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Camrose celebrates the Canadian dream on Canada Day

By Josh Aldrich, Camrose Canadian

Gerry Galenza checks out the freshly installed Groves Drugs display at the Camrose and District Centennial Museum. Josh Aldrich/Camrose Canadian

Gerry Galenza checks out the freshly installed Groves Drugs display at the Camrose and District Centennial Museum. Josh Aldrich/Camrose Canadian

The Canadian dream is a little different for everyone. 


For some it's about making the community they grew up in a better, healthier place. For others it is a land of opportunity, a safe haven for those looking for a fresh start. These extremes shone through as this nation turned 151 in Camrose. 

Yakir Gabay, 24, came to Canada in 2016 from Israel looking to make his dreams come true. 

He is a former Israeli soldier, but a knee injury sent him to the kitchen where he cooked three meals a day for 400 troops. Upon leaving the military he sharpened his cooking chops in Israel restaurants and cooking street food. On Canada Day he was serving up his own take on Israeli street food out of his Krazy Boureka stand.  

"When I came here, I worked in other places and tried to make some money, it didn't go so well," he said. "Then I saw the food truck business … and it was my dream to open a food truck, a small restaurant you can open and take from one place to another and serve fresh food, good food." 

He is in the process of building out his own food truck using an old bus with his fiancée Karen Anderson. On Sunday, he was serving up bourekas — a traditional Israeli street food in an egg roll wrapper — with a chimichurri sauce that is a mainstay at weddings and family events back home. 

For him, the key is freshness with everything coming out of his make-shift kitchen, including his ribbon fries, made on site. 

Once his bus is complete, he plans to be out at every local festival including Big Valley Jamboree. 

"I like the Canadian people, I love them, and I wish everyone could come taste our food because it's new here," said Gabay. "You don't have a lot of Israeli restaurants here ... so come taste some new food, you won't regret it." 

On the other end of the spectrum is Gerry Galenza. 

Galenza was the long-time owner and operator of Groves Drugs. He was born and raised in Camrose and apprenticed under the original owner of the store before he took it over and ran it for the next four decades. His son and daughter-in-law eventually took over the operation and have recently sold the business. 

Galenza, however, had a basement full of old artifacts from his time of running the pharmacy and recently donated them to the Camrose and District Centennial Museum. During the Canada Day ceremonies the display was unveiled and Galenza was one of the first through the doors at the old timer's hut to check it out. 

"It brings back lots of good memories," he said. "They did a fantastic job. All of this stuff was covered in dirt." 

It was not all just his stuff. He inherited a lot of the stuff from Johnstone's Drug and Camrose  

Drug closed down years ago. Much of the stuff would look completely out of place in a drug store today. Back when Galenza was manning the shop they were making many of the compounds and medicines on site. 

It was important to him to have this history and legacy remembered and understood. 

"We were more chemists," he said. "We made and dispensed many different chemical simple things that today they don't have or today they use different things." 

These dreams were made possible due to the efforts of veterans of the first world war, who were honoured during the opening ceremonies as 2018 marks the centennial for the end of the great war. It also marks the centennial of the creation of the Royal Canadian Legion and the Canadian Mental Health Association. 

"The war took a lot of our people to Europe and a great many of them stayed there in graves and never returned, but along the way, many of them came back and developed mental health issues," said Camrose County Reeve Don Gregorwich. "A couple of doctors in Ontario saw this and tried to work towards treating some of these folks." 

The efforts of Dr. Clarence M. Hincks and Clifford W. Beers evolved into the CMHA which has turned into one of the largest volunteer supported organizations in Canada. 

"It is very important today to recognize the common theme between the two of them because there was a commitment on both sides, whether it was the soldiers who went off to war or the people who initially started the organization," said Gregorwich. "That commitment remains today." 

Veterans and Legion members were marched in by a cadet-led colour party and bagpipes. 

Damien Kurek, who was there on behalf of Battle River-Crowfoot MP Kevin Sorenson, said the veterans and cadets remind us Canada has stood strong for our values of peace and freedom around the world. 

Canada Day committee chairperson Jane Cherry-Lemire said the festivities were made possible through the support of the community at large and the Canadian Heritage Fund. She spends a good chunk of the year with her committee of four planning for this one day, working hard to bring in new elements and games, entertainment and food. 

Her favourite part, however, is just being able to find a few quiet moments and soak it in. 

"For me the highlight is always stepping back and watching how many people are here interacting," she said. "That's why I do this, to bring community together, so when I step back and see that happening that makes me happy." 


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