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  • Rutherford House Provincial Historic SiteRutherford House Provincial Historic Site Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
    The Rutherford House in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada was originally the home of the province's first Premier of Alberta, Alexander Cameron Rutherford, who served that office from 1905 to 1910; and has now become an Alberta Provincial Historic Site. The house was constructed by Alexander in 1911, in the suburb of Strathcona by the University of Alberta and was called Achnacarry by the family after their ancestral castle in Scotland. It is now called the Rutherford House Provincial Historic Site and by 1966 had been scheduled for destruction. The university had planned on expanding the campus area and needed the lot which was quite large. The public soon found out about the demolition and wanted to save the historical building, so the University Women's Club became involved in trying to save it from the disaster, and in 1970, the government said they would not destroy the house but that it would be preserved for posterity. It is managed by the Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Sites and Museums branch, and is helped by the Friends of Rutherford House, a non-profit, charitable society that was started in 1985 to help the province with the saving and showing of the beautiful home. In May of 1909, Alexander purchased the big lot that the house sits on, and the strange description of him on the certificate title, says that he was "a gentleman of Strathcona". In the latter part of that year, plans had been developed by A. G. Wilson and D. E. Herrald, British schooled architects and civil engineers. In the next spring, Thomas Richards, local contractor and master mason built the foundation, which was finally poured in May, 1910. During the summer, the double brick walls were constructed and in the winter, the elaborate hardwood interior was completed so the house was ready for occupancy by February, 1911. The Rutherford family moved in by the end of March, with Alexander, Mattie Birkett Rutherford, Cecil Alexander Rutherford and Hazel Elizabeth Rutherford. The family would live in the magnificent estate until 1940, when Mattie passed on, and a short time after her passing, Alexander sold the estate to the University of Alberta - Delta Upsilon Fraternity, for a small fee, which had been the original cost of the house. The fraternity would leave the house in 1969, selling it to the University of Alberta in 1968, and the board of governors leased the house to the Alberta government in the latter part of 1970, after the successful campaign by the Women's Club. The historical site opened to the public in the summer of 1973, after remodeling it for three years, with most of the original artifacts still in the house, these had been donated by Hazel Elizabeth Rutherford and Helen Reid Rutherford, who had been Cecil's wife. Alexander's life was quite exciting, especially during that period in Canada, as it continued to grow and expand westward, much like the United States did. He went to law school and remained a lawyer throughout his life which helped him in many ventures, and some adventures. After moving west, in 1895, he quickly became involved in the town's politics and since he was the only lawyer in the vicinity, he had all the work he could handle. He also became involved with money lending and gold equipment, as well as some dabbling in real estate. He became quite successful and apt at legislation. He became president of the Edmonton Mortgage Corporation, Vice President and solicitor of the Great Western Garment company, and during the second World War, this company would become the biggest in the British Empire. Levi Strauss & Co. purchased it in 1961, although the factor stayed in Edmonton until 2004. He was director of the Canada National Fire Insurance Company, the Imperial Canadian Trust Company, the Great West Permanent Loan Company and the Monarch Life. He was also involved in founding the University of Alberta in Edmonton and was involved in that institution for many years.

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  • Muttart ConservatoryMuttart Conservatory Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
    The Muttart Conservatory is a beautiful botanical garden that sits in the North Saskatchewan River valley, which is right across from downtown Edmonton. The conservatory is made up of four glass, pyramid structures, that house plants from temperate, tropical and arid climates that create a marvelous center of warmth in the winter months. The fourth pyramid contains a changing environment all through the year. The Gladys and Merrill Muttart Foundation gave quite a sum of money to get it started, with the rest of the funding coming from the Province of Alberta and the city of Edmonton. It is staffed and run by the Edmonton Parks and Recreation Department. The unique structures were designed by Peter Hemingway, architect, and contains four glassed pyramids built surrounding a central service hub, with the two bigger shapes measuring 660 square meters in all, and the two smaller ones being 410 square meters. Three of the pyramids contain plants that are found in Australia, the southern Great Lakes and the mountainous regions of Asia. By the entry way, there is a boggish area, that is fed by a stream, containing parrot's feather and water lilies, then the bog blends into a woodland that is home to a majority of eastern deciduous trees and low shrubbery that includes pampas grass, cedars and redwoods. In the Australian region, there are eucalyptus trees and flowering bushes, while there are numerous small flowering plants in the woodland and alpine sector, some native to the area and the remainder coming in from all over the globe. In the arid pyramid, there are barren rocky slopes, while in the tropical there exists the most diversity where under palm trees, you find banana and weeping figs, hibiscus, orchids and birds of paradise. One of the smaller pyramids displays rotating and seasonal exhibitions, like begonias, roses and geraniums in the summer time. The conservatory offers an excellent horticulture extension service to the public, so that they can get expert help in relation to their plant problems.

January 11, 2011