Legal – The Town of Legal hosted a public meeting at the Legal School Sept 22 to discuss the community’s cultural vision and how the residents want to be represented. After the two-hour meeting, the decision is to have the residents of Legal present their viewpoint on a survey to be conducted in the next few weeks. The points in question include the location of the 20-foot wide by 30-foot tall steel monument (in or out of town), and whether murals should be installed on residential households.
Mayor and council received a few letters of discontent which prompted the open forum and a presentation by Centralta Tourism Society Coordinator Ernie Chauvet on what they are planning in the coming year. One of the discussions was the large metal monument, which was unveiled this past June. Some residents said they understood the murals portraying the local priests and the family histories that connect directly to Legal but not this monument. Many said it needed more explaining and was too complex and that they preferred something simpler. Comparisons were made to the Ukrainian sausage in Mundare, the star ship in Vulcan and the giant pierogi in Glendon. Others indicated it was the bigger picture and symbolized the heritage of Canada in general and Legal was the mini concept. Andre Noel, a member of the Centralta Tourism Society said, “It was to attract a bigger broader vision then just the community and address materials covered in the school curriculum.” Ernie Chauvet said, “the balance between local pride and the “shock” factor- something so unexpected that people will want to come and see what it is like.” The monument must meet with Alberta Highway regulations and some atendees indicated where it is situated requires ample parking to view it and that the monument is very climbable and therefore needs to be in public view. The location has to be safe for the monument and everyone around it.
The discussion Sept. 22 included the placement of the eight new murals, which will bring Legal’s mural total to 43. The new murals are themed around Louis Riel, 4-H, Irish immigration, Acadian Deportation, Youth, Knights of Columbus, Welcome Bonhomme and Francophone Secretariat. Some of these murals already have locations preselected for when they are completed- some do not. The Bonhomme, representing joy, laughter and joie de vivre, would be approximately 4-foot wide and 12-feet high. It is to be placed at the Legal corner to welcome people to town. A request was made by a resident to have the Louis Riel mural on his house which ignited a flurry of comments of enough is enough. Many felt murals should not go on houses because it could open the door for anything on Legal homes (only one on residence to date). A question was raised as to whether there were enough commercial buildings to accommodate the remaining murals. Suggestions included placing the murals along the walking trails and in the park or by the water reservoir.
The evening concluded with the introduction of the new banners to be placed on lampposts in town. Of the 15 2-foot by 4-foot banners, 10 are for Main Street and ready to go. Chauvet said the first five are ready to print. One of the criteria for the banners was achieving milestones together- with the words “together ensemble” displayed on them. Banners include Legal Motors celebrating 50 years, 1927 Fire department and ambulance, 1894 Gelot-Tieulie, Janelle Reinhart and The Honourable Ken Kowalski.
Legal is at a crossroads. Supporters of the mural program argue with community support it can proclaim itself the Mural Capital of the World per-capita (35 murals for 1,200 people) and being the most beautiful municipal town in the greater Edmonton area. If the answer to the survey is predominantly yes, they can increase that profile in Legal by adding two or three steel sculptures, a few wooden sculptures, adding flowers through Legal homes and use the Internet to draw people into town.
The list of accomplishments made by the CTS in Legal were highlighted, beginning with the Artisan Park and the five paintings in the park itself, the 25 historical tableaux located in the Community Centre in Legal, redoing the DeChamplain and Credit Union mural, the eight new murals proposed, the monument and presently the ongoing banners for Main Street and the articles for schools and newspapers.
One step forward for the CTS is anecdotal articles for the schools and historical articles for newspapers said Chauvet. “The CTS mandate to develop tourism in North Central Alberta via local and national Francophone contributions has been met,” Chauvet said. “‘The mission is accomplished as per the visual portion in Legal, though the odd mural could be added.” Chauvet went on to say the mission can be furthered through anecdotal articles being written by the coordinators to reach 60 articles for students from Grades 4, 5 and 7.
The Centralta Tourism Society (CTS) and the Town of Legal are looking to hear from residents as to what the cultural vision is before moving forward.
A monumental Decision:
I would like to congratulate Lucie Roy and Morinville News for a comprehensive reporting of the community meeting in Legal on September 22. A difficult task but very well done.
The mandate of the Centralta Tourism Society is to present the francophone perspective as an added value to existing local initiatives in the St-Albert, Morinville, Sturgeon and Legal area.
The steel monument is very dear to the Centralta Tourism Society as it represents the cooperative effort between the French Canadians and British in Canadian history. It is thanks to this cooperative effort that we are not part of the United States today. It is also from this spirit of dialogue and mutual respect that people of all nationalities and colors have been welcome to our country. It is my belief that it also reflects the history of Legal. That said, I acknowledge that the Centralta Tourism Society `CTS`could have done a better job in marketing the monument. It has since explained the monument in the Legal-lerie and local newspapers. The response to the upcoming Town survey will determine if the community wants to affirm the historical relationships or not through the Steel Monument.
Legal presently has the highest concentration of murals in the world. It is thanks to contributions from community members and groups with some matching Alberta Lottery money that Legal has achieved what it has. For a small community it is something to be proud of. Restrictions on where to place the murals have not been an issue in the past so understandably the CTS did not foresee the present concerns. Thus the 4H mural and Knights of Columbus mural will be added to the existing 35. For the remainder of the murals and any future work of art the CTS has started to pursue the possibility of building a Park outside of Legal in Sturgeon.
The walking trail is not an option for murals that cost around $9000 to put up. It is my personal thought that the Walking Trails in Legal are opportunities for other individuals and groups in the community to get involved. The Centralta Tourism Society is but one piece of the pie. This is the opportunity for other individuals and groups to invest and get involved.