After more than eight incredible years of growing Lougheed House National and Provincial Historic Site with and for the community, l am leaving my position as Executive Director of Lougheed House to become the Head of Business Development and Partnerships at the National Trust for Canada.
The Lougheed House organization has reached a point in its growth and maturity that I believe I can step away with pride and allow the organization to further grow.
The journey of Lougheed House in the past eight years has been one of marvelous momentum powered by the collective effort of many people in our community. It has been a coming together of collaborators, volunteers, supporters, partners, and funders who brought their voices and resources to bear on the vision we all shared: that Lougheed House could and should be telling more unique and complex Calgary stories. Now it is telling those stories and soon through our Lougheed House Re-Imagined project, it will tell many more in meaningful and collaborative ways.
This is an opportunity to reflect on our work over the last eight years. I am very proud of all that we have done together to grow this place as a cultural hub for our city — as a place that connects present Calgary to its history, which we must never forget and continually reconsider.
I am thankful for my many conversations over the years with the Lougheed family, who have been supportive for so long of the potential of what this historic family home can be for Calgary and our community’s shared future.
I have many treasured memories about what our Lougheed House community has accomplished. A big one is the creation of our Lougheed House Re-Imagined new permanent gallery and visitor experience. Currently in development, LHRI positions Lougheed House as a witness to and participant in Calgary’s history and showcases a more diverse narrative about the settlement of our city and its impacts on how we think about our city today. It has been an honour working with the Lougheed House Re-Imagined Advisory Group in the past year to rethink how we consider Calgary’s and Lougheed House’s many histories and their impact on who we are today; so that we not only redevelop our visitor experience to reflect Calgary’s diverse past but work to co-create these histories with the broader community.
I am thrilled that we are hiring an Indigenous Curator and that our work with the Métis community continues to grow. The history of the Lougheed’s includes a history of the early Métis in Calgary and this home, which we continue to refer to as a Métis house, is a safe place to engage in contemporary conversations about how we can support an evolving perspective on Calgary and settler colonialism. The role of Indigenous peoples in Calgary’s story is something that we must know more about collectively, the unknown and sometimes uncomfortable stories, and those that speak to a remarkable community of resilience.
Over the years I have heard from many supporters, visitors, and volunteers who in some way have connections to various aspects of the histories that Lougheed House represents. I learned from women who lived at Lougheed House when it was the headquarters for the CWAC during the Second World War and who in 2015 brought their daughters and granddaughters to our exhibition on CWAC. Our exhibit helped these women tell their families about their long-ago experiences of building a career for themselves for the first time.
The ROAR project’s LGBTQ+ programming has reinvigorated the idea that Beltline community history includes important Queer history, which has always been a part of our city’s fabric.
Our Gardens are a backdrop to numerous community events held year-round…. Including the Beltline Bonspiel, the Full Bloom Fest and the annual Métis flag raising. They are an important part of making Lougheed House accessible and integral to our community. Over the years many park visitors (who number some 80,000/year) have thanked our Garden volunteers through poetry and written commentary expressing the importance of the green space to their everyday lives and their mental wellbeing.
Our dedicated Board of Directors are some of our busiest volunteers around, and accomplish so much, often working behind the scenes. Their support and wisdom have brought Lougheed House to a whole other level in museum excellence.
It takes a veritable army of organizations and individuals to sustain Lougheed House for the broader community. I am filled with gratitude for the support of:
- Our provincial Ministry of Culture and Status of Women which nurtures us with critical operational funding through our Service Agreement.
- The Ministry of Infrastructure cares for the House and property which is under its ownership. And the property management team that represents that Ministry by maintaining the site for future generations of Albertans who, in fact, are the true owners our site.
- The City of Calgary through Parks and protective services, which ensures park visitors’ safety and that the eastern portion of our Gardens are well tended for all.
- All the donors, members, volunteers, and sponsors who have take a personal interest in wanting the House and Gardens to be more vibrant and accessible for more Calgarians. A recent quote…. “I care about this city and our history and supporting this place helps others find out more too…”
- To our Restaurant team who have brought “fresh flavour” not just to the food, but to the idea of what dining can become in such a unique heritage space and vibrant modern Beltline community.
- The Métis Nation of Alberta and the Métis Community for their counsel as we connect with the Métis and Indigenous histories of this Historic Site; their support and counsel have been critical as Lougheed House engages with the tenets of Truth and Reconciliation.
It has been an honour to lead with these many stakeholders at our side. But I must take this opportunity to thank staff. This remarkable team cares so much and has supported the House through the ups of our many accomplishments as well as through the remarkable times of COVID. Our team has always been a combination of a determined ‘let’s give this a try’ attitude combined with great expertise, and a sense of humour.
I am excited for what the future holds for Calgary and Lougheed House.
My new role with the National Trust for Canada is remote, and so I will still be based in Calgary. I look forward to continuing to visit and thank you all for the opportunity to collaborate on expanding the idea of what a Historic Site can do for and with its community.
Kirstin Evenden, Executive Director
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