Marg McLennan and Dakota Buck are two unlikely friends that were made during the evacuation. Alexandra Heck/The Free Press

Trinity Lodge gives back after evacuation

Unlikely Friendships made during evacuation

Marjorie McLennan didn’t know Dakota Buck, who was working the front desk of the Stanford Resort during the ammonia leak evacuation, but her last name sounded familiar.

McLennan, who lives at Trinity Lodge with her husband was Fernie’s carnival queen back in 1960.

She remembers competing for the title against a lady named Harriet Buck and just had to wonder if the two were related.

Harriet was a relative of Dakota’s, and while the evacuees of Trinity Lodge and the surrounding area stayed at the Stanford for a week, the pair bonded.

While the evacuation was an uncertain time for residents, Buck says it was an opportunity to connect with people whom she’d otherwise never cross paths with.

“We’re friends now,” said Buck, smiling at McLennan. “She’s adopted me for sure.”

On Nov. 18, Trinity Lodge held a thank you lunch for all the volunteers and workers involved in the evacuation and emergency response during the Oct. 17 ammonia leak.

During the incident, over 30 residents from the senior’s home were quickly led out of the building and taken to the Seniors Drop-in Centre, where arrangements were made for them to stay at the Stanford Resort while the area around the arena was secured.

“It was scary to start with,” said Malcolm McLennan, Marjorie’s husband. They were playing bingo at the time, and remember just having to grab their jackets and leave.

Malcolm said that throughout the entire affair, volunteers and organizers were calm, cool and collected.

“They had everything under control,” said Marjorie.

“They bent over backwards for us,” added Malcolm.

At the lunch event, Councillor Dennis Schafer said that the volunteers and the hotel were incredibly accommodating to he and his wife, sister-in-law, three children and dog who were evacuated during the situation.

“It’s good to see people come together again,” he said, “to show gratitude to everyone that helped out.”

The Stanford Resort was able to accommodate those with pets on the ground floor, and residents say the stay was more than comfortable.

Schafer says that in comparison to stories of evacuations in other B.C. towns, Fernie was able to make the procedure as comfortable as possible.

“This community in a time of uncertainty and tragedy made us feel safe,” said Deanna Vincent, manager of Trinity Lodge.

She helped organize lunches for her residents while they were out of their homes, and helped put together the event for the volunteers.

“We’re just very thankful,” she said.

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Fernie Mayor Mary Giuliano says that the gratitude evacuees felt at Trinity Lodge’s thank you luncheon for the volunteers exemplifies what the city is all about. Marjorie McLennan and Dakota Buck is an unlikely friendship that was made during the evacuation. Alexandra Heck/The Free Press

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