A southern Alberta community is celebrating its past to ensure its future.
The Village of Glenwood on Friday unveiled two in what is hoped will be a series of nine murals that will attract visitors.
Cardston Taber Warner MLA Gary Bikman praised Glenwood for its initiative.
“The murals are a wonderful way to strengthen your community and draw people here,” Bikman said.
Glenwood suffered a blow earlier this year when Saputo announced it will close its cheese plant in the community by the end of 2015.
The Glenwood plant employs about 25 people and pays the village about $55,000 a year in taxes and $60,000 in municipal utilities.
The mural project was started in part to give Glenwood a boost and promote itself in a positive way.
“Tonight we’re honouring some of our past with murals along main street,” said Dave Layton of the economic development society. “As economic development you’ve got to see where you’ve come from. You also have to look ahead and make sure we can continue the tradition those people started.”
The unveiling of the murals was followed by a barbecue to raise money to support development of more murals.
The mural project, titled “Windows in Our Past,” was started to celebrate Glenwood’s past and generate tourism.
“Our purpose was to increase awareness of our community,” Sondra Smith said, who served on a committee with Linda Nelson and Darlene Bowen.
The committee acted on the suggestion the murals feature Alberta’s symbol, and so it was named the Wild Rose Project.
Each mural in the Glenwood series will feature a wild rose.
The first mural unveiled on Friday is based on water, which pays tribute to the irrigation.
“We wanted to show how our community leaders have shown foresight and wisdom in providing a healthy and sustainable water system,” Smith said.
Images on the mural show how windmills were used to draw water, which was hauled in wagons, the development of irrigation, and the village’s own water system.
“The UID has always been looking for ways to promote irrigation and what it’s meant to this community,” said Fred Rice of the United Irrigation District.
The mural is located on a building that once was the United Irrigation District’s office.
“This is really a community project,” Layton said, noting 45 families and the irrigation district have donated to the murals.
The second mural is based on the arrival of the first settlers and the North West Mounted Police.
“All of these first settlers deserve our admiration and gratitude,” Smith said.
Smith also spoke of the important role the Mounted Police played — and continue to play — in the Glenwood community.
“These early men provided peace and security to the early settlers and the First Nations people,” Smith said.
Glenwood Mayor Jordon Koch praised the committee for its work on the mural project.
“We’re a village of not many words, but of action,” Koch said, reflecting on how many people got involved in the project.
Koch said like the pioneers the people of Glenwood have to work hard, not knowing what is coming tomorrow.
“Together as a village, if we give of ourselves to our neighbours we will be okay,” Koch said. “That is the message we all need to know right now. We will be okay, we will win this.”
Coun. Jim Bester represented Cardston County at the dedication ceremony.
“We consider all of us part of the same community,” Bester said. “Our hearts and souls are with you.”
Bester said the murals will serve to spark stories among visitors and strengthen their connection to Glenwood