02.22 | $6.50
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GOBOLD! Major decor to get your home out of the doldrums
AGE OF ANXIETY
RENAMING THE ROCKIES
How adolescents are struggling with mental health
The movement to change the names of local peaks
Meet the pastry chefs behind our favourite treats
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Luxury vinyl or hardwood, can you spot the difference?
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How to choose between luxury vinyl flooring and hardwood
hoosing the right flooring for your home involves more than appearances alone — other factors like longevity, value, cost and more all play a role. But whether you want a durable floor that can withstand a house full of kids or a more cost-effective option, there are two contenders to consider: luxury vinyl (LV) or hardwood. With one offering authentic hardwood and the other mimicking real wood but at a lower cost, Brody Haugrud, business director at CDL Carpet & Flooring, says when deciding, ask a few questions about yourself, not the flooring. “Each customer has a different home space, so how do you live on your floor?” says Haugrud. Busier homes with kids and pets benefit more from a durable floor like LV, Haugrud suggests, because
it can withstand heavy foot traffic, resist scratches and dents and is waterproof. Quieter homes, like couples aging in place, can enjoy the appeal and increased value of hardwood without concern of damage. Haugrud also says to consider whether you are living in your forever home. Hardwood is a lifetime investment that adds value over the years. Different species like oak, maple or walnut offer unique and beautiful looks, and refinishing hardwood can restore its original lustre. It’s a floor, Haugrud says, that will easily outlast LV, making it ideal for forever homes. However, if you want to add value for resale, keep up to date with flooring trends, or are looking for a cost-effective option for your busy home, LV could be just what you need.
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02/22 on the cover A unique live-work residence in the inner-city community of Sunalta, co-owned by photographers Brian Harder and Trudie Lee (pictured).
Read more on page 32. Photograph by Jared Sych
contents 10 Editor’s Note 58 Work of Art
D E PA R T M E N T S 15 Detours A look at how local theatre troupe the Green Fools advocates for youth and inclusivity through circus arts programming. Plus, a charitable initiative that allows kids entering foster care to keep their pets, and pictures of a Victoria Park landmark that continues to serve as a cornerstone in the community. 26 Decor An inner-city residence in a former industrial welding shop undergoes a full-scale renovation for our current live-work era.
FE AT UR ES 48 Dining There are some truly divine desserts being whipped up in the city’s restaurants right now. Meet the pastry chefs behind the sweet treats you know and crave. 55 Mountains Like sports teams, schools and bridges, mountains are also part of the renaming conversation. Writer Lynda Sea finds out more about the official process to change the name of a mountain and how one Canmore woman spearheaded the initiative to remove the racist and misogynistic name of a neighbouring peak.
18 Go Bold! What better time than mid-winter, when we’re all stuck inside, to think about jazzing up our living spaces? We talk to local designers (and a visual artist whose decorating instincts are legendary around these parts) on how to turn your home into an expression of your wildest ideas. By Conchita Galvez
29 Are the Kids Alright? As we struggle through this age of anxiety, a look at how pre-teens and adolescents are faring with mental health and why there is hope on the horizon. By Ruth Richert
D E S S E R T P H O T O G R A P H B Y J A R E D S Y C H ; D E C O R P H O T O G R A P H B Y E Y M E R I C W I D L I N G ; I L L U S T R AT I O N B Y M AT E U S Z N A P I E R A L S K I
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o doubt, February can be a tough month. Even those among us who really love winter (yes, we exist) can start to find it tedious around this time. The chill, the ice, the salt-crusted car doors, the growing collection of single mittens — if any month is tailor-made for hibernating, it’s February. But the flipside to retreating indoors is having your home come into sharper focus. And quite often, what that focus reveals is how boring it is. If you’re finding your home boring, you’re probably not alone. We’ve been conditioned to think homes should be styled for wide appeal, and that mindset often comes at the expense of expressing our personalities. I blame the rash of home-flipping shows out there for marketing an aesthetic that’s unoffending, unobtrusive and focused on resale potential. It’s essentially the home-decor equivalent of a bowl of Cream of Wheat. So why not shake things up with the home-decor equivalent of a bowl of Froot Loops? Ever wanted to paint your living room fuchsia? Wallpaper your den in art deco metallics? Tile your foyer in an elaborate pattern that suggests boho-beautiful 1970s Marrakech as frequented by the likes of Yves Saint Laurent and the Stones? Maybe it’s time to indulge that inner maximalist and start seeing your walls as a canvas for your most off-the-wall ideas. If you need some inspo, our story on “bold decor” talks to a handful of
SHELLEY ARNUSCH EDITOR IN CHIEF s a r n u s c h @ re d p o i n t m e d i a . c a
The Bolder the Better
local designers, and one visual artist known for her decorating prowess, about why more is more. And for those of you who are starting in with the “but, but, buts,” since you don’t own your home and your landlord wouldn’t take kindly to your wild ideas, there are suggestions on how to get those major results through impermanent methods. The focus on unique living spaces extends to this month’s feature home, as well. More than 25 years ago, local photographers Trudie Lee and Brian Harder crafted a live-work residence out of an industrial building in Sunalta, a project that landed them on the cover of an early version of this magazine. When Lee and Harder reached out to us with news that they were embarking on a second renovation for the space, we were intrigued. The results are an updated and thoughtful take on the livework model for these current times. You can get a peek at what they did on Page 26. In this issue, we examine another aspect of these current times: the mental-health struggles our adolescents face as they do their best to navigate an age of anxiety. But, as writer Ruth Richert delved into this serious and pressing issue, she also found reasons to be hopeful, with new initiatives and programming on the horizon. Like our kids, we all could benefit from focusing on and caring for our mental health right now. I hope that as we weather the challenges of our frustrating and often infuriating world, we can find ways to help each other out, so that we can all be alright, no matter how old we are.
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LUXURIOUS LIVING AT RIVERWALK The latest retirement living community from Verve Senior Living is an urban gem where both active retirees and residents requiring advanced care have it all — both in and outside the property. Located in the heart of Mission-Cliff Bungalow, Riverwalk Retirement Residence offers unique advantages you won’t find anywhere else. The unique property is already drawing buzz for its luxury amenities, active community unique shops and restaurants, so read on to hear what people are getting excited about. THE PERFECT LOCATION
Just steps from the Elbow River and essential services like grocery stores, pharmacies and a post office, Riverwalk’s location just off 4th Street S.W. eschews the tradition of retirement communities in far-flung suburbs. Pathways and parks are just steps from the door, and transit options abound. “It’s really beneficial for the active senior to just be able to walk out their door, not have to worry about a car and get all the extra services that are out there in the community,” says Sheri Brown, Regional Director of Sales & Marketing, Western Canada. EVERYTHING YOU NEED
Riverwalk’s Presentation Centre is open now for appointments, with move-ins expected to begin in September 2022. Learn more at verveseniorliving.com/riverwalk/
While its location is a prime draw for Riverwalk, the truth is you never really have to leave. Dining options — including a pub, a formal dining room and private dining — are helmed by Red Seal chefs. Unlike many retirement communities, meals are not on a fixed schedule. Residents can dine whenever they please. Luxury amenities include a spa, a salon, a movie theatre and games room, a fitness centre and active common areas, among other things. “I like to equate it to a cruise ship on land,” says Brown. Like a cruise ship, Riverwalk also offers
live entertainment and shopping. Guest speakers, performers and vendors all make regular visits to the property. BEAUTIFUL SUITES, THOUGHTFUL CARE
Because Riverwalk is a new build in one of the trendiest parts of Calgary, the entire property has been designed with elegant, modern touches that feel vibrant rather than clinical. This thoughtful design extends to resident suites. These range in size from the Jr. One Bedroom at 477 square feet to extra-roomy Two Bedroom options spanning 714-to-1102 square feet. There are suites for everyone from the minimalist to the resident who loves to entertain. “There are a lot of couples interested in Riverwalk,” says Brown, noting that many retired couples have diverse health needs. Options for assisted living and memory care mean these residents will feel just as at home as those who live an independent lifestyle at Riverwalk. Every resident gets personalized care, meaning you won’t be isolated from your spouse should they require more than you do. Importantly, this range of care means residents won’t have to move out if their needs change. Riverwalk will work with you to address your needs as they change.
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he Green Fools Theatre Society has been part of Calgary’s performing arts community for more than three decades now. Beyond providing a space for artists to perform and master their craft, the society has also become a leader in using circus arts as a medium for social good. The Social Circus outreach program, which provides free classes in stilt-walking, street theatre, puppetry and the art of mask, was designed for youth who come from precarious personal or social situations and marginalized populations, such as Indigenous, newcomer and refugee youth. Through the program, young people can build their confidence, self-esteem and sense of trust in adults. “I spoke to a young lady recently who told me how much she missed the program and how it helped her,” says Green Fools artistic director Dean Bareham. “She was going through a lot of mental health issues at the time, but said the Green Fools was a place where she felt she belonged.” The Social Circus program was avenuecalgary.com
CIRCUS OF LIFE HOW THE GREEN FOOLS USE CIRCUS ARTS TO REACH UNDERSERVED YOUTH
designed to foster inclusivity. Participants are encouraged to explore their creativity and build a sense of community with one another by relying on their physical skills, rather than on spoken language, cultural background or socio-economic status. “Ultimately, we want to create a family so the youth feel part of something,” Bareham says. Since 1998, the Green Fools have offered Social Circus workshops and camps across Canada. They frequently go beyond major urban centres and bring Social Circus to towns in more remote regions, including Northern B.C. and Nunavik. Social Circus workshops have even been presented as far away as Lesotho. The Green Fools Society often partners with child, family and youth agencies in need of positive physical programs. Last July, the company opened Studio G, a new school with a wide array of circus programs for kids and adults, including children’s aerial, trapeze, hoop and circus classes. “The programs are a tool to socialize and empower youth. It is a safe space for them to explore,” says Bareham. —Conchita Galvez 15
KEEPING KIDS AND PETS TOGETHER Melissa David, founder of Parachutes for Pets and Lily’s Legacy.
