One of the highlights of the grand opening at the new Municipal Government Building was unveiling of a Centennial legacy art project in council chambers.
“This particular legacy project creates a remembrance that will endure for many years to come and at the same time involves our community’s young people in learning a little of our history and our story,” said Chris Lust, speaking on behalf of Sylvan Lake Centennial Celebrations Task Force and the subcommittee involved in the project.
Grade 7 students from the town’s four schools (École Fox Run School, École Mother Teresa Catholic School, Lighthouse Christian Academy and Sylvan Meadows Adventist School) as well as home schoolers were invited to create a two or three dimensional art piece based on one of 10 different themes.
The themes were Helping Hands, Culture and Recreation, Early Settlers, Landmarks, At Work, Transportation, Agriculture, At Play, Milestones and Celebrations and Enjoying the Lake. Submitted artwork was clustered around a photo reminiscent of the theme, on a background of water. The centre of the mural features parents in old fashioned bathing suits looking at youngsters in current day attire building a sand castle.
“Researchers have found that knowing our own family’s stories and knowing those of our community helps develop resilience and emotional strength,” said Lust. “We hope those two characteristics are also part of this project’s legacy.”
Metro Graphics of Calgary won the commission to design the project and work with local students. Sylvan Lake & District Archives added historical photos to create a centre for each of the ten themes.
While not all artwork could fit on the mural, all submissions are preserved in memory books and the signatures of all students are recorded in the sand at the bottom of the creation.
“We hope you will find its location here in council chambers a fitting location, reminding us of our roots as one student chose to do a letter to our first council chairperson, Mr. Grimson. The names at the base represent why council’s work is so important, our future generations,” said Lust.
Funding for the project was received through a Building Communities through Art and Heritage program under the Department of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages. In addition funding was also received through a Community Initiatives program from the province’s culture department.
During opening ceremonies for the building, MP Earl Dreeshen said it was “an amazing well thought out building, classic in design. Something we can all be proud of. It’s going to bring more and more accolades to a very thriving community.”
Innisfail-Sylvan Lake MLA Kerry Towle reflected on the growth and prosperity of Sylvan Lake, noting she’s here two or three times a week for special events. “I’m overwhelmed, this is quite stately,” she said of the building. She’d spent the day at the Alberta Legislature time capsule and noted after 100 years that building is described as a ‘piece of art’.
Mayor Susan Samson thanked town staff particularly for accomplishing a “huge move” into the building. “We’re so proud to be here in this building which came in on time and on budget … This council, this staff, needs this kind of building to deliver services that this community deserves.”
Reflecting on history of the previous centre of government, she said that a part of that building served as a school before being moved to its current location and serving as town hall since 1962. “We were due for a new building.”
Samson added, the building belongs to the community’s residents. “We will do things together in this foyer, have teas, dances, celebrate together because it is your building.”
The building was open for people to tour.
Lacombe County Reeve Ken Wigmore presented the town with a beautiful sunset painting.
Also on display in an upstairs hallway was the donation by Sylvan Lake Quilters. The four themed quilts portray the landscape of Sylvan Lake featuring the beach front.
Spearheaded by Joyce Thrush, Chloe Lester and Gloria Armstrong, the organization brought in Patty Morris to do a workshop on landscapes. Artist Jack Smalley was enlisted to draw a scene of the lake and area and then quilters created the four seasons of that scene.
Spring was completed by Chloe Lester, Sheila Muzychka and Rachelle Pare; summer by Gloria Armstrong, Wendy Morris and Esther Hopland; fall by Trisha Watts, Pam Schiels, Lana Laqua and Debbie Mieske; and winter by Joyce Thrush, Mary Lynn Brown and Marion Robin.
“As a sign of how important the downtown core is, this building stayed in the downtown.”