High River Strong

Late afternoon last summer, I took a cruise through downtown High River. Every business was closed, boarded up, caged, devastated – all except Evelyn’s Memory Lane. An apt metaphoric irony for our lost downtown, since we are all full of memories of the place as it was before the flood of 2013 – busy, vibrant, beautiful.

I moved back to High River last year, having been away for 25 years. I found it had grown into a place where I wanted to live again – with funky little businesses like Colossis Coffee, the famous Gitter’s Pub, Red Bag and Mel’s Music all adding to a sense of community. Murals on the walls, flowers along our historic streets, mature trees, parks and pathways giving High River a feeling of both growth and permanency. And of course our friend the Highwood River flowing peacefully through it all.

So much has changed since then. As I drove by the barber shop, there were posted the words “we’ll be back” in handwritten letters – brave and hopeful. My heart filled up, feeling for all those people whose businesses and homes were swept away. Will they be back? Can everything that is wrong be righted somehow?

Driving out of town past the old Couey place, I saw they had posted a sign for their refugees: the words “High River Strong.” It was the first time I saw the phrase, now a kind of mantra for all of us who live here. Every day our town gets a little stronger. With the help of our neighbors, and the strength in our hearts, we will recover. And even if things are never the same, maybe some things are better now than they ever were before. We in High River know now that people care. And that will give us the strength to move forward.

As I continued to my destination, the words “high river strong” echoed through my heart and mind in the form of a song. It’s been a long time since a song has come along for me with this kind of insistence. With the help of my friends Leeroy Stagger and John Ellis, we have created a single which we are releasing to raise funds for the High River Flood Relief Fund.  Along with the song, available here via download, we’re also putting out a compilation disc featuring “High River Strong” plus songs from all four of my previous releases. I’ll be releasing it with a concert at Spitzee Post Pub at the Heritage Inn on Saturday October 5, at 8:00 PM. Afterwards you will be able to find it for sale in stores throughout the Foothills area, as well as by mail order and download through cdbaby.com.

Thanks for listening. And stay strong.

Leslie Alexander

7 thoughts on “High River Strong

  1. Heard this song for the first time last week and was blown away by the talent this woman possesses. Let’s all stay High River Strong!

  2. This touched my heart, we were in High River in 2012 as my daughter and grandson lived there, after the flood they had to move to Calgary which they found very hard as they were homeless for about seven weeks. My daughter will go back to work in the town as she loved her job but that is still not quite ready, all those people have had such an awful time, I live in England but have been following their progress and hardship from the day of the flood , when I got a message that my daughter had to evacuate, my grandson has not been back to this day as my daughter did’nt want him to see the devastation. I hope the people are beginning to rebuild their lives and that High River will continue to grow and get bettter and that one day June 20th 2013 will just go down as a bad memory. Good luck will the concert and the cd.

  3. Great Job Leslie! I heard that you sang High River Strong yesterday and it brought tears to the listener’s eyes.
    I’ve sent my request to a friend for a CD copy. We can’t wait to receive it.
    Brian (and Marg)Wheeler
    Winder, GA

    1. Hi Brian,
      I will be handling mail orders myself. Check back to the site in a couple of days, and look for a box that says “CD Mail Orders.” There will be a price posted for 15.00$, which you can pay by Paypal or by sending in a cheque or money order. We’ll need your mailing address of course.

      Thanks so much for getting in touch, we are so glad you like the song.


  4. Dear Leslie,
    My name is Dee, I am the owner of the Pioneer Barber Shoppe.
    I wept on July 1, as we were allowed into town for the first time to see our businesses.
    Like you, I was so sad to see our beautiful little town in the aftermath of one of Mother Natures major hissy fits.
    It took all day for my husband and I to empty out my beloved shop and as we pulled away I asked my husband to stop, I just couldn’t leave her like that, I had to do something – so I got out the duct tape, made my way through the rotting debris that was once my livelihood an left a Vow to my customers and my town that we would fight to get back to them.
    It made me feel a little better, but I had no idea what those 4 little words would do, they became a beacon of hope to those that saw it. When I read what you wrote about seeing my little note – I was in awe.
    When I heard your song, again I wept, how beautiful!! Thank you so much for writing it and for what you are doing for our town. Welcome Home!

    1. Thank you Dee! Reading your comment made me feel those feelings all over again. What you should know is that your brave note brought the great gift of inspiration, which for me has been sadly lacking for a long time. Letting “High River Strong” flow through me has been an experience of renewal and transformation that might not have occurred without your sign. Funny how these things work huh? We lost so many material things and yet gained priceless knowledge of our own strength and community. Blessings to you and your husband in the future.

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