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Art installation a nod to the glory days of the railway – Calgary Herald



Local developer Gerald Knowlton has developed a railway park and public piece of art, along with restoring a CP caboose, in the town of Standard. Here Knowlton is seen admiring the station he was born in.

Photo courtesy Spencer Purdy / Calgary

Many successful business people also have a keen interest in a hobby, offering relaxation from their difficult daily tasks.

Some find pleasure in collecting. For others, building landscapes for model trains is rewarding, but Gerald Knowlton prefers the full-scale rolling stock as an homage to the railways that helped build this country.

He has a fine model train set and wonderful railway memorabilia. But Knowlton likes full-scale, where he can climb aboard and relive his childhood in the station at Standard, which led to his development of Champion Park in Okotoks and his significant donation of a public art piece in the newly opened Memory Lane Park in Standard.

Formed and named as a hub for CP trains, Standard is a small farming community about 80 kilometres east of Calgary.

Knowlton grew up in the Standard railway station and moved to Calgary in 1960 after graduating from the University of Western Ontario. He began working for C.H. Noton but, by 1961, he had brought together some partners and purchased the firm, renaming it Knowlton Realty in 1962.

Over more than 30 years, he built his company from a one-office, $125,000-a-year operation to a five-office national firm handling more than $100 million worth of real estate every year.

He was responsible for transforming a collection of properties in Calgary’s downtown into the two towers that became home to Petro-Canada — now known as Suncor Energy Centre — and for creating a similar development that resulted in Bow Valley Square.

He says he was fortunate to be in the “right place at the right time,” but he was the visionary “right man” who took over the young company in 1965.

He sold the company in 1995 and established Congress Inc. in 2001 to oversee and enhance the Knowlton’s investments, but he also sought opportunities on behalf of a consortium of investors and remained involved in office and retail developments.

His successes enabled him to pursue his railway interests, and he set about developing the 54-acre Champion Park south of the city as an homage to CP and the former station agent at Standard, his father, Ted Knowlton, who served in that capacity for 42 years.

The old Standard station had been demolished, but Knowlton was able to transport a similar station from Champion, about 150 kilometres south of Calgary, that was built in 1911 and restored at Champion Park in 1980.

Gifted to the town of Okotoks and Foothills County in 2016, besides the fully equipped station the park features other period buildings including the section house, ice house, bunk house, outhouse and a number of huts and a tool shed.

Rolling stock includes the 60-foot-long Saskatchewan executive car, engine, boxcar, stock car and several cabooses.

The caboose Knowlton found in Leader, SK, that he fully restored to its CP glory inside and out.

Photo courtesy Spencer Purdy /


CP had also donated a strip of land to the Village of Standard in 1923 to be developed as a park, but it wasn’t until 2015 that The Standard Community Facility Enhancement Society was formed to develop the space for the pleasure of its residents and to offer an interesting permanent display to attract visitors.

A sense of the historical role of Memory Lane meant the railway had to play a big part, and the society contacted the son of the former station agent to participate and support the venture.

Knowlton, who lived in the station until leaving for university, has been a driving force behind another full-scale exhibit that includes a public art installation of the station, platform and track, and a majestic caboose.

The Vanish Station design and construction is thanks to Knowlton’s grandson and Ted Knowlton’s great grandson, Vancouver-based architect Spencer Purdy, and structural engineer Patrick Wallain, whose company Exhibau creates and stages events worldwide for clients such as Nike, BMW and TED.

Vanish Station is a pieve of art that shows the former railway station disappearing as one walks or drives past it.

Photo courtesy Spencer Purdy /


Before studying architecture at the University of Southern California, Purdy lived in the Calgary area and for three years in the station now at Champion Park. In his youth, he also spent time in Standard during visits with his grandfather and from both experiences learned of the importance of the station as a hub for the village; sending off shared goods from farm and ranch, sending off young folks in search of a future, and bringing in coveted products not available locally.

Standard Mayor Alan Larsen says he remembers excitedly waiting at the railway station for his first bike — ordered from the Eaton’s catalogue — to arrive on the train.

Purdy wanted the new station to be of its current era while still referencing and honouring the design of the original station. The newly erected Vanish Station is built in a series of panels printed with the original 1909 elevations arranged at a 45-degree angle. The alignment of the panels offers two ever-changing views allowing visitors to experience the station and beyond — what stood and what vanished in one installation.

