Despite blowing snow and frigid temperatures, more than 300 people gathered at city hall on Thursday to unveil a bronze sculpture of late lieutenant-governor Lois Hole.
Mayor Nolan Crouse along with council members, friends and Hole’s family members were on hand to witness the event, and officially proclaim May 14 Lois Hole Day.
“She was synonymous to St. Albert with warmth and caring,” said Crouse to a crowd of attendees taking relief from the weather in city hall’s main lobby. “She is now synonymous with a sculpture and with a park … she is synonymous with a sense of home.”
Best remembered as Alberta’s 15th lieutenant governor, Hole and her husband Ted also founded Hole’s Greenhouses and Gardens. Nicknamed the “Queen of Hugs,” she was a school trustee for many years and championed education. Famed Canadian sculptor Barbara Paterson tried to convey those passions in the bronze sculpture of Hole she titled A Legacy of Love and Learning.
“She would be thrilled to know that Barbara was doing it,” said Bill Hole, Lois’ son and the general manager of Hole’s Greenhouse. “She believed the arts community was a very important part of a vibrant community, and it was important to the culture of the city.”
The sculpture portrays Lois on a bench sitting next to a young girl hugging a book. According to city officials, the display will remain at St. Albert Place until a suitable location for it is found at the entrance of Lois Hole Centennial Provincial Park.
But the sculpture wasn’t the only thing that reflected Lois’ larger-than-life personality on Thursday.
The normally subdued colours of city hall were brightened with colourful paper and butterflies to reflect her passion for gardening, and refreshment tables had cupcakes topped with purple icing — Lois’ favourite colour.
“I think she underestimated her impact on people and the province,” Bill said. “[If she was here] I think she would be overwhelmed.”
Ken Allred, MLA for St. Albert, said Lois had a tremendous ability to connect with people, and she always went the extra mile — even for customers at her greenhouse.
“She would always add a few extra carrots to everyone’s purchase,” said Allred. “This was characteristic of her, she always went that extra mile, she always gave those extra carrots.”
A choir from Vital Grandin Catholic Elementary School sang What a Wonderful World to commemorate Lois, while students from other schools read poems and recited some of her favourite quotes.
After speeches were over, the crowd braved the wintry weather to gather in front of city hall and unveil the sculpture.
Coun. Len Bracko, who was on the committee tasked to pay tribute to Lois, watched the event from a few feet away and remembered the former lieutenant governor as a true teacher.
“She was a mentor to everyone, everyone was important in her eyes. We learned a lot from Lois,” said Bracko. “She liked to make sure people had the best quality of life, and every student had an equal opportunity [for] success.”
Bracko said he was very pleased with the bronze rendition of Lois, but pointed out that if she were there the focus wouldn’t be on her.
“She would be very proud, but the emphasis would be, of course, on the child and the book.”