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3 new books from Calgary writers




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A post shared by Ryan Bourquin aka Big Bad Dad (@bigbaddadbook) on

Two years ago when Ryan Bourquin sat down to write a story with his daughter, Winnie, on a snowy afternoon in Calgary, he didn’t know the story would become the basis for his first published book.

Winnie, who was only four at the time, wanted to write about how much she loves painting nails, playing dress-up and having tea parties with her dad — a tattooed, weightlifting, six-foot-four chef.

“We were talking about how her friends were a little bit afraid of me, and she didn’t understand why, because I do all this stuff with her,” Bourquin says. “People who see me from the outside might not think that I’m at home playing dress-up with my daughter.”

He wanted to publish one copy of the short story to gift to Winnie for Christmas, but after showing the handwritten copy to an editor friend, he saw its potential and suggested Bourquin submit it to publishing houses.

After figuring out how to format a manuscript, find a literary agent and all the other prep required to submit a book to publishing houses, he landed a book deal for Big Bad Dad earlier this year. The illustrated book for kids shows readers the man behind the tattoos is a devoted father willing to play in princess dresses with his daughter, proving you should never judge a book by its cover.

“I’ve had a lot of dads reach out to me about the book,” Bourquin says. “It’s been a pretty cool adventure so far.”



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Vivek Shraya is a multi-disciplinary artist based in Calgary who creates music, poetry, visual art, film and fiction. Her new book I’m Afraid of Men is part memoir, part manifesto and takes us through Shraya’s life and how she’s been negatively impacted by gender norms.

She charts the fear of men she’s felt throughout her entire life, describing the acts of cruelty inflicted on her when expressing femininity as a young boy, to the panic she now feels in public spaces as a trans woman, and alarm at not appearing “feminine enough” to society.

The book challenges dominant ideas about race, gender and identity and ultimately invites us to embrace our differences and envision a world where gender creativity is celebrated instead of punished, freeing all of us to live without fear.

It’s a notebook-sized novel so you’ll be able to finish it relatively quickly, but its message will stay with you long after the last page.



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This book is not only an education on why you should nerd out on Japanese knives (like author Kevin Kent does), but also an ode to the art of knifemaking — Kent and photographer Visti Kjar captured a behind-the-scenes look at the forges of Japanese blacksmiths who craft these super-sharp knives.

Kent is the “knifenerd” behind Knifewear, which sells Japanese knives and accessories. He discovered the knives while working as a sous-chef in London, England. Back in Canada he sold them to chefs out of a backpack before opening the storefront in 2008.

Inside The Knifenerd Guide to Japanese Knives you’ll find answers to the top 50 questions asked by customers at the shop, so you can take the expert knife knowledge home with you.



5 Spots for a St. Patrick’s Day Pint in Edmonton


Don your greenest finery (or finest greenery) and celebrate the Irish at one of these Edmonton pubs this St. Patrick’s Day weekend (Sunday, March 17, 2019)!

1. O’Byrne’s Irish Pub
An authentic Irish pub in the heart of Old Strathcona with snug rooms, a friendly ambience, Irish dancing, live music, and perfect pints of Guinness!
10616 Whyte Ave. | 780-414-6766

2. Kelly’s Pub
Located on the hip 4th Street Promenade, this local watering hole broadcasts live sporting events all day, every day, and has regular drink specials.
10156-104 St. | 780-451-8825

3. Fionn MacCool’s
The live entertainment and great selection of premium whiskys are sure to keep party-goers happy into the wee hours of the night.
Edmonton City Centre | 10200-102A Ave. | 780-424-4330
4485 Gateway Blvd. | 780-435-6796

4. Duggan’s Boundary
Grab a perfectly poured pint of Guinness and enjoy live music and some friendly shenanigans at this cozy Irish pub.
9013-88 Ave. | 780-465-4834

5. Underground Tap & Grill
With over 72 beers on tap, monthly brewery tap takeovers, limited-edition beers from breweries across Canada, and monthly cask nights, you’re sure to find a beer you’ll like here no matter whether you’re a craft beer newbie or aficionado.
10004 Jasper Ave. | 780-425-1880

