The Southern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium in Calgary is a centre for performing arts, built in celebration of the province’s 50th anniversary (or “Jubilee” year) in 1955. Now close to sixty years old, the building is still a busy place and hosts many events throughout the year, and in in fact one was going on the day of our visit.
Located at the southwest corner of the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT) campus, it sits on a bluff overlooking the city. Hosting concerts, plays, the opera, assemblies, large scale meetings and ceremonies, it also home base for the Alberta Ballet Company.
Proposed in the early 1950s, work was started in 1954 and completed in 1957.
The Jubilee is in fact one of two such structures so named and this building’s near-identical twin, built at the same time, sits at the Edmonton campus of the University of Alberta (as the “Northern” Alberta Jubilee Auditorium). Both are owned and run by the Alberta Government and both were renovated in the mid 2000s in celebration of Alberta’s 100th anniversary.
Notable musicians or bands that have played at the venue over the years include, Johnny Cash, the Eagles, Queen and Celine Dion.
The Phantom of the Opera, Momma Mia!, and Disney’s, the Lion King are just some of the performances that have been staged at the Jubilee, or “The Jube” as it was sometimes called.
The auditorium can hold some 2,500 people on multiple levels. There is also a banquet room, various meeting rooms and a rehearsal hall. It’s well known for its amazing acoustics. Some might say they are mind blowing.
Our intent this visit was not to study the Jubilee in too great a detail, but rather duplicate an old image we had, taken from an old postcard. That picture was supplicated to us by a reader of this blog (thanks Gerry Yarrow).
On visiting the grounds it’s clear that little has changed in the time since the “then” image was taken.
Sure, the windows in the front are a bit different and new trees have been planted and the lane leading to the doors is now gone, replaced with walkways and gardens – overall however everything is much as it was. The brick work above the door is the same as is the “Southern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium” lettering on the left bottom side of the building.
Some trees have grown up over the years and while they are sort of in the way at times, they do not prevent us from getting a good “now” image.
That postcard, by the way, is undated but some details in the image help us narrow down the era it could be from. The Canadian flag clearly seen to the right of the building was introduced in 1965 for example, so we know it’s from a time after that. It’s likely not any newer then the late 1970s however, based upon another clue – the photographer credited, Alex J Pellet – other postcards he did that we found online show him active in the late 1960s and early 70s, but not later.
On our visit the Christmas production of the Nutcracker was playing and people were busily milling about the building. Connie and I have been inside for a number of events, including many school concerts, and graduations.
When built, its lofty position afforded the Jubilee Auditorium a good view of the city, and the city a good view of it. Today, large trees grow on the edge of the bluff, somewhat hiding the building from view.
To see a then and now series were did on a nearby building, go here…
Calgary then and now – Normal School – Institute of Technology and Arts – Heritage Hall SAIT.
If you’d like to know more about what you’ve seen here, by all means contact us!
Date: December, 2013.
Location: Calgary, AB.