April 19th, 2019

Iconic Lethbridge neon sign headed to Galt Museum

By Lethbridge Herald on November 22, 2018.

A crew lowers the Alberta Meat Market sign from its fittings Thursday as a small crowd of Galt Museum staff and others with connections to the past and future aspects of the historic building look on. Herald photo by Ian Martens @IMartensHerald

Tim Kalinowski
Lethbridge Herald
A well-known piece of local historic industrial art has found a new home at the Galt Museum.
The Alberta Meat Market sign was lowered gently to the ground by work crews Thursday afternoon and put on a flatbed truck for transport. The removal of the sign, first built and placed in 1959, marks the end of one era in the community and the beginning of a new one as the century-old Alberta Meat Market building will be converted to a cannabis retail store and renamed the Green City Market.
AGLC regulations state cannabis store names can’t have the title Alberta in them; this left Green City Market owner Chris Sirias with an important decision regarding the historic sign.
“Originally we were going to sell the sign, thinking we might get a little money from it,” said Sirias. “I advertised it online, and I got a few offers. But then the Galt Museum contacted me and said, ‘Hey, would you like to donate it?’ I said, ‘Absolutely, I would.’ I knew that was the right place for it as soon as I heard it.”
And the Galt Museum could not be more pleased with the decision, said executive director Susan Burrows-Johnson.
“We are totally grateful, and future generations will be able to look on this sign and see aspects of our community, of the 1950s, of our neighbourhoods. We are really excited about it,” she said.
The Galt Museum’s curatorial staff plan to use the sign as a centrepiece of an upcoming exhibit on the history of Lethbridge neighbourhoods, which is set to open next year. They are considering having the sign’s broken neon tubes restored so it can again light up the night in Lethbridge, said Burrows-Johnson.
“It’s possible,” she said. “It’s a curatorial discussion whether you do that type of refurbishment to an artifact, but it is on the list of things to talk about.”
Elaine Brown’s husband Alan, who at that time owned National Neon in Lethbridge, built the sign for the Alberta Meat Market nearly 60 years ago. She was pleased the museum was considering refurbishing the neon portions of the sign, and felt her husband would have been pleased with the preservation of his creation for future generations.
“It means a lot to me,” said Brown, “and it would mean a lot to my husband to be known for this sign. By the Galt Museum taking it, it is not only preserving the memory of the Alberta Meat Market but also preserving the memory of National Neon here in Lethbridge.”
Ken Creighton’s family owned the Alberta Meat Market for over three generations before closing down in 2012. He, too, felt his father and grandfather, who owned the business before him, would be just as pleased as he is by the sign’s donation to the Galt Museum.
“I believe they would be thrilled to see this sign, and the history of the Alberta Meat Market, preserved like this today,” he said.
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