Sunwapta Totem Pole


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Funding Received

This is an update for anyone who participated, or had an interest in, the Sunwapta Totem Pole project. Since overseeing the delivery of The Mathias/Sunwapta Totem last fall to the Royal Alberta Museum (RAM), I have been in occasional contact with them to observe their progress and research. In April of this year, I was … Continue reading Funding Received

Posted in CFRN Totem

Totem pole story on CTV

A notice to all in the donor group that our story of the totem pole will be seen in a feature report this Thursday, Oct. 21 on CTV Edmonton during the 6 o’clock news. It will also be available that day on our website: http://edmonton.ctv.ca/ …for those outside of the broadcast area and will be … Continue reading Totem pole story on CTV

Posted in CFRN Totem

Totem Pole Numbers

An update to all donors to let you all know we have crested the triple digits and now sit at 101 donors! Thanks everyone. We had an excellent meeting yesterday at CTV with two folks from the Museum. Cathy Roy is the Curator of Western Canadian History and she was given her first opportunity to … Continue reading Totem Pole Numbers

Posted in CFRN Totem

Individual Donations

Donations that are received by the Friends of Royal Alberta Museum Society by an individual or company will be used for a specific purpose, for example the Sunwapta Totem Fund, if the individual or company specifies a specific purpose. A charitable tax receipt will be issued. If the donation is received by an individual Albertan, … Continue reading Individual Donations

Posted in CFRN Totem

First Article

Rescuing the Sunwapta totem by Lawrence Herzog Inside Edmonton | Vol. 28 No. 39 | September 30, 2010 Real Estate Weekly For 35 years, it was an Edmonton landmark. When the 18-foot high Thunderbird totem pole at the front door of CFRN’s Sunwapta Broadcast House at 18520 Stony Plain Road was removed during an extensive … Continue reading First Article

Posted in CFRN Totem

CFRN Totem Pole Restoration Array click here to view a 30MB News report aired on CFRN-TV on October 22, 2010.

History

For 35 years, the Sunwapta Totem Pole dominated the landscape of the CFRN headquarters just West of Edmonton, from the 1954 sign-on of CFRN-TV, until renovations by new owner Electrohome in 1989. It was carved by a well known West Coast artist named Chief Mathius Joe Capilano of the Squamish Nation who also created the Thunderbird House Pole, erected at the crest of Prospect Point in Vancouver’s Stanley Park on August 26, 1936. The totem had originally be given to Mrs. M.D. Muttart in the mid-1930s by local aboriginal peoples, as thanks for some of her charitable work. She kept it at her family’s Jasper Place Lumber yard, until Mrs. Muttart gave it to CFRN owner Dr. G.R.A. Rice in 1939.

When Dr. Rice received a television license in 1954, he required additional studio and office space, so decided to centralize CFRN Radio and Television at the new television transmitter site just West of Edmonton on what was then the highway to Jasper. This West Coast totem pole became the centre piece, and quickly was known as “The Sunwapta Totem Pole” after Rice’s Sunwapta Broadcasting Company.

In 1989, Ken Macklin was teaching sculpture at the University of Alberta in Edmonton. One of his students mentioned that CFRN was renovating and there may be some scrap metal to be had. He did find some, but in his searching he also came across a large construction dumpster. In it, with no other debris, is the totem! An inquiry as to its fate confirms it is destined for the dump!!! He asked if he could have it, and until 2002 it lived at his home. After that, it was sold to the man who had it until the auction a few weeks ago, where our odyssey began. Being an artist, he recognized it as a piece of art and as a young lad he knew it as having been a landmark and a part of his family history. His mother was Virginia Macklin, host of Morning Magazine on CFRN for many years with Norris McLean. He is very happy with our efforts in all of this and has in fact bought a share in memory of his Mom. If you find yourself at the Art Gallery of Alberta, you can thank him for his totem pole rescue effort by going to look at his impressive sculpture residing outside of the Terrace Level on the third floor.

Click to enlarge a picture:

Click above to enlarge a picture.

Latest Updates


How you can send donations to help the conservation effort!

September 30, 2010

Donations that are received by the Friends of Royal Alberta Museum Society by an individual or company will be used for a specific purpose, for example the Sunwapta Totem Fund, if the individual or company specifies a specific purpose. A charitable tax receipt will be issued.

If the donation is received by an individual Albertan, an eligible Alberta-based not-for-profit organization (and Canada Revenue Agency-registered charity) can apply for a proportional donation grant from the Government of Alberta called the Community Spirit Program (CSP). There are a lot of restrictions on what the funds received from CSP can be used for. For this reason it would be misleading to tell Totem Pole donors that their donation that is matched by the Government would also be used for the Totem Pole.

However, the funds received from CSP would definitely go towards charitable purposes in Alberta. For example, the Society is a major sponsor of education programs at the Museum. We also help financially disadvantaged children and families visit the Museum by working with 30 social agencies in the City. We also sponsor Aboriginal student interns at the Museum. So, if someone donates $50 to the Totem Pole, the $50 goes to the Pole and the CSP matching amount goes towards a charitable purpose.

At the moment, this is how one can donate to the Friends:

  1. People can donate online at www.framsociety.ca. After they donate, please ask that they phone me (780 453-9103) or email me at marilyn@framsociety.ca to specify Totem Pole.
  2. They could also phone me at 780 453-9103 to pay by credit card or mail to Friends at 12845 -102 Avenue, Edmonton, AB T5N 0M6.
  3. Admissions at the Museum also accepts donations on behalf of the Friends.

Please contact me with any concerns, questions, ideas.

Marilyn Nelson
Business Manager
Friends of Royal Alberta Museum Society
12845 -102 Avenue
Edmonton AB T5N 0M6
780 453-9103
marilyn@framsociety.ca

A quick note on the totem’s history that has recently come to light.  First, to its early days before Sunwapta. Many of us assumed it was of an early 1950’s vintage, just before the start of TV here in 1954. In fact, it is likely 20 years older, having been given as a gift to Dr. Rice in 1939 by Mrs. M.D. Muttart, of the famous local lumber family. She was given it as a gift by some aboriginal people as thanks for some of her charitable work. The totem then sat for several years at the Jasper Place Lumber yard before coming to this site.  The extra years and connection to one of Edmonton’s other famous families is of great interest to the Museum.  The other part of the totem history concerns a question many people were asking me, ‘how did it ever leave CFRN in the first place?’   This is outlined in Lawrence Herzogs’s article released yesterday, but for the benefit of those who haven’t seen it, here’s the story. In 1989 Ken Macklin was teaching sculpture at the U of A and one of his students mentioned that CFRN was renovating and there may be some scrap metal to be had. He comes out and does find some, but in his searching he comes across a large construction dumpster. In it, with no other debris, is the totem! An inquiry as to its fate confirms it is destined for the dump!!! He asked if he could have it, and until 2002 it lived at his home. After that, it was sold to the man who had it until the auction a few weeks ago, where our odyssey began. Being an artist, he recognized it as a piece of art and as a young lad he knew it as having been a landmark and a part of his family history. His mother was Virginia Macklin, host of Morning Magazine on CFRN for many years with Norris McLean. He is very happy with our efforts in all of this and has in fact bought a share in memory of his Mom.  If you find yourself at the Art Gallery of Alberta, you can thank him for his totem pole rescue effort by going to look at his impressive sculpture residing outside of the Terrace Level on the third floor