Whistle Stop Cafe stands up to provincial health order

Chris Scott, owner of Whistle Stop Cafe in Mirror
Written by Terri Huxley

In an eventful weekend, Chris Scott of the Whistle Stop Cafe in Mirror, Alta. has seen a revolving door of health inspectors and RCMP members after publically choosing to disobey a provincial health order.

Between the opening and Mon. Jan. 25., RCMP has come on three separate occasions to talk about the situation.

Scott announced on his company’s Facebook page they would be opening up for dine-in service rather than being limited to take-out and delivery options as mandated by the provincial government.

The province announced in mid-December Alberta would be entering a second lockdown to limit the spread of COVID-19 after seeing a spike in the number of cases.

The business owner chose Jan. 21 as the day to reopen as that was the original date the government had determined restaurants and other businesses would be open after their two-week extension.

Last week the province opened up personal care services like massage therapy and hair care but restaurants and other businesses are still required to remain closed ‘indefinitely’.

“At first I wasn’t sure how hard I was going to push if I was going to keep open the whole time or just make it a one day or two day statement type thing but then I was listening to the radio and I listened to Dr. Hinshaw tell Alberta that they had no date for reopening and there was no end in sight for the foreseeable future. And that made my blood absolutely boil. 

At that point, I was like ‘Nope. enough is enough. We aren’t doing this anymore,” said Scott.

Scott told the ECA Review he was frustrated with how big businesses were still allowed to continue on while his store remained closed.

“It’s not about money,” he said. “Yeah, we are hurting. We definitely need money and be able to earn revenue to operate this business, there is no question. 

“But since this has happened, I have had to stop getting my groceries delivered from a food delivery service. It’s a little more money and we gotta try to save money everywhere we can.”

He shared that he has personally been buying groceries from large food chains and noticed the large amounts of people in these big box stores.

He compared his small cafe to these and felt that if these businesses aren’t high risk then his shouldn’t be either.

“I thought ‘Why is my business being forced to die a slow death because somebody thinks that it’s a high risk when these other businesses are allowed to flourish?’,” said Scott.

Despite the frustration, Scott has found the support for his decision to be ‘unbelievably, overwhelmingly positive.’

“We are getting calls, emails, messages, Facebook messages from all over Canada. I can’t even believe how many people are engaged in this discussion. It’s incredible,” said Scott. 

“I think if I had to guess it would be about 90 per cent positive [comments] and about 10 per cent negative.”

He explained that this 10 per cent of people upset by the reopening were ‘trolls’ who have taken to the extremes by sometimes cursing and swearing at his employees over the phone.

“It’s not that they’re against what we are doing and want to have a legitimate discussion with us, it’s more like they want to try and bully us and make us fearful.”


Terri Huxley

ECA Review

About the author

Terri Huxley

Terri grew up on a grain farm near Drumheller, Alberta with an eye for the beautiful and uncharted. Living in such a unique and diverse area has helped her become the photographer and reporter she is today.

Coming from the East Central region getting this newspaper on her dinner table growing up, it helped her understand the community she now serves.

In May 2019, Terri was awarded Alberta Weekly Newspaper Association (AWNA) Canada's Energy Citizens Photographic Awards Sports Action – First Place as well as first for the same sports action image nationally with the Canadian Community Newspaper Association (CCNA). Fast forward to 2020, she has won second in the same category for the AWNA.