong.”
For Rebecca Habiak, Crossfield is also the best place to raise her young family. The mother of two and her husband made the move back to town after their first child was born.
“Growing up in town, I absolutely loved it. There’s a bit more innocence that comes with a small town,” she said. “You have to be a little bit more creative because there’s not a lot of things to do here. I don’t know if you get that in Calgary or Airdrie. I’m hoping my kids get the same experience.”
“I’m Crossfield born and bred – a third-generation Crossfieldian. We always knew when we talked about having a family that we were going to come back,” he said. “Growing up, I lived on the same farm as my grandparents. There was family around all the time. I can now give that same experience to my son.”
Some people – like Brenda Hein – find themselves moving away from town repeatedly, only to come back.
“This time, we’ve been here for about six years. The time before, we were here for five years,” Hein said. “Once before, when I was single, I was here for about a year. It was a good place to live and close to work.”
One thing each of these Crossfield residents agrees about is the community is made even better through what you give back to it.
“I know that some people have a bit of a struggle meeting people in Crossfield; but what worked for me is that there’s a strong need for volunteering in town,” Habiak said. “Get involved. I’ve met so many wonderful people once I decided to try getting involved in the community.”
Habiak began volunteering with the Crossfield Mom and Tots program when her son was young, which proved to be a great source of support. Along with some friends she made in school, Habiak also runs a community garden class aimed at preschoolers, which is sponsored by the Crossfield Ag Society. Gabriel decided to give back in a more formal way and ran for town council in 2017. She is currently serving her first term.
“I decided to run for council because I feel like I’m such a part of the community,” she said. “The community has given me so much and so many opportunities that I felt it was time to give something back.”