Small Town Dairy 1 (Drought & Trouble)

Gladstone…Happy Rock…get it?

I was thinking about what to write about and I thought, why not try writing about my home town?

Gladstone is a small town of about 1,000 people in Manitoba, Canada. Agriculture, the school system, and a nearby hog processing plant are the major employers in the area. Once the town was very “white” as in culture but in recent years the nearby hog plant has been importing many workers from Asia, which has been changing the racial mix of the community.

Some residents welcome this immigration…some don’t. Still, despite the doubts of some, immigration continues which means the town will likely look a lot different in a few years.

Some have said that the town is dying and others have said the town is past hope. However, the new immigrants see new opportunity here.

Which opinion will be proven right remains to be seen.

Gladstone’s main claim to fame is the giant Happy Rock outside of town, waving to travelers as they pass by on the #16 highway. This landmark has gained a surprising amount of attention. There has been features in various publications about landmarks, a happy rock postage stamp, and even a song has been written about it.

However, all is not well with the Happy Rock. Engineering reports have come back outlining extensive damage inside the structure of the statue. Even though “Happy” still appears cheerful on the outside, all is not well inside.

Oddly, this also seems to be reflected in the culture. At the moment, there is a drought in the area and the crops in the area are not looking good. Some of our public places have been shut down for months due to government covid regulations and are struggling to stay afloat. Recently, the husband of a high profile resident committed suicide, an act which sent shock waves through the community at large and his was not the first.

Many people are unhappy, under stress, and somewhat skeptical of the future.

Still, there is a devoted segment of the population who are working to try build morale and community. The families affected by suicide have been receiving an inspiring amount of support. Some things are finally being allowed to open up by our provincial government, small events are being discussed, a plan to fix the happy rock is in the works…and we are all hoping and praying for rain.

I guess we’ll see what happens next.

(Would you like to take a drive around town? Click the video below.)

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