Hot Art Round-Up: Mar 7 – 9



Nickle at Noon – Rita McKeough: Works – A Conversation
Nickle Galleries, University of Calgary: noon – 1 pm

Art Series III with Maillot Homes
1015 Sydenham Rd SW, 4 – 9 pm

Free First Thursday Night
Glenbow Museum, 5 – 9 pm

Jasmine Whiteley-Steel – MNG Main Space Reception
Marion Nicoll Gallery, 6 – 8 pm


Out For Lunch Tour: Mavericks
Glenbow Museum, noon – 1 pm

Eveline Kolijn: Deep Cold on 11a – The Power of Images to Tell a Story
DaDe Loft opening reception 5 – 8 pm

Femme For All – International Women’s Day
Memorial Park Library, 6 – 10 pm

Prameesha Abeysekera: Wild Horses Can’t Keep Me Away
Framed on Fifth, Reception 6:00 – 9:00pm

Curator-led Tour: Ladylikeness
Glenbow Museum, 7– 8 pm

Muddy Little Secrets: About the Menagerie with Chris Zinkan
North Mount Pleasant Arts Centre, 7 – 8:30 pm


300 or Less Art Exhibition and Sale
Motion Gallery, noon – 8 pm

Artist Advocacy + Advice: Free Drop-In at Esker!
Esker Foundation, 2 – 4 pm

It’s Never A Good Idea / Mohkinstsis Kikskanisto’p
TRUCK Contemporary Art in Calgary, Stride Gallery: 2 – 5 pm

Nvrlnd Birthday – Open Studios + ART SALE
Nverlnd.yyc, 4 – 8 pm

3 art exhibits to check out in Calgary


At the corner of 8 Avenue NE and Centre Street N, there’s a mural on the south-facing wall of Ducktoes Computer Services. This is no ordinary mural. If you download an app called Augle, you can view the art through your phone and watch it come to life with animations and music. “Won’t You Be My Neighbour!” is Calgary’s first permanent augmented reality public mural. The piece launched last fall, and was designed by local artists Kathryn Pearce and Tanner Hamilton.

“People have found a certain level of joy when the music and animations kick in,” says Kevin Jesuino with the Crescent Heights Community Association. “It’s like a little secret in our neighbourhood.” Augle can be downloaded for free through Google Play or the App Store.

Photo courtesy Crescent Heights Community Association.

Calgary painter Chris Cran covers a wide range of styles and genres in his work from portraiture to pop art, all of which aim to challenge the viewer’s expectations of gallery art. Throughout his career, he’s dedicated periods of time to creative play in his studio, where he follows his curiosity and imagination and experiments with new materials and techniques. While gazing at a blank canvas, Cran will ask himself simple questions like, “What if I do this?” or “What if I mix this with that?” and see where it takes him. Glenbow’s exhibit Chris Cran: At Play features 24 new paintings created in 2018 during one of these periods of self-expression. View the exhibit until May 26.


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Confluence at Glenbow presents a collection of Meryl McMaster’s stunning and evocative fine art photography. In each piece of art, McMaster has transformed herself into an extraordinary, otherworldly alter ego using elaborate props and sculptural garments. She seeks inspiration from her background as an individual of Plains Cree and Euro-Canadian heritage, exploring how self-identity is constructed through culture, history and lineage, and challenging the stereotypical ways Indigenous people have been photographed throughout history. The exhibit will be on display until June 2.

Meryl McMaster, Aphoristic Currents, 2013, chromogenic print, edition 2 of 5, Private Collection.

