Sketching History: The Artists Part 1

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Twelve members of Urban Sketchers Edmonton contributed more than 100 drawings to the exhibit Sketching History: Rediscovering Edmonton’s Architectural Heritage through Urban Sketching.

I am writing a series of posts featuring the artists and a selection of their work from the exhibit.

A bit of background first: Urban Sketchers Edmonton was formed in 2011 by Yvonne Rezek, Karen Wall and me, following the example of Urban Sketchers, an organization that started in 2007 under the motto “See the world one drawing at a time”. There are now hundreds of Urban Sketchers chapters around the world.

We are a casual group that welcomes sketchers of all ages, backgrounds and levels of ability. Anyone may join us at any time for our monthly sketch-outs around Edmonton on the first Saturday of each month. We sketch from 11am to 1pm and then meet for lunch and sharing of sketches, techniques, and tips. We post the locations of the sketch-outs on our Facebook page and our blog.

For some of the artists, this is their first exhibit, while others have been professional exhibiting artists for years. Urban Sketchers Edmonton is a great mix of sketchers, with tips and techniques being exchanged after each sketch-out, and we all learn from each other.

Yvonne Rezek is an urban sketcher, portraitist and collage maker. She is also a clay artist focusing on functional objects for the home. She exhibits and sells her work at the annual Edmonton Potters’ Guild Show and Sale and at the Carrot Community Arts Coffeehouse. Yvonne retired from a fulfilling career in academic librarianship at MacEwan University in 2014 and is thrilled to participate in this, her first visual art exhibition. Yvonne arrived in Canada at a young age and was raised in Edmonton.

Molson Brewery, 10449 – 121 St, Oliver neighbourhood. Sketch by Yvonne Rezek 

Businessman and former Mayor of the City of Strathcona, William Henry Sheppard, hired Chicago architect Bernard Barthel to design the 5 story German castle style brewery for his Edmonton Brewing and Malting Company. It was built in 1913 by Peter Rule Construction Company using local brick, steel and reinforced concrete, and features a variety of stone detailing above the arched windows, with torches that top corner turrets.

The first beer to be produced from the brewery included Yellowhead Beer, Edmonton Family Lager and Imperial Stout. The brewery survived prohibition by selling “Temperance Beer”, a low-alcohol beer available by prescription. In 1924, Sheppard commissioned architect Ralph H. Trouth to design an Edwardian-style red-brick office building beside the brewery.

Sheppard sold the company to Lethbridge brewer Fritz Sick in 1927, and in 1958 the brewery was purchased by Montreal-based Molson. In 1960, a giant revolving Molson “M” sign was installed, almost as iconic a landmark as the building itself. Molson closed the brewery in 2007.

The building is now a part of the Edmonton Brewery District development. The building was designated a Municipal Historic Resource in 2015.

Sprucewood Library, 11555 – 95 Street, Alberta Avenue neighbourhood. Sketch by Yvonne Rezek

The Sprucewood Branch of the Edmonton Public Library was opened in 1953, the first branch after the Central Library to be built north of the river.  The Branch continues to be an active, well used and vibrant community centre. It underwent a major renovation in 2004 adding a much needed programming room that could be used by the public outside of branch hours. Today Sprucewood is one of 22 branch locations operated by the Edmonton Public Library.

The Edmonton Public Library system had its humble beginnings in 1913 above a meat market and liquor store in the Chisholm Block downtown. In 1923, after moving to several other temporary spaces, local architects H.A. Magoon and G.H. MacDonald were hired to design the elegant Central Library on Macdonald Drive. In 1967, the Centennial Library, later named the Stanley A. Milner Library, opened a few blocks away and the Central Library was demolished in 1968. The renewed Stanley A. Milner Library will open in 2020.

Trynicky/Georgia Apartments 10110 96 Street and 9608 101 Ave, Boyle Street neighbourhood. Sketch by Yvonne Rezek

The Trynicky Apartments/Georgia Apartments, with their distinctive pink and blue colour scheme, were a recognizable feature for six decades, perched atop the river bank in the Boyle Street neighbourhood, one of the oldest in Edmonton. The property is non-grid aligned because it followed the traditional Metis river lots common to the city’s fort history, which were long and narrow plots perpendicular to the river.

This pair of two-and-a-half storey flat-topped apartment houses were constructed in 1958, south of and across the street from the Gibson Block. The blue building to the east had a stone-work façade on the first floor and faced the St. Barbara Russian Orthodox Cathedral. This building was known as the Trynicky Apartments or the 10110 Suites, with six apartments. The pink building with 20 suites, known as the Georgia Apartments, sat on the same site on the west side.

Unfortunately, these apartment buildings were neglected for many years. By 2010 the structures had fallen into disrepair and demolition took place between 2015 and 2017. The plot of land is currently empty.

Karen Wall researches and writes about culture and history in Edmonton and the province, and has worked in heritage organizations and institutions as well as at Athabasca University. Her family descends from settlers who homesteaded in Manitoba and near Stony Plain, on the traditional lands of the Metis and Cree and Nakoda people.

River Valley, old Walterdale Bridge and Rossdale Power Plant. Sketch by Karen Wall 

Edmonton’s river valley and green spaces are an important element of our heritage and identity.  As stated on the City’s webpage: As the largest urban park in Canada, with more than 160 kilometres of maintained pathways and 20 major parks, the River Valley is a natural wonder for all Edmontonians to be proud of.

