Summer weekends are usually a time for me to get outside the city to be active. However, I needed to be in town this weekend, and I found some very interesting activities. In the morning, I enjoyed a 5K race, organized by MEC , followed by brunch at The Sugar Bowl where they have the most delicious cinnamon buns and an excellent beer selection (not before noon, thanks!). Because my friend and I had some “time to kill” before our afternoon activity, we decided to visit the Royal Alberta Museum. When we arrived at the parking lot, we were surprised to see an unfamiliar sign: Government House was open for tours (only on Sundays, 11-4). Normally, Government House has only been open to the public on New Year’s Day (January 1) for the Lieutenant Governor’s levee, an annual reception. I’ve always been interested in attending but never have. The building is over 100 years old and was used as a residence by the province’s 6 first lieutenant governors (the province’s representatives of the Queen). It was vacant and used for other purposes between 1938 and 1975 when it was restored to be used for private government meetings, as well as to host foreign dignitaries. I was very interested in seeing what the inside of the building looked like, but I was very pleased and surprised to see how much art the building contained. By the way, tours are FREE!
There were several works of art by a couple of my very favourite artists, Alex Janvier, of Cold Lake First Nation, and William Kurelek, born in Alberta, of Ukrainian heritage. Both artists have very distinctive work, which I recognize immediately. I don’t think that our tour guide expected to be spending so long taking us around the building, but my friend and I, and 2 other people who joined us, spent a great deal of time looking at many of the different works of art in the building.
As well as the amazing artwork, the architecture and design of Government House is quite interesting. The lower 2 levels have been restored to their turn-of the century design and style, with some of the original furniture having been recovered. The top floor is very different, but equally interesting since it’s very representative of the style in the 1970s when it was restored. The meeting room is huge and comfortably appointed so that the government in power (NDP now) can have private meetings every Wednesday.
We stopped to check out the giftshop and cafe in the museum. Almost everything in the giftshop is 15% off right now, and the cafe also has good prices and selection.
After this visit, we continued on to our original destination, Calder Library in the Northwest section of Edmonton. June 21 is National Aboriginal Day and the Edmonton Public Library is celebrating with special events all month. I saw that another of my favourite artists, Aaron Paquette was giving an art class (FREE) at a time when I could attend. This was a very enjoyable way to spend a couple of hours. Aaron’s artwork is on display in the Grandin/Government Centre LRT Station.
Aaron showed us a lot of tips and tricks, and I really like the walnut ink and Grey’s Paper that he showed us how to use. We got very interesting effects from using both, and neither of these art materials is very costly. The paper is especially low-cost, and I preferred it to the heavy watercolour paper that we used for later work. He is a very nice, and enthusiastic man, with a very good personality for teaching. His twin, 15-year-old sons also joined the class and did excellent paintings.