The Pulse: Feb. 7, 2024

Here's what you need to know about Edmonton today.

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  • -4°C: Cloudy. Fog patches dissipating in the afternoon. Wind up to 15 km/h. High minus 4. Wind chill near minus 11. UV index 1 or low. (forecast)
  • Red: The High Level Bridge will be lit red for Heart Month/CHD Awareness Week. (details)
  • 1-3: The Edmonton Oilers lost to the Vegas Golden Knights on Feb. 6, ending the team's 16-game winning streak. (details)

A woman in a white bathrobe wears a bright pink, adjustable shower cap and looks in the mirror

How one inventor's shower cap landed an exclusive U.S. patent

By Ashley Lavallee-Koenig

Local inventor Gillian Thomson has earned a United States utility patent for her Skipper shower cap and with it the exclusive selling rights in that country.

"Getting this patent is sort of a proof point that this is an innovative product, it's truly a new kind of shower cap," Thomson told Taproot.

The innovative part of Thomson's shower cap is its closure system. First, a flat band goes around the user's head and closes with Velcro; second, the user closes the open pouch in the back, which houses their hair, with a drawstring.

To get here has taken Thomson three years. She filed her patent application in 2020 and launched the Skipper cap in Canada near the end of 2021. She said she had to keep her invention under wraps until confident the patent office had her design.

"That was challenging, I guess a bit slower than what I'd want to launch the product," Thomson said.

Thomson had multiple debates with the office to prove her cap was new, useful, and not obvious. "It's sort of a back and forth and with every response from the patent office, it sounds like it's over, you have no chance, you can't have it because of these five reasons," she said.

The time and financial investment required came without a guarantee, which was a risk for a startup, Thomson added.

Now, with the patent in hand, Thomson said she has confidence and a "competitive edge" to enter the U.S. market. She can turn to new opportunities, such as larger business-to-business relationships, with a degree of protection.

"It's still up to me to kind of defend my territory, but having the patent gives me the confidence to go out to a broader audience to share my design without feeling as vulnerable, especially going to bigger beauty companies that might be looking for this kind of idea."

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Headlines: Feb. 7, 2024

By Mariam Ibrahim

A newspaper clipping that shows a photograph of the Chateau Lacombe in a distorted vision. The headline reads "Leaning Chateau?"

A moment in history: Feb. 7, 1975

By Scott Lilwall

On this day in 1975, the Chateau Lacombe was depicted in some creative photography.

The Chateau Lacombe Hotel was built overlooking the river valley on Bellamy Hill in 1966. The site had been unused for the previous half century. Before then, it was where the city's first foray into funiculars, the Edmonton Incline Railway, was located until it closed in 1911. When the hotel's construction began, the hill still bore scars from where tracks had been torn up.

The 1960s saw a wave of new development and a push for urban renewal in many Canadian cities but especially in Edmonton. The city's population was booming and its downtown was rapidly changing with new developments. The Chateau Lacombe was one of several massive projects on the hill: Edmonton House was also built in this period, as was Bellamy Hill Road.

When it opened its doors for an unofficial launch in December 1966, the round 24-storey building was already a striking landmark on the city's skyline. It boasted more than 300 rooms and was one of the first hotels in Canada to offer luxuries like air conditioning, which seemed in line with Edmonton's growing profile.

Unfortunately for early guests, the Chateau's soon-to-be well-known feature wasn't ready for its soft launch. Anyone wishing to visit the hotel's revolving rooftop restaurant had to wait for the official opening in February 1967. When it did open, the revolving restaurant was the largest of its kind in the world, and its 90-minute revolution offered diners a view of the city and the river valley.

The hotel's sixth-floor grill also offered a quite memorable, though stranger, view: an 1880-era Maxim machine gun on display for guests at the entrance.

While the Chateau Lacombe has stayed on its spot on Bellamy Hill for nearly 60 years, the hotel has changed hands several times. The original owner was Canadian Pacific Hotels, which was a branch of the railway. In the '90s, the hotel was rebranded as a Holiday Inn and later as the Crowne Plaza, before being sold to another hotel chain in 2010. Most notoriously, it was bought in 2010 by real estate developer Keyvn Fredrick for nearly $48 million. But after Fredrick and his companies faced accusations of mortgage fraud and substandard construction, the hotel was bought again for nearly half that price in 2013.

The period of construction on Bellamy Hill that introduced the Chateau Lacombe might be long over, but it continues to make a mark on the city's core. Sometimes, that influence isn't a positive one: the city is rebuilding the intersection where Bellamy Hill Road meets Rossdale Road and 97 Street. It's currently a tangled knot of fast streets that have been deemed too dangerous.

This clipping was found on Vintage Edmonton, a daily look at Edmonton's history from armchair archivist @revRecluse of @VintageEdmonton.

A title card that reads Taproot Edmonton Calendar:

Happenings: Feb. 7, 2024

By Debbi Serafinchon

Here are some events happening today in the Edmonton area.

And here are some upcoming events to keep in mind:

Visit the beta version of the Taproot Edmonton Calendar for many more events in the Edmonton region.