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Moose Jaw or Moosejaw – one Fantastic 4th Global Conference

Moose Jaw’s outstanding Murals team played host to the Global Association’s 4th Conference; and if what they arranged for we delegates under Maxine Millar’s leadership was anything to go by, it is no surprise that their Murals Story rivals the well documented success of Chemainus. But Maxine is a retired nurse and long standing driver of the project since 1990, so that explains most of it! And in saying so there is no wish to belittle the other members of the Murals Board who all made major contributions to the success of the Conference and to the success of Moose Jaw’s total project this last decade.

Click on images to enlarge



Moose Jaw is no shrinking violet. The ladies of the 1920s, and the alleged Al Capone connection from Prohibition Days, give it a reputation to match any city in the world… and as a Murals Town it is bigger than most with more than 35 000 population today. It had indeed lost its major role as Canadian Pacific divisional railhead and farming in the area is not always booming, but it still had more to rally round than the folk in Chemainus or many another location. Its downtown centre is largely unspoilt and dates from the early 20th Century when the railhead boomed, and it has the major attraction of its own mineral spa (even though the hot spring had long since run dry). On the perimeter it has the Museum of Western Development (go to www.WDMuseum.sk.ca) and not far away the home base of the Royal Canadian Air Force’s Snowbirds,the spectacular air display team. But everyone from Mayor and Lt Governor of the Province to the man on Main Street at The Mad Greek acknowledged that it was the muralists who first got the ball rolling, and made tourism the major attraction throughout the 1990s. And that was greatly assisted by the fact that Canadian Route #1 running west/east and Route #2 running south/north intersect in Moose Jaw.

The Moose Jaw Murals now number in excess of 30 and we saw them early on in a Heritage Tour by restored Trolley that departs from outside the Temple Gardens Mineral Spa – now reopened (go to http://templegardens.sk.ca) with hot waters piped a mile or so after a new bore some 18 000 feet down to gain fresh supplies. And as if the Mineral Spa is not attraction enough to make mural visitors well content, just across the street the Moose Jaw Casino, complete with interior and exterior Murals, opened early in 2002 (go to www.casinomoosejaw.com)

Yes, a Feast for the Senses and Excellent Speakers Too

Clearly we could have spent the whole week just enjoying the town as tourists and wondering whether the name is derived from the Indian word with a ‘g’ that makes for Warm Breezes in translation or whether the river bend looks like a moose’s jawbone. But Maxine and her colleagues very much had it in mind that we were intellectual muralists as well as sensitive souls. A series of exceptionally able speakers presented to the crowded programme. Whilst it is clearly going to be invidious, some of the highlights for this reporter will be given here:


  • Bringing Murals to Life – the very first session of Tuesday afternoon saw Virginia Terry and Lorraine Clarke reporting on a cracking idea that has been pioneered in Ely using High School Reunions as their target audience. Quite simply, a mural is selected and on July 3rd it comes to life in a two or three act play at the local dinner theatre. It proved to be great earner for the Murals Society, but much much more than that it gave ex scholars a great taste of reunion times. Many of us came away determined to adopt that idea as well as committed to visiting Ely, Nevada in 2004 when the 5th Conference is to be convened there in September. The Moose Jaw Times Herald gave the approach extensive coverage on October 16th.

  • Vice Regal Dinner Guest – Oops. Almost forgot. Ely were ahead of themselves because it was not until the evening that Dr Lynda Haverstock, the Lieutenant Governor of Saskatchewan (of Scottish descent), and the Mayor of Moose Jaw, Al Schwinghamer, joined with Karl Schutz, the Association’s President, to declare the Conference open! All the flags were there, piped in and including the saltire. The evening was rounded off by songs from the Moose Jaw Children’s Choir and a Vice Regal Walkabout with stickpin exchanges for many a delegate. Dr. Haverstock’s speech also gained mention in the Times Herald on October 16th.



  • Burrowing Owls and More - Wednesday’s highest light, and it was all very workmanlike stuff, was the visit by Scamper, the Saskatchewan burrowing owl (go to www.pnr-rpn.ec.gc.ca). He’s one of a one and only species of Prairie owl that prefers to live in borrowed burrows rather than in trees or barns or wherever their relatives dwell. In cold climates sounds a smart owl really.



