Cranbrook has gotten some attention from the federal government this week, as Candice Bergen, Minister of State for Social Development, has been in town to make a pair of funding announcements.
However, it’s not just all business for the Manitoban MP.
Bergen has a personal connection to the community, with family members living in the city for years, even doing a turn herself in the mid-1980s.
It started in her childhood, as her family, which lived in Manitoba, would come out to British Columbia, specifically to Cranbrook, in the summers.
“I come from a big family in Manitoba and there was this draw from my family—as soon as everyone got their drivers licenses, as soon as they got out of school, it was head to B.C., and it was usually Cranbrook,” said Bergen. “Cranbrook was just a draw.
“…We’d pack up the car, leave at 4 a.m. in the morning and we would take great pride, my dad would, in getting here in 17.5 hours.”
In 1984, she moved to the Key City for just under two years, joining some of her family who had already settled down in the area.
“Whether it’s the people, the beauty, the beautiful fresh air — that’s always so strong in my mind, when you get up in the morning, just the beautiful fresh air,” Bergen said.
It’s no surprise that the opportunities for outdoor recreation and adventure around Cranbrook appeals to Bergen.
“I’m an avid supporter of the rural way of life, hunting, angling and enjoying the beauty we have. I think the people in this community are some of the strongest—what I like to call—conservationist and environmentalist in terms of really loving the land,” she said.
Work took her back to Manitoba, and she was elected as the Conservative Party MP for the riding of Portage-Lisgar in 2008. She took on her ministerial duties just over a year ago, when the federal government created a role for social development.
She’s noticed changes over the years.
The Canadian Museum of Rail Travel wasn’t around when she lived here, while the city has expanded and grown into a service hub for the East Kootenay region.
“And then, of course, Cranbrook is known for some pretty good hockey players that have come out of this town,” she added.