Edmonton’s bridges are among our most familiar built heritage landmarks along the North Saskatchewan River Valley and in the city’s ravines. Indigenous peoples had long used the natural ford in the river where the 105 Street Bridge was built in 1914.  The bridge replaced John Walter’s ferry operation, eventually bearing his name. The old Walterdale Bridge was demolished in 2017 and the new bridge opened in 2018.

Rossdale Power Plant was constructed between 1930 and 1958 on the north bank of the North Saskatchewan River. Maxwell Dewar, who later became Edmonton’s City Architect, was one of the designers of the plant, a curtain-wall brick and steel construction. The design reflected a contemporary shift away from traditional Victorian style architecture, instead taking inspiration from Albert Kahn’s innovative Ford Highland Park Plant in Detroit. Its style is unique in Edmonton.

Edmonton continued to control the plant until its closure in 1989. The Rossdale Power Plant was designated a Provincial Historic Resource in 2001. The City-owned buildings are familiar and significant landmarks in the city, but the fate of the decommissioned plant is still unknown.

Garneau Theatre, 8712 -109 Street. Sketch by Karen Wall

The Garneau Theatre was built in 1940 in the Art Deco Moderne style by architect William G. Blakey. The building is a series of rectangular boxes with long horizontal lines, flat roofs and two-tone geometric decorations. On the larger rear portion, the bricks form a series of horizontal lines that spell out “GARNEAU”. The distinctive marquee features art deco elements and neon signs.

The interior walls were painted in stripes of sea green and ultramarine, the doors and columns were gumwood, the theatre seats were blue leather with mohair backs, and included some “two’s company” seats, colored red in contrast to the single seats.

The Garneau Theatre was the second cinema built outside the downtown core in Edmonton. Beginning in 1941 it was leased to Famous Players until 1990, and then to Magic Lantern Theatres until 2011 when the local non-profit Metro Cinema Society took over operation. In 2009, it was designated a Municipal Historic Resource and underwent extensive restorations to return the theatre to its 1940s appearance.

Alberta Legislature Building, 10800-97 Avenue. Sketches by Karen Wall 

On March 15, 1906, Alberta’s Legislature opened its First Session. The ceremonies were held at Edmonton’s Thistle Rink, just north of Jasper Avenue, after which the Assembly moved to nearby McKay Avenue School.

The official Alberta Legislature was built between 1907 and 1913 by Provincial Architects Allan Merrick Jeffers and Richard P. Blakey. The symmetric design and layout are elements of the Classical Revival and Beaux Art styles, evident in the main entrance’s Corinthian columns and a dome rising above a spacious rotunda. Materials for the building’s lofty exterior include granite, sandstone and limestone.

The main entrance leads directly into the rotunda with its circular marble fountain, surrounded by marble columns. The Chamber has its own 110 foot high dome that features stained glass skylights. In 1932 palm seeds were planted in pots in the gallery around the interior dome; these are now large palm trees above the rotunda. To commemorate Canada’s centennial in 1967, a carillon was installed on the fifth floor.

The Legislature, overlooking the river valley, is among the most iconic buildings in Edmonton, with extensive grounds and a front fountain and reflecting pool welcoming the citizens of Alberta.

Marlena Wyman has been an exhibiting artist for three decades and is the City of Edmonton’s 5th Historian Laureate (April 2018 to April 2020). She is the curator of Sketching History. Marlena’s education, work and volunteer life has centered on the arts and heritage. She has exhibited across Canada and was the Audio/Visual Archivist at the Provincial Archives of Alberta for 28 years.

Marlena is a third generation prairie woman raised on her family farm near Rockyford, Alberta, and is a long time Edmontonian.

Hangar 11, Blatchford Field. Sketch by Marlena Wyman 

Built in 1942 on the NE corner of Blatchford Field (later the Municipal Airport), Hangar 11 is one of only two remaining WWII-era hangars on the site. It is built entirely of wood, its massive Bowstring trusses providing an imposing curved roof, flanked by three-story office wings.

Hangar 11 was built in partnership with the US Air Force. It served a vital function in the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan during the war. This plan was called the “Aerodrome of Democracy” by Franklin Roosevelt, and trained thousands of aircrew and personnel during its time.

It was part of the Northwest Staging Route, a series of airports developed for the Lend-Lease program. The Edmonton airfield helped move American bombers, fighters and transport planes through to Alaska and the Soviet Union, in what became a crucial program in the Allied war effort.

The Airport was closed in 2013 for development of the future Blatchford community. Hangar 11, under threat of demolition, made the 2017 National Trust for Canada’s Top 10 Endangered Places List. In 2018, heritage advocates pleaded the case for its preservation to City Council, and the City agreed to examine options for repurpose.

University of Alberta Nurses’ Home, 8308 – 114 Street. Sketch by Marlena Wyman

The University of Alberta began training nurses to work in its hospital in 1923. Nursing students that were studying and working in the university hospital were provided with free room and board. Unfortunately, space was tight and many nurses lived in various cramped and inadequate accommodations on campus.

In 1947, architect George Heath Macdonald designed a purpose-built brick residence with carved sandstone arched windows and details. It was directly across the street from the hospital and included single bedrooms, laundry room, sewing room, lounges, and a kitchenette. The nurses’ matron, Mrs. Underwood, along with her strict rules for conduct, moved with the nursing students into their new residence.

