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Things to Do in Calgary

What happens when you clean an Olympic medal with Ajax?

By SILVIA PIKAL 

Photo by Jason Dziver.

1936 OLYMPIC SILVER MEDAL
At Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame, Helena Deng, manager of exhibits and collections, points out a display with two Olympic medals.

The medals are both the same size, shape, and are imprinted with the words “XI. Olympiade Berlin 1936.” Both medals belonged to Canadian track and field athlete John Wilfrid Loaring, who won a silver medal in 400-metre hurdles at the 1936 Berlin Olympics.

But one of these things is not like the other. One is silver and shiny, while the other is discoloured and clearly damaged.

“Unfortunately, my mother cleaned the winner’s silver medal with Ajax Cleanser which badly tarnished it,” Loaring’s son, G. R. John Loaring, said in an email to Where Calgary.

“Ajax is a very, very harsh chemical,” Deng says. “It’s great for sinks, less so for silver medals. By cleaning it with Ajax, she stripped a large portion — if not all — of the silver plating off the medal.”

Many years later, G. R. John Loaring received permission from the International Olympic Committee Museum in Lausanne, Switzerland to obtain a duplicate of the medal.

Luckily, the same German company that made the 1936 Berlin Olympic medals was still in business and able to reproduce the original. The medals are identical aside from a tiny “COPY” stamped along part of the thin round edge. (And the copy is unravaged by Ajax, of course).

In 2015, when Loaring was inducted into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame, his son shipped his collection of medals to the museum, which included the original and its shiny copy.

“We as Canadians have a very long history of success in athletics,” Deng says. “This medal — to have it displayed — is that impact story.”

A CANADIAN TRACK AND FIELD STAR
Loaring was born in Winnipeg and moved to Windsor in 1926. A rising track and field star, he won several medals in high school and on the Kennedy Collegiate Track Team.

At only 21 years old, Loaring competed in the 1936 Olympic Games in 400-metre hurdles. The very first time he competed in this event was at the Canadian Olympic trials. He was also the youngest finalist in the category, and thus surprised the world by taking home the silver medal. Following his success in the Olympics, he won three gold medals at the 1938 British Empire Games.

After the outbreak of the Second World War, he left Canada for Britain to serve in the Royal Navy. In 1940, as a radar officer on HMS Fiji, Loaring overcame gruelling and challenging circumstances. When the ship was dispatched to pick up civilian survivors of a torpedoed ship, Loaring was able to help resuscitate three children due to his training in Royal Life Saving skills.

During the Battle for Crete, their ship ran out of ammunition and was sunk by a German bomber. Thanks to the strength and stamina Loaring developed as one of the top hurdlers in the world, he survived by clinging to the wreckage for hours until he was rescued. He developed severe oil poisoning due to being in the water for so long, and was put ashore in Africa to recover. Still, less than a year later, he was back to competing in track meets in England.

Back home in Windsor he was an active athlete, worked as a coach and lent his time to a variety of sports organizations.

How To Shop Calgary’s Outlets

By LEAH VAN LOON

Photo courtesy Nordstrom Rack.

Is this really a great deal? Did that come from the mainline store? These tips will help you balance bargains versus style at discount department stores:

Everyone loves getting a good deal so it’s surprise that Calgary has seen some new department store outlets open in the last few years, most notably Nordstrom Rack and Saks Off Fifth. Add to it the name recognition of large department stores selling big name designers and the expectations grow even higher. So what should you expect from shopping at a department store outlet?

While the main department stores have a very set program of sale periods and discount promotions, the outlets have new merchandise coming in all the time. They also have their own sale schedule and clearances for even deeper discounts. At first glance the price may seem right, but it pays to remember that designer items sent to the outlet from the main store are not in season, which is one reason you are getting a deal.

Other reasons why you could find a previously regular-priced item at an outlet might be overstock, fit or quality issues, a strange colour, style or print, it was overlooked in a stockroom, or it was altered for a customer and the store ended up with it. Surprisingly, only around 20 percent of items at an outlet are actually goods that were for sale at a mainline store at full price and are now marked down. Many pieces are even made directly by designer brands for the department store outlets using less expensive materials and inferior construction to provide that brand name for less — so if you are seeing a price for you to compare it to, it may not be a sale price versus a regular price so much as a reminder of what the brand’s clothing usually sells for at the main store.

Fear not, you can still find bargains at the outlets, but the best way to get a real deal (and a deal on something real) is to also shop the regular store. Occasionally the clearance opportunities and promotions at the main store will show an even better deal on an item than when you see it at the outlet, so it pays to check in, especially at sale time. If you are familiar with the brands you can learn to recognize a bargain when you see it and even how to spot a made-directly- for-the-outlet item. You can also shop the outlets online and find items not available at your own local brick-and-mortar —just make sure you can still get a refund.

Happy shopping, and remember: it’s only a good deal if it’s something you’ll actually wear!

