Pennies, pictures, predictions sealed in Alberta 2112 time capsule
EDMONTON — Alberta legislature Speaker Gene Zwozdesky buried a 100-year time capsule in the corner of the legislature Wednesday in a box that he says is designed to stand the test of time.
“We place today in the hands of tomorrow,” said Zwozdesky in a morning ceremony prior to the rectangular box the size of a foot locker being placed in the northeast corner of the sandstone building.
“The capsule that we’re placing today carries on a symbol and a tradition that our forebears began 100 years ago,” he said.
The capsule is to be opened on Sept. 3, 2112, on the 200th anniversary of the official opening of the legislature.
The box replaces the 103-year-old capsule opened last year by Premier Alison Redford in a ceremony marking the building’s centennial.
Those contents had been placed in a wafer-thin copper box that didn’t keep out water and other elements.
The items — including a pocket Bible, a sheepskin scroll, and newspapers of that era — were found cracked and water stained almost beyond recognition.
That won’t be the case in 2112, said Zwozdesky.
“It is a special shell that has been designed to withstand weather and time,” he said, noting it has a double wall wrapped in stainless steel.
More than 50 items have been placed in the capsule. They are carefully preserved, including items voted on by almost 6,000 Albertans in online and in-person polling.
They include: eight student letters to the future; photos of schoolchildren who recently took part in legislature learning programs; photos of the unearthing of the 1909 time capsule last year; and editions of newspapers from Edmonton, Calgary, Red Deer and Medicine Hat covering the centennial celebrations of the legislature.
There’s also a roll of 2012 pennies and other coins of the current era.
There are items to honour aboriginals: moccasins, a Métis sash, and an Inuit soapstone carving of a bear.
There are letters to the future from Lt.-Gov. Don Ethell, Premier Alison Redford and opposition party leaders Danielle Smith of the Wildrose party, Brian Mason of the NDP, and the Liberals’ Raj Sherman.
Outside the legislature under a cloudless blue sky, Zwozdesky and other dignitaries put the box into the corner of the building in a trowel ceremony.
With Zwozdesky was Infrastructure Minister Wayne Drysdale, Kerry Towle of the Wildrose party, and Sherman of the Liberals. Centenarian Violet Leier and five-year-old Louvenson Osterhold were on hand representing the province’s heritage and future.
Zwozdesky, when asked by reporters what he thinks Alberta will look like in 100 years, said, “my prediction is for an Alberta that is just as beautiful, just as vibrant with a population that we can only begin to guess will be in the several tens of millions.”
Sherman had a different view.
“In 2113 I see a Liberal government bringing everyone toward the middle and a common cause,” he said, smiling.
The ceremony was not without a little historic irony.
The teen years of Alberta’s current century feature a fight for political supremacy between Redford’s Tories and Smith’s Wildrose.
The rancour between the two right-of-centre rivals has been so, well, rancorous, that Redford will scarcely speak Smith’s name.
Yet, there they are, Smith and Redford, their signatures side by side sealed up in a box for 100 years.
That’s sweet, said Towle.
“It’s pretty interesting isn’t it,” she said. “A new day has dawned.”
Towle also said voters better watch out in 100 years if politicians ever get Star Trekian-type transporter devices.
“We could travel Alberta just by teleporting. Imaging the havoc we could wreak then?” she laughed.
If voting patterns of the last four decades hold, Redford’s party will have reason to smile.
In Sept. 3, 2112, the Tories would be one week shy of 141 consecutive years in power.
That would be halfway to China’s famed Ming dynasty.
But well short of the 503-year-old Roman Empire.