In 1951, a new addition opened with two wings and an auditorium and in 1957 a further addition was completed which featured classrooms, a mezzanine, TV Lounge, dining area, and student kitchen.

The School of Nursing accepted its first male applicants in 1973 with a special apartment being created to accommodate them. In 1974 the school began charging room and board to residents and relaxed its policy forbidding living off-campus.

In 1981 the building was converted into offices for the School of Nursing, then renamed the Education and Development Centre, and most recently the Research Transition Facility. Unfortunately, a dominating pedway structure built in 2013 now obstructs the face of this heritage building.

Royal Alberta Museum, Glenora location, 12845 – 102 Ave. Sketch by Marlena Wyman

 The Royal Alberta Museum in Glenora was built in 1965 and opened to the public in 1967. Originally named the Provincial Museum and Archives, it was made possible through a partnership between the Confederation Memorial Centennial Program and the Government of Alberta. An Australian museum professional, Raymond O. Harrison, was hired in 1962 to build the museum, locate staffing, and develop the exhibits.

The exterior is faced with Tyndall stone that incorporates petroglyph designs from the Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park site. The interior walls are marble and the floors black granite; all Canadian stone.

The original museum also housed the archives, and the museum galleries featured Fur Trade, Native Peoples of Alberta, Agriculture, Pioneer Life, and Industry & Commerce. Starting in the 1960s, the museum’s popular habitat dioramas were added at the rate of one per year until 1979.

In 2003 the Provincial Archives of Alberta moved to a separate facility. In 2005 the museum was designated the Royal Alberta Museum by Queen Elizabeth II when she visited for Alberta’s 100th anniversary. The original building closed its doors in 2015 to focus on the construction and move to the new downtown location of the Royal Alberta Museum that opened in 2018. The provincial government is presently seeking ideas for the continued use of the Glenora building.

Please come and explore the exhibit!

Prince of Wales Armouries Heritage Centre and Edmonton City Archives
10440 – 108 Ave
Mondays to Fridays 8:30am to 4:30pm and Wednesdays til 8pm
Ring the buzzer on the outside door to be let into the building

Thanks to the City of Edmonton, the Edmonton Heritage Council, the Edmonton Historical Board and the City of Edmonton Archives for their support of this project.

Reference sources for background history:

Molson Brewery: Edmonton Heritage Council, Edmonton City as Museum: Lawrence Herzog’s article Oliver’s Beer Castle https://citymuseumedmonton.ca/2015/04/16/olivers-beer-castle/

Sprucewood Library: The Edmonton Public Library, Serving Edmontonians from 1913 to 2007 https://web.archive.org/web/20130310031401/http://www.epl.ca/sites/default/files/pdf/edmonton-history/EPL1913-2007.pdf

Trynicky/Georgia Apartments: Edmonton Historical Board, Edmonton’s Architectural Heritage https://www.edmontonsarchitecturalheritage.ca/index.cfm/neighbourhoods/boyle-street/                                                                                                     Henderson’s Edmonton Directories: 1955-58, 1960-61, 1973                                 City of Edmonton, River Valley Parks https://www.edmonton.ca/activities_parks_recreation/parks_rivervalley/river-valley-parks.aspx

Rossdale Power Plant: Alberta Register of Historic Places  https://hermis.alberta.ca/ARHP/Details.aspx?DeptID=2&ObjectID=HS%2075869

Walterdale Bridge: Kathryn Ivany https://www.cbc.ca/player/play/1076948035974

Garneau Theatre: Edmonton Historical Board, Edmonton’s Architectural Heritage https://www.edmontonsarchitecturalheritage.ca/index.cfm/structures/garneau-theatre/                                                                                                        Alberta Register of Historic Places            https://hermis.alberta.ca/ARHP/Details.aspx?DeptID=1&ObjectID=4664-0218

Alberta Legislature Building: Edmonton Historical Board, Edmonton’s Architectural Heritage  https://www.edmontonsarchitecturalheritage.ca/index.cfm/structures/alberta-legislature/

Hangar 11: National Trust for Canada, Top 10 Endangered Places 2017 https://nationaltrustcanada.ca/nt-endangered-places/hangar-11

Nurses’ Home, U of A: Beyond the Bricks: Stories’ of the Nurses’ Residences of the University of Alberta, Compiled and Written by Scott Davies, University of Alberta Archives

Royal Alberta Museum: City of Edmonton Archives: RG-200, CA EDM MS-193-EA-596-271.                                                                                                      Government of Alberta: Glenora Building – Former Royal Alberta Museum  https://www.alberta.ca/glenora-building.aspx

Posted by Marlena Wyman

 

 

Sketching History exhibit catalogue

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A line in a poem that I read recently by Canadian poet Earle Birney made me think of the scarcity of Edmonton’s architectural heritage: “It’s only by our lack of ghosts we’re haunted.”

A preview here of the exhibit catalogue for Sketching History: Rediscovering Edmonton’s Architectural Heritage through Urban SketchingThe catalogues are available through the City of Edmonton Archives.

Thanks to Designer Sergio Serrano for his excellent help with the catalogue and exhibit design.