While this was being planned and designed with input from the village, Knowlton searched throughout Western Canada for a suitable caboose to sit on tracks by the station platform. He found the perfect equipment in Leader, Sask., that he purchased, had shipped to Standard and had refurbished and repainted as not only true CP rolling stock but a facility that can be used as a meeting place for village events, surrounded by picnic area, benches, shelters and landscaping along the 1.1-kilometre pathway.

In honouring the CP and Ted Knowlton, the family and townsfolk have provided a commemorative display that will be enjoyed both by locals and tourists. The hope and intent of the project is that people of all generations will be encouraged to visit Standard to learn from the past and enjoy the present at modern Vanish Station.

Gerald Knowlton still has a passion for railroads and has enjoyed many train rides all over the world, but the CP is in his blood and he’s excited to show off his salute to its history in Alberta.

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Art Fx #29: The Wilderness Collection by Stephanie Aykroyd – Huntsville Doppler



Art Fx is a year-long series on Huntsville Doppler featuring Huntsville-area visual artists.

The Wilderness Collection is a series of original oil landscapes on canvas by Stephanie Aykroyd.

“In a remote region of Ontario, Canada, is a land filled with old-growth pine, smooth granite outcrops, and clear waters. Like most wilderness areas, it is ancient and sacred,” writes Stephanie of her inspiration for this series. “The ancestors of this land left carvings in the rock, barely visible now, but their presence is strong. They travelled this land that you’re camping on and paddling through. Perhaps they sat on the same rock overlooking this lake…

“The storm has just passed and everything feels deeply still and peaceful.

“You can smell the pine and damp earth as you watch the mist drift across the far hills and light break through the clouds. A loon calls in the distance, and you smile, knowing that you belong.”

 “Limitless” (left) and “In the Quietest Moments” are original oil paintings in Stephanie Aykroyd’s The Wilderness Collection

About the artist

I live with my love Alex, on 27 acres north of Toronto, Ontario in a beautiful part of the Canadian Shield.

Stephanie Aykroyd (Danielle Taylor Photography)

I’m happiest in my studio or outside with my hands in the garden, searching for rocks, making pigments, portaging a canoe, or paddling the remote wilderness.

Over the years I always managed to paint, but it wasn’t a regular practice. I held back from making it my career and it was usually the first thing to be shelved when life got overwhelming. Far too often I focused on others at the expense of my own creative expression. However…

I’ve always dreamed of doing my art full-time and I’m a firm believer that when we set clear intentions & do the work, amazing things unfold!

By 2020, the need to create art became too strong and too important to ignore. Why keep putting off the very thing that feeds my soul?? This is the best decision I could have made and I haven’t looked back since!

Stephanie’s work is available for purchase at

See more local art in Doppler’s Art Fx series here.

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Departures at high-profile Barcelona museum provoke anger in art world – The Guardian



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Departures at high-profile Barcelona museum provoke anger in art world  The Guardian

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Oak Bay sets aside $27,000 for Indigenous art at muncipal hall – Saanich News



Oak Bay’s newly renovated chambers will feature a new piece of public art commissioned from an Indigenous artist.

The district allocated one per cent of the budget for the hall renovation, $7,000 to public art. Combined with the annual public art allocation, the district has $27,000 to spend on a work for municipal hall.

The move to work with a local artist, specifically from the Lekwungen speaking people on whose land Oak Bay sits, was unanimous among council members.

“This is a rare opportunity to have the resources to do that and as the renovated municipal hall reopens, have that be one of the centrepieces,” Coun. Andrew Appleton said during council discussions July 12.

Still in the earliest of stages, conversation surrounded the how of the project.

Oak Bay is between arts laureates, but liaison Coun. Hazel Braithwaite said the public arts committee is taking on that leadership role.

READ ALSO: Oak Bay artist leaves land to Victoria Native Friendship Centre

Coun. Tara Ney lamented the district’s lack of policy or set protocol for engaging in such initiatives.

She voiced a need to create pathways for engaging so it’s not done piecemeal, and instead with confidence and in culturally appropriate way.

Mayor Kevin Murdoch, who is routinely in conversation with local First Nations leadership, said the district is doing well in the absence of policy, always seeking guidance and building relationships in small ways.

Council agreed working toward something more formal is something they could pursue.

“This does require more formality and we need to start to establish those connections so we’re consistent and so we’re completely aware and sensitive to their needs,” Coun. Cairine Green said.

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READ ALSO: Greater Victoria residents invited to blessing of Indigenous mural celebrating solidarity

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