At the border
Just over a month ago, a protest gripping a sleepy village just north of the U.S. border ended in sudden confusion.
After more than two weeks of swallowing up Coutts, Alta., the blockade of trucks and tractors headed home or down the road. News media filed their concluding reports and the remaining protesters say they found themselves trying to understand how weapons ended up in their midst.
To an outsider, it might look as though things had returned to normal.
But inside the village, so much has changed.
At a population of just over 200, Coutts is unique among rural communities. It’s small enough where staff at the lone café know the names of nearly everyone who comes in, and new faces are greeted with inquiries about what sort of business brings them to the area.
But given its proximity to the U.S. border, Coutts is also frequently awash with new faces passing to and from, a mishmash of travellers, labourers and snowbirds.
William Harty has seen it all. For 21 years he’s been a port in the storm, owner and operator of a motel called the Double Tree Inn.
“You meet lots of interesting people at the border here, all the way from Alaska to South America,” Harty said, wearing a shirt that he points out sports the colours of the American flag.