Hot Art Round-Up: Feb 28 – Mar 3



Barbara Amos Artist Talk: The Twilight Series
Gibson Fine Art, 6:30 – 8:30 pm

Dark Tourism: Canadian Residential Schools through the European model
The Military Museums, 7 – 9 pm

Shelby Wolfe-Goulet / All the Way Back
Burnt Toast Studio, Alberta Printmakers: 7 – 9 pm

Mitchell Luken / Glumps
Burnt Toast Studio, Alberta Printmakers: 7 – 9 pm



Artist Reception
Arts Commons, 7 – 10 pm

Make or Break / Jonathan Green
Alberta Printmakers, 7 – 9 pm

I Feel Real: Sandra Meigs and Janet Werner opening reception
VIVIANEART, 6 – 9 pm



Meet Artist Heather Pant
Webster Galleries, noon – 4 pm

Opening Reception for just turn your head a little
Leighton Art Centre, 2 – 4 pm

Opening Reception for ‘Context is Everything’
Leighton Art Centre, 2 – 4 pm

Lust for Dust
130 – 3 Ave SE, 8:30 pm – 2 am



Community Day, presented by Chevron Canada
Glenbow Museum, 9 am – 5 pm

Tangled Tree Arts Spring Artisan Market, Bowness!
Bowness Community Association, 10 am – 3 pm

15 things to do in Calgary in March 2019


What do you get when you combine some of Calgary’s best chefs, restaurants, bartenders, craft beer, wines and spirits? The inaugural YYC Food & Drink Experience, an annual dining festival featuring ten days of prix fixe menus at the city’s favourite eateries along with a dining series of curated culinary events. Participating restaurants include Model Milk, Bridgette Bar and Pigeonhole, among many others. From March 1 – 10. 

A dish at Bridgette Bar. Photo by Jason Dziver.

This winter festival is a celebration of Francophone, Métis and First Nations cultures. From March 2 – 3, listen to live fiddlers, taste maple taffy on snow, visit a sugar shack replica, play outdoor games and more.

The children’s entertainer will be strumming and singing favourites like “Down by the Bay” and “Baby Beluga” on March 2.

Watch four newcomers come together to learn curling in a rural Albertan town in this play from Alberta Theatre Projects, running from March 5 – 23.

Shakespeare’s classic comedy comes to life in an enchanting production from Alberta Ballet, playing from March 13 – 16.

Photo courtesy Alberta Ballet.

Eat, drink and be merry while dancing to the tunes of a Celtic band at Heritage Park on March 16.

On March 19, start your evening with a wizard-themed three-course dinner at the Selkirk Grille before watching Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone at Gasoline Alley Museum.

Come From Away is based on the true story of what happened when nearly 7,000 air travellers were stranded in Gander, Newfoundland and Labrador, following the September 11 attacks. Described by the Globe and Mail as a “joyous and emotional musical about the indomitable human spirit”, the characters in the musical are inspired by real travellers and Gander residents. It’s playing on stage from March 19 – 24.

From March 22 – 31, escape the Spring Break doldrums with automobile-themed games and activities at Gasoline Alley Museum. Repair a broken-down jalopy, navigate an obstacle course and snap a selfie in a fun car costume.

The rising country band will be showcasing their debut album, Lost in the Right Direction, on March 23. The album was nominated for a 2018 Album Of The Year from the Alberta Country Music Awards and spent eight weeks on the Canadian country charts.

Photo by Ben Shillabeer.

Popular young adult dystopian novel The Giver is adapted for the stage by Storybook Theatre until March 23.

Cyndi Lauper wrote the score of this crowd-pleasing musical, which tells the story of a man trying to save his family’s shoe factory by making high heels for men. It’s playing in Calgary on March 26.

Personal radio and audio devices have changed a lot in the last century, from large wooden consoles that were part of the living room décor to pocket-sized devices that can stream thousands of radio stations. View the evolution in The Radio Lounge, a new exhibition at Studio Bell, home of the National Music Centre. Plop down on one of their comfy chairs and listen to tunes on the iHeartRadio app, or watch clips of Canada’s biggest radio stars on a 24-screen video wall. The exhibition is located in Studio Bell’s Drop-in Zone and is free to the public until Summer 2020.

The vintage vehicles in Gasoline Alley Museum all have their own stories. Take Scruffy the car — the Nash 450 sedan belonged to a family during the Great Depression before kicking the bucket somewhere in Alberta. She was abandoned for decades before car enthusiast Brian McKay found and restored her. Find out how an antique like Scruffy makes the journey from obscurity to glory in From Rust to Glory, an exhibit dedicated to vehicle and gas pump restoration. Running until April 28.