o pet owner should ever be forced to surrender their pets to feed themselves. Unfortunately, with the hardship of the pandemic causing financial burden, that’s a situation many are facing. “It’s becoming a luxury to own a pet,” says Melissa David, founder of Parachutes for Pets, a charity that provides support in the form of food hampers
OF TE N , A C H IL D IS FORC ED TO L E AV E THE IR P ET B E H IN D WHE N TH E N EW GUA RD IA N CA N ’ T A FFORD TO S UP P ORT THE P E T.
and pet supplies, as well as help with veterinary expenses and grooming costs for lowincome families. Initially, the charity provided around 30 to 35 hampers a month, but, with the onset of the pandemic, the need greatly increased. “March 2020 was life-changing for Parachutes for Pets,” says David. “Suddenly, we had over 600 requests from pet owners in need.” When some of those requests started coming in from children entering foster care, in December 2020, David created 16
Lily’s Legacy, a program to specifically support children entering foster care with pets. One little girl, David says, wrote that, while she had a warm winter jacket, her dog had nothing, so she wanted a jacket to keep him warm. “Those letters were just heartbreaking,” says David. She reached out for community donations and received a wave of support. Several social workers also reached out to David to raise awareness about the challenges faced by children who are entering foster care. Often, David learned, a child is forced to leave their pet behind when the new guardian can’t afford to support the pet, as well. Among the program’s supporters is Calgary Flames player Mikael Backlund. David named the program Lily’s Legacy in honour of Backlund’s dog, who passed away last year and had been much loved by Backlund’s daughter. “It’s my favourite [program] by far,” says David, “because the kids just light up when they find out that they’re going to be able to take their pet with them.” —Michaela Ream To find out more about Lily’s Legacy or Parachutes For Pets, visit parachutesforpets.com February 2022
P H OTO G R A P H BY J A R E D SYC H
W I T H L I LY ’ S L E G A C Y, T H E PA R A C H U T E S F O R P E T S CHARITY ORGANIZATION HELPS CHILDREN IN FOSTER CARE HOLD ONTO THEIR FURRY FRIENDS.
A R C H I V A L P H O T O G R A P H C O U R T E S Y O F L I B R A R I E S A N D C U LT U R A L R E S O U R C E S D I G I TA L C O L L E C T I O N S , U N I V E R S I T Y O F C A L G A R Y ; P R E S E N T - D AY P H O T O G R A P H B Y J A R E D S Y C H
Built in 1911, the Underwood Block is one of many buildings developed by notable businessman and former mayor Thomas Underwood (18631948). Some of Underwood’s substantial commissions, like the first Bank of Montreal and the original Hudson’s Bay Company on Stephen Avenue, helped shape what is now downtown Calgary at the turn of the 20th century. The five-storey Underwood Block with three-storey annex was one of two buildings that helped shape 1st Street S.W. into a thriving commercial and residential area. The annex housed Underwood’s offices until his death in 1948, while the fifth floor of the Underwood Block was designed specifically for the YWCA to use as temporary housing for young women.
THEUNDERWOODBLOCK THENANDNOW T H I S 1 1 0 -Y E A R- O L D B U I L D I N G H E L P E D E S TA B L I S H A N E N T I R E D I S T R I C T I N C A L G A R Y. T O D AY, I T ’ S T H E S I T E O F A N E W FO OD HALL , LUXURY RENTAL APARTMENTS AND COND OS. While the original Underwood Block building was torn down in 1988 after a devastating fire, the Underwood Block Annex is still standing and, in 2009, was added to the Inventory of Evaluated Historic Resources, an initiative of Heritage Calgary and the City of Calgary. In 2019, Western Securities Limited, a Calgary-based real estate holding, property management and development company, built The Underwood, a residential rental property on the south side of the annex (a separate condominium tower was built next to the original five-storey Underwood Block in 2009). In 2021, Western Securities opened First Street Market on the first floor of The Underwood. The modern food hall features local eateries and food vendors, with a new location of Teatro Group’s popular Alforno Bakery & Café taking over the former annex. —Tsering Asha
Luxe fabrics, major metallics, dark and dramatic hues: it doesn’t get any bolder than this McIntyre Billsdesigned room.
GoBold! P H OTO G R A P H BY E Y M E R I C W I D L I N G
BY CONCHITA GALVEZ
The rise of the home-reno reality show over the past decade brought with it a certain look — let’s call it “resale chic” — designed to appeal to the broadest swath of the home-buying population as possible. If you know your HGTV, you can picture it now: the triumvirate of white shiplap, neutral tiling and an inoffensive paint hue known by a portmanteau of grey and beige. No doubt, resale chic remains a very safe bet for those who want to make a quick buck and get in and out as quickly as possible. But, for those who swing the other way and see home as a place to settle, why not consider those walls (and ceilings and floors) a canvas on which to display one’s bold ideas and eccentric inclinations? To these folks, we say, go for it! Indulge yourselves! Be unabashedly extra and take to heart these tips and tricks from local designers and decorators on how to make your home a weird, wild and wonderfully whimsical reflection of you.
Top: Tile creates strong visual impact in this Aly Veljidesigned space. Below: The Calcutta Cricket Club bar shows how three tile patterns can be better than one.
Playing around with tile is a surefire way to add some drama to a space. Aly Velji, principal of Alykhan Velji Designs, likes to use tile to create an eye-catching border around a fireplace, while, in the kitchen, he’ll choose a colour like turquoise for the backsplash and double the impact by playing with the layout. “Installing stacked or staggered tile with a variegated, monochromatic colour palette will really help to accentuate the pattern,” Velji says. Sarah Long, director of design at Frank Architecture, says that, when it comes to tile, a broad, handmade look with an unpolished veneer can add a feeling of life and authenticity to a home. To ease into a bold tile design, Long suggests using simpler forms and classic tile shapes, and then playing with certain details such as 20
patterns or the size of the grout line. “The size of the grout line can offer a fresh new take on the standard application of tile,” Long says. Visual artist Maya Gohill, the creative force behind the vibrant design of Calcutta Cricket Club restaurant, has a penchant for pattern-mixing with tile, topping off two shades of Moroccan-style tile with a black zigzag pattern on the restaurantfacing side of the CCC bar. “Mixing three different patterns creates a lot of visual interest and a lot of energy,” says Gohill, though she warns this method can easily overwhelm a space. “It is very easy to create chaos if there is too much patterning,” she says.
P H OTO G R A P H Y ( TO P ) BY K L A S S E N P H OTO G R A P H Y; ( B OT TO M ) BY J A R E D SYC H
P H O T O G R A P H Y ( T O P, B O T T O M L E F T ) B Y K L A S S E N P H O T O G R A P H Y ; ( B O T T O M R I G H T ) B Y E Y M E R I C W I D L I N G
Major Metallics Metallic hues have an alluring effect and most designers agree they work best as smaller statement pieces such as fixtures and accents (unless you’re King Midas, it’s pretty hard to pull off an entirely gold room). “Think of metals the same way you think of jewellery — it is all about just adding that special touch to a space,” says Tara Marshall, a principal at Fort Architecture. Velji’s favourite metal to design with is brass, as it has the capability of warming up a space, “especially with faucets — those are a really great way to make an impact,” he says. “I also think that people shouldn’t be afraid of mixing their metals — mixing brass, stainless and black metals adds a lot of interest to interiors.” Long concurs. “We love mixing metallics to add interest rather than keeping the same tone throughout,” she says. Elena Del Bucchia, principal of elena del bucchia Design Inc., is also a metal fan. “I am not talking about the tiles from 10 to 15 years ago when people were using stainless-steel backsplashes in the kitchen. I am thinking more of a golden, brushy tone on textural tile,” she says. “You will see a six-by-six [inch] tile, or a larger format, and the tile itself will be a neutral cream, grey or white, and then a silver or gold brushing to add just a bit of extra interest.” For the truly adventurous out there, Del Bucchia suggests painting the ceiling a metallic colour and mixing in metallic lighting. If permanent metallic paint feels a bit too daring, the designer says metallic wallpaper is also an option — although she emphasizes the importance of using high-quality wallpaper and having it installed properly. “It needs to be done well. This isn’t something you can attempt by yourself — it needs to be done by a professional,” says Del Bucchia. avenuecalgary.com
Use metallics in moderation as Aly Velji did (top, bottom left) or go for gold the way McIntyre Bills did with this stairwell (bottom right).
Clockwise from top left: Maya Gohill’s perfect pairing of pink and green; Fort Architecture’s not-so-basic black; a mauve move by Elena Del Bucchia.
A bold and unconventional paint colour has the power to transform any space by adding depth and character. From bubblegum-pink to turquoise, Gohill says strong colours can easily change a space from humdrum and boring to bold. “Colours provide so much impact, and can greatly influence our mood,” she says. That said, Gohill advises using very potent colours in moderation, or as an accent colour. Stepping away from a neutral colour palette can also be a step away from your comfort zone, but Del Bucchia encourages homeowners to go there. “I always try to challenge people on what they would normally do without me, then introduce the colour, because not everybody is comfortable using colour in their homes,” she says. Colour evokes certain emotions, Del Bucchia says — dig deep enough and an affinity for a certain colour will usually have ties to someone’s upbringing. She suggests asking yourself what sort of a feeling you want to have when you walk into a particular space. “If you want to have more of a tranquil feeling, you can still use colour, but in subdued hues such as eggshell greens, blues and yellows,” she says. If your inner child is telling you to paint your home red, however, Del Bucchia says it might be better to designate that particular hue for features such as pillows, rugs and wallpaper. “When we are little, we have that crazy personality and confidence about us, and then life kicks in and changes us to a certain degree,” she says. february 2022
P H OTO G R A P H Y ( TO P L E F T ) BY J A R E D SYC H ; ( TO P R I G H T ) CO U RT E SY O F F O RT A R C H I T E C T U R E ; ( B OT TO M ) BY M O D E R N N E ST P H OTO G R A P H Y
Paint it Black (or Orange or Purple)
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Top: Elena Del Bucchia used dark pinks to jazz up this neutral corner. Below: One of many peel-and-stick wall treatments from local design shop Walls Alive.
