Alberta beef? Legislature's 50-year-old hamburger to be feted at party in Edmonton

On Thursday evening, the Legislative Assembly of Alberta will host a party to commemorate the 50th anniversary of a cafeteria hamburger tabled by an MLA who knew how to settle a beef.

In 1969, Clarence Copithorne 'tabled' the offending burger, now kept in the legislature library

In this photo taken three years ago, Valerie Footz, the director of library services and records management at the Alberta Legislature, holds the burger that became an official document when MLA Clarence Copithorne tabled it in 1969. (Alberta Legislature Library)

Clarence Copithorne came from one of Alberta's most storied ranching families.

So he knew a good burger when he saw one.

Or bad burger, for that matter.

One day in 1969, as one of six MLAs for an upstart party called the Progressive Conservatives, Copithorne momentarily calf-roped a lengthy debate in the Alberta legislature when he reached into his desk and pulled out the hamburger he'd been served for lunch in the cafeteria.

Why is there a hamburger in the legislature library?

3 years ago
Duration 0:50
Valerie Footz from the Alberta Legislature library explains why a hamburger from 1969, encased in resin, is available for consultation. 0:50

After a few choice remarks about proper nourishment, and some barbs aimed at the Social Credit government of then-premier Ernest Manning, the MLA for Banff-Cochrane "tabled" the offending burger and handed it to a clerk.

His remarks were greeted with bipartisan applause and some vigorous desk thumping in the house.

The clerk had the infamous hamburger encased in glass, and gave it back to the man who went on to become highways minister after Peter Lougheed's Tories swept to power in 1971.

Copithorne died in 1979. Years later, his son found the relic in the garage and gave it back to the legislature, where it has since occupied a place of honour in the library.

The official certification is encased in the resin along with the burger. (Alberta Legislature Library)

On Thursday evening, the Legislative Assembly of Alberta will host a party and tour to commemorate the burger's 50th anniversary.

The sold-out event will be held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. and Legislative Assembly of Alberta Visitor Centre at 9820 107th St.

Cake will be served.

No word about hamburgers.