In more than 20 interactive exhibits at Telus Spark, learn the secrets behind the sideshow stunts, tricks and scents that captivated you as a child, from the smell of cotton candy to the science of sword swallowing. Once you’ve uncovered some tricks of the trade, see if you have what it takes to join the circus by squeezing yourself into a small box, walking across a nine-foot-high tightrope, trying your hand at juggling and more. Available until June 9.

Retail Spotlight: Calgary Jewellery


A Calgary-owned business spanning three generations, Calgary Jewellery has been a staple in the city’s retail scene since 1955. Started by Les and Dora Florence, today the store is run by their son Bernard Florence and their grandson Jonathan, along with a team of dedicated staff. Jonathan spoke to Where Calgary about how the family business has continued to thrive.

Photo courtesy Jonathan Florence.

Calgary Jewellery is going on 64 years in business. What has kept it relevant all these years?
It’s truly because of the customer service we provide. We pride ourselves on the things that are unique, exclusive, but also, when it comes to anyone’s budget, we focus on providing the exact same experience whether you’re looking to spend $100 or $100,000. Also, the members of our staff have been with us anywhere from 10 years all the way up to 30 years. So when clients come in, they see a familiar face and they can feel comfortable with someone they know.

What was your grandfather’s initial business philosophy, and what does that look like for the store today?
It was integrity, it was customer relationships, and it was providing the same experience for everyone. One of the most important things now is having a unique selection of product. People want something that’s unique to them, and if they have their own taste and style, we’re able to cater to that.

What would you tell someone who is looking for a really special piece — like an engagement ring, for example — but has no idea where to start?
The most important thing is that if they were going to come into the store with zero knowledge, it’s our job to educate our clients. Using an engagement ring as an example, we would sit the client down and make them feel comfortable — for us the sale isn’t the end goal, it’s the relationship we’re building. We would go over a little bit about Diamonds 101, and we would ask questions like: ‘What makes you happy?’ or, ‘What makes you smile?’ At the end of the day, jewellery is an emotional purchase. If a client has no idea about jewellery, the most important thing is that the jeweller asks the right questions and learns about the client first.

How have you seen the retail market in Calgary change over the years?
Social media has become a wonderful tool, and we look at it as an opportunity to connect with clients that we may not have had before. We are one of the first truly independent jewellers that started in Calgary, and we have such a great history… Calgary Jewellery — it’s an easy name to know and to find.

Hot Art Round-Up: Feb 21 – 24



Nickle AT NOON – A Taste of the Archives and Special Collections
Nickle Galleries, University of Calgary: noon – 1 pm

Broken City Lab Artist Talk
Gymnasium, Historic Holy Angels School: 7 pm



Abstract Art Exhibition at Raw Canvas
Raw Canvas, Robert Horvath Art: Friday and Saturday 5 – 10 pm

Creative Social – Mountains and Starry skies
Loft 112, 6:30 – 9 pm

Esker Bookshop Launch!
Esker Foundation, 7 – 8 pm

Thomas Kneubühler / Landing Sites
The New Gallery, 8 pm – midnight



Blown Glass Sale
Bee Kingdom, noon – 4 pm

Artist Advocacy + Advice: Free Drop-In!
Carfac Alberta and TRUCK Contemporary Art in Calgary: 2 -4 pm

The Female Lens Artist Panel
Christine Klassen Gallery, 2 – 4 pm

Fundraiser Night!
Arts Commons, 5 – 7 pm

Ethnik Art Exhibition & Fashion Show
cSPACE King Edward, 6 – 9:30 pm



Cinematic Sundays : The Gospel According to Andre
Glenbow Museum, 1 – 3 pm

Hot Art Round-Up: Feb 14 – 17



cSPACE Showcase Series: Date/Less Valentines
cSPACE Open House, 5 – 8 pm

Spotlight – Artist Reception
Alberta Craft Gallery, cSPACE: 5 – 8 pm

Tracy Proctor – Waxing Poetic: Painting the Music
Blackboard Gallery, cSPACE: 5 – 8 pm