One of the reasons people do shy away from going bold in favour of a neutral palette of greige and ecru is the fear that they’ll end up hating what they do and then be stuck with the results. But there are several ways to play around with eclectic and big-impact decor, without fully committing. Velji proposes using accessories as a means of introducing colour, pattern and texture, without having to remodel an entire space. His go-to for dressing up a room is decorative cushions and vibrant artwork. Del Bucchia agrees that pillows, rugs and other small furniture pieces are a great way for homeowners on the cautious side to spice up their spaces. “I had one client who loves colour and we used pink and reds in the chairs. When you walk onto the main floor, it is really welcoming and fun,” she says. Peel-and-stick wall treatments are another great way to add high impact, without the kind of commitment that paint or conventional wallpaper requires. These types of wall treatments are also great for those who are renters and as a result may be unauthorized to make permanent design decisions. “You can get anything from small decals to large peel-and-stick wall treatments. Anything that can transition a space quick and easy and on a low budget is a great option,” Marshall says. Gohill likes to use rugs, large-sized artwork and statement chairs to make an impact. “Putting more of your energy into furnishings and accents is the best way to go if it’s not possible to commit,” she says.
P H O T O G R A P H Y ( T O P L E F T ) B Y M O D E R N N E S T P H O T O G R A P H Y ; ( B O T T O M L E F T ) B Y Y O R K W A L L PA P E R C O M PA N Y ; ( R I G H T ) B Y E Y M E R I C W I D L I N G
Low Commitment, High Impact
A vibrant orange sofa paired with big and bold artwork and garnished with animal print by McIntyre Bills design.
How Much is too Much? When it comes to finding the line between bold and bonkers, Long says the question is less about defining “too much” and more about making sure each space tells a story. “Tying every aspect of the design back to [your] goal is what helps guide the process and safeguards us from over-designing or under-designing,” she says. “It really depends on the concept. There are certain areas that require more restraint.” Avoiding too many competing items is key to creating a balanced space, says Marshall. If your inner-gut feeling tells you something is off, it is probably time to scale things back. Gohill agrees that too much decor can create a sense of claustrophobia. “It is often a mistake to overwhelm a space with an abundance of patterning, textures and small shapes,” she says. But, for those with an affinity for unconventional and eclectic decor, Velji suggests taking the risk and shooting for the moon. “I am a bit of a maximalist when it comes to design, so more is always more for me,” he says. “If you like more colour and more pattern and all of those layers, then I say, go for it.”
“It really depends on the concept. There are certain areas that require more restraint.” Sarah Long, director of design at Frank Architecture avenuecalgary.com
D EC OR
BY PAIGE JOHNSTON PHOTOGRAPHY BY JARED SYCH & HARDERLEE PHOTOGRAPHY
hybridhome A LOCAL COUPLE FIRST TURNED AN INDUSTRIAL BUILDING I N TO A L I V E - W O R K S PA C E B A C K I N 1994, A N D H A S N O W G I V E N I T N E W L I F E F O R A N E W E R A O F L I V E - W O R K F L E X I B I L I T Y. ore than 25 years ago, photographers Brian Harder and Trudie Lee were featured on the cover of Avenue magazine’s November 1996 issue for a story about their unique live-work home. In 1994, the couple had purchased a 1957 building in the community of Sunalta that had previously been used as a welding shop. They converted the industrial space into a comfortable residence with a photography studio in the back and lived there happily for the next 11 years.
Harder and Lee eventually moved out and rented the space after their twins were born. For the next 17 years, the space was leased to commercial clients. But, when the last tenant passed away in April 2021, Harder and Lee had a decision to make. With Calgary’s downturn in commercial leasing, the city was allowing for residential zoning in the area, so the couple decided to renovate again. While another development permit was not required, they went through various permitting processes. As a result, they are now able to
lease the space as residential, commercial or both. “This speaks to the new age of working,” says Lee. “People are looking for ways to work at home, but still keep that professionalism.” The couple’s goal with renovation 2.0 was to create an executive-class living space appealing to working professionals. After years of leasing the space, however, the building was in serious need of attention and repair. (“There were birds’ nests in the dryer vents,” says Lee.) The renovation invited aesthetic changes and brought the space up to code. february 2022
“THIS SPEAKS TO THE NEW AGE OF WORKING.” TRUDIE LEE
OPPOSI T E The fireplace is the heart of the modern-industrial living space.
T HI S PAGE Clockwise from top left: Pops of bright yellow provide visual interest, as well as continuity between the upper and lower levels.
Staging artwork by Calgarian artist Conrad Ouchi showcases the gallery-like walls.
An architectural staircase leads up to a second bedroom and bathroom, and the rooftop terrace.
DESIGNING A LIVE-WORK SPACE A live-work space has considerations that go beyond a space for living only. Here are three ways that graphic designer Kelly Hartman of Hartman Design Studio created harmony in Lee and Harder’s rental. “The key to designing a workplace in a living space is to separate it visually from your actual living space,” Hartman says. “The trick is to keep to a common style, but alter the way you apply that style. Use a different colour palette, materials and textures, so it physically feels like a defined space. When you visually separate workspace from life-space, you ultimately put yourself in the right headspace to be productive.” “Less is more in most cases, but the biggest thing I strongly believe in is contrast,” Hartman says. “There has to be something that orchestrates your experience, catches your eye or provides a level of curiosity that draws you in.” Hartman also suggests using a contemporary, “but not trendy” colour palette in strategic spots — “something exciting that pulls your eye in, like the yellow doors or yellow pipe over the kitchen cabinet,” she says.
Top: The exterior features a custompainted mural by artist Riki Dubo, who based her design on a photo (top right) taken by her son-in-law. Middle: Banners on the exterior make reference to owner Brian Harder’s cancer journey. Bottom: A private rooftop terrace looks out over the surrounding area.
Functional alterations included adding egress windows and replacing the HVAC and fire-alarm systems. The couple wanted to create a space that would appeal to a wide variety of residents, so the design is open and contemporary, with pops of colour throughout. Harder and Lee’s friend and graphic designer, Kelly Hartman, helped them achieve the overall look and feel, while staging artwork was provided by local artist Conrad Ouchi. The entrance opens into an expansive living space with a central fireplace, dining area and kitchen. Off this is a bedroom, office, bathroom with walk-in shower, and a laundry room. There is plenty of storage throughout. An architectural staircase leads to the second-floor bedroom and bathroom. At the top of the stairs is a rooftop terrace overlooking the surrounding area. For the renovation, the couple hired journeyman carpenter and contractor Paul Ransom, who impressed them with his work and the expertise of his trades. “Everybody was an artist. It was a really wonderful experience,” says Lee. While renovation work happened inside, artist Riki Dubo was at work painting a vibrant mural on the back of the building. Dubo, Lee’s mother, is an internationally acclaimed stained-glass artist. Her mural features a group of women with cameras, inspired by an award-winning photograph taken by Harder. “It was good subject material,” says Dubo, who added large, colourful birds to the scene. The mural, which Lee calls, “a labour of love for my mom,” took three months and 26 small cans of paint. After 30 years of building ownership, zoning changes and renovations, Harder and Lee look forward to the building’s next chapter as a place to live and work once again. “We really want to find the right tenant,” says Lee. In this distinctive space, they undoubtedly will. february 2022
BY RUTH RICHERT ILLUSTRATIONS BY MATEUSZ NAPIERALSKI
YO U T H M E N TA L H E A LT H I S T E E T E R I N G O N T H E B R I N K A S T H E PA N D E M I C H A S E X P O S E D H O W I N A D E Q U AT E T H E S Y S T E M I S AT C A R I N G F O R S T R U G G L I N G T E E N S . B U T, D E S P I T E A L L T H E WA I T L I S T S A N D S O B E R I N G S TAT I S T I C S , G R O W T H I S H A P P E N I N G .
