Spur Line Art Trail Auction Honors History and Helps Communities
“We have plaques from professional artists, from former railway workers and miners, right down to children. There are people who made trains. They made wildlife. There are representations of the engine bridge. There are quite a few First Nations, mountains, abstraction. It was wonderful. The creativity is amazing.
CANMORE – The Canmore Spur Line was an important part of the community’s heritage.
From the late 19th century until 1979, the railroad connected the coal mines to the town’s mainline, helping to build Canmore’s fledgling economy. Eventually the mines closed and the branch line became a popular trail within the community.
Today, that heritage is honored with a special auction using the same trees that once lined the trail.
“The Spur Line Art Trail was created for the Town of Canmore’s Building Neighborhoods Builds Community program,” said Canmore artist Lesley Russell, who curated the trail. “I was the artist who worked on the trail, and it was to showcase Canmore’s rich heritage, landscape and wildlife. This is such an iconic trail.
Russell collected trees that had been felled on the trail and had a company cut them into slabs. She then distributed 170 of the plaques in the community in hopes that art of all varieties could be created. What she received in return was beyond what she could have expected. At first, she expected only a few to be fired. In fact, she received more than 140.
“At first I was painting patches because I was afraid no one would do anything and I was going to have to fill in some gaps and that really didn’t have to happen and it was lovely,” said Russell.
The variety of artists and their creations also surprised Russell.
“We have plaques from professional artists, from former railroad workers and miners, to children,” Russell said. “There are people who made trains. They made wildlife. There are representations of the engine bridge. There are quite a few First Nations, mountains, abstraction. It was wonderful. The creativity is amazing.
Now that the artwork is complete, Russell is ready to auction off the plates at a special event, the first charity is Spirit North at Mînî Thnî (Morley).
“I chose both charities because our neighbors in Morley created plaques and I wanted to make sure we were giving back to First Nations in some way,” Russell said. “Spirit North is an excellent charity that organizes land-based activities that improve the health and well-being of Aboriginal youth.
The second charity to benefit is the Discover Art Fund program run by artsPlace.
“I donate to the artsPlace Discover Art Fund which helps low-income families access the arts,” Russell said. “I just felt they were ideal for what we had created as a community.”
The barbecue will be held September 17 from 4-8 p.m. at 802 12A Street in Canmore. It will include a special barbecue and live music. Everyone is welcome to the event. The auction itself is online.
“The plan is for people to bid in the auction and take the plaque home and put it on their shelf in their house, on their fence, hanging on trees, in their gardens,” Russell said. “The project is for [the plaques] spread again in the community. Lucky bidders can pick up their art plaques that night.
You can bid on items by visiting https://m.charityauctionstoday.com/m/auctions/spur-line-art-trail-charity-auction-33848/items.
The August 25 edition of Outlook incorrectly stated that the Spur Line Art Trail auction would take place on September 17. The BBQ will be held that day from 4-8 p.m. with live music. The auction is online and can be found at: https://m.charityauctionstoday.com/m/auctions/33848. The Outlook apologize for the mistake.