The Pulse: Jan. 6, 2022

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  • -26°C: A mix of sun and cloud. Becoming cloudy in the afternoon. Wind up to 15 km/h. High minus 26. Wind chill minus 41 in the morning and minus 33 in the afternoon. Frostbite in minutes. (forecast)
  • 470: There are 470 people with COVID-19 in hospital in Alberta, including 72 in intensive care. (details)
  • 4-2: The Oilers (18-14-2) lost to the Maple Leafs (22-8-2) extending their losing streak to five games. (details)

Jenesia sings, wearing a fuzzy coat

Winterruption YEG postponed as COVID-19 cases rise

By Emily Rendell-Watson

Winterruption YEG, a winter music festival scheduled to run Jan. 27 to 30, has been postponed as COVID-19 cases in Alberta hit record highs.

"It is incredibly frustrating at this point ... when you see a light at the end of the tunnel and then that light just ends up getting smaller and smaller and smaller," festival producer Brent Oliver told Taproot.

Oliver was optimistic that the event would go ahead as planned this year after its inaugural run in January 2020. It was set to be a mix of outdoor and indoor shows, with the majority of the latter to be held at The Starlite Room. But ultimately it was decided with the five partner festivals in Western Canada that it made sense to push the events to early spring.

"I really wish that there would be more of an effort from our provincial authorities to put public safety on a governance level instead of on an individual business level," Oliver said, addressing that the responsibility to determine whether or not an event should go ahead currently falls to individuals as Alberta has not yet introduced additional regulations.

In addition to safety concerns and audience hesitation amid the Omicron variant, it was difficult to keep artists scheduled when other gigs they had booked on the same tour fell through.

"It's this really large row of dominoes ... provincial regulations not only across Canada, but also internationally because we have a few U.S. artists," Oliver said. "If one of those (festivals or events) can't do the show, then it just doesn't become financially viable for an artist to tour to play these venues."

And without further support from all levels of government, Oliver expects there will be more casualties in the arts and entertainment industry during this wave. He was glad to see the $1.2-million in funding to the arts and culture community in the city budget that was recently approved, but wonders how venues and other gig economy workers in the sector will be supported.

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By Mack Male and Doug Johnson

A newspaper clipping headlined "Rumors are circulating about sale of mansion"

A moment in history: Jan. 6, 1977

By Scott Lilwall

On this day in 1977, rumours were flying about the future of the LeMarchand Mansion. As the Edmonton Journal reported at the time, the Land Titles office would only say the four-storey building at 115 Street and 100 Avenue was undergoing a "change of status." The owners weren't saying much, and some worried a demolition of the then-68-year-old building might be in the cards.

René LeMarchand was already in his 50s when he came to Edmonton in 1905, after working most of his life as a butler in France. He arrived with some unusual cargo: hundreds of slightly used razors. He had inherited them from his former employer, a Parisian nobleman with an extravagant quirk — he never shaved with the same razor twice. LeMarchand sold his boss's castoffs at a luxury store on Jasper Avenue. Then he got into real estate.

When LeMarchand had the mansion constructed starting in 1909, his goal was to create the most luxurious apartment building in Canada. A Paris waiters' union kicked in much of the investment money, and the French influence extended to the Beaux-Arts design, evoking a sense of refinement and prosperity. The ornate columns and cornices, as well as an impressive lobby with hardwood, marble, and stained glass, made it one of the most recognizable buildings in the city and an address for the city's elite. It was also among the most modern, including state-of-the-art heating systems and one of Edmonton's first residential elevators.

LeMarchand died in 1921, and his wife kept the building until she died in 1949. Over time, it lost its lustre. However, it avoided being discarded like some French nobleman's once-used razor. In July of 1977, the province designated the building as a heritage property. And it still stands.

Other heritage buildings have not been so lucky. The El Mirador Apartments at 10147 108 Street may not have been as luxurious as the LeMarchand, but they too were a unique part of Edmonton's downtown before they were torn down to make room for development.

A recent audit of the city's $2.3-million historic resources management program found it was "generally effective," but suggested updating its guiding documents, making sure information on properties is current, and formalizing the process to assess the health and conditions of the city's historic properties.

This is based on a clipping found on Vintage Edmonton, a daily look at Edmonton's history from armchair archivist @revRecluse — follow @VintageEdmonton for daily ephemera via Twitter.