he front lawn of Ernest Manning High School looks like a typical Hollywood scene — think Clueless or The O.C., minus the palm trees and Mission Revival architecture. It’s lunchtime on a mild day last fall, and hordes of students mill around, eating lunch in groups on the grass, chatting and flirting and draping themselves over cars. Other than the masks that some students are wearing, it all looks very ordinary — classic carefree, oblivious adolescence. You could be forgiven for thinking that life has largely returned to normal
for Calgary’s youth, in spite of whichever COVID wave we’re in. Peel back the Hollywood trope and the reality is far more complicated. For all the appearance of normalcy, Calgary has a serious problem with youth mental health. It started before the pandemic, but the arrival of COVID-19 was like dousing a brushfire with gasoline. If this was a 90-minute blockbuster, everything would be ablaze by now. The reality, however, is more nuanced than that: there’s a crisis, but there’s also hope, and, in between, are subtleties in grayscale. So, are the kids alright? It’s complicated. 29
The adolescent brain on restrictions Imagine the Kool-Aid man, busting through a brick wall with a grin on his face. “Teenagers kind of think they’re superheroes, that they can do anything, even bust down walls!” says Gina Grace, school counsellor at Foundations for the Future Charter Academy (FFCA) south middle school in East Fairview. The feeling of invincibility is developmentally appropriate at this stage. But the pandemic has interfered with normal development. “Now that COVID has hit, they’re like, ‘Uh oh. Where’d my superpowers go?’” says Grace. Adolescents are not processing life — pandemic-era or otherwise — the same way their parents are. Nor should they be: Their lodestar is not a vision of tax-paying respectability and early retirement. “This is the most critical developmental time for their brain and their body. They’re changing so much,” says Dr. April Elliott, a pediatrician who specializes in adolescent medicine. “They have the development of their self-esteem and healthy identity, they have emancipation from their parents, they’re becoming autonomous, they have formation of sexual identity, and they’re supposed to be having meaningful social and peer interactions.” But, instead of socializing normally, students are spending countless hours online. “The pandemic, for me, has basically been me hunched over my desk, staring at my computer for 12 or 13 hours straight,” says 15-year-old Shannon*. Health professionals have sounded the alarm on screen use for years, but that stance was trumped by COVID restrictions. “They’re supposed to be establishing their moral and ethical values. How do you do that without relationships?” says Elliott. “They’ve just ended up 30
IT’S ALMOST LIKE WE’RE HIDING BEHIND OUR MASKS. EVEN ME, WHO’S USUALLY VERY SOCIAL, IS SOMETIMES HIDING... ANNIE, 13
spending a lot of time on screens, which we know is not good for the brain.” Even when youth are allowed to interact in person, masks can interfere with bonding, especially for youth, who don’t yet have the forehead crinkles and crow’s feet to show emotion or engagement — both helpful when you’re still learning how to connect with peers. “We really saw a change in kids, just with the masks. If you’re new coming in, not only could you not socialize with anyone else, but you’re wearing a mask, so making new friends is really difficult,” says Grace, the FFCA school counsellor. Annie, 13, agrees. “Now, I guess, it’s almost like we’re hiding behind our masks. Even me, who’s usually very social, is sometimes hiding behind the mask, because I know I can show less emotion.” The effects of restrictions can linger. “I feel like COVID has made it way easier to compartmentalize [mental health], and then not tell anybody,” says 15-year-old Priscilla. “If you’re used to keeping so much to yourself [during lockdowns], or being a certain way all the time, to just adjust all of a sudden back to what was ‘normal’ pre-COVID? This is really hard.” For many adolescents, bouncing back from COVID restrictions simply isn’t happening.
* All youth in this story are identified by first names only.
Fear, anxiety and language The almost palpable atmosphere of anxiety surrounding the pandemic can saturate budding psyches. Youth are old enough to know what’s happening, but not necessarily old enough to filter information, or to feel a sense of agency. “They’re just taking in all of this information, some of which is too big for them to understand,” says Grace. “They’re not talking to adults about it, they’re hearing really scary stats, and that becomes really overwhelming. So their worries can get big, real fast.” Sometimes. those worries even cause students to lash out at their peers. “This one kid brought [COVID] into the school,” says 11-year-old José. “He got bullied a lot for that. I didn’t like that, because it wasn’t technically his fault.” Older students may have a better understanding of the pandemic, but that can be both a blessing and a curse. “My mental health is pretty closely related to the waves and restrictions,” says 17-yearold Sarah. “During a wave, I am terrified and grieving for all of the lives being touched by COVID-19. Lives that could have been untouched had there been earlier restrictions. Then, I breathe a
MY MENTAL HEALTH IS PRETTY CLOSELY RELATED TO THE WAVES AND RESTRICTIONS. DURING A WAVE, I AM TERRIFIED AND GRIEVING FOR ALL OF THE LIVES BEING TOUCHED BY COVID-19. SARAH, 17
disappointed sigh of relief when restrictions are back in place.” If fear and anxiety were limited to youth, perhaps a remedy would be more straightforward. But adults are dealing with restrictions and isolation (and screens), too. They might also have experienced job loss, domestic conflict and their own mental health problems. Those who are parents have the added bonus of knowing that their reaction to it all can deeply affect their kids. “A big factor [in kids’ mental health] is how the parent reacts,” says Dr. Roxanne Goldade, a community pediatrician. “Part of it is genetic, but they also learn it. They are watching their parents carefully. So, I’d like to encourage parents to keep their own responses in check. Work on healthy ways of relieving stress.” The way we frame the pandemic can add to the anxiety already floating in the ether. “If we use language like ‘crisis’ and ‘risk’ and ‘deficit,’ it’s possible for youth to internalize that message,” warns Dr. Kelly Schwartz. He’s an associate professor in the School and Applied Child Psychology program at the University of Calgary’s Werklund School of Education, and principal investigator of an ongoing study of Alberta’s student well-being during the pandemic. While Schwartz is aware of gaps in the mental health-care system, he prescribes a dose of circumspection: “If we too quickly pathologize normal behaviours and physical responses [to the pandemic], we run the risk of stigmatizing developmentally appropriate reactions and feelings. This could backfire by telling teenagers that there’s something wrong with them, rather than reassuring them that what they’re feeling is normal and common.” 31
don’t have to be in imminent danger to be admitted to a program or to receive mental health support.” Money can often buy quicker access to treatment, but, even in the private sector, many child psychologists aren’t accepting new patients. Broken hearts and anxiety attacks are easier to disguise than broken bones and asthma attacks. Perhaps that’s why Calgary didn’t have adequate mental health resources — for in-patient beds, for early interventions, for psychiatric care — even before the pandemic. But, with pediatric hospitals across Canada reporting a 100-per cent increase in suicide-attempt admissions and a 200-per cent increase in substance-abuse admissions during the first year of the pandemic, it becomes harder to ignore mental illness. COVID may be a catalyst, but it’s also a spotlight. The question is: how Calgary will respond? “I’ve seen the health-care system really step up when we needed resources for the pandemic,” says Goldade. “We need our healthcare leaders to do the same for the swell in mental-health challenges for our children.”
The hope It’s another mild fall day and the northwest neighbourhood of Hounsfield Heights-Briar Hill looks almost bucolic in the dappled sunlight. Modernist homes nestle cheek-by-jowl with 1950s bungalows amidst rolling parkland and trees as big as any ever get on the prairies. Other than an overzealous property owner wielding a leaf blower, the only thing disturbing the calm is a crane in the hub of a construction site. The new neighbour will be the Centre for Child & Adolescent Mental Health. If a building could be constructed from hopes and dreams and sheer desperate need, instead of concrete and rebar, surely this would be it. Everything, from the quirky origami-wrapping of the exterior, to the large windows that will flood the interior with natural light, is designed to make the building feel healing and non-institutional. february 2022
P H OTO G R A P H BY T K T K T K
It’s a typically busy Wednesday afternoon at Dr. Goldade’s office, and she’s squishing our interview in between patients. She has always had a lengthy waitlist, but the pandemic has inundated her office with calls and emails from desperate parents. “The intensity and volume of need have exploded,” says Goldade. “When I say ‘demand,’ I am actually talking about parents calling and begging for help on a daily basis.” Their children are threatening self-harm and suicide, acting out with extreme aggression or refusing to eat. “We’re trying to see them; we’re trying to stamp out fires. But the whole thing has escalated. There are more of them, and they’re much more intense.” Youth non-profits tell a similar story. “There are just so, so many parents calling in, saying, ‘I don’t know if my kid is okay,’” says Janet Stewart, program manager of Wood’s Homes Eastside Community Mental Health Services. “Over the years, we’ve done lots of parentchild conflict, and typical teen stuff, but we are noticing parents are more scared for their children’s mental health.” At ConnecTeen, the Distress Centre’s youth line, suicide-related contacts have spiked since the pandemic started. “The pandemic essentially exacerbated issues that youth were experiencing,” says youth program coordinator Ashley De Vera Macayan. Of course, COVID doesn’t directly cause suicide, or eating disorders, or substance abuse. But, when the right combination of factors is in place, COVID can be a trigger. “Mental health issues can be precipitated by stress,” says Dr. Nicole Racine, a postdoctoral research fellow and clinical psychologist in the Department of Psychology at the University of Calgary. “Maybe you were genetically predisposed, maybe you had experienced significant stressors early in life. And then there might be a precipitant, an actual catalyst stressor that leads to the onset. COVID could have been the catalyst.” That catalyst has caused extensive waitlists, with some youth waiting months for treatment. “To get care in the public system, your symptoms have to be so severe,” Racine says. “We don’t have enough resources at a prevention level, or at the front end, so that people
P H OTO G R A P H BY T K T K T K
When youth and their families are potentially experiencing the most difficult time of their lives, design matters. A partnership between Alberta Health Services (AHS) and the Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation (ACHF), the Centre is envisaged as a “onestop shop” for youth mental-health needs. It will house walk-in services, intensive community treatment services and a day hospital. It’s an innovative approach, one that advocates hope signals a sea change in thinking about youth mental health. Whether it will make significant headway in meeting the needs of Calgary’s youth is a question for the future, after the Centre’s planned opening in late 2022. For now, even the excavator digging the foundation seems like a symbol of hope. Overlooking the construction zone is a tree-skirted field that will become the Brawn Family Foundation Rotary Park. The first park in Calgary specifically designed for mental health, it will have quiet nooks for reflection and open spaces that invite connection. It’s a novel concept, but perhaps it shouldn’t be: if you’ve ever glimpsed the Bow River streaming avenuecalgary.com
I FEEL LIKE EVEN A LOT OF PEOPLE WHO DIDN’T ACKNOWLEDGE MENTAL HEALTH PRE-COVID HAVE KIND OF GONE THROUGH SOME FORM OF ANXIETY OR ISOLATION... PRISCILLA, 15
quicksilver in the summer dusk, or watched the alpenglow kiss the mountains from the top of Nose Hill Park, you know that outdoor spaces can bring health to our spirits, as well as our bodies. The park is connected to the new Centre, but it’s open to everyone. “Imagine children from the community coming to play, and knowing that they are with kids who are getting mental health support. They can say, ‘Maybe, if I was having a hard time, I could go get some help.’ It normalizes it,” says Sheila Taylor, CEO of Parks Foundation Calgary, who spearheaded the project. Normalizing mental health is no small thing. But, if there’s a silver lining to the pandemic, it’s that most everyone has now
been confronted with their own mental health — some for the first time. “Among adults, students, youth and children, having conversations about one’s own mental health no longer has the same level of stigma as before, because I think everybody has had to deal with it,” says Andrea Holowka, a superintendent of school improvement with the Calgary Board of Education. And, just as the pandemic exacerbated mental-health problems, it has also sped up the tearing down of stigmas. “I feel like even a lot of people who didn’t acknowledge mental health pre-COVID have kind of gone through some form of anxiety or isolation, enough to have even just a glimpse of what it is,” says 15-year-old Priscilla. Perhaps it’s that universal experience that is fuelling the growth of mental-health resources in Calgary. Despite all the waitlists and sobering statistics, growth is happening. The Build Them Up campaign, run by ACHF, has launched new youth programs and is fundraising for emerging-adult mental-health services. The City approved Calgary’s Mental Health and Addiction Strategy, and the supporting Community Safety Investment Framework, in March 2021, which includes more funding for non-profits like Wood’s Homes to expand and develop immediate and no-cost crisis supports for families. YouthSMART and other educational programs are reaching into schools. “We have a unique opportunity right now to strengthen existing resources and to create new pathways and programs for youth access that are both preventative and interventive,” says Schwartz. Finally, it’s important to remember that youth are resilient. “They are worried and tired and frustrated, but the majority are reacting in developmentally appropriate ways and adjusting as best as they can,” says Schwartz. “If we frame this era as one of intense learning and growth and resiliency, the research would lead us to believe that we can see sustained health development — albeit with some psychological bumps and bruises — in the months and years following the pandemic.” Back to the high school students out front of Ernest Manning: just as one carefree lunch hour can’t confirm that kids have bounced back from restrictions, neither can the suicide statistics tell us that everything is on fire. There’s a youth mental health crisis, but there is hope. The kids aren’t necessarily alright, but they are resilient. 33
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CUSTOMIZED EDUCATION OPTIONS: OPENING THE DOOR TO LEARNING From technology in the classroom and a focus on traditional learning styles to arts-based teaching and outdoor school, how a student learns matters. Discover more about Calgary’s diverse customized education options, from charter schools to independent academies, and find the right environment for your child to succeed.
