Vignettes tell a bit of Morinville’s history

Doris Charest vignette on coal mining in Cardiff sits on display in front of the Musée Morinville Museum. Seven new vignettes were recently unveiled and will be enjoyed by families visiting the park on Canada Day. – Morinville News Staff Photos

By Morinville News Staff

Morinville – Seven recently unveiled paintings in St. Jean Baptiste Park continue a longstanding tradition in the park – telling the community’s history where it all began. The paintings (called vignettes) were unveiled June 23 during St. Jean Baptiste Festival 2012, but the work of researching and preparing them began last fall.

The seven vignettes were crafted by three artists: Karen Blachet, John Ellenberger and Doris Charest. Blachet provided four of the seven pieces: a vignette depicting Morinville’s military history, one on early settlers Dr. Ferguson and Sarah Rondeau , one on hotels in town, and one on parades and festivals. Ellenberger’s contribution consisted of two vignettes: one on Father Georges Henri Primeau and one on agriculture. Doris Charest vignette on coal mining in Cardiff completes the new series of historical paintings.

Morinville Historical and Cultural Society member Murray Knight said the historical art project was a joint venture between the Morinville Historical and Cultural Society, Centralta Tourism Society, the province and the Town of Morinville.

While the art varies in style, understanding what the paintings are all about will not be left to varied interpretation. Each vignette has a sidebar that will put in words what the artists have depicted in paint.

“There’s going to be a storyline location for stories in French and English,” Knight said of the vignette sidebars, adding they would be added to the paintings soon. “The old vignettes that were here were nice paintings and pictures, but if you didn’t come here during the daytime and were able to go to the town and the Chamber of Commerce and get a little program that told you what each picture meant, you were pretty much lost.” Knight said the lack of interpretive materials lead some to believe a picture depicting the Cardiff coal mine indicated the coal mine was in the park. He and the society believe the story lines (also available at the museum in pamphlet form) will clear up any confusion on the community’s history depicted in the vignettes.

The stories told in this latest series of vignettes speak of the importance hotels played in the late 1800s and early 1900s, the lobbying efforts of Father Primeau in the 1970s, and the evolution of Morinvilles festivals, including St. Jean Baptiste Day and Frontier Daze. Another of the murals speaks to the military heritage present in the community. Beginning in 1909 when Morinville was selected as an armory location, the vignette includes representations of WWII when Morinville was all but taken over by the American military who were then building the Alaska Highway. The remaining vignettes depict the importance of agriculture to the founders of the community, the history of coal mining in Cardiff, and the doctor and midwife who served the families in Morinville and Cardiff.

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