    The other highlights were a thorough insight from Roy Anderson (reported in the Times Herald on October 17th) into how the Province has and continues to develop its tourism potential in targeted markets; how ironwork can have wholly innovative uses in sculpture presented by the acclaimed master of that art Doug Benthum; and finally many finer and very significant points about the right paint to apply (go to www.goldenpaints.com and see Just paint Issue No. 10 April 2002.)

  • Photography & The Internet - Thursday saw two outstanding presentations of the use of photography (i) to capture a mural/how and how not to take the picture; and (ii) Cim Macdonald’s photographic tour of Chemainus where she is also Curator of the Murals. It also heard a quite exceptionally lucid analysis of WebSite design by Clint Krismer who created the Province’s tourism website resources (go to www.sasktourism.com)

  • Snowbirds, Copyright & Funding - Friday early was billed as a Mystery Tour/Dress Warm. And the Mystery Lingers On… The Snowbirds were unable to fly because cloud-base was barely 800 foot, but we got cold enough standing about awaiting the decision not to go. Back at the Conference venue, the Heritage Inn, Laureen Marchand took is through the Canadian laws on copyright and the Berne Convention in layman’s language and we all came away better informed as a result acceptive of the artist’s proper right in asserting their moral rights in relation to the works we commission whilst expecting them via contract to ascribe precisely given commercial rights. Bob Baker and Maxine Millar rounded off the day’s work by recounting how they raised funds in Moose Jaw before the curtain went up on the Moose Jaw Player’s interpretation of Arsenic and Old Lace.

  • Street Culture and Face Art, Moose Sculpture and Moose Jaw’s own Tourism Tale - The finale of the Conference began with delegate participation in street and face art Regina style completing our own Jigsaw Mural – each of us crafted a single piece and the Solution Group assembled the pieces! But they told their arts story as well once the digital projector finally coughed into life! And it was an inspiring tale of youngsters helped by participation in street art from troubled lives and sometimes from the fringes of criminality. Michelle Power described Moose Jaw’s Tourism strategy and results these past 12 years including details of www.TunnelsOfMooseJaw.com and the new Moose Jaw Centre for 2003 at www.moosejawculture.com. Jane Bonnar and Gordon Prestoungrange outlined how Prestoungrange Arts Festival was progressing and what it was hoped to achieve by the time the 6th Conference of the Global Association comes to Scotland in 2006.

  • Moose & Families of Moose Jaw - All the best festivals have a Wow factor according to Association President Karl Schutz, and as such an unveiling was required. And what and who better than Wei Laun and the sculptured moose family pictured here introduced by the Major.



    And finally the evening was rounded off with the Closing Ceremony that celebrated not only the multi-nationality of the Association but also the multiculturalism of Moose Jaw itself with pipers plus Ukrainian, East Indian, Indian and Scottish dancing... and then the Association’s banner was formally passed to Ely’s delegate team with the injunction Beat That! Moose Jaw’s 4th Conference had done the Association very proud indeed and we all have every reason to be grateful.


Post Scripts…

There were other fascinating links to make and reports to be heard... Several artists attended including E Colin Williams (go to www.seeknet.com/arthome.html) and Cim Macdonald, whose recent series of paintings on Fire Departments (to to www.victoriafirehistorical.ca) and one of Buckingham palace for the Queen’s Golden Jubilee were well received.

WestJet In Flight Magazine for October featured Moose Jaw’s Murals.

Two circulated papers on Funding the Moose Jaw Way are attached here.

...and just in case you thought it might not be an interesting point, the presence of a Scottish Baron provoked comment also. Along with Karl Schutz and Maxine Millar, the Baron of Prestoungrange was interviewed thrice on CBC radio and for Canadian TV. To show his appreciation, Gordon Prestoungrange shared a bottle of Pencaitland’s own 10 year Glenkinchie with all those present who cared for such a liqueur after the last supper together.

Published Date: October 15th 2002


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