By Jennifer CroninFree Press Staff
Wanda MacDonald, nee Anderson, was born in the “old” Fernie hospital. She was the first of three children for parents Carl and Anna Anderson, (nee Dolan).
At the time of her birth, Wanda’s father surprised her mother by purchasing a home in West Fernie where Wanda and her brother and sister would grow up. She recalls during this time “there were tons of kids in our neighbourhood. We would go out to play and Mom would just holler when it was time for us to come home. I was in the first class to go to Ridgemont School, (C.L. Salvador) from grade one through grade seven. Every day we would walk to school.”
Wanda goes on to say that the family would get fresh milk daily from “Paddy Pod.” (The way she smiled as she said his name, it was apparent that Mr. Pod was never known as just Paddy.)
Wanda’s parents would take the family to Hosmer for Sunday dinner at her grandparent’s home every week. “Grandpa flattened tin cans to use as siding on the house,” Wanda remembers.
Wanda remembers vacations with her family with fondness in saying, “We would go camping every summer. We went from the Northwest Territories across to Prince Edward Island, to California, and the Okanagan, and every year to Lumby (B.C.).”
At the age of 14, Wanda first met Richard MacDonald and, when she was 17, they started dating. “It was nice as a teenager, we would drive to the end of 2nd Ave. and wave at everyone and then turn around and go the other way. We called it cruising,” Wanda laughs. “They (teenagers) don’t do that anymore, now they just text each other.”
Wanda completed high school, and went on to East Kootenay Community College (now College of the Rockies) and completed the Office Administration program. In 1987 Wanda and Richard were married in the Fernie Pentecostal Church. Richard was working in Brooks, Alta. at this time, and Wanda accepted a position with Canadian Pacific (CP) in Calgary, working in their law department while attending evening classes at the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT) where she studied to become a paralegal.
Richard joined Wanda in Calgary at which time he started training as a paramedic.
In 1991, Wanda and Richard returned to the Elk Valley, setting up house in a mobile home on their property in Hosmer. It was during this time that they welcomed their first two sons, Adam and Jacob. Richard accepted a position with CP rail, and then with Westar mines, and subsequently Elkview Coal.
In February of 1996 when her boys were young, Wanda took on the role of delivery driver for the Free Press, a position that Wanda has seen evolve. “Originally I would take all of the photos and articles down to Cranbrook and wait for the paper. I would bring them all home. We lived in a single wide trailer then, and we would take all the papers there and stuff the flyers in them,” she recounts.
In 2001, Wanda took her children and went to live in Saskatchewan for the summer while Richard built the main floor and basement of their home, and the family was able to move in upon their return. The upper floor was completed just before Christmas. This same year they welcomed their third son, Anthony.
Wanda still delivers the Free Press to all of the businesses in Fernie as well as to all of the carriers, although technology has negated the need for her weekly trip to Cranbrook. When asked what motivates her to continue, she replies simply, “It fits my lifestyle, it is not about career anymore.”
As for what is important to her, Wanda shared her sentiments in saying “I don’t think the boss at the mine is any more important than the guy that pumps gas. I feel very strongly about that. Everyone is equal and should be treated with respect.” Not being one that thinks a job defines a person, Wanda has instilled in her boys that they can do anything they want to do. She just does not want to see them struggle.
In 2006, Wanda opened her home business, Happy Valley Scrapbooking, which is housed in the beautiful and bright addition to their home that Richard built specifically for that purpose. It is readily apparent where Wanda’s passion lies when she speaks of her business. “I love it! I just enjoy recording family memories. I get extreme satisfaction scrapbooking. I don’t know why everyone doesn’t do it! They’re crazy!”
As one of the Free Press family, Wanda is a hardworking and passionate “face of the valley.”