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WEST ISLAND COLLEGE >>>
Students at West Island College (WIC) find the perfect balance between academics and passion, inspiring each to be bold, brave and ready for any challenge that comes their way. Now in its 40th year, WIC boasts nearly 600 students from grades seven to 12, and has grown its curriculum from what was once francophone-only to an English and Continuing French Immersion school. With unique programming from outdoor education and international travel to institute programs tailored to each students’ educational needs, WIC remains dedicated to the families and the children who walk through its doors. “Our priorities are to ensure every student feels known and supported and that they receive individual guidance and assistance in setting and reaching their goals,” says Erlynn Gococo, Admissions Director at WIC. “A sense of belonging, a key factor in our wellbeing as individuals, is at the heart of the WIC culture.” To create an atmosphere where all students feel welcome, WIC offers a culturally diverse learning environment to foster an enriched learning experience and better
GRADE LEVELS: 7 to 12 STUDENT BODY POPULATION: 588 NUMBER OF CLUBS: 44+ SPORTS TEAMS: 27+ AVERAGE CLASS SIZE: 20 to 22 AVERAGE UNIVERSITY ACCEPTANCE RATE: 100%
prepare students for life beyond high school. “Everyone wants to feel safe and valued, but more importantly, everyone has a right to feel safe and valued,” says Natasha Bathgate, Director of Learning and Innovation at WIC. Part of the support and guidance WIC provides students includes offering programs that cultivate passion, interest and challenge students to excel in areas such as the fine arts, business, athletics, leadership, engineering and health sciences. WIC’s Student Success Centre (SSC) ensures each and every student has the support and resources necessary to achieve their goals, both academic and personal. “Staff in this department support students through social-emotional and academic counselling, career planning and preparing for postsecondary admissions, as well as with a range of learning styles
and individual education plans,” says Gococo. Having the right educators to help guide students forward is also an integral cog in WIC’s longstanding formula for success. Faculty and staff are highly trained, enthusiastic and committed to each student’s academic, social, emotional and personal growth. “Passionate educators are led and inspired by the college’s mission and vision,” says Gococo, “which is to empower each student to thrive, contribute and live a healthy, purposeful life while encouraging them to be curious, creative and innovative.” With new Head of School and CEO Erin Corbett now advancing that mission and vision, WIC is poised to continue its tradition of educational excellence well into the future. WIC is accepting limited applications for the 2022/23 school year.
GRADES 7 - 12 OFFERING ENGLISH AND CONTINUING FRENCH IMMERSION We feel fortunate to send our son to WIC. The school provides a well-rounded education through it’s core subjects as well as in Athletics, Fine Arts, and Experiential Learning Opportunities. - Current WIC Parent
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From building confidence to maximizing potential, Foothills Academy gives students with learning disabilities the skills needed to thrive in all walks of life. “Students with learning disabilities are all very capable individuals with great potential but require specific support for certain aspects of their education to reach their true potential,” says Simon Williams, Executive Co-Director of Foothills Academy. “We provide support and intervention to fill learning gaps so students can thrive and have successful lives.” Established in 1979, Foothills Academy was the first designated special educational needs school in Alberta. Today, the school takes pride in being a leader in learning disability education and cooccurring diagnoses like ADHD. It continues to follow specific programming and intervention to support students’ academic, social and emotional needs. Grade levels span from grade three — typically when a learning
disability is professionally diagnosed — to grade 12. The 296 student body allows for smaller classes of 12 to 14 students with educational assistants in each classroom, creating more personalized learning and teaching. In turn, students find better understanding, confidence and maximized potential throughout their studies, resulting in a 100 per cent high school graduation rate. The skills students learn at Foothills Academy help set them up for lifelong success as they transition through school, into postsecondary and, eventually, into
the workplace. “We’re not just supporting students to get through high school; that would be wasted opportunity,” says Williams. “We want to help our students develop into the outstanding individuals they can be to find lifelong success.” That lifelong success starts by helping get students into the school through a strong culture of philanthropy. Thanks to a donation funded bursary program, 40 per cent of families receive financial bursary assistance. Outside the classroom, the many extra-curricular activities available at Foothills Academy give students a rich school experience and create opportunities to explore interests and develop skills beyond the basic curriculum. While the school is structured around providing the right interventions and support, Williams says that doesn’t mean it’s the sole focus. “We’ll always address each student’s disability and provide the right intervention, but we don’t want to only talk about the disability,” says Williams. “The focus is on how great they are and what successes and strengths they have.”
GRADE LEVELS: 3 to 12 STUDENT BODY POPULATION: 296 NUMBER OF CLUBS: 20 SPORTS TEAMS: 14 AVERAGE CLASS SIZE: 12 to 14 AVERAGE UNIVERSITY ACCEPTANCE RATE: 85%
Leading the Way for Students with Learning Disabilities Foothills Academy school provides targeted supports in literacy, numeracy, and executive functioning for students with Learning Disabilities while also covering the full Alberta Education curriculum in small classes and a supportive environment. Now accepting applications for students diagnosed with a Learning Disability entering grades 3 to 12
Learn more at our Virtual Open House on Feb. 22nd 403-270-9400
LYCÉE INTERNATIONAL DE CALGARY >>>
Bilingual education is a valuable gift to give to your child when it comes to providing an edge in life and a fully rounded education. Lycée international de Calgary (formerly Lycée Louis Pasteur) provides just that edge through its unique bilingual curriculum. Established in 1966, Lycée international de Calgary stands as one of the oldest private schools in Calgary. It is also one of the seven schools in Canada (and the only one in Calgary) that implement both the French Ministry of Education and Alberta Education curriculum, which are taught by French certified and Alberta certified teachers. By graduation, students can earn both an Alberta High School Diploma and French Baccalaureate, providing an advantage when accessing university and global opportunities. “We offer the best of both worlds,” says Head of School Frédéric Canadas. “It provides them with a global perspective of
GRADE LEVELS: preschool (3yo) to 12 STUDENT BODY POPULATION: approx 450 NUMBER OF CLUBS: 30 to 45 SPORTS TEAMS: 5 AVERAGE CLASS SIZE: approx 16 AVERAGE UNIVERSITY ACCEPTANCE RATE: 100% the world from the Canadian and French perspectives.” Grade levels span from preschool ages to grade 12 and with a growing student body of 450. Lessons are taught 70 per cent of the time in French and 30 per cent in English. Students also study Spanish beginning in grade six, right through to high school, meaning they graduate with fluent trilingual skills. The smaller class sizes — generally 16 to 18 students — serve the school’s approach of providing extra support and more individualized attention. There are also after-school study halls available, where students can complete homework. This supportive approach is important, Canadas explains, as 80 per cent of the Lycée families don’t speak French at home. For students entering grades one and two with little or no prior French exposure, FLIP For French is a unique program that provides individualized learning plans and significant one-on-one time to learn French basics. Most students in FLIP transition to regular academics by the end of the school year. Preschool and kindergarten are also full-day programs to help
children learn French, socialize and become familiar with reading, writing and numbers. Lycée international de Calgary is part of the “Lycée network” called The Agency for French Education Abroad network, which includes more than 500 schools in 140 countries that teach the French curriculum. The network offers the opportunity to travel abroad and experience another culture. Grade eight students can attend a two-week trip to France, and in grade 10, there’s a trip to Peru in the works. For high school students, there are opportunities to study abroad for a trimester or a full year. Club activities begin as early as preschool and run once or twice a week in semester blocks. “They are prepared academically, but also all around because it’s not just about academics,” explains Canadas. Students can partake in martial arts, yoga, sports and more. Lycée is also one of the only schools in Calgary to offer an indoor climbing wall with certified trainers to guide and teach students climbing techniques. “We care about the mental health of our students, so we make sure they are socially and emotionally well balanced and have friends and social lives,” says Canadas.