Please come and explore the exhibit:

Prince of Wales Armouries Heritage Centre and Edmonton City Archives
10440 – 108 Ave
Mondays to Fridays 8:30am to 4:30pm and Wednesdays til 8pm

Exhibit up through December 2020
Ring the buzzer on the outside door to be let into the building

Thanks to the City of Edmonton, the Edmonton Heritage Council, the Edmonton Historical Board and the City of Edmonton Archives for their support of this project.

 

Posted by Marlena Wyman

Sketching History on Treaty 6 Territory

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When I was in the midst of curating the exhibit Sketching History: Rediscovering Edmonton’s Architectural Heritage through Urban Sketching, I suddenly thought “How am I going to honour the Indigenous story in an exhibit dedicated to what is essentially colonial architecture?” Fortunately, I know Miranda Jimmy, a member of Thunderchild First Nation and co-founder of Reconciliation in Solidarity Edmonton (RISE), and I asked for her advice. She suggested that I could include the story of the land before Edmonton was built. That seems obvious now, but as a settler, I find that I have to make a conscious effort to think outside of my own experience in order to ensure that the whole story is told.

Sketch by Karen Wall of Faculty of Native Studies, Pembina Hall, University of Alberta, 2011

The history of the Papaschase First Nation is the history of Edmonton.  Although the built heritage that we have sketched for this exhibit came to be within the last century, it is vital to remember that the history of the land on which these buildings sit reaches back much further.

Both our built environment and our land hold memory and represent identity and connection with Treaty 6 territory, not only for settler history, but for the much longer history of the Indigenous peoples and the land on which they live. While the economic and political pressures of colonial development have endangered Indigenous stories and traditions, they have also threatened the city’s architectural heritage and the stories they embody.

As a result of the Government of Canada’s actions beginning in 1877, the Papaschase Descendants have suffered significant damages to their culture, language, and collective identity, including the loss of Indian status, band membership and their land.

The full history of the Papaschase First Nation can be found on their website.

Painting by Ella May Walker of Laurent and Eleanor Garneau House, [1957]. City of Edmonton Archives #EAA-1-4 

The Métis story in Edmonton intertwines with the Papaschase story.  By the 1870s, the Métis were the first permanent settlers of the Edmonton and Strathcona areas. Laurent and Eleanor Garneau, who came from the Red River settlement after the Riel Rebellion, and other families not connected to the Papaschase band, lived in the southwest are of Edmonton. Those who settled in the southeast (now 99th Street) were more closely connected to the Papaschase Band.

The Métis land scrip and claims process would become one of the most flawed and corrupt of policies directed towards Indigenous peoples. Most of these Métis families were no longer in the area by the early 1880’s.

An article by Jan Olson provides a good history of the Métis in the Edmonton area.

Painting by Miss H. Vincent Foster “30 degrees below – Edmonton Power Plant Bldgs”, 1931, City of Edmonton Archives #EAA-5-3 

(In the Sketching History exhibit I have included some paintings from the collection of the City of Edmonton Archives. The archives have many beautiful paintings and drawings in their holdings that can be requested for viewing in the Reference Room.)

In 1999, the Papaschase Band, Métis and other activists lobbied to protect a burial ground near the Rossdale Power Plant operated by EPCOR. Hearings were held after which a reburial ceremony took place in 2007 and the Rossdale Memorial was commissioned by the City and constructed by Manasc Isaac in 2008. A significant piece of Edmonton’s history, it is significant not only as a once-forgotten, desecrated First Nations burial site, but an early site of the HBC Fort Edmonton fur trading post, and burial site for Métis and non-Indigenous Fort inhabitants also buried here.

Further information about the burial site can be found on the Papaschase First Nation website and the Manasc Isaac website.

Sketch by Terry Elrod, Rossdale Power Plant, 3 September 2014

Rossdale Power Plant was constructed between 1930 and 1958 on the north bank of the North Saskatchewan River. Maxwell Dewar, who later became Edmonton’s City Architect, was one of the designers of the plant, a curtain-wall brick and steel construction.

The design reflected a contemporary shift away from traditional Victorian style architecture, instead taking inspiration from Albert Kahn’s innovative Ford Highland Park Plant in Detroit. Its style is unique in Edmonton.

Edmonton continued to control the plant until its closure in 1989. The Rossdale Power Plant was designated a Provincial Historic Resource in 2001. The City-owned buildings are familiar and significant landmarks in the city, but the fate of the decommissioned plant is still unknown.

Sketch by Karen Wall, Rossdale Power Plant from under old Walterdale Bridge, 2012 (The old Walterdale bridge was demolished in 2017)

I will be writing further posts about the more than 100 sketches in the exhibit by 12 artists from Urban Sketchers Edmonton.

Please come and explore the exhibit!

Prince of Wales Armouries Heritage Centre and Edmonton City Archives
10440 – 108 Ave
Mondays to Fridays 8:30am to 4:30pm and Wednesdays til 8pm
Ring the buzzer on the outside door to be let into the building

Thanks to the City of Edmonton, the Edmonton Heritage Council, the Edmonton Historical Board and the City of Edmonton Archives for their support of this project.

Posted by Marlena Wyman

Sketching History exhibit launch

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Sketching History: Rediscovering Edmonton’s Architectural Heritage through Urban Sketching exhibit opened November 20th at the Prince of Wales Armouries with about 120 in attendance. Thank you to everyone who came out for the launch!