 

 

5 Places Outside of Calgary to Visit This Summer

By KYLEE PEDERSEN

From awe-inspiring national parks to fascinating historical sites, there is plenty to experience beyond the city limits. Take a quick day drive or plan a weekend away around a visit to one (or all!) of these must-see stops.

Photo courtesy Michael Matt

WATERTON LAKES NATIONAL PARK
Nature has revived the prairies, shorelines and mountainsides of Waterton with new growth since the park was affected by the Kenow Wildfire at the end of summer last year. While some areas of the park remain closed, the Upper, Middle and Lower Waterton lakes, as well as the townsite, entrance road and Chief Mountain Highway, are open and ready to be explored. Camp, canoe, kayak, bike, hike, spot wildlife and take in the incredible natural beauty of the national park. Waterton is a three hour drive due south of Calgary.

LIVE LONG AND PROSPER
See Christopher Reeve’s Superman 3cape and take a seat in Tom Hardy’s Shinzon Captain’s chair at the eccentric Trekcetera museum in Drumheller, just an hour and a half northeast of Calgary. Canada’s only Star Trek museum goes beyond the final frontier to include a plethora of props and costumes from an array of films and artifacts from the Titanic and the U.S. 7th Cavalry. With experience on film sets and insightful anecdotes, the curator of the museum makes the displays at Trekcetera come alive.

Photo courtesy Frank Slide Interpretive Centre

LEITCH COLLIERIES
In 1907 when the Leitch Colliery was opened it was considered the most cutting-edge mining operation in Canada. Although the mine was only in operation for ten years, the stone remains of the mine’s powerhouse invoke a once grand operation. Take a scenic drive south of Calgary along highway 22 to Crowsnest Pass to learn more about the lives of the miners who worked there, the surrounding town, and the untimely demise of the fruitful business.

FATHER LACOMBE CHAPEL
This small wooden chapel is Alberta’s oldest standing building, constructed in 1861 by the Métis community who lived in what is now St. Albert. The chapel was part of the Roman Catholic mission led by Father Albert Lacombe. Make the three-hour trip north of Calgary to get a tour of not only the chapel, but its accompanying crypt, grotto and cemetery.

OKOTOKS ERRATIC
If it’s natural history you’re looking for, don’t miss the geological wonder of the world’s largest known glacial erratic, located just south of Calgary near the city of Okotoks. Here, jutting out of the prairie horizon, sits 16,500 tons of quartzite; a massive rock formation which looks as if it has been dropped from the sky. But in fact, Big Rock got a ride from a glacier thousands of years ago and assumed its final resting place when the ice receded.

 

 

Hot Art Round-Up: Jul 12-15

By HOT ART YYC

THURSDAY, JULY 12 

Second Thursday – Artist Spotlight
cSPACE, Alberta Craft Gallery, 5 – 8 pm

FRIDAY, JULY 13

Chroma Summer Group Exhibition
Christine Klassen Gallery, 5 – 7 pm

Inglewood Night Market, 5 – 11 pm

Community Evening at Esker!
Esker Foundation, 6 – 8 pm

Friday the 13th : Kitty Edition : Roman66 + Guests / Fundraiser
EMMEDIA Gallery & Production Society, 7:33 – 11:33 pm

SATURDAY, JULY 14

Fragments of Time
John Fluevog Shoes, 10 am – 7 pm

Farmers & Makers Market at cSPACE
cSPACE, 10 am – 3 pm

ISO Three-Ways: A Reading + Conversation
Stride Gallery, 2 – 4 pm

SUNDAY, JULY 15

Fire Song: Four Afternoons of Indigenous Cinema
Untitled Art Society, 2 – 4 pm

 

 

 

3 ways to get your arts and culture dose in Calgary

By SILVIA PIKAL

WHAT’S NEW AT ESKER FOUNDATION
Esker Foundation is exhibiting two major solo exhibitions from Canadian artists Vanessa Brown and Anna Torma until September 2. Brown’s The Witching Hour takes the viewer through a series of fantastic scenarios. In one installation you’ll find yourself feeling like Alice after she’s taken the shrinking potion, as you stumble upon a jeweller’s piercing parlour at midnight. You’re surrounded by whimsical and oversized earrings and other accessories that beckon you to a speculative reality where a weary wall clock naps at night.

Photo courtesy Esker Foundation.

Book of Abandoned Details features Anna Torma’s large-scale hand embroidered wall hangings and collages. Torma has more than 40 years of embroidery experience, and this exhibit presents major work produced over the past five years. One work, Carpet of Many Hands, is a stunning collage of found and collected fabrics and original embroideries. Hundreds of textile pieces culminate in a powerful piece that reflects on domestic space, labour and the value of women’s domestic work. Sign up for a free talk, tour or workshop, or download Esker’s free app before you visit.

GET YOUR FIX OF WESTERN CULTURE AT NEWZONES
Check out the “G’ddy Up!” exhibit at Newzones, which will be exhibited until August 25. This annual group show features work that showcases the western iconography we’re all familiar with, and also explores how the “Wild West” is shifting into something more cosmopolitan and vibrant. This exhibit includes photography, painting and sculpture from renowned artists, including Dianne Bos and Cathy Daley.

