In biblical terms, a jubilee year—which occurs each half-century—is a time for emancipation and restoration. Albertans have now had both experiences with the Northern and Southern Alberta Jubilee auditoria.
On May 4, 1954, Premier Ernest C. Manning announced that the province would build massive auditoria in Edmonton and Calgary to mark Alberta’s Golden Jubilee year of 1955. The biblical meaning of the word was not lost on the evangelical premier, and his jubilee project was intended to emancipate Albertans from cultural darkness. Manning appointed a Cabinet committee to plan the twin venues for cultural, educational, exhibition, recreational, and religious activities.
The government originally conceived of modest facilities costing $1.25 million each. The projects quickly became more ambitious as the committee reviewed facilities such as Radio City Music Hall in New York and the Royal Festival Hall in London. By the time they were completed, each Jubilee Auditorium cost $4.5 million.
The auditoria were intended as a tribute to pioneers who had shaped the province’s development, but they also embodied a confidence in the future that was widely felt following the discovery of oil at Leduc in 1947. (Weekend
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