Photo by Ted Smith

The exhibit is up for a year and can be explored throughout the building, so visitors can enjoy the sketches and stories in three locations: a display case with sketchbooks on the main floor, panels of sketches and stories on the mezzanine\catwalk area, and display cases of sketchbooks plus framed sketches in the Archives exhibit area.

In my exhibits, whether as an artist or a curator, I am always gratified when visitors come up to me and say “Thanks, I never knew that!” Because my art practice is informed by history and archival research, I include historical background information with the artworks. This is also the case with “Sketching History”. The sketches are accompanied by background and stories about the locations that we sketched.

Creative works catch attention – they evoke emotions and memories that engage and connect us with our cultural heritage and encourage viewers to discover the stories behind the walls.

Members of Urban Sketchers Edmonton have always been inspired to document heritage buildings, and because I am interpreting the position of Historian Laureate through my art practice, creating this exhibit has been a natural fit for me. Our group has sketched in many historic Edmonton locations over the years, but the exhibit is not intended to be a comprehensive overview of Edmonton’s built heritage. The sketches have been made randomly over time, and others will continue to be created. Some of our city’s beloved buildings are not depicted in the exhibit; some that were sketched have since been demolished. This exhibit is an interpreted representation of our city‘s memory and identity manifested in both built and natural environments.

Artists Angie Sotiropoulos, Brenda Raynard and artist/curator/Historian Laureate Marlena Wyman. Photo by Ted Smith 

Watch for further posts about the more than 100 sketches in the exhibit by 12 artists from Urban Sketchers Edmonton.

Please come and explore the exhibit!

Prince of Wales Armouries Heritage Centre and Edmonton City Archives
10440 – 108 Ave
Mondays to Fridays 8:30am to 4:30pm and Wednesdays til 8pm
Ring the buzzer on the outside door to be let into the building

Thanks to the City of Edmonton, the Edmonton Heritage Council, the Edmonton Historical Board and the City of Edmonton Archives for their support of this project.

Posted by Marlena Wyman

 

Sketching History: Rediscovering Edmonton’s Architectural Heritage through Urban Sketching exhibit opens November 20, 2019

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Sketch of Prince of Wales Armouries by Joanne Wojtysiak, 5 May 2019   

My major project for my term as Edmonton’s 5th Historian Laureate is finally near completion! I am curating an exhibit titled Sketching History: Rediscovering Edmonton’s Architectural Heritage through Urban Sketching, and it consists of sketches by members of Urban Sketchers Edmonton and stories focusing on Edmonton’s built heritage. I have been sketching with the group Urban Sketchers Edmonton since we formed in 2011, and we have always been inspired to record heritage buildings. Because I am interpreting the position of Historian Laureate through my art practice, creating this exhibit has been a natural fit for me.

Urban Sketchers Edmonton is a casual group that welcomes sketchers of all ages, backgrounds and levels of ability. Anyone may join us at any time for our monthly sketch-outs around Edmonton on the first Saturday of each month. We sketch from 11am to 1pm and then meet for lunch and sharing of sketches, techniques, and tips. We post the locations of the sketch-outs on our Facebook page and our blog.

Sketchers in Mill Creek Ravine by Terry Elrod, 4 August 2018

Sketchers and 1920 Street, Fort Edmonton Park by Terry Elrod, 6 July 2019

Although this exhibit highlights Edmonton’s architectural heritage, the history of our city did not begin with its buildings. Both our built environment and our land hold memory and represent identity and connection with Treaty 6 territory, not only for settler history, but for the much longer history of the Indigenous peoples and the land on which they live. While the economic and political pressures of colonial development have endangered Indigenous stories and traditions, they have also threatened the city’s architectural heritage and the stories they embody.

Art provides us with new ways of seeing what we thought we knew. Art can engage and help to activate change. Its visual impact attracts viewers in ways that words alone cannot. Its interpretive ability makes us feel that stories and memories exist behind the walls.

Edmonton’s vital heritage architecture is disappearing, and along with it our city’s character and identity. My hope is that this project will engage and connect us with the value of our city’s built heritage and green spaces.

View NE from MacEwan University from 105 Avenue & 107 Street to Commonwealth Stadium by Yvonne Rezek, July 2013

The main exhibit opens at the Prince of Wales Armouries and City of Edmonton Archives exhibit areas on November 20th. A smaller exhibit will travel to branch libraries of the Edmonton Public Library, a virtual exhibit will be posted on the City of Edmonton’s Archives webpage, and a catalogue will be published. Watch for more posts about all of that soon!

Thanks to the City of Edmonton, the Edmonton Heritage Council, the Edmonton Historical Board and the City of Edmonton Archives for their support of this project, and to exhibit designer Sergio Serrano.

Posted by Marlena Wyman

 

The Visitors

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I was researching early Edmonton women’s organizations at the Provincial Archives of Alberta and I came across some very interesting hand-written minutes from the early 20th century that led me down several archival rabbit holes. So I hope you can bear with me and read through my entire slightly long-winded post.

The minutes that I was researching were created by such organizations as the Edmonton Local Council of Women (ELCW), the Edmonton Chapter of the Imperial Order Daughters of the Empire (IODE), and the Alberta Federation of Women. Women’s associations carried out a heavy load of charitable work long before governments took this on.