THE GREAT GRAIN ELEVATOR
Explore the world of grain at the Grain Academy and Museum in Stampede Park. Bring the kids to see a 35-metre-long railway model that demonstrates how grain moves out of Western Canada by rail and feeds people all over the world. Browse historic photos, films, replicas, the tools and equipment used by early farmers in Alberta and a working model grain elevator to get a closer look at the structures that transformed the grain industry and remain an iconic part of Canada’s agriculture history. Admission is by donation.

The adventures of Scruffy the Car

By SILVIA PIKAL

Photo courtesy Heritage Park Historical Village.

There’s a Nash 450 sedan sitting in Gasoline Alley in Heritage Park Historical Village, and her name is Scruffy.

She first rolled off the assembly line in 1930 with a shiny coat of paint. Only a few years later she was covered in dents, repairs and rust due to the travels of a Saskatchewan family searching for a better life on the open road.

Like many prairie families in Canada during the Great Depression, they were forced to pack up their belongings, load up the car and leave their devastated farm behind to find work.

Scruffy has room for five people. With no trunk, any extra luggage would be strapped on the roof. The family headed north to Peace River Country, but somewhere in Alberta the worn-out car kicked the bucket.

Sylvia Harnden, the curator at Heritage Park, says the family would have had no choice but to set out on foot while Scruffy was left to fend for herself. Scruffy eventually settled in a barn in Balzac.

About 50 years later, in 1985, a man named Brian McKay showed up looking for Scruffy. The Calgary-born car enthusiast was living in Victoria, restoring antique Nash roasters, and looking for parts, when he heard about the old girl.

“He picked it up for parts, but once he had it in his possession, he started to look at it and fell in love with what it represented — all those thousands of thousands of people who struggled during the depression,” Harnden says. “The Dust Bowl, drought, hail, grasshoppers — it was a terrible time for a lot of people — and to him it represented those hardships.”

After having a hell of a time taking Scruffy to car shows, in 2004, when he was 65 years old, McKay mechanically restored the car and drove 2,000 miles down Route 66 from Chicago to Los Angeles, recreating the journey of many Dust Bowl refugees who headed west hoping to find work.

He shipped Scruffy by flatbed truck to Chicago and travelled by train to meet up with her for the epic, 2000-mile, seven-week journey. McKay mimicked the life of the original displaced farmers with an old bed frame tied on top of Scruffy and a kitchen set-up at the back. He camped roadside or in campgrounds along Route 66 and cooked his own food.

The car has wooden spokes so when driving through drylands in Nevada, at one point he drove into a tributary of the Colorado River to soak his wheels, to swell up the spokes so they would be tight again.

After McKay’s death, Scruffy was donated to Heritage Park in 2010 with the stipulation they could not restore her.

“I think the story of this car is one thing — the indomitable human spirit,” Harnden says. “Brian McKay had it, people who survived the Great Depression had it — they just had to keep on, keepin’ on — and somehow they did.”

Liked this story? Read the full feature in the May/June issue of Where Calgary and uncover the secrets behind five museum artifacts.  

Uncovering hidden treasure from the First World War

By SILVIA PIKAL

Photo courtesy Glenbow.

On the seventh floor of Glenbow, one of the floors containing the museum’s collections materials, Travis Lutley slips on a pair of archival gloves and picks up a slender cigarette tin. Its exterior is dotted with rust, but it’s in pretty good shape considering it’s been buried in dirt for almost a century.

(more…)

The bell that rang when Chuvalo fought Ali

By SILVIA PIKAL

Exhibit in Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame/Photo by Silvia Pikal.

The year was 1966.

The place was Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto.

And the fight was between George Chuvalo and Muhammad Ali.

(more…)

15 things to do in Calgary in June

By RACHAEL FREY

Photo courtesy Monsieur Periné.

MONSIEUR PERINÉ

This Columbian group mixes Latin and European influences in their Afro-Caribbean sound. See them on June 4. (more…)

4 must-see art exhibits in Calgary

By SILVIA PIKAL

May 18, 2018 

Alma Duncan, Self-Portrait With Braids, 1940, Library and Archives Canada.

NOTABLE SELFIES

For those who deride the “selfie” as an obsession of the iPhone-toting, avocado-obsessed millennial, don’t forget that people have been making self-portraits since early homo sapiens carved sketches of themselves into cave walls. (more…)

Panda-monium: Meet the Calgary Zoo’s Newest Residents

By RACHAEL FREY 

Photo by Silvia Pikal.

What’s black and white and cute all over? The Calgary Zoo’s four new residents, of course! The giant panda breeding pair Da Mao and Er Shun have arrived at the Zoo with their two little bundles of joy, twin cubs Jia Panpan and Jia Yueyue. (more…)

15 things to do in Calgary in May

By RACHAEL FREY and SILVIA PIKAL

Photo courtesy Alberta Beer Festivals.

Calgary International Beer Fest

From May 4-5, sample some of the 500 beers onsite, take part in beer seminars, vote for the best and more. (more…)