At Rundle, who students are and how they give back to the world matters. Along with a focus on lifelong learning, students can expect a robust environment where resilience and character are built on a personalized basis. “We really
want character attributes to shine above any academic credential because we believe that developing young people of fine character is our ultimate mission. And if we do that, we'll set them up for the best opportunity for success, no matter what they choose to do,” says Jason Rogers, Head of School. The College is home to learners K through 12, while the Academy specializes in students with diagnosed learning disabilities from grades four to 12. The Studio, a new Rundle school modelled after the Academy, provides an online educational experience for students with learning disabilities in grades seven to nine. The Studio accepts students from all over the province — expanding Rundle’s reach well beyond Calgary — and is the first school of its kind in Alberta. Launched early in the pandemic (12 months ahead of schedule), the Studio demonstrates the resiliency Rundle models to its students. Regardless of which Rundle program a student is enrolled in, all learners are encouraged to participate in co-curricular activities which help develop
GRADE LEVELS: K to 12 STUDENT BODY POPULATION: 1158 (Divided between the Academy, College, and Studio) CLASS SIZE RANGE: 6 to 16 NUMBER OF CLUBS: 90+ SPORTS TEAMS: 35+ AVERAGE UNIVERSITY ACCEPTANCE RATE: 100% (College); 90% (Academy)
passion, dedication and leadership skills. Students explore athletics, the arts, esports, STEM and more. “A huge part of our value proposition is that we offer students a diversified experience in all domains of learning and cocurricular… To allow them to reach their potential — potential that they might not have otherwise even imagined,” Rogers says. Rundle’s focus on small class size allows students to receive personalized attention that fosters a sense of belonging and gets to the root of their individual needs. “Every student is recognized and honoured for who they are,” Rogers says. “There's really no place to fall through the cracks or disappear here at Rundle.” That means each student is called upon multiple times in every class, and faculty members reach out with suggestions for co-curricular activities based on their connection with each student. Proof of Rundle’s success is easy to see in its students’ GPAs and acceptance to post-secondary, but that’s not the full picture. Rogers cites numerous students — some who have since gone on to Ivy League schools — who started non-profits to give back while still enrolled at Rundle. And the community built during their years at school often sticks with students for life. “When students graduate, they stay connected as alumni, and remain part of our Rundle family,” Rogers says, noting around three-quarters of graduates remain active in the alumni community. “We really view Rundle as a K-toforever program.”
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CALGARY ACADEMY >>>
Every student is unique, and Calgary Academy staff not only understand their students’ differences, they embrace them. Anchoring the school’s core learning approach is REACH — Respect, Enthusiasm, Altruism, Commitment and Honesty — setting the tone for a 40-year history of changing lives. Calgary Academy has tailored its K-12 curriculum by placing the individual needs of each student at the heart of everything it does. It offers diverse programs, including Academy, Collegiate and a new program called Blended+. Launched in the fall of 2021, Blended+ is the best of online, in-person and off-campus learning for grades 9 to 12.
Empowering learners for 40 years. Now accepting applications for Kinderga�en – Grade 12. fall2022.calgaryacademy.com 44
GRADE LEVELS: K to 12 (Collegiate); 2-12 (Academy); 9-12 (Blended+) STUDENT BODY POPULATION: 645 NUMBER OF CLUBS: 26 SPORTS TEAMS: 14 different sports teams AVERAGE CLASS SIZE: 12-20 (Collegiate); 8-10 (Academy), 15-20 (Blended+) AVERAGE UNIVERSITY ACCEPTANCE RATE: Within one year of graduating, 85-90% of students are accepted to a post-secondary institution� “Blended+ students choose their schedules throughout the week and decide if they work from home or the classroom depending on the supports they require, which is rare in school systems,” says Tim Carlson, Principal of Calgary Academy. The school’s Academy program is for students requiring more individualized learning, with a focus on reading, writing and numeracy skills. Its Collegiate program extends beyond the
curriculum, preparing students for the next steps in their learning journey. “Students go through a lot in their lives that is challenging,” says Carlson. “We want to help them build the capacity to successfully navigate and contribute to a rapidly changing world.” Visit calgaryacademy.com/ admissions to get your child on their way to academic success!
CALGARY JEWISH ACADEMY >>>
From celebrations of Jewish culture and opportunities to travel to coding and critical thinking, Calgary Jewish Academy challenges students in a way that engages, empowers and enriches their education. “Our students are exposed to a high-level learning experience and have numerous
GRADE LEVELS: preschool to 9 STUDENT BODY POPULATION: 250 NUMBER OF CLUBS: 10+ SPORTS TEAMS: 10+ AVERAGE CLASS SIZE: 14 AVERAGE UNIVERSITY ACCEPTANCE RATE: N/A
opportunities to thrive in a Jewish Day School environment,” says Head of School Brenda English. Students engage in both the Alberta program of studies and Judaic studies curriculum studying Jewish faith, history and experiencing its culture. With a rigorous Alberta curriculum, STEM and innovation programs, multiple languages and the introduction of Hebrew in kindergarten and French in grade three, CJA graduates enter high school with trilingual skills. Grade levels span from preschool to grade nine, with a student body of 250 students, allowing for smaller class sizes and more student-teacher
interaction. Opportunities for cocurricular activities include theatre, competitions, sports and more, creating a strong, sound learning experience. Calgary Jewish Academy’s approach includes experiential, hands-on learning opportunities. As early as preschool, students participate in local trips to museums and beginning in grade five through to graduation, students have the chance for trips abroad. By grade nine, students attend a three-week cultural experience trip to Israel as a culmination of their Jewish day school education. “As our students depart the CJA, they have a global perspective,” says English. “They have acted globally (tikkun olam) and connected with Jewish peers around the world.”
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CAPSTONE ENGINEERING ACADEMY
GRADE LEVELS: 3 to 10 for the coming year
Entering its second year, Capstone Engineering Academy implements an experiential learning process where students get hands-on with the same tools and materials that industry professionals use to solve problems. In addition to following Alberta’s academic curriculum, Capstone’s educators push grade three to 10 students to think critically and creatively through a series of design projects, developing and growing their passion for STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics). “We give these students the chance to experience the world in a variety of ways not found in a traditional classroom,” says Head of School Dean C. White.
For Capstone, part of a wellrounded education includes experiences outside the classroom. Students spend hours every week engaging in outdoor pursuits like cycling and skiing and placebased learning at local sites from zoos to scuba diving centres. Teachers at Capstone also have foundations in STEM — with many coming from previous careers in engineering and science-related fields. Capstone is partnered with the non-profit Roots2STEM educational organization, which over the past eight years has offered STEM camps to schools as well as summer and after school programs revolving around aerospace
STUDENT BODY POPULATION: Estimated 30 students for coming year� NUMBER OF CLUBS: Building clubs and activities dependent on student need� SPORTS TEAMS: Indoor/outdoor activities and joining several competitions with physical and academic activities� AVERAGE CLASS SIZE: Maximum of 18� AVERAGE UNIVERSITY ACCEPTANCE RATE: Not yet established� and engineering. “Our job is to give them a wellrounded understanding of what opportunities are available to them and how they can make an impact on the world,” says White.
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Pastry Pros M E E T T H E TA L E N T S B E H I N D SOME OF THE CITY ’S BEST R E S TA U R A N T D E S S E RT S
W BY E L I ZA B E T H C H O R N E Y- B O OT H PHOTOGRAPHY BY JARED SYCH
hen they’re done right, nothing beats the beauty and luxury of a restaurant-quality dessert. Unfortunately, the “done right” part can be tricky business. Many otherwisestellar restaurants view the final course of a dinner as an afterthought, often relying on unimaginative or overly stylized desserts that don’t deliver when it comes to flavour. The key to a great restaurant dessert is a combination of emotional resonance (often evoking childhood memories or nostalgia) and sheer deliciousness. But, putting out a phenomenal dessert that is cohesive with a restaurant’s overall vision is no easy task. These Calgary pastry chefs have unlocked the secrets to creating the perfect restaurant dessert experience, right down to that last sweet bite.
Concorde Group executive pastry chef Jordan Hartl with the “Old Fashioned” (as in the cocktail) baked Alaska he created for Major Tom.
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JORDAN H ARTL Major Tom and Concorde Entertainment Group
hen Major Tom opened last summer, customers raved about the high-rise restaurant’s extraordinary views, cocktails, steaks and, surprisingly, its desserts. Items like the “old fashioned” (as in the drink) baked Alaska and the London Fog verrine with Earl Grey mousse, lavender and vanilla became instant Instagram stars. The mind (and palate) behind those beloved desserts is Jordan Hartl, executive pastry chef for the Concorde Group. Hartl, who is originally from Saskatoon, was finishing up a non-food-related university degree when he headed off to Paris for a vacation and fell in love with the art of French patisserie. This led him to sign up for pastry school at Le Cordon Bleu Ottawa Culinary Arts. After graduation, he baked his way through patisseries and restaurants in Toronto. Life brought him to Calgary in the middle of the pandemic and, after accepting a job formulating the desserts at Major Tom, Hartl quickly worked his way up to become the chef in charge of pitching new dessert ideas to the chefs at Concorde’s various restaurants, including Bridgette Bar, Lulu Bar and Sky 360, as well as any new restaurants the company has in the works. While restaurant desserts are a little different than the pastries Hartl started out making, he doesn’t think there’s a huge gap between them. “I can see a lot of the patisserie side coming through on my menus,” he says. “I’ve taken what I’ve learned and adapted it into a restaurant setting, where you can have a piece of cake, but reimagine it into something that has more elegance and panache than a classic piece of cake.” In addition to thinking about what will work with each restaurant’s concept and chef, Hartl likes to focus on things that he would actually want to eat, while adding of an element of surprise. That’s the vision behind Major Tom’s most talked-about desserts. “I like reimagining not just dessert, but things people might like to have after dinner in general,” he says. “The baked Alaska is about taking the flavours of a cocktail and making it into a dessert, while bringing a bit of a show to it.” 700 2 St. S.W. (40th Floor), 403-990-3954, majortombar.ca avenuecalgary.com
Major Tom’s decadent chocolate & pear gateaux.