National Council of Women, Edmonton [1900], Provincial Archives of Alberta #A5605

I titled this painting The Visitors after the Visiting and Relief Committee of the Edmonton Chapter of the IODE. Most often they were simply referred to as “The Visitors” in the minutes. This committee was started to help some of the women and families of the soldiers who were serving overseas in the First World War. Although the Canadian Patriotic Fund paid the women and families an allowance, it was rarely enough and was sometimes lost in bureaucracy. The Visitors went to the women’s homes and assessed their needs, and then found support for them. The March 1916 report stated that the Visitors had visited and assisted 2343 families since the committee’s inception in August 1914.

The Visitors by Marlena Wyman, 2019, Image transfer & oil stick on Mylar, 20″ X 20″

The minutes record good works such as providing furniture, clothing, food, coal for heating, and short-term loans. On several occasions it is mentioned that the Visitors took children of sick or deceased mothers into their own homes.

Edmonton IODE Relief & Visiting Committee report, 1 February 1915, Provincial Archives of Alberta #74.1/180

Edmonton IODE Relief & Visiting Committee minutes, 9 March 1916, Provincial Archives of Alberta #74.1/182

Not all of the work of these women’s organizations was of such a benevolent nature. They were on the forefront of initiatives such as banning black immigration, advocating for eugenics, and the intrusive assimilation of indigenous peoples.

I noticed contradictions in some of the work that these women’s organizations did. I assume that it depended on the leadership in the organizations at any one time. For example, in the Nov 4, 1907 minutes of the Edmonton IODE, the need for a club room for homeless and foreign girls was discussed.

Edmonton IODE minutes, 4 November 1907, Provincial Archives of Alberta, #74.1/183

Yet in the April 7, 2011 minutes of the Edmonton Local Council of Women, the same IODE group presented a letter recommending that a petition be sent to Frank Oliver, asking for action on “the danger to Alberta from the rapid increase in Negro immigration”.

Edmonton IODE letter dated 29 March 1911, presented at the Local Council of Women meeting April 7, 1911. ELCW minutes, Provincial Archives of Alberta #74.1/191

Frank Oliver, Edmonton MLA, MP, Minister of the Interior, Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs, and owner of the press (The Edmonton Bulletin) had a very influential hand in much of the harm that was done in our early history; so much so that it would take too long to go into all the details here. I refer you to (now) Senator Paula Simons’ Edmonton Journal article of August 30, 2017.

Edmonton Local Council of Women minute, 7 November 1911, Provincial Archives of Alberta, #74.1/191

I noted another contradiction in the Nov 7, 1911 minutes of the Edmonton Local Council of Women, where a motion was passed for “the appointment of matrons to Indian reserves”.  The job of a matron was to encourage assimilation of indigenous women and girls by teaching them to make their homes like those of white people. It was considered that the indigenous way of life was unsanitary and that the women lacked in proper mothering skills.

Yet, in the mid 20th century, the IODE sponsored educational bursaries and leadership training for indigenous girls, as well as Cree language programs, and native friendship centres.Alberta Federation of Women resolution, 2 October 1938, Glenbow Archives

The belief that indigenous women were not good mothers also resulted in the tragic involuntary sterilization of many indigenous women, who were particularly targeted by eugenics legislation. Eugenics is a part of our history that caused much harm, and Alberta was in the forefront of the legislation with the 1928 Sexual Sterilization Act of Alberta. Again, paradoxically, women’s groups who were simultaneously fighting for women’s rights, also led the charge for eugenics.

We are influenced by the zeitgeist of our time and we can be easily led astray.  Just ask any advertiser whether what they do is profitable and successful. For example, the eugenics movement was started largely due to fear and faulty information.  Insanity was widely defined, and it was thought that all mental illness was inherited. The common thinking of the time claimed that if the population of the “insane” continued to grow, then soon half the population would be in insane asylums and the other half would be caring for them.

Human beings are flawed. We are none of us perfect, and we all possess both good and bad – although some gravitate more toward either end of that spectrum. The negative parts of our history need to be unearthed and remembered along with the good. Destroying and burying what we are ashamed of and would rather not remember, means that we forget about the harm that was done and that harm can be repeated. Telling both sides of the story is an opportunity for learning and doing better.

Although today it is difficult to understand some of the thinking of the past, it is important to consider the influences of those times because analogous forms of influence come into play every day. History lays the foundation for critical thinking, moral sense, and vigilance so we can protect human rights and freedoms.

Posted by Marlena Wyman

 

The Beulah Home for Unfortunate Women and Girls

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My most recent painting titled The Beulah Home for Unfortunate Women and Girls, is based on my research at the Provincial Archives of Alberta.

The Beulah Home for Unfortunate Women and Girls by Marlena Wyman, 20″X20″, image transfer and oil stick on Mylar and birch panel

Beulah Home letterhead,  Provincial Archives of Alberta, # PR1971.0047

The Beulah Home for unwed mothers and their babies was founded in Edmonton in 1909 by Maude Elizabeth Chatham and Clara Schafer, who worked most notably with long-serving Superintendent Mary A. Finlay and Nurse Olivia Eidsath. In 1911, Edmonton businessman Alexander Ronald donated two acres of agricultural land at what is now 134 Avenue and 101 Street, and a purpose-built home was built. The house was decorated in a cozy, homey way rather than appearing institutional, and the Home welcomed the women and girls into the Beulah “family” during their stay. Gardens were planted and tended to by the residents of the home.

