The Pulse: April 27, 2022

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  • 11°C: Cloudy with 60% chance of rain showers or flurries in the morning then a mix of sun and cloud. Wind northwest 30 km/h gusting to 50. High 11. UV index 3 or moderate. (forecast)
  • 5-1: The Oilers (47-27-6) defeated the Penguins (45-25-11) in Pittsburgh, clinching second place in the Pacific Division. (details)
  • 4-1: The Oil Kings defeated the Lethbridge Hurricanes to take a 3-0 series lead. (details)
  • 16%: Despite the blockades in Ontario and Coutts, cross-border trade was up 16% in February compared to last year. (details)

Two women look up at a display of terrariums and plants as others browse books in the background

Royal Bison returns to its roots with in-person fair

By Emily Rendell-Watson

A beloved pillar in Edmonton's art and design scene returns in person next weekend. Royal Bison has operated its popular bi-annual craft fair online for the past two years, including a hybrid model of shopping online and at the Old Strathcona Performing Arts Centre last December.

But organizer Vikki Wiercinski, who is also the designer behind Mezzaluna Studio, says it's time for the fair to re-focus on offering art and building community face-to-face.

"It's about so much more than shopping when you come to the Royal Bison," Wiercinski told Taproot. "A big goal of the event is to foster community in the art and design community and to support each other. It's challenging to do that if you can't meet each other — we've had vendors who didn't know each other who became BFFs over the weekend and then collaborated for years. That kind of magic just doesn't happen in the online space as much."

The move away from online was largely motivated by a desire to reconnect in person, but the challenges associated with hosting a fair both online and in-person at the same time, as well as the rising costs of shipping, also played a role. Despite the decision, Wiercinski acknowledges that hosting the fair online over the past two years offered a lifeline to independent makers in Alberta who have struggled during the pandemic.

"(Income from) the Royal Bison was able to help support me to pay my rent and pay for groceries when I was getting really close to needing to look for something else," said Colleen Fiddler, a Métis mixed media artist who sold her prints online at the last couple Royal Bison events.

Fiddler will have a table at the event between May 6 to 8 and is looking forward to meeting other artists. "These are people who I've been talking to online over the last couple of years, who I finally get to meet in person," she said, adding that Edmonton's community of artists has been crucial during the pandemic when "things were really isolating."

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By Kevin Holowack

  • Boyle Street Community Services has received a $1 million donation from Pat and Diana Priestner to support the renovation of its new community centre on 101 Street and 107A Avenue. The donation marks the start of Boyle Street's capital campaign which has already secured $16 million out of a total $28.5 million goal. "During our many years of supporting Boyle Street Community Services it has become clear to us the important role this organization plays," said Diana Priestner. Boyle Street plans to open the new facility in fall 2023.
  • Edmonton's alcohol consumption at designated picnic sites pilot program runs May 1 to Oct. 10 this year and is expanding to a total of 124 picnic sites across 18 parks. Adults will be allowed to "consume alcohol safely and responsibly" between 11am and 9pm at designated sites. This year, officers will only be responding to complaints and will not be proactively enforcing the program, Postmedia reports.
  • The city is again allowing residents to drop off large furniture and appliances — plus grass clippings, tires, metal, and garbage — at a series of free Big Bin Events running on select weekends from May 7 to Sept. 18, and a series of weekend events at Eco Stations from April 30 to Oct. 2.
  • The University of Alberta placed 77th in the Center for World University Rankings (CWUR) World University Rankings 2022-23, its highest-ever ranking. CWUR's analysis put the school 67th in the quality of faculty category in recognition of recent work in physics, genetics, computational biology, and more. The U of A also did well in the research category, coming in at 87th thanks to high research article output and publications in influential journals, Folio reports.
  • Downtown businesses are excited at the prospect of Oilers fans celebrating the playoffs. It has been five years since fans last gathered in Rogers Place for a playoff game, Global News reports. Stu Ballantyne, Rogers Place and ICE District president and COO, said Ford Hall and the ICE District Plaza outside the arena will be activated for fans to watch the games.
  • Leduc city council has unanimously approved up to $165,000 for the creation and implementation of an equity, diversity, and inclusion strategy. The decision comes after firefighters Christa Steele and Mindy Smith applied for a class-action lawsuit against the city in February, alleging decades of systemic harassment, bullying, discrimination, and sexual assault.
  • Edmonton's CN Tower is better than Toronto's, at least according to Dan Rose, the tower's unofficial architectural ambassador. From its less-than-humble beginnings as a "subtle middle finger" to Eastern Canada overlooking the CN rail yard during Edmonton's booming post-war years, the tower continues to symbolize the link between Edmonton's railway roots and ongoing growth. It is also a functioning office building surrounded by "Edmontonians who roll up their sleeves daily" while Toronto's CN Tower is, Rose suggests, "essentially and functionally pointless."
  • "On this path, I learned the key to embracing change is to focus on how it makes our life better while appreciating those things that stayed the same," wrote Rhonda Skinner about her years visiting the Fraser Ravine in northeast Edmonton in the latest piece from The Henday Project, CBC's ongoing exploration of Edmonton's suburbs.
Newspaper clipping for "I Remember Mana" at the Empire Theatre on Saturday, April 27, 1946

A moment in history: April 27, 1946

By Scott Lilwall

On this day in 1946, about 1,500 theatre-goers turned out to see 'I Remember Mama' at the Empire Theatre.

The production, which received a glowing review from the papers the next day, was the 59th for the Edmonton Community Theatre but one of the first under that name. Until the year previous, the theatre company was known as Edmonton Little Theatre.

The group was founded in the late 1920s as part of the 'little theatre' movement that swept across North America. Little theatres were just that — groups of actors and directors that put on smaller productions, often more artistically experimental and daring than those of the big touring theatre companies.

Elizabeth Sterling Haynes was one of the driving forces behind Edmonton Little Theatre and played an integral role in developing theatre not just in the city but across the entire province. Haynes was born in England and moved to Ontario when she was a child. In 1921, Haynes married a dentist, and the pair moved to Edmonton, where Haynes quickly established herself as a talented actor and director.

Aside from helping found the local little theatre company and serving as its first artistic director, she also helped found the Alberta Drama League. A few years later, she took a role at the University of Alberta as a specialist in drama and head of theatre education. It's a role that saw her travel across the province, helping small local theatre companies organize and put on performances. Hayne's passion for theatre and high standards helped lay the foundation for local theatre groups that still plays out on stages across Alberta.

Hayne was a frequent voice heard on CKUA Radio, being involved in both radio plays and educational lectures. In 1933, she helped found the Banff School of Drama, which eventually expanded into other fine arts programs and became the Banff Centre.

Haynes continued to be a key player in Edmonton's theatre scene into the 1950s when her health started to decline. She moved east again with her husband in 1955, where she continued to be active in the theatre community until her death two years later. The Elizabeth Sterling Haynes awards are handed out every year to celebrate Edmonton theatre.

But even more than the awards, Hayne's legacy lives on within the city's vibrant drama community she helped build in those crucial early years. It's one that has been hard hit, like other live entertainment, by the COVID-19 pandemic. But bright spots still remain, including the resurrection of the Roxy Theatre earlier this month, which was destroyed by fire seven years ago.

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.