Left: Ube pianono, brazo de Mercedes and ube flan from Amihan. Right: Hawthorn Dining Room’s Cinnamon Toast Crunch mille crepe cake.
RYAN TIQUI Amihan Grill and Bakeshop
sian-style bakeries abound in Calgary, but Amihan Grill and Bakeshop excels at serving Filipino desserts (and breads, which are often sweet enough to be dessert) in a casual restaurant setting. Amihan’s in-house pastry chef is co-owner Ryan Tiqui, a self-taught baker who started delving into the world of cakes and pastries after arriving in Canada from the Philippines. Tiqui says he was always fascinated by how cakes are made, since many houses in his home country aren’t fitted with ovens. A quick learner, he has mastered the art of fluffy and only lightly sweet Filipino cake slices, with bright purple ube (yam) as his signature flavour. “Filipino desserts and breads and pastries are very different from Western baking,” Tiqui says. “They have influences from different cultures, especially Spanish culture and different Asian countries, so our desserts are very diverse.” While the cake slices are the stars at Amihan, Tiqui also makes a delectable ube-flavoured custard flan and turon de coco, which are spring roll-like tubes stuffed with bananas and deep-fried until crispy, then served with a macapuno (a more gelatinous form of coconut) sauce. Those looking for treats to take home can also browse the bakeshop’s wider range of Filipino breads and pastries. 208, 3132 26 St. N.E., 403-455-6050, amihan.ca
ARIN HIEBERT Hawthorn Dining Room
s a pastry chef at the Fairmont Palliser and its Hawthorn Dining Room, Arin Hiebert’s job is largely behind the scenes. But, thanks to a successful appearance on Food Network’s Spring Baking Championship (he made it to the finale), and a new online baking company he started during the pandemic, Hiebert’s star is rising. The chef, who hails from small-town Manitoba, was part of the team that created Hawthorn’s most famous dessert, a breakfast cereal-inspired mille crepe cake. The cake is a stack of paper-thin crepes
with layers of cinnamon-spiked creme filling and a Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal garnish. The restaurant swaps out flavours in the summer (in 2021, it was a peach and Alberta Premium whisky caramel affair with cornflakes), going back to Cinnamon Toast Crunch once the snow flies. Hawthorn also serves a seasonal panna cotta and other dessert offerings. But the mille crepe has become its calling card, thanks to its retro flavours, paired with some deft technique. “I always think about something from childhood when I’m creating a dessert,” Hiebert says. “Everyone grew up with Cinnamon Toast Crunch, but how do you make that cereal into a restaurant-worthy dessert? It’s about playing on those nostalgic flavours ... and turning it into something special.” 133 9 Ave. S.W., 403-260-1219, hawthorndiningroom.ca February 2022
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DANIEL RAMON Teatro Group
P H OTO G R A P H BY T K T K T K
Chocolate tart garnished with a seasonal macaron, lemon meringue tart and a latte at Teatro Group’s Alforno Bakery & Café.
ot many pastry chefs in Calgary have what one would call “celebrity status,” but one of the best-known dessert masters in town has got to be Daniel Ramon. Ramon began his career as a savoury cook, working with chef Dave Bohati at several restaurants, including Market. When that restaurant lost its pastry chef, Ramon decided to learn to make desserts — despite not having a sweet tooth. Before long, he was delighting diners with his signature chocolate bonbons and other creative treats. In 2017, Ramon moved over to Teatro, becoming the restaurant’s in-house pastry chef and introducing an even more elegant chocolate program. He has been with the Teatro Group ever since (though he also has a side hustle as one of the masterminds behind Con Mi Taco). He has since shifted to become head chef at Alforno Bakery & Café, though he still has a hand in the other restaurants in the group, as his kitchen supplies baked goods to the entire company. Ramon’s journey has left him with a lot of ideas about what makes a good restaurant dessert, citing the importance of hiring an experienced pastry chef, who knows how to complement the head chef’s menu. “If you go to a place like Teatro for dinner, you almost have an expectation of what you’re going to order before you walk into the room,” he says. “If you can match your dessert menu to the chef’s menu, customers know they’re going to get a dessert that matches those expectations.” Under the leadership of recently departed pastry chef Esther Hagen, the team at Alforno developed a salted-caramel cheesecake that has become that restaurant’s calling card (though Ramon’s personal preference is tart desserts made with lemon or passionfruit). As a head chef with extensive pastry experience, Ramon believes that dessert — especially in a fine-dining restaurant — can’t feel like an afterthought and has to be well-conceived. “Dessert is the last thing you give to a customer, often right before a massive bill, so it better be good,” he says. “It’s the restaurant’s last opportunity to leave the customer feeling good about their meal.” 222 7 St. S.W., 403-454-0308, alforno.ca
Left: Pasty chef and culinary instructor Katelin Lavoie with her cookies and cream dessert. Right: Pastry chef Alysha Tubera portioning out servings of the beloved butterscotch pudding at Ten Foot Henry.
K ATELIN L AVOIE Pastry Arts Instructor, SAIT
atelin Lavoie (who, before her recent marriage, went by Katelin Bland) has spent the last decade impressing sweet tooths with her fine-dining desserts. Lavoie held pastry chef positions at some of Calgary’s most celebrated restaurants, including Deane House, the Fairmont Palliser Hotel, and Bridgette Bar, Lulu Bar and other Concorde Group restaurants. Known for her inventiveness and over-the-top desserts like Lulu Bar’s ambitious baked hula (think a baked Alaska, but Hawaiian-style), Lavoie is all about adding a little “wow factor” to familiar favourites. These days, Lavoie is spreading her expertise to a new generation of pastry chefs as an instructor at her alma mater, SAIT. She says that it has always been her goal to become an educator and share her passion for professional baking. Expect Calgary’s next crop of pastry pros to follow Lavoie’s philosophy of creating nostalgia-tinged treats that can please even the most sophisticated of palates. “I always talk about balance and contrast,” Lavoie says. “All of my recipes have a larger amount of salt and of acid than most desserts, because that helps to balance the sweetness. Then, I look for contrast in texture and temperature so that it’s not all one-note and you experience something new with each bite.”
SAIT’s Baking and Pastry Arts program contributes to The Highwood, a fine-dining restaurant on campus; and The Tastemarket, 444 7 Ave. S.W., tastemarket.ca 52
A LY S H A TUBERA Ten Foot Henry
hile the savoury dishes at Ten Foot Henry draw raves, the restaurant’s signature dish has long been its creamy butterscotch pudding topped with sponge toffee. This admittedly elevated version of a dessert usually relegated to school and hospital cafeterias has become the thing to order at one of the city’s coolest restaurants, thanks to pastry chef Alysha Tubera, who has been at Ten Foot Henry since it opened in 2016. Tubera applied to be a savoury cook, but once management
saw her experience baking at Crave Cupcakes on her CV, she was offered the dessert portfolio. Ten Foot Henry’s regular menu consists of vegforward family-style shared plates and small plates, but, by contrast, the desserts — which include a majestic coconut cake and a creamy vegan chocolate torte — are generously portioned and luxurious guilty pleasures. The butterscotch pudding started as a “pot de creme,” but, once the less fussy “pudding” was added to the menu, it became the legendary dish that it is today. “Riots would definitely happen if we took it off the menu,” Tubera says, laughing. “I try to do things that you don’t see all the time, but that you’d remember. We’re not really trying to reinvent the wheel. We’re just trying to remind people of what they already like.” 1209 1 St. S.W., 403-475-5537, tenfoothenry.com February 2022
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T I C K E T S A N D I N F O R M AT I O N AT
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BY LY N DA S E A
M OUNTA I NS
CASCADE MOUNTAI N Called Mînî Hrpa in the Stoney language, which translates to “mountain where the water falls,” James Hector of the Palliser Expedition named it Cascade in 1858.
M O U NT RUNDLE The Cree name for this peak is Waskahigan Watchi, or House Mountain. In 1858, explorer John Palliser named it after Methodist minister Robert Rundle.
MOVING MOUNTAINS P H OTO G R A P H BY J O H N P R I C E , @ J O H N P R I C E P H OTO G R A P H Y
M A N Y P R O M I N E N T P E A K S I N T H E R O C K I E S A R E P R I M E F O R R E NA M I N G, B U T T H E P R O C E S S C A N B E A R D U O U S, E V E N W H E N S TA K E H O L D E R S, C O M M U N I T Y M E M B E R S A N D F I R S T NAT I O N S A R E A L L I N A G R E E M E N T.
