News photographer leads restoration on totem pole outside CTV

News photographer leads restoration on totem pole outside CTV

The totem pole that has been standing outside CTV Edmonton for 28 years is being rejuvenated —by one of CTV’s own.

John Hanson is a news photographer for the station, but for the next couple of weeks he will restore a piece of Edmonton history.

The totem pole he’s working on is the station’s second. It was commissioned in the late 1980s to replace the original Sunwapta totem pole, erected by the founder of Sunwapta Broadcasting, G.R.A. “Dick” Rice.

“Mr. Rice, he had a great fondness for First Nations, generally, for First Nations art,” said Hanson.

When Sunwapta Broadcasting was bought in 1988, the company’s new owners asked Vancouver Island artist Doug LaFortune to create the piece as an homage to the earlier era.

LaFortune said the 30-foot totem pole was his first of that size.

“I wanted it to look very good for the people of Edmonton because it was a big thing for me.”

Hanson contacted LaFortune a few years ago about refurbishing the pole, but getting the artist to Edmonton hasn’t been possible.

Recently, the cameraman and local historian decided to do the work himself — with LaFortune’s blessing and advice.

“I have a great interest in history, I always have. I’ve shot news for 32 years but I’m always drawn to historical stories,” said Hanson. “It’s something I hope I can do justice to Doug’s work.”

“He asked me the colours he should use and the oil to preserve it,” said LaFortune. “I’m glad it’ll be standing for another 20-30 years.”

The project is expected to take two to three weeks.

With files from Nicole Weisberg



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