To the Glenbow, and beyond
Wednesday, October 19, 2005
A Kensington Road landmark may soon blast off to a new home: the Glenbow Museum.
The Telstar Drugs rocket sign, erected in 1962, is slated to become part of a Glenbow exhibition called Mavericks: An Incorrigible History of Alberta, once all the arrangements are in place.
The pharmacy that it advertised closed a year ago after 42 years in business. Byron Bergh, son of the store's founders, Elmer and Izora Bergh, says his parents came up with the store name and sign to tie in to the space-race fever of the 1960s.
"It was my dad's marketing strategy, and it was brilliant," says Bergh, who took over the store from his father in 1975 and retired last year.
The real Telstar, launched aboard a Delta rocket in 1962, was a satellite that ushered in a new era of telecommunications. It transmitted the first live TV broadcast (a news conference with U.S. President John F. Kennedy) and the first telephone call bounced from space.
At a time when anything space-related was an attention-getter, the Telstar Drugs sign turned heads.
In fact, it still does.
Sandra Young's home design company, Willow Studio, now occupies the former pharmacy. She says that when the sign is lit up, "people come from miles around."
"I'm going to be heartbroken to see it go," says Young. "I love to spin that thing."
Bergh says sending the rocket to the Glenbow was a difficult decision to make, but it's comforting to know it will be preserved.
"It's quite a tribute," Bergh says.
If everything is worked out, the sign will be part of the new permanent, third-floor Mavericks exhibition, scheduled to open in the spring of 2007.
Stephen Dundas-Smith, an exhibit designer for the Glenbow, says it will occupy a special two-storey space.
"It will be lit and rotating, and will serve as a significant beacon to an area called Post Haste," Dundas-Smith says.
Post Haste will examine the post-Second World War era, a time of rapid development and entrepreneurialism in Alberta, he says.
"It's definitely a local landmark, and significant to Calgarians," he says. "People will still be able to enjoy it and continue to see it, but in a different venue."
© The Calgary Herald 2005