According to historian Ken Tingley — a man who should know about such things having earn the title of Edmonton’s first poet laureate in 2010 — a museum celebrating Edmonton’s neon past will soon be lighting up a downtown street corner. “Hopefully, it’ll become one of those little spots that if you’re in Edmonton, go down and look at the neon sign museum,” said David Holdsworth, a city planner who came up with the idea. The museum will include the neon sign that once advertised the now long gone Mike’s News Stand. “It’s probably one of the first in North America.”
Holdsworth recently received permission to erect refurbished neon signs — signs that were once icons of the avenues they lit up — on the side of the Telus building at 104th Street and 104th Avenue.
“The idea was to ensure that the museum would be downtown, free and outdoors and in a location that was visible,” said Holdsworth. “Hopefully people could come, look and linger and eventually become a little destination within the city.”
The museum will feature a dozen signs familiar to long-time Edmonton residents such as Mike’s News Stand, Pantages Theatre, Georgia Baths — signs salvaged long after the businesses they emblazoned went to their own graveyard.
Several sign companies, including Blanchett Neon, have committed staff and time to repaint the signs.
“Rather than keeping it in an old warehouse somewhere in Edmonton and let them grow rusty and dusty, you might as well show them to the world,” said Daryl Blanchett.
Blanchett’s staff is refurbishing the worn and faded sign for the Canadian Furniture Company which opened in 1936 and remained a landmark in Edmonton until it went out of business in 1998.
Holdworth hopes the neon museum will flicker to life next summer.