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Day-tripping


Canada’s Sunflower Capital Altona punches above its weight


in the arts department By Dorothy Dobbie


trade on the recently arrived railroads in Manitoba, created his dream home in 1902. It was the largest house ever constructed in Altona, dominating its Fifth Avenue neighbourhood for a hundred years. It is unlikely that he could have envisioned what Schwartz House would become more than a century later. Serving as a family home, then as the Elim Bible Institute, and finally as a bed and breakfast in the early 2000s Schwartz House looked as though its life was coming to an end. Tat’s when it was purchased by a concerned com- munity group that moved it to its cur- rent location on Tenth Avenue. Tey operated it for a while as a place to do arts, but it was tough going and, by 2004, things looked pretty bad. Tat’s when chairman, David Fri-


A


esen, and his corporation Friesens, stepped in with a vision for an expand- ed arts centre and half the funding needed to get the $1.2 million proj- ect started. Te printing company’s 100th anniversary was coming up in 2007, and this seemed a great way to celebrate and do something for their town. It would be a wonderful asset to Altona and serve as a tourist draw. Te Gallery opened in 2008. For a town whose emblem is a gi- ant painting on an easel, it was a fitting gift. Altona’s rendering of Van Gogh’s Sunflowers was painted by local art- ist Cameron Cross; it is listed in the Guinness Book of World record as the largest painting on an easel. As the self-proclaimed Sunflower Capital of Canada, Altona farmers saw the profit in this oilseed during the Depres- sion when the price of wheat dropped alarmingly.


thehubwinnipeg.com


ltona businessman Johann Schwartz, flush with mon- ey from building elevators to accommodate the grain


The Art Gallery in the Park.


The Gallery features two floors of art plus the sculpture garden. With the support of the com-


munity, the house and garden were transformed into a destination that is already fulfilling the vision Friesens had for it. Te Art Gallery in the Park, housed in the renovated historic home built by Joann Schwartz, encompasses two stories of visual art, the first floor for visitor installations and the second floor to showcase local talents.


Highlights over the past few years


include the exhibition of Portage La Prairie artist, Don McMaster, who paid tribute to explorer David Tomp- son and his influential Metis wife, Charlotte Small. Te paintings were based on Tompson’s diaries describ- ing what he saw as he mapped the prairies and the area around Lake of the Woods.


Spring 2017 • 19


All photos courtesy of Gallery in the Park.


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