Beulah Home, 1912,  Provincial Archives of Alberta, # PR1971.0047 (Unfortunately later demolished)

The Beulah Home was privately funded, and emphasized compassion and forgiveness, providing interdenominational Christian guidance for the women and girls to help in “recovering them to a healthy, moral and spiritual life”. The spiritual instruction appeared not to be heavy-handed, and they were also taught vocational training in the domestic arts, as well as how to care for their babies.

Beulah Home babies, 1928, Provincial Archives of Alberta, # PR1971.0047

Reports employed various adjectives to describe of the women and girls who came to them: unfortunate, fallen, needy, erring, wandering, and “young girls who have stepped aside”. However, with an attitude that was unusual, they did not blame the women and girls, but rather condemned the absent men who had led them astray.

Excerpt from Beulah Home report, 1914, Provincial Archives of Alberta,# PR1971.0047

The Beulah Home differed from other institutions of the day in another significant way. It was common practice at the time to pressure unwed mothers into giving up their babies for adoption, and in some cases babies were taken away from the mother immediately after giving birth. Although the Beulah Home arranged for adoptions, they also helped mothers to keep their babies if they wished to do so; an enlightened view well ahead of its time.

If you are interested in reading further about the Beulah Home, and other historical perspectives on childbearing, read Amy Kaler’s Baby Trouble in the Last Best West: Making New People in Alberta, 1905 – 1939.

Posted by Marlena Wyman

 

 

Bluebird: Madeleine Jaffray

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My latest painting is the second to be inspired by the archival record of another Edmonton woman’s experience of the First World War. 2018 is the 100th anniversary of the end of that tragic war, which has compelled me to research some of those stories. I was looking through Madeleine Jaffray’s scrapbook at the Provincial Archives of Alberta, and her story touched me.

I titled the painting “Bluebird”, the nickname for the Nursing Sisters in the war who wore blue uniforms and white veils.

Bluebird by Marlena Wyman. Oil stick, graphite and image transfer on Mylar and birch panel, 2018.  16”x 20” diptych

Madeleine Frances Jaffray was born in 1889. She served as a lieutenant and nursing sister in the Canadian Army during the First World War. Madeleine was one of 10 nurses sent overseas in 1915 by the Canadian National Nursing Association in answer to an appeal made by the French Flag Nursing Corps.

Madeleine Jaffray [1917] Provincial Archives of Alberta A14050. Photographer: Milne Studios, Toronto

Face Patients, Gironde, France [1917], (Madeleine Jaffray marked with X). Madeleine Morrison fonds, Provincial Archives of Alberta PR1986.54.0012.35

On June 5, 1917 Madeleine was wounded in a bombing while stationed at a hospital at Adinkerke, Belgium. The injury resulted in the amputation of her left foot, making her Canada’s only female war amputee. In recognition of her service and injury, Madeleine was presented with the Croix de Guerre, the first Canadian woman to receive this honour.

My evacuation day, Adinkerke, Belgium, 1917. Madeleine Morrison fonds, Provincial Archives of Alberta PR1986.54.12

More than 2,800 nurses served in the Canadian Army Medical Corps as fully enlisted officers in the specially created all female rank of Nursing Sister, with relative rank and equal pay to men – the first women among the Allied forces to do so. There was a strong push back from British officials who initially refused to award Canadian nurses any honors because they were women.

The nurses often worked close to the front, and as patients arrived they were among the first to meet and tend to wounded soldiers. Of the 2,845 Canadian nursing sisters who served in the First World War, 53 died. A memorial to the war’s nursing sisters was erected in Ottawa in 1926, in the Hall of Honour of Canada’s Parliament building.

Detail of Bluebird by Marlena Wyman. Oil stick, graphite and image transfer on Mylar and birch panel, 2018

...at one o’clock last night the hospital was bombarded by German aviators and she was wounded in the foot by a piece of schrapnel [sic] from one of the bombs which fell quite near her. It is a bad wound…

Excerpt from letter to Madeleine Jaffray’s mother from Nursing Director Madame Border-Turner, June 6, 1917. Madeleine Morrison fonds, Provincial Archives of Alberta PR1986.54.9

In 1927, Madeleine married Byron Morrison, a watchmaker in Edmonton, Alberta. Among her other post-war activities, she worked for the Victorian Order of Nurses and was involved with the War Amputees of Canada and the Overseas Nurses Association.

Madeleine died July 23, 1972 and is buried in the Edmonton Municipal Cemetery. More photos from Madeleine’s album at the Provincial Archives of Alberta can be viewed along with other images from their Alberta and the Great War Flickr album.

Posted by Marlena Wyman

A Historian Laureate’s Sketchbook and some contemplations on sketching

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Research and painting for exhibits has kept me occupied over the last few months, and that will continue for the near future, but I have also taken out my sketchbook on occasion; mostly on Urban Sketchers Edmonton sketchouts. Here are a few pages from my non-daily sketchbook for August to November:

I just read the Artsy article Why You Should Keep a Daily Sketchbook—and How to Get Started. It contains very good advice, a fair bit of which I need to take. Here are their suggestions:

Suggestion #1: Got that one – check!

