Today in Alberta History: CJSR enters the FM realm

On this day back in 1984, Edmonton’s independent radio station CJSR had it’s first FM broadcast!

Vlad the Inhaler and I discuss the milestone on the debut episode of his new program, Sci-Fi BBQ.


Today in Alberta History: First female Métis Senator

Photo courtesy of NAIT

Photo courtesy of NAIT

Thelma Chalifoux was the first female of Métis descent to be appointed to the Canadian Senate on November 26, 1997. Born in Calgary, she was also the first Métis woman to receive the achievement award from the National Aboriginal Achievement Foundation (now known as Indspire). She retired from the Senate in 2004, and continues to work closely with her Métis community in St. Albert.

Yes, important work likely is done in the Senate, however, I’m of the belief that this kokum has touched more lives through her work in and with the Métis community.

Today in Alberta History – Radio firsts in Alberta

The man, the legend, Grant Stovel

The man, the legend, Grant Stovel

I missed the actual day of this happening, but it’s still a retroactive share worth bringing up.

On November 21, 1927, the CKUA Radio Network signed on. Since then, the station has grown into the cultural fabric of not only Alberta, but Canada. Here are a couple firsts from CKUA:

  • Canada’s first public broadcaster
  • First school broadcast (likely in the form of distance learning)
  • First FM station in Alberta
  • First Canadian station to stream broadcast online

CKUA moved from the U of A campus to downtown Edmonton years ago. And within the last couple years, they moved once again to their current location in the redone Alberta Hotel on Jasper Avenue and 98 Street.

As someone involved with CJSR over the years, there’s a symbiotic big brother-little brother relationship between the two stations. They share talent and they sometimes promote the same (or similar) events. Either way, CKUA hopefully continues to be thee alternative to awful corporate FM radio.

Today in Alberta History – Curtain Rises for new Citadel

Courtesy of the Provincial Archives of Alberta

Courtesy of the Provincial Archives of Alberta

On November 12, 1976 Edmonton’s Citadel Theatre opened at its current location by Churchill Square. The original theatre, at the old Salvation Army Citadel on 103 Street (now the Starlite Room), opened several years earlier.

I remember taking a field trip to the Citadel theatre when I was a kid — very thrilling for us small-town folks. I’ve been lucky over the years to attend lots of openings and sneak a peak at the costume department. Theatre magic!

Today in Alberta History: Let The Good Times Roll


Courtesy of the Provincial Archives of Alberta

The sad-looking man above is carrying a flask of booze somewhere in and around Frank, Alberta. He looks sad because at the time, it was still illegal to make, purchase and consume alcoholic beverages. But the time of teetotalism and temperance would soon be over.

In 1878 the federal government adopted the Canada Temperance Act, which allowed provinces to hold plebiscites to opt-in to prohibition. In 1916, Alberta passed prohibition.

It wasn’t until November 5, 1923 that Alberta finally held another plebiscite on the issue. At the time, it was the second province-wide plebiscite in Alberta history.

Albertans had four choices on the ballot (and the resulting vote total in percentage):

  1. Continue prohibition, meaning the abolition of the sale of all liquors except for medicinal, sacramental, manufacturing and scientific purposes (38 per cent)
  2. Licensed sale of beer in licensed hotels and other premises (2.4 per cent)
  3. Government sale of beer (1.9 per cent)
  4. Government sale of all liquor (58 per cent)

In the end, with 58 per cent of the total vote, Albertans chose to allow the sale of all liquor by or through Government vendors. Beer will be allowed to be consumed on licensed premises and private residences, and people were allowed to purchase limited quantities of wine and spirits. Cheers!

Today in Alberta History: A Streetcar is Desired

First Street Car in Edmonton. Photo by Alfred F. Dreger. Courtesy of Provincial Archives of Alberta

First Street Car in Edmonton. Photo by Alfred F. Dreger. Courtesy of the Provincial Archives of Alberta

On this day back in 1908, the first streetcar in Edmonton made it’s maiden trip across the Low Level Bridge to Whyte Avenue in Strathcona. At the time, fares were 5 cents within Edmonton, 10 cents if you wanted to go to Strathcona, and 10 cents after 11 p.m.

If trains are your thing, the Edmonton Radial Railway Society has lots of information and history on rail transport in Edmonton. Also, you can book, for your own private function, the streetcar that runs in the summer from downtown to the Strathcona Farmer’s Market. My pal Nikko booked it for his birthday a few years ago. It was a formal event and he got a liquor licence for about an hour. We sat on top of the High Level Bridge, watching the sunset whilst drinking champagne. Amazing way to experience actual beauty here in Edmonton.

Today in Alberta History: Fossil gold rush gets a home


Today back in 1985, supreme overlord of the PC party Peter Lougheed officially opened The Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology. The museum, named after Joseph Tyrrell Burr (the man who discovered Albertosaurus sarcophagus), has grown to be one of the world’s foremost authorities on dinosaurs and palaeontology. I went to the museum a couple weeks ago for a work meeting, the first time since I was in single digits. So many years later, it’s still awesome.