Local Architecture and Provenance: The Elveden Centre

Some might view the Elveden Centre here in Calgary as a bit of an eye-sore as compared to the high rises that are going up quickly these days.  However, as I looked at this architectural drawing by Charles Paine and Associates, employed by Rule Wynn & Rule Associates Architects and Engineers and read the notes on the cardboard backing of the standard frame, I knew that this was a project in the late 50s and early 60s that gave a group of people an abundant sense of pride and so I am also intrigued.  It is an interesting thing to discover such provenance in a bin at a second hand store and so I brought it home as one of those special treasures that I feel contributes to the history of our community…a mere $5.00 price tag attached.

I find the aesthetic of that time period to be pretty special, having been born in 1955.  I am including details here because I think that the cars and the approach to the drawing are, in themselves, interesting.  Charles Paine and Associates created designs that were mid-century modern and would have been constructed in Vancouver, British Columbia and Edmonton, Alberta as well as Calgary. One can clearly see a link between the Elveden Centre and the Oceanic Plaza, for example.

William M. Smith must have felt significant pride in the project, given his precise labeling.  I have a great respect for any individuals who archive carefully for the sake of history and future generations.  Bill was one of those people.

An excellent resource regarding building projects in Calgary at the time can be found at Monuments to Progress produced by the Glenbow in 2004…an interesting read for any of my readers interested in local architecture.

Finally, the loved ones of Bill Smith left beautiful words behind…words that reflect deeply who William M. Smith really was.  In his life, he sat on committees and obviously led a successful life, but truly, the greatest magic was in how he lived his life.

“He loved to learn and was always diving into new subjects, soaking up details.  Learning Spanish, questioning science and religion, following news about Mars and life beyond, naming exotic plants and trees, Bill saw the world as an endless playground of facts that he should know about,  His enthusiasm was contagious and spread amongst a wide mix of friends and family – if Bill knew it, the rest of us should know it too.

But his most beloved hobby and a lifelong passion that he took from his Mama, was reading poetry.  He could recite countless poems and was forever delving into the works of a new found poet.  Whatever the occasion, Bill could pull up just the right poem from his mind’s database and put to words what we wanted to say.”

Among all of his accomplishments also included in the newspaper, I would have to say that these sit with me as his most important.

This morning, I sort of felt guilty.  I woke up.  Another September 11th morning.  And the first September 11th since the two towers came down eleven years ago…and my first thoughts were not for those who lost their lives…and not for their surviving family members.   After an encounter with an image…an image of two huge towers in New York City…somewhere in the media…I took pause.  I remembered.

Now, writing…and encountering the Provenance of William M. Smith…I am thinking about the blessings of each and every individual’s life.  We are each here as a smattering of light.  It is important that we think about what is truly important for this moment.  Inspired by Bill, I’m going to go and find a poem to read while the dinner sends out beautiful aromas from the slow cooker.