Suggestion #2: I must admit that I favour sketchbooks with pages that are perforated so I can tear them out and chuck the ones that make me feel like giving up on art altogether. However, I do keep, and even post, some that I am not happy with because they help to remind me of what does and doesn’t work.

Suggestion #3: I tend toward observation in my sketches and a combination of observation & imagination in my paintings. My friend, artist, and fellow urban sketcher, Karen Wall, is absolutely the best at observation and imagination in her sketches.

The article’s suggestion about blind contour drawing is a good reminder for me to do more. I love it and it helps loosen up my line, which gets a bit too tight sometimes. Here is a blind contour drawing that I did of a friend a few years ago.

Suggestion #4: I actually did this a few years back. My sketchbook is nestled in the stacks of the Brooklyn Art Library, and I get a notification every time someone checks it out to look at it. The one I deposited is a collage/sketchbook and it was a lot of fun to do. Anyone can give it a try, and become a part of the Sketchbook Project!

My Sketchbook Project cover features one of my all-time favourite archival wedding photo poses. (Mr. and Mrs. Steven Stepchuk. Provincial Archives of Alberta#B7530 – E. Brown photographer). As is sadly so often the case, the newly wed Mrs. Stepchuk has been stripped of her identity – not even her first name is provided. Maybe that explains her attitude.

Suggestion #5: I need to work more on this one. My tendency is just to document, although I notice that my line and style change depending on how I am feeling while sketching. Maybe I’ll start to write a note about my mood on the back of each sketch, and see how that correlates. A little art/science experiment.

I will carry on believing that it is an excellent idea to keep a daily sketchbook.

Posted by Marlena Wyman

Mat No More: The Diaries of Mary Capling Hyde

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I felt it would be appropriate to write this post on November 11, 2018, the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War.  The painting that I just finished, titled Mat No More, is based on the diaries of Mary Capling Hyde that are in the holdings of the City of Edmonton Archives.

Mat No More by Marlena Wyman. Oil stick and image transfer on Mylar and birch panel, 16”X24” diptych

Detail of Mat No More by Marlena Wyman

Originally from Ontario, Matthew (Mat) and Mary Hyde arrived in Edmonton, Alberta on April 29, 1911. They had four children, one who died in infancy. On July 7, 1915, Mat enlisted in the Canadian military. On April 21, 1916, he left with the 66th Battalion from Edmonton by train, and then departed for England on the S.S. Olympic from Halifax on April 28th. Mat was killed in action on September 26, 1916, likely near Courcelette, France on the Somme Front. His name is on the Vimy Memorial, one of 11,000 Canadian servicemen who died in France who have no known grave.

The Hyde family. l-r: David, Matthew, Mary, and Alice; Robbie on Matthew’s knee, 1916. City of Edmonton Archives #EA-806-1

Mary’s diaries a cover a large span of time (1900-1944) and she writes about the many everyday activities of the family. While Mat was serving overseas, she noted in her daily diary entries “Mat in England” or “Mat somewhere in France”. After Mat died in 1916, Mary wrote “Mat no more” every day in her diary passages until her last diary entry on December 28, 1944, shortly before she died. Mary never remarried.

Mary did not know that Mat had died on September 26th until she received a telegram on October 13th. Particularly poignant is her October 4, 1916 entry, where she notes “Mat somewhere in France. Got a letter from him – seems to be fine”.  After hearing of his death, she went back into her diary and between the dates of September 26th and October 13th, she crossed out where she had originally written “Mat somewhere in France”.

Page from Mary Capling Hyde diary, October 17 – 18, 1916. City of Edmonton Archives, Mary Capling Hyde fonds #MS253 (Note: Mary referred to herself in the third person in her diaries)

In a further chapter to the tragic story, as he was dying, Mat handed a wallet of his photos to a fellow soldier. That soldier also died, and after passing through further hands, the wallet ended up with the chaplain at a hospital in France, who sent them to Mrs. F. Shortreed in Edmonton. Her husband had also been injured and was at that same hospital. Mrs. Shortreed did not recognize the photos so she sent them to the Edmonton Journal, who published one of the photographs on Oct 30, 1916 with the headline “Dying Soldier Sends Photos; Recipient Now Seeks Owner”. Mary saw the Journal article and in her October 31, 1916 diary entry she writes” …over to Mrs. Shortreeds to get the photo. Mat last dying message. Poor Mat.”

Mary’s diary tells a story of the war from a very personal perspective of heartbreak and mourning. Canada’s service and losses were extensive for our young country: more than 650,000 men and women from Canada and Newfoundland served, more than 172,000 were wounded, and over 66,000 gave their lives, including nearly 3000 Edmontonians.

On the eleventh hour, of the eleventh day, of the eleventh month of 1918, fighting in the First World War ceased, but sadly it was not “the war to end all wars”. Nearly one of every ten Canadians who fought in the war did not return, and those who did were scarred both physically and emotionally. Remembering both the horrors of war and honouring those who sacrificed in that war is a task that is complex and difficult, and one that requires sincere reflection. We must learn from the past and remember.

I would like to thank Paula Aurini-Onderwater, an archivist at the City of Edmonton Archives, for bringing Mary’s diaries to my attention.

This is one in a series of paintings that I am creating as artist/Historian Laureate for an upcoming exhibit in 2019. More info to follow. 

Posted by Marlena Wyman