Edmonton

My time as the invited Corus Lecturer at Grant MacEwan University allowed me to spend an entire day on campus, visiting and chatting with classes. Very interesting, especially the sociology of facing a Media Studies classroom where the 30 students are all hidden behind vertical fixed computer screens, on which they are typing . . . who knows what? I had some success in attracting their attention, since some of them followed me to the John L. Haas theatre that evening, where the audience of about 300 seemed to enjoy the evening. The description (attached elsewhere in this website) by the West Edmonton Local uses nice words like “captivated.”

Roaming around downtown Edmonton next day I came on a fascinating Ukrainian-language bookstore, which I was informed is “the biggest in North America.” Who knew?

Close by, I came on a stretch of Jasper Avenue East made up of interesting old buildings erected around 1912-13. One of them, in the “flatiron” style, was named “The Gibson Block.” I regretted not having a camera with me, because I would have enjoyed posing beside it. Ho, ho.

Not so fast. When I investigated the historic plaque, I learned that the building was erected by one William Gibson (good) who came west from Ontario (good, and no doubt earlier from Scotland, very good) and erected this building, where the street level featured a well-known eating place called “The Gibson Café.” All very good, until I reached the line “with its now-notorious sign outside ‘White Help Only.”

Very, very bad.

I guess if we’re going to take pride in our names, we have to take the rough with the smooth.

— Douglas Gibson

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