The Localist

The magical Gunn General Store


My name is Greg Polak and I was born in the city of…wait, the town of…nope, that’s not right…the summer village? Nope. The Hamlet, that’s it. I was born in the Hamlet of Gunn, Alberta, located on Lac Ste Anne in Canada’s Great White North.

When I meet other people from Canada, I’m faced with the common stereotype of lumberjack / hunter when they find out I’m from northern Alberta.  You can understand the reinforcement of this stereotype when I announce that my home town is called ‘Gunn’, right before I spit my tobacco on the ground. The truth is the only relationship that I really have with this stereotype is my physical appearance.  Oh, and the fact that I used to chop and split wood and hunt as a child.

Gunn consists of one business:  A general store. The Gunn General Store. It is the most magical place on earth.

I doubt there exists another building on the planet that houses all of the amenities offered by the Gunn General Store in one convenient location.

A single gas pump sits outside the double doors. As you walk into the building you will notice a ramping hallway.  On the left is the Gunn Diner, full of locals.

Ok I need to explain something. Over half of the population of Gunn consists of adult males in a government funded outpatient rehabilitation  program – real colourful characters.

Across the hallway from the diner is the liquor store – a  staple of any northern community with a population under 100. Further down the ramp you are met by the laundromat  and community service board. Finally at the end of the  ramp / hall is the gem of Gunn. The General Store, a place where you can buy frozen pizza, rain gear, candy, rent a film and purchase fireworks. Yes, all this in one room. It was Gunn that fuelled my love for cinema as a child, renting classic films such as Snake Eater and Snake Eater 2.

Besides the General  Store, Gunn has a campground, a lot of mobile homes and lakefront cabins and one ice cream stand that functions as an ice fishing shack in the winter.

As I continue to contribute to The  Localist I will entertain you with tales of Gunn locals as well as stories from my experience living all over Western Canada, including some money making stints in the last remaining Wild West, known as the Oil Camps.


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