In 1974, the Village Chamber of Commerce determined that a sign should be created to welcome visitors to the lively community of Evansburg. The project was given to John Lauer, a longtime local resident. What follows is Lauer’s recollection of the project. “I am not a sign painter or artist, but have always enjoyed working with wood and have a genuine concern to see our Village thrive, prosper and grow. I have a wild imagination and wanted to put words on the sign that would arouse one’s interest.
The start was easy…Welcome to Evansburg. Now to continue with words easily readable by a passing car, but also interesting and positive. I decided to take a bit of liberty and write The Thriving Village. But a thriving village with what?? What are some unique, positive characteristics of Evansburg? Since we are surrounded by natural, basically undeveloped parkland an have no pollution-causing industry, I think the words Clean Air would be appropriate. Now what else? Besides fresh air, clear blue skies and the lush green woodlands, our Village is nestled between two rivers. There are three lakes within 20 miles. The deep wells outside our Village provide an abundance of crystal clear and cool water for domestic use. Yes, the next line would say Fresh Water.
With Evansburg’s population having a good mix of nationalities, I wanted to say something positive about what I call our intense interdependence. But that’s a bit much for a sign, so I think I will just say we are Friendly. Now, there is just a bit more room on the bottom of the sign for some small print. Usually that is where the population figures go. So off I go to the Village Office for our latest headcount. 603 living residents. I tried to think of ways of bolstering this figure, without being dishonest. Then it hit me. Some families don’t have any kids, but they have pets! Why not include some of these in our population count. We needed all the help we could get. So back to the village Office I trotted for a pet head count. Dogs they had … 29, but sorry, no cat stats. For cats I was on my own. I sat down and in my mind, traveled up and down the streets starting by the railway and working North and East across town. After some time and a few phone calls, I came up with the figure 37. But allowing for 4 strays, this number rose to exactly 41.
Ah, the population line was looking much better, but still something was missing. I had claimed earlier that we had Friendly People, but feeling the need to be somewhat more truthful, I thought we should admit to having 1 Grouch. Hopefully any visitor to our village, upon encountering any local who was being less than congenial, would be more easily able to forgive such behaviour … assuming this person to be our one admitted Grouch. Since the conception of our sign, Evansburg has promoted our Village and our Grouch. Each summer we have an election to nominate a new citizen as Grouch for the upcoming year. As part of our Community Tourism Action Plan, an official Grouch caricature has been adopted and copyrighted. This caricature depicts a disgruntled looking coal miner with bushy red hair, wearing a helmet with lamp, overalls, boots and carrying a miners pick. The choice of a miner image is intended to respectfully perpetuate the memory of Evansburg’s past coal miners and mine heritage which was our economic mainstay from 1912 to 1936.
So keep your eyes peeled for that cranky old miner with the wild hair…the EVANSBURG GROUCH!