It was April 1, 2017 that The Chester Mirror’s first article appeared, as if out of nowhere, onto the scene. It was funny, local, and creatively absurd. It was just right.
The first headline read, “Chestermere to Allow House Boat Complex on the Lake.” The article that followed was almost unbelievable: it told about how 150-200 three-storey houseboats would be set out on the lake to create a new neighbourhood accessible by row boats. It caused a stir, in the best kind of way. For those who saw it for what it was, it was a gift. This was the start of “The Chester Mirror: Your Trusted Source of News Satire.” Satire had landed in Chestermere.
Like The Onion News, The Chester Mirror is a satirical take on our community and life on the lake. Over the next few years The Chester Mirror would go on to share dozens of satirical pieces taking a good humoured look at current events in our city through a different lens. Racking up over one hundred thousand view in that time, The Chester Mirror has been shared as the satirical joke it was meant to be, but also mistaken for fact a few times. When The Chester Mirror reported that the ‘Spike Mouth Copelfish,’ an ugly, toothy, fish, was found in the lake, news services picked it up and anglers shared it as a laugh. It is a satirist’s dream to have their writing mistaken as fact. The Chester Mirror has addressed banal issues like breaking news from the local playground, to meatier issues like taxation, development, and the pandemic.
Satire is as old as the written word. Roman satirists were brilliant as they gently poked at the edges of their culture, inspiring others to join in on the issues of the day. It is the job of satirists, according to Matt Reimann, “to exaggerate and illuminate these hidden facts and to make them easier to see and deal with. Hopefully, as the laughter subsides, the satirist equips the audience to better redress the maladies he or she has diagnosed.” Satire is meant to engage the un-engaged and draw others into a larger conversation about their community.
Communities need satire, in fact, it might be a sign of maturity when a community can laugh at itself. People who laugh with their community tend to pay attention, find the hope in the hard times, and rally around causes that matter to them. Even more, it seems that satire emerges in communities that are loved by those who live there. The Babylon Bee, for example, pokes good fun at Christianity, and the Beaverton, the Lapine, or This Hour Has 22 Minutes are some of Canada’s best satirical outlets. The Chester Mirror brings a dose of humour to Chestermere at a vital time in our city’s growth.
Now, four years after it began online, The Chester Mirror will make its debut in The Chestermere Anchor. It will feature some of the best pieces from the past several years, and offer a fresh satirical take on the issues of the day. While the brilliant and enigmatic writer behind The Chester Mirror remains cloistered up in their ice fishing hut out on the lake, we can look forward to a new season of satirical takes that celebrate all that is wonderful about our city.