January Year in Review

Herald file photo. Allison Matchap performs “Take Me to Church” by Hozier during the Canadian Tire Search for the Stars on Jan. 15, 2023 at the EA Rawlinson Centre. Matchap’s performance impressed the judges enough to receive the Senior Trophy and $750 prize.

Gunnar Hilliard Voyageur is Prince Albert’s New Year’s Baby after being born in Victoria Hospital at 9:46 a.m. on Jan. 1. Gunnar weighs nine pounds and six ounces at birth, and has three older brothers and two older sisters waiting at home.

Prince Albert judge Gerald Morin is named an officer of the Order of Canada. Morin says he was at a loss for words when informed of the decision. “My only response was ‘wow’. It was rather different,” he says.

Prince Albert City Council votes down a bylaw that would require customers to pre-pay for fuel at all gas stations within City limits. The request comes from the Prince Albert Board of Police Commissioners, who are worried about a “considerable increase” in the number of fuel thefts, however, councillors say they are uncomfortable telling businesses how to accept payment.

Longtime St. Mary High School principal Mark Phaneuf announces he will move on to a new role. Phaneuf accepts a job as acting Superintendent of Human Resources and School Operations for the Prince Albert Catholic School Division. Dwayne Gareau takes over as St. Mary principal. Phaneuf spent 19 years at St. Mary. He says it will be difficult to leave, but it looking forward to a new challenge.

A 32-year-old man who went missing after leaving Victoria Hospital on Jan. 2 is found dead on Jan. 16. Dwight Whitehead’s body is located in a wooded area near the 1000 Block of 18th Street West. His brother, Craig, thanks members of the Prince Albert Fire Department, PAGC Search and Rescue, and other who helped the family in their search. “It’s not the outcome we wanted but honestly, I’ve been saying this from the start, it’s what I half expected,” he says.

After nearly 20 years in municipal politics, Coun. Ted Zurakowski announces he will step down at the beginning of February to take a position with the Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation. Zurakowksi spent 18 years as the councillor for Ward 8. Although he plans to keep living in Prince Albert, Zurakowski says he couldn’t serve in both roles at the same time.

Prince Albert’s rugby community mourns the loss of Grygorii (Greg) Tsekhmistrenko, a former member of the Prince Albert Whiskey Jacks who is killed fighting against the Russian Army in Ukraine. Tsekhmistrenko moved to Canada from Ukraine and became a Canadian citizen, but returned to fight after the invasion. “He was a salt of the earth kind of guy,” reads a statement from the Whiskey Jacks. “He was super friendly, super nice, and then on the field, he was tough as nails.”

Longtime businessman Don Moriarty is named the 2023 Legacy Award winner by the Chamber of Commerce. Chamber CEO Patty Hughes says Moriarty is a picture of stability in the business community. He receives his award at the Chamber Legacy Award Lunch on Mar. 13.

After nearly 40 years with Parkland Ambulance, longtime Emergency Communications Director Brian Reichle announces his retirement. Reichle began working for Parkland as a 20-year-old in February 1984. “For me, it has been a fantastic career,” he says. “It’s been a whirlwind.”


Former Prince Albert Raiders Rick Shultz and Rod Dallman, and former USask Huskies Erica Gavel and Jessica Vance headline the Prince Albert Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2023. Shultz and Dallman are inducted into both the athlete and builder categories, while Gavel, a former member of Canada’s Women’s wheelchair basketball team, and Vance, a goaltender who represented Canada at the FISU World University Games, are inducted as athletes. Pete Friesen, Jim Nicholson, and Bill Yeaman are inducted as builders, while the 1973 East End and 1975 Old Dutch Twins are inducted as teams. The Hall of Fame committee also names the Prince Albert Minor Baseball Association as Sports Organization of the Year. The induction banquet is scheduled for May.

Prince Albert Raiders goalie coach Kelly Guard wins gold as a member of the Canadian World Junior Hockey Team coaching staff. Former Prince Albert Raiders captain Nolan Allan is also on the team that defeats Czechia 3-2 in the Gold Medal Game in Halifax.

Prince Albert is chosen as a host site for the 2024 WBSC Men’s Softball World Cup Group Stage, as well as the 2025 World Cup Finals. World Cup Bid Committee co-chair Derek Smith says they’re excited to host the event. “It’s huge for our city, and our committee, and the softball community in the area,” Smit says. “It’s going to be exciting around the ball park.”

Matt Swaby’s wife and children help cut the ribbon on the new Matt Swaby Memorial Rink near East Central School. Swaby, a former Prince Albert Minto, was killed in a farming accident in 2001.

Prince Albert Raiders great Dan Hodgson is one of eight retired Indigenous NHLers who finally get their own hockey card. Hodgson played three NHL seasons with the Vancouver Canucks and another with the Toronto Maple Leafs, but no company created a hockey card of him during that time. Hodgson always thought it was kind of odd he never had his own card, but says it was still “extra special” to get one in 2023.


Seventeen-year-old Allison Matchap takes home top prize at the Canadian Tire Search for the Stars at the E.A. Rawlinson Centre. The 2023 search is only the second time Matchap has competed in the competition. “It feels amazing,” she says. “I feel so happy.”

A group of Prince Albert musicians launch a new music association for Indigenous musicians. Founding board members Sheryl Kimbley, Donny Parenteau, Paul Lomheim, and Roland Corrigal unveil the new Saskatchewan Indigenous Music Association on Jan. 26. The group’s first order of business is to organize an awards show in Prince Albert.

Singer and vocal coach Nancy Hagen is named honourary chair for the 2023 Prince Albert Winter Festival. Hagen first performed at the festival’s Country North Show in 1982, and attended every show that followed except for four. During that time, she worked as a producer, backup singer, audition judge, and MC.