People remember things from the past and through memory, can recreate a sense of the past. This sense of the past is not just a matter of recalling the facts of what happened, but interpreting the meaning of what happened.
As one writer has noted, "life in the shadow of pastness is what makes us human." Memory is this shadow of pastness. The memory of a common experience can be very different between different individuals or entire communities. Memory is recreated in many ways, not only in the telling of stories. Memory is found in the architecture of buildings, the celebration of rituals and festivals and the range of arts.
Alberta memory at work can be seen in events such the Calgary Stampede or Edmonton Klondike Days Festival. The Stampede, Calgary's annual exposition and self-proclaimed "greatest outdoor shown on earth" draws strongly on images of the Wild West. In expressing the place of ranching in the region, it celebrates the cowboy and his often lonely but free and unfettered existence. Yet the culture of ranching in southern Alberta was not that of American cowboys, but that of wealthy, established and even aristocratic British and Ontarian entrepreneurs.
Edmonton's Klondike Days commemorates Edmonton's role as a staging point for relatively few hardy souls attempting to reach the Klondike goldfields overland. That this route was nearly impossible and not successful in any significant way did not deter organizers from playing up the theme in local memory. Edmonton has served as 'a gateway to the North', but this is a result of the building of the Alaska Highway during WWII and the growth of air transportation in the same era, nearly 50 years after the Klondike
Gold rush in the Yukon Territory.
This digital collection was
produced with financial assistance from Canada's Digital
Collections initiative, Industry Canada.