anmore local Jude Daniels was shocked the first time she heard the former name of what’s now Bald Eagle Peak. In 2006, Daniels was getting into scrambling and, like many similarly minded enthusiasts, she obtained a copy of Alan Kane’s guidebook Scrambles in the Canadian Rockies. There, in the pages of what’s widely considered to be the bible of local scrambling routes, she saw the mountain referred to as Squaw’s Tit. The term “squaw” was used historically by colonial settlers to degrade Indigenous women and girls in a sexualized context. Today, the term is viewed as avenuecalgary.com
racist and continues to be used in a derogatory way to belittle Indigenous women. Daniels, a retired lawyer and yoga teacher, was well aware of the tendency for climbing routes to have irreverent or innuendo-laden names. But this was unforgivably offensive, even more so when compared to the grandly named nearby peaks Mount Lady Macdonald and Princess Margaret Mountain. “All of these lovely names, and then there was this nasty, vicious name. I think it was the reality at the time of how Indigenous women were treated as less than other women,” Daniels says. There had been some local petitions and articles
calling out the racist, misogynist name, but, in 2014, Daniels, took matters into her own hands. As a Métis woman, she felt called to act as a steward of the land. “I have a strong connection to the land because my ancestors did, and because their ancestors did, and their ancestors did. This connection to the land cannot be understated — that’s why it was personally important to me,” she says. Daniels approached Kane to edit his guidebook with an interim name (it was briefly “The Tit”), and contacted administrators of the AllTrails app to do the same. She also took the step of pursuing a formal application through the Government of Alberta, 55
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though the application was ultimately filed by the Stoney Nakoda Nation. As outlined in the Alberta Geographical Names Program, any individual or organization can submit a proposal for a new geographical name, or to remove or change an existing name. To evaluate and approve any applications, local community support must be demonstrated through letters and petitions, and, most importantly, nearby Indigenous communities must be consulted. “Whenever we receive an application for a new name or name change, we feel it is very important to ensure Indigenous communities have the opportunity to meaningfully participate in this process and provide comment on those proposed names,” says Ron Kelland, historic places research officer and geographical names program co-ordinator with the Alberta Government’s Department of Culture and Status of Women. In Canmore, as consultation took place with local First Nations to come up with a replacement name, Daniels lobbied town council and started seeking community support, giving multiple interviews to news outlets. But it was the momentum of the Black Lives Matter 56
“ONLY WHEN WE UNDERSTAND THE STORY DO WE UNDERSTAND THE PLACE.” BILL SNOW, STONEY NAKODA TRIBAL ADMINISTRATION protests in the summer of 2020 that made national media take note of the Bald Eagle Peak project, as conversations around systemic racism galvanized the public. Strangers began approaching Daniels to lend support, and the wider community rallied behind the project. In September 2020, chiefs and Elders of the Stoney Nakoda Nation gave the mountain the new name of Anû Kathâ Îpa (Bald Eagle Peak), and, a year later, the name was officially recognized by the Alberta government. “My understanding is that eagles migrate along the mountain corridors, north and south. They have certain places where they stop and rest,” says Bill Snow, acting director of consultation for the Stoney Tribal Administration. “I believe one of those places is in the Canmore area,
and that one of those areas where they congregate is in that area of Bald Eagle Peak.” When it comes to the conversation around renaming the regional mountains, Bald Eagle Peak is just the tip of the iceberg. Most peaks in the Bow Valley had traditional Indigenous names before explorers arrived in North America. Traditional Indigenous place names often reinforce the relationship to the land and honour the teachings of Elders. “Only when we understand the story do we understand the place,” says Snow. “When [Indigenous peoples] name places, we give honour to them to show our relationship with the natural world. We don’t give names [of people] to the places in our traditional land — it’s always given to the animals, or to the wildlife or to the naturalness of that area.” Before Lake Louise received its moniker, for example, it was called Horâ Juthin Îmne (Lake of the Little Fishes) because the fish would only grow to a certain size in the cold glacial waters. Snow says Indigenous groups want to do more work around renaming, but are limited in their capacity. Renaming is timeconsuming and, even if there’s a will from all parties involved, limited funding or capacity to february 2022
P H O T O G R A P H B Y B R E W S T E R , C O U R T E S Y O F T O U R I S M A L B E R TA
S U LPH UR MOUNTAIN Known as Mînî Rhuwîn (Spiritual Mountain) by the Stoney Nakoda, who used to harvest medicinal plants and bark there, this iconic mountain was named in 1916 in reference to the hot springs at its base.
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P H O T O G R A P H B Y V I C T O R I A W A K E F I E L D , @ H I K E 3 6 5 , C O U R T E S Y O F T O U R I S M A L B E R TA
WHI T E I MPE RI ALIST A popular rock-climbing area at Grassi Lakes with sub-routes named No Tickee No Laundry, Chinatown Left and Chinatown Right.
prioritize these cases poses a challenge. It gets even more complicated when names involve interprovincial collaboration or fall under federal jurisdiction. If a place is located within national park boundaries, Parks Canada takes the lead on the engagement process. Tunnel Mountain in Banff National Park was named in the 1880s by surveyors, who thought they’d have to blast a hole through it for the Canadian Pacific Railway. In 2016, 15 First Nations signed a resolution to begin the official process with the Natural Resources Canada (NRC) Geographical Names Board of Canada to rename it Eyarhey Tatanga Woweyahgey Wakân (Sacred Buffalo Guardian Mountain). In 2017, Indigenous leaders granted the mountain its new name ceremonially, but the NRC has yet to make a final decision. Snow says all the work to date behind name changes to Tunnel and Bald Eagle Peak has been done at the expense of the band. Indigenous groups end up shouldering the responsibility and costs of pushing these name changes forward. And there remains much work to be done. Daniels notes that, as of 2021, there were still 20 geographical place names avenuecalgary.com
in Canada with the word “squaw” in them. The name of what was known as Stoney Squaw Mountain in Banff National Park has been rescinded and consultation is underway with Indigenous groups to explore the meaning and determine a potential new name, though currently it remains unnamed, officially. Mount Pétain in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park has been officially rescinded in Alberta, but still awaits a decision from the B.C. government, as it sits on the provincial boundary. It was named in 1918 after Marshal HenriPhilippe Pétain — at the time an honoured war hero, but later revealed to be Nazi collaborator. Ha Ling Peak, which looms over Canmore, was called Chinaman’s Peak for more than a century before it was renamed in 1997. The
AS OF 2021, THERE WERE STILL 20 GEOGRAPHICAL PLACE NAMES IN CANADA WITH THE WORD “SQUAW” IN THEM.
mountain is named after a Chinese Canadian Pacific Railway cook, who won a $50 bet that he could summit the peak in less than 10 hours (it took him half a day). As with Bald Eagle Peak, the movement to rename Ha Ling started with a private citizen, Roger Mah Poy. Whether for mountains, schools or sport teams, renaming reveals the important conversation around who gets to write history. Even after a new name is officially in place, it takes time before it’s adopted in everything from blogs, websites, Google maps and guidebooks, and in general conversational usage. Daniels’ first time back to Bald Eagle Peak since its renaming was in the summer of 2021. She and her husband engaged in a private ceremony, leaving a birch bark basket at the trailhead, and offering tobacco and prayers to the Creator and Mother Earth. “I apologized for the disrespect that was paid to that peak, and now it has come full circle,” Daniels says. “Now, there is respect and acknowledgment and I wanted to honour that. [The new name] is a recognition that Indigenous people matter. Our names matter. “Indigenous place names need to be restored as part of the reconciliation process.” 57
W OR K O F A RT
CURATED BY KATHERINE YLITALO
D AT E 1980
A RT I S T William Hodd McElcheran (1927 - 1999)
SIZE 198 centimetres (height) by 114 cm (width).
L O C AT I O N Stephen Avenue at 1st Street S.W.
NOTES Commission for Conversation was initiated by Norcen Energy Resources Limited in 1978. The sculpture was donated to the City of Calgary in 1981 and is currently in the City of Calgary Public Art Collection. The estate of William Hodd McElcheran is managed by Kinsman Robinson Galleries, Toronto.
Conversation Aside from desktop versions in various downtown Calgary offices, the other McElcheran of note in the city is Encounter (1982), acquired for Foothills Medical Centre by arts champion Ouida Touche. The original plaster for Encounter was cast at Fonderia Luigi Tommasi (now Fondaria d’Arte Massimo Del Chiaro) in Pietrasanta, Italy, and resides in the Museo dei Bozzetti. McElcheran moved from Ontario to the small Tuscan town in the mid ’70s and remained there for most of his life to work with the foundries esteemed by renowned
sculptors such as Henry Moore, Louise Bourgeois, Jeff Koons and Fernando Botero. Shortly after the unveiling of Conversation in 1981, McElcheran came to Calgary and spoke at the Alberta College of Art (now Alberta University of the Arts), calling for the future of architecture and planning in Calgary to include a place for the arts to humanize the downtown environment. Employing his own principles, McElcheran insisted on being able to choose the location for Conversation. History shows, he chose wisely. february 2022
P H OTO CO U RT E SY O F T H E C I T Y O F C A LG A RY
anadian sculptor William Hodd McElcheran’s Conversation is, arguably, the most recognizable public art in Calgary. The two bronze businessmen talking shop on Stephen Avenue outside The Bay continue to be objects of curiosity after four decades. Happily, the City hired art conservators to give the piece a refresh last summer with a wash, wax and addition of a concrete base. On a crisp September day in 1981, following a brass-band fanfare and official speeches, Mayor Ralph Klein and a senior vice-president of Norcen Energy Resources Limited pulled away a white cover to reveal Conversation to a noon-hour crowd that responded with gasps, laughter and, finally, applause. Here was a sculpture that poked a little fun at the business of business, right at ground level, and without a pedestal or protective barrier. It helped that the two comical fellows looked like Easterners — “fat cats” of Toronto’s Bay Street, as McElcheran called them. The portly pair both sport the mid-century business uniform of trim haircut, tie, overcoat, fedora and briefcase. Their necks are cartoonishly thick, obscuring jawlines under rounded flesh, while their voluminous forms taper up to pint-size narrow-brimmed hats, corroborating the air of good-natured satire. The pose, however, suggests there might be another side to this story. One figure stands upright, listening quietly as he reaches to touch the other on the arm; but is it to reassure, or to interrupt? The other hunches forward intently, mouth open in mid-speech, right hand reaching up; but is it to make a point, or implore a favour? McElcheran, who passed away in 1999, brought a philosophical bent to his figurative art, proposing a modern humanism. In 1973, he established Daedalus Designs to integrate art with architecture and everyday life. Looking for a figure that could represent an everyday non-hero, he landed on the businessman, a theme he continued from the mid1960s onward throughout his career. “I think that ordinary people have dignity,” McElcheran said in a 1998 video interview. “I start off making fun of these guys … I guess, I just end up … I like them.”
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