Edmonton

Arch Madness: History buff runs contest to crown Edmonton's favourite historic building

Dan Rose, former chair of the Edmonton Historical Board, wants locals to fall in love with the city’s architecture. He’s trying to make that happen with a contest based on a popular sports bracket.

Dan Rose hopes city falls in love with its architectural gems

The Hotel Macdonald will "pull on the heartstrings" of people who play Arch Madness, says bracket creator Dan Rose. (Gareth Hampshire/CBC)

An Edmonton history buff is running a March Madness-style bracket to get people excited about the city's architecture. 

Dan Rose, former chair of the Edmonton Historical Board, says his Arch Madness bracket is a "low stakes and safe way to get people excited" about historic architecture.

He hopes the contest encourages Edmontonians to fall in love with the city's historic buildings.

"They really speak to the history — the good and the bad — of how our city has come about and where we've come from," Rose said in an interview this week with CBC's Edmonton AM.

Dan Rose is a local history buff and former chair of the Edmonton Historical Board. He's holding his own March Madness tournament on Twitter featuring Edmonton's oldest buildings.

Each day Rose posts a new head-to-head match-up, and the landmark garnering the most votes moves on to the next round of voting.

Hundreds of people on Twitter and Instagram have already voted for their favourites.

A wide range of architectural periods is included, as the brackets include buildings from the Strathcona Hotel, built in 1891, to the CN Tower, which was completed in 1966.

Rose wants Edmontonians to vote for their favourite historic building in his March Madness-style bracket contest. (Dan Rose)

But Rose points out that while there's diversity in eras and design styles, they don't reflect the diversity of the city itself.

Most of the buildings were built by "men with long twirly moustaches," he said.

Because of that, the buildings only present one piece of the city's history. 

"It's a problem that's endemic in architecture," Rose said.

In that way, he says local architecture is an important reminder of the past, as well as a guide for the future.

The buildings themselves might not represent a complete history of Edmonton, but Rose said many people have powerful memories associated with them.

He notes strong feelings around the Hotel Macdonald, which fell into disrepair in the 1980s. The city saved the building from demolition by designating it a municipal historic resource.

Rose says it will "pull on the heartstrings" for that reason.

Dan Rose's contest to find Edmonton's favourite historic building is set to wrap at the end of March. (Submitted by Dan Rose)

His personal favourites include the Queen Elizabeth II Planetarium and the Garneau Theatre. 

The planetarium is "such a product of its time," he said. Built at the start of the space race, its name commemorates a visit by the Queen in 1959.

As for the Garneau Theatre, Rose says it's likely a sentimental place for couples who had their first dates there.

He hopes Arch Madness will encourage people to think about how Edmonton has changed over the years, and get them excited about preserving local architecture.

The contest is set to wrap up at the end of March.

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