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Alberta temple named Canada historic site

The Alberta Temple was named a Canadian Historic Site by government representatives at ceremonies here Sept. 16, attended by Elder Ted E. Brewerton of the Seventy.

The distinction honors the national, historic and architectural significance of the temple to the people of Canada.The temple was dedicated in August 1923 by President Heber J. Grant. At the time it was the sixth operating temple in the Church.

Alberta Temple Pres. Merlin H. Lybbert, a former member of the Seventy, also attended the plaque-unveiling ceremony, as did former temple presidents: Elmo Fletcher, V.A. Wood and Roy Spackman. Stake presidents, bishops and other Church members, government leaders and the general public from throughout southern Alberta filled Cardston's Temple Street Chapel to attend the ceremony.

Members of the General Stewart Branch of the Royal Canadian Legion Bag Pipers Band ushered in the dignitaries.

The plaque presentation and ceremony was the result of a cooperative effort by the Department of Canadian Heritage, Parks of Canada, the Historical Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, and the Church. In November 1992, the monuments board recommended the temple be commemorated in honor of the dedication, hard work, skill and energy of the early Church pioneers in the Cardston area.

Part of the historic significance is the design and site selection for the temple. The Church selected plans by Hyrum Pope and Harold Burton of Salt Lake City. "In its plan, elevation and detailing, the building reflects the influence of Frank Lloyd Wright whose splendid work marked the emergence of American modern architecture," the monuments board noted in a news release. "The Alberta Temple is not only a rare, contemporary Canadian example of this architectural style, it is also the first consciously modern building in the province of Alberta."

An important component of the Alberta Temple is its site. When the plot was set aside for the temple in 1887, the crown of the hill, with the majestic Chief Mountain as a backdrop, was chosen. Finding the site to be lower than expected, Pope and Burton increased the height of the temple base so the brilliantly white building would be visible from all directions, according to the news release.

The plaque was unveiled by Canadian Sen. H. A. (Bud) Olsen of Medicine Hat, Alberta, following his remarks and those of other dignitaries. Preceding him was a half-hour of inspirational prelude music by the Cardston Girls Choir.

Opening remarks were made by Trudy Cowan, Alberta representative for the monuments board; welcome remarks by Cardston Mayor Fred Spackman; and greetings by John Balderson, representing Ray Speaker, member of Parliament for the District of Lethbridge. Other speakers included Jack Ady, minister of advanced education and career development for the province of Alberta; and Merv Syroteuk, supterintendant of Waterton Lakes National Park.

"Today truly is a grand occasion as the Alberta Temple joins a select group of more than 1,000 sites and people in Canada that have a story that needs to be told and commemorated," Ms. Cowan said. "Taken together these places and people only begin to tell the story of the history of the nation of Canada."

Mayor Spackman said the beautiful granite temple has long been an architectural symbol suggesting permanence and lasting values and also a spiritual symbol suggesting covenants and eternal blessings.

Mr. Balderson said he appreciated growing up among the LDS people and recognized the moral stand and their dedication to families, work ethic, and political, agricultural and economic endeavors.

"Just think of the agricultural spin-offs because of irrigation and the efforts of the Mormon pioneers," he said. "Today four out of five jobs in this Lethbridge area are related to irrigation. Through hard work and dedication these pioneers made this land blossom as a rose."

Minister Ady said the designation of the temple as a historic site honors the temple's role in a growing community and province that strive to reflect the values of people, prosperity and the preservation of family and faith in God and fellowship of neighbors. These are the very things the Mormon people hold dear, he told the audience.

"The temple's central focus represents the strength and basic values that built this province and the presence of these core values is a part of who we are. We are delighted that Canada has recognized the temple's significance in our nation."

Elder Brewerton, a native of Raymond, Alberta, said: "Temples are spiritual edifices erected by the people to the glory of God. They are the most sacred edifices on earth. Nothing is spared to erect a temple to God. The Alberta Temple will last throughout the Millenium because of the love of people past and present. It is a special honor to have the federal government of Canada honor the Alberta Temple, and I accept this plaque on behalf of the Church."

After the ceremonies, Elder Brewerton commented that the most important thing about the roots of the LDS pioneers is that they produced the most wonderful fruit with the building of the Alberta Temple. The ancestors of the people here today must be very pleased with what has gone on with this special recognition, he said.

Merv Syroteuk of Parks Canada said: "These historic sites are places to visit and rejuvenate our souls, and they are symbols of pride we share today. The temple is significant because of the story it tells of the sacrifice of the LDS people of southern Alberta. It tells of the last great trek made by these people who founded places such as Raymond, Magrath, Leavitt, Glenwood, Caldwell, Hill Spring, Mountain View and Cardston."

Sen. Olsen told the audience it is important to find one's roots to give meaning to the past, present and future. He said the events and places people choose to celebrate are crucial to telling the story of the rich pioneer heritage. He also thanked the Church for its careful stewardship of the temple and for preserving its architecture and cultural history for the people of Canada.

Following the ceremonies, a public reception was held in the cultural hall, and the plaque was displayed. The plaque's inscription reads: "A striking modern building dominating Canada's first Mormon settlement, the Alberta Temple is an architectural and historic monument of national significance. Designed in 1912 by Pope and Burton of Salt Lake City, its geometric composition of white granite blends ancient and modern themes, notably Mayan-Aztec and the Prairie School architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright. Special rooms reserved for sacred ceremonies are richly embellished with woodwork, murals and furnishings. Restored in 1991 with meticulous care, this building emphasizes the pre-eminent place of the temple in the Mormon religion."

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