Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Rutherford House redolent of Alberta and U of A history

Rutherford House at the U of A is a Provincial Historic site.
Located on the grounds of the University and flanked by lovely gardens, this former home of Alberta's first Premier, Alexander C. Rutherford, once had views across a clear-cut campus site and a new downtown virtually denuded of trees. From their front windows, the Rutherfords could see the Legislative Building on the far bank of the river.

Today the situation of the house is very different. The riverside is clothed in lush trees; so is the University. This is in great part thanks to this early family, who established an annual tree planting tradition.

Right: proud graduate with new Master's degree poses on the steps after partaking of tea in Rutherford House.

A.C. Rutherford was born and educated in Ontario. He came west to Edmonton when it was still part of the Northwest Territories. As well as serving as the new Province's first Premier, he helped found the University of Alberta in 1906.

With his wife Mattie, he began a tradition that continues to this day: the Founder's Day Tea to celebrate new grads. He also encouraged students to borrow books from his personal library, where he used to seed books with prizes of dollar bills. Much of this library is housed today in the Bruce Peel Special Collections at the U of A.

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