Glow Festival
Downtown Calgary, through Monday, February 18: various hours


Chinatown Ice Sculpture Showcase (through Monday, February 18)
James Short Parkade, Calgary Chinatown

Minting States: Coins and Political Power in the Ancient World
Nickle Galleries, University of Calgary: 7 pm


Curator’s Tour of Before Digital with Mary-Beth Laviolette
Illingworth Kerr Gallery, 11 am – noon

Au Revoir – A Group Show
Inglewood Fine Arts, 2 – 5 pm

BassBus Presents: Nightlight
Olympic Plaza, 5 – 10 pm

Glow Fest Photowalk
Olympic Plaza, hosted by MRU Photography Club: 5:30 – 8:30 pm


Artist Talk with Exposure Photography Festival
The Pioneer, 1 – 2 pm

Zero Issue Drink & Draw
Zero Issue Brewing, 1 – 6 pm

Seities 10th Anniversary Publication Launch
Shelf Life Books, 5 – 9 pm

Check it out: Calgary’s new Central Library


Photo by George Webber.

When strolling Calgary’s East Village, it’s impossible to miss the architectural marvel that is the new Central Library. Its doors opened to the public on November 1, 2018, signifying the completion of a much-anticipated project — and for library staff and Calgarians alike, this has been a long time coming.

“When we opened the original Central Library in the mid ‘60s it was deemed too small at opening, so an expansion was added to that library within ten years,” says Mary Kapusta, director of communications for Calgary Public Library. Kapusta says the conversation about needing a new central branch got serious a couple of decades later, but didn’t gather steam until initial funding was committed in 2004.

Now, the new building stands as a landmark and regal gateway to the East Village. The sweeping front steps and large, open atrium make the building feel similar to a sleek art gallery or museum. Created in tandem by Norwegian-American architecture group Snøhetta and Calgary firm Dialog, the library is designed to become quieter as you travel up the circular steps winding under the building’s large oculus-style skylight.

Features include professional editing suites, an interfaith room, an auditorium, a children’s area with built-in play structures, and even an in-house café and restaurant run by the local drugstore Lukes. Amenities aside, the building’s main function is, of course, as a library — a service hub that Michael Brown, president and CEO of the Calgary Municipal Land Corporation (CMLC), says was needed in the inner city.

Photo by Neil Zeller.

“For the longest time, Calgary’s history was: you grew up in suburbia and you went to work in the downtown core, and the reason for that is that’s where a lot of the amenities were. What we’ve learned as a community is that’s not necessarily a success,” he says. “We need to get people living in the inner city, but in order (for that to happen), you need to have things for them to do.”

When it comes to communities looking to grow and attract more residents, East Village is among Calgary’s top contenders. Revitalized in recent years with new hotspots like the National Music Centre and the historic Simmons Building, it’s quickly becoming one of Calgary’s most sought-after neighbourhoods.

But, as is common with gentrifying areas, there are many people in East Village experiencing difficult circumstances like poverty and homelessness. Brown acknowledges this, saying that when the CMLC started the campaign to have the library built in the East Village, “There was some thought about ‘Well, you have some drop-in centres, can you get rid of them?’ And our board made a decision that we weren’t going to do that — they are part of our community.”

Mary Kapusta says the library is often asked about its role in helping vulnerable populations, and the answer has always been the same: “We see people that might be going through challenging times in their lives, and the response is that they’re allowed to be here.”

It is often said that libraries are essential pillars of democracy, and, perusing through the new Central Library, that becomes clearer than ever. There are spaces for children, teens, people of different faiths, and those looking for information, a helping hand, or just a quiet place to relax and reflect. As Kapusta says, “When we think about a community hub and accessibility, it’s making sure that there’s something for everyone.”

