Ground was broken May 15 for the third temple in Alberta and the seventh in Canada on a prominent hill overlooking the vast landscape of Calgary.
With the distant, snow-capped Rocky Mountains as a backdrop to the west, the groundbreaking was presided over by Elder Donald L. Hallstrom of the Presidency of the Seventy. Elder William R. Walker of the Seventy and executive director of the Temple Department conducted the ceremony on the temple site adjacent to the Calgary Alberta West Stake center. Sister Diane Hallstrom and Sister Vicki Walker accompanied their husbands. Elder Richard K. Melchin, Area Seventy from Calgary, joined the other authorities in the event he has personally labored diligently to bring about.
Canada Prime Minister Stephen Harper, whose home residence is within a couple miles of the temple site, sent a personal letter that was delivered at the groundbreaking by special envoy Lee Richardson, a member of Parliament from Calgary. The prime minister described the Calgary temple as "an inspiring landmark and a fitting tribute to the Mormon community's long and proud history in the province and in Canada."
The Calgary Alberta Temple was announced by President Thomas S. Monson on Oct. 4, 2008. It is situated roughly midway between the Cardston and Edmonton temples in Alberta.
Under a bright blue sky, a congregation of about 1,600 gathered at the site for the groundbreaking, including civic leaders and provincial and federal government representatives, cabinet ministers and others. Proceedings were also broadcast via Internet to other Calgary stake centers so about 1,600 more could view the groundbreaking, Elder Melchin said.
Elder Hallstrom described the temple as the most sacred of all places on the earth. The purpose of the temple, he said, is to "connect men [and women] on earth with God in Heaven through promises to God and faithfulness in our lives." He invited members to think not just of dedicating temples but, more importantly, to dedicate themselves to the covenants of the temple.
In his remarks, Elder Walker cited Mosiah 2:6 and expressed a desire that members might pitch their "personal" tents with the doors thereof always toward the temple.
Once a rough frontier town in the forgotten west of Canada, Calgary is now the hub of the Canadian energy industry and the home to 20,000 Church members among its approximately 4 million residents. With a population now as diverse as all of Canada, Calgary's Latter-day Saints began as an extension of the first Mormon Pioneers that arrived in southern Alberta from Utah in 1886 in search of land and opportunity.
Formerly part of the Cardston Alberta Temple District, Calgary members will soon be able to enjoy the blessings of the temple without traveling the 2½ hours to that original LDS settlement founded by Charles Ora Card of Logan, Utah.
The location for this Classic Modern design temple, of 29,050 square feet, makes it a landmark in the city. While it might seem as though it is a recent development in the Latter-day Saint saga in Calgary, the story of this site actually began years ago. Truly, it is the culmination of events and initiatives that span more than 30 years of local Church history.
From the initial land acquisition and preservation to the announcement of this location as a temple site, the unique events that made this land available suggest the Lord's guiding hand throughout the entire process. While the announcement of the temple might have surprised many, it was seen as fulfillment of the vision and prayers of many leaders, past and present. They believed that not only would Calgary eventually have its own temple but that it would also be on this very hill, overlooking the valley.
As with a tapestry, where each part might seem modest and insignificant by itself, the beauty of the creation and artistry of the Creator can only be appreciated when all the pieces come together. So it has been with the storied history of this parcel of land, now to become the home of a temple and a symbol of local faith.
In an earlier Church News report (see Feb. 28, 2009), some of that history was mentioned.
Elder Melchin reported in the article that more than 15 years ago, 20 acres were purchased by the Church beyond the far northwest reaches of the city in anticipation of residential development there. The development came, and the Church was able to work out an arrangement trading its 20 acres for 10 acres in a more accessible area in the Royal Oak and Rocky Ridge neighborhoods.
When the need for a meetinghouse arose in the past decade, and with thought of a temple in Calgary then still a dream, the Church sought from the city and was granted zoning for two buildings on the lot, Elder Melchin said.
When grading was done for the Royal Oaks meetinghouse on the south side of the lot, the ground on the north side was built up a few feet higher, providing an ideal setting for the temple. Besides the Rocky Mountains to the west, the site has a clear view of the Calgary skyline to the south.
As the groundbreaking ceremony concluded, a dedicatory prayer was offered by Elder Hallstrom. He prayed that this site might be made holy and protected from all harmful elements. He blessed the site that those who worked on the building might have a sense of reverence and respect for the special work that they were embarking upon. Additionally, he prayed that the skills of the craftsmen would be elevated to a level beyond their natural ability. He asked that the saints might be "blessed and strengthened to become spiritually refined in readying themselves for temple worthiness." Finally, he prayed that the covenants made in this temple might become the "guideposts of our lives."
Construction is expected to begin within days, with a completion date projected to be the summer of 2012.