Aug 2, 2019 12:00 AM
Family and friends gathered in the Wilfred T. Lipton Arena on the evening of Saturday, July 27 to wish longtime Snow Lake resident René Lamontagne a very happy 90th birthday; the entire community of Snow Lake was invited to the celebration. The event, put on by family, began at 4 p.m. with a welcome and cake for the gregarious nonagenarian. It was followed up with a fine supper of barbecued burgers and hot dogs, chicken and pizza, cold cuts, potato salad, fries and, of course … cake. When everyone had eaten, attendees were invited to enjoy a few beverages with René, and those sitting with or near him were lucky enough to be treated to the endless tales from his amazingly accurate memory. Things wound down around 10 p.m.; however, not for René’s sake. Being ever the kind and considerate gentleman, he realized some folks may have to work in the morning.
On to an introduction of sorts … Snow Lake has had a new RCMP detachment commander for a couple months now – Cpl. Brent MacDuff, wife Marissa and their three children (aged five years, three years, and four months) are settled into the community and, earlier in the week, he took the time to sit down discuss his present and past postings.
Cpl. MacDuff is originally from Vermillion, Alberta and had postings in Swan River (three years) and Gods Lake in Manitoba (two years), and Peace River (three years) and Edmonton (five-and-a-half years) in Alberta prior to making the move to Snow Lake. He notes with a wry smile that Edmonton was the only posting that didn’t have a body of water in the name.
MacDuff says he was originally attracted to police work out of a sense of duty to his community. “Growing up, a lot of my friend’s fathers were RCMP officers,” he said. “And my parents were always heavily involved in the community when I was younger … so that service to the community, I think, is what drew me to it.”
As a result, straight out of high school MacDuff worked at construction-related jobs for a couple of years; however, fed up with the unpredictable hours, he enrolled in postsecondary education. Prior to his third year he passed the RCMP interview, so decided to work for six months before taking his spot at Regina’s RCMP Depot. That was some 14 years ago.
Asked what his initial impression of Snow Lake was, the officer states that he’d never been to the community, but worked under a former Snow Lake-based detachment commander, Sgt. Roy Fenwick while stationed in Swan River. “He spoke so highly of Snow Lake,” said MacDuff. “Just to hear how much Roy liked it, and his daughter Amanda talked about how much she liked it here. I told my wife if Snow Lake ever came open that I’d put my name in for it.” He says that his initial impression of the town didn’t dampen what he’d been told. “Just a great little community, a sort of rare little gem… having the lake right out your front door,” he said. “Both my wife and I grew up in small towns, so it was exactly what we expected.”
In respect to what he will enjoy most about his time in Snow Lake, MacDuff doesn’t miss a beat in stating that it will be the community aspect of the police work. He feels that living and working in the city doesn’t give you the same connection with the community and its lifestyle that a smaller location will. However, he will miss working Major Crimes with all their investigative work and the high profile that goes with it. These, he says, really piqued and held his interest while working in the city. Nonetheless, when asked about the massive manhunt taking place in the north of the province, MacDuff stated he wouldn’t overly miss the stress and travel of that type of work.
In their leisure time, the corporal states that he and wife Marissa both curl in the winter and he imagines that they will enrol their children in the CanSkate Program when the snow begins to fall. The children are also involved in gymnastics and soccer and MacDuff says his wife plans to coach soccer in the coming year. For the time being they boat, fish and enjoy the lakes and began taking in a bit of golfing. It seems MacDuff’s former sergeant didn’t steer the couple wrong … the town is proving to be an enjoyable posting.