Loss of century-old Jubilee Block a cultural blow

Justin Crann
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Moose Jaw lost a piece of its cultural identity Wednesday night.

Ira Dales, chair of the Heritage Advisory Committee, said Moose Jaw lost a piece of its cultural identity when the Jubilee Block burned Wednesday night.

When the Jubilee Block was consumed by fire and demolished this morning due to safety concerns, more than 100 years of history went with it.

"An over 100-year-old building was lost here in Moose Jaw. That doesn't overshadow the tragedy of all of the businesses and certainly all of the homes that were destroyed, but it is certainly something all people in Moose Jaw feel some sadness over," said Ira Dales, chair of the Heritage Advisory Committee.

"The heritage downtown is part of the cultural identity for all Moose Javians and certainly, I think, everyone feels some sense of loss, even if they didn't have any financial stake in the building."

The problem is further compounded by a lack of guidelines or incentives, Dales said, to ensure that whatever is built to replace the Jubilee Block will maintain the downtown's heritage flavour.

Mayor Deb Higgins also acknowledged the difference losing the Jubilee Block would make to Moose Jaw's High Street West, focusing specifically on the loss of housing.

"The apartments and the accommodation are going to be missed in the community, as well," she said.

She said the aesthetic of the downtown would be very different without the building.

"It is going to be a change for sure, without the mural there on First Avenue Northwest," said Higgins.

That mural — named River Street Red — was one of Moose Jaw's most prominent.

"She was one of our most popular," said Norma Westgard, chair of the murals committee in the Friendly City. "It's really sad … we're not doing (the murals) quite as big as we did in those days, either, and something that big is going to be a loss.

"She had such a good viewing spot. We could see her from all kinds of places," she added.

Westgard said the murals board would "definitely look into" recreating the River Street Red mural, but that finding a wall sizeable enough to do it on would be a challenge.

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Organizations: Heritage Advisory Committee

Geographic location: Moose Jaw, High Street West, First Avenue Northwest Friendly

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