4 art exhibits to check out in Calgary

By Silvia Pikal

Check out an exhibition dedicated to one of the world’s top fashion houses at Glenbow. Christian Dior is a retrospective of the fashion legend’s haute couture from 1947-1957. In 1946, Dior set up his own couture house in Paris and presented his first collection the following year, featuring voluptuous silhouettes that were a departure from women’s fashions before the Second World War. Browse a selection of Dior’s designs that transformed the French fashion industry; the exhibit runs until June 2.


A statue of Kent Monkman’s glamorous alter-ego Miss Chief Eagle Testickle stands on a rock-face buffalo jump in a room-filling installation at Glenbow. She’s overlooking the sculptural bison that roam throughout the room, while one sculpture is in shambles on the ground and surrounded by broken china. Kent Monkman: The Rise and Fall of Civilization is a poignant reminder that the North American bison, a source of sustenance for Indigenous people for thousands of years, was nearly hunted to extinction by European settlers in the 1800s. They hunted the bison for their pelts and left the meat to rot, then harvested the bones for fine bone china. The exhibit will be available for viewing throughout 2019.


Studio Bell, home of the National Music Centre (NMC), is showcasing Alberta’s musical groundbreakers in a new exhibit. Trailblazers: Alberta makes use of video interviews, concert footage and more to showcase big names hailing from Alberta, including Tegan and Sara, Feist and Chad Kroeger. Emerging artists and their accomplishments are also featured, from country singer Lindsay Ell to The Static Shift, a trio of Calgary-based blues-rockers. The exhibit is located on the second floor of the NMC, and there will be a rotating cast of Alberta trailblazers over the next few years.

Photo by Brandon Wallis.

On June 16, 1904, “Eureka We Have Found It!” was printed on the front page of the Medicine Hat News. A large natural gas well had been discovered, which led to a boom in Medicine Hat’s economy. Clay quickly became a shining star thanks to the availability of cheap natural gas to fire the kilns, as well as the abundance of the material in the area and neighbouring province Saskatchewan. At one point Medicine Hat supplied Canada with more than 75 per cent of its ceramics. A lasting reminder of the boom is the Medalta potteries site — the former massive industrial operation was transformed into a museum, ceramic art gallery and event space. Artists come from all over the world to work in the studios, or complete an artist-in-residence program. Home at the Alberta Craft Gallery brings Medalta art to Calgary. View everything from delicate, hand-built porcelain plates to impressive sculptures from artists who stayed in Medicine Hat after completing their residency; the exhibit runs until March 30.

Artist: Noriko Masuda, Reach Yunomi, 2016. Bone china, slip cast, underglaze.

5 Restaurants for Valentine’s Day (2019)

You’ve left it too long. It’s almost February 14th. What could possibly still have reservations available this late in the game? Well, we’ve curated an emergency list of fantastic Edmonton restaurants hosting Valentine’s menus all weekend long!

Under the High Wheel
10159 Whyte (82) Ave., 780-439-4442
Valentine’s Week menu at this favourite Whyte Ave. spot includes Emmental and Gruyere Cheese Fondue and Dark Chocolate Creme Brulee, along with options for wine pairing and fresh oysters.

SC Damn Good Food
300 East Lapotec Blvd., Enoch, 780-930-2636
At the River Cree Resort & Casino, you can enjoy the 5-course Valentine’s Day menu, including Baked Oysters, Tenderloin with Lobster Tail, and Strawberry Panacotta.

L2 Grill
West Edmonton Mall, 8882-170 St., 780-444-5538
Spoil your valentine with an incredible 6-course dinner! Two recommended wine pairings will also be available.

Cave Paleo Beastro
102, 6104-104 St., 780-540-2283
The entire menu is paleo, gluten-free, and dairy-free, and it will be available along with a few specials, $6 bubbly, and even a special Valentine’s gift.

Melting Pot
117, 2920 Calgary Tr., 780-465-4347
Valentine’s MONTH? Now you have no excuse. Throughout the month of February, try the romance-inspired Cupid’s 4-Course Fondue Experience for 2, as well as the themed drink specials! When booking your reservation, you can request roses, candles, chocolate-dipped strawberries, and/or champagne to make the evening even more romantic.