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City of Edmonton Archives Launches First Virtual Exhibit

Ella May Walker

April 24, 2012

Profiling a key figure in preserving city’s history

The City of Edmonton Archives is launching an online virtual archive that will profile important people and places in Edmonton’s history, and the subject of the first archive is a key figure in the city’s artistic and historical communities.

The new exhibit features Ella May Walker, an artist, musician and author, who was also a key advocate for preserving and promoting Edmonton’s history.

“Ella May Walker left a rich body of records in the Archives including her artwork, correspondence and manuscripts,” said Kathryn Ivany, City Archivist. “Considering her role in the Archives’ history and her presence in the Edmonton community, Walker is an excellent choice for our first virtual exhibit.”

“Ella May was monumental in my life and for many around her,” said Wilfred Walker, son of Ella May Walker. “I am so delighted to see her work displayed in such a way for Edmontonians to enjoy once again.”

Ella May Walker, who died in 1960, was a member of Edmonton’s Archives and Landmark Committee in the 1940s and 1950s, which were crucial years in the formation of the City Archives. She was actively involved with music, theatre, and arts communities in Edmonton. She taught piano lessons in her home, staged theatrical productions, wrote short stories and novels, created sculptures and paintings and played the organ for silent movies at the Allen Theatre. 

Several of her paintings are being featured in the Art Gallery of Alberta’s current exhibit, Alberta Mistresses of the Modern: 1935-1975.

The new online exhibit gives people the opportunity to delve into Ella May Walker’s life, with biographical information along with details about her involvement in preserving Edmonton’s rich history. Also included in the virtual archive are images of her paintings of Edmonton and her writings, along with archival photos of Ella May.

The Ella May Walker virtual exhibit is the first of many to come. The City Archives is planning for the next exhibit which will focus on the shanty town that existed in the Grierson Dump in the 1930s.

Virtual exhibits are an informative online showcase allowing Edmontonians to access a variety of records including photos, manuscripts, and articles. These exhibits feature a finding aid, as well as scans and descriptions of various records. Most importantly, the virtual exhibit tells a story about Edmonton and its history.

The City of Edmonton Archives acquires, organizes, catalogues, preserves, displays and makes available to the public, for research purposes, historically significant public records and manuscripts relating to the City of Edmonton.

Images of Ella May Walker’s paintings and writings, and of the virtual archive, can be accessed at the City of Edmonton photo gallery

For more information:

Mark Torjusen

Title Senior Communications Advisor

780-914-8087 (cell)

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