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 see the totem in person. She was thrilled to see it and expressed how essential it was as an artifact in the telling the story of early media in Alberta. As well she assured us that in the Museum’s hands it is valued and will be kept safe forever.  The schedule is to have it delivered this afternoon to their warehouse.  She did say that the conservation work will be costly and time consuming and that our targeted excess funds are well appreciated.

The other person at the meeting was Marilyn Nelson, Business Manager of the Friends of the Royal Alberta Museum Society.  She offered clarification on the rules governing donations to the Society relative to the totem project. She said that an individual or company can donate to a specific purpose such as the totem and the Society is bound by law to target these donations as such. A charitable receipt will be issued for this. If an individual or registered not-for-profit agency makes a donation that is more general in nature, the Society can apply for matching grants from the Provincial  Gov’t. There are many restrictions as to what these matching funds can be used for so it is unfair to say these grant funds could go to the totem. I offer this information to those who wish to donate extra funds or if you hear of other non-staff who wish to be involved. All of our extra funds, after up front costs, will be targeted to the totem project so we are assured no part of it will go to efforts outside of the project as proposed. Marilyn said donations and questions can be sent the following ways:  the website at Her email at: or by phone at: 780 453 9103    Specify Sunwapta Totem Pole.

I will keep everyone up to date on what our total contribution is at as the funds accumulate. A cheque to The Friends will go out after the staff donations close Oct. 31, 2010, as per the earlier note.

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.

Thanks again for everyone’s support in this very important heritage conservation project.


John Hanson