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Chamber Notice


Kimberley Massey photo
Fred Bradley, Mayor Bruce Decoux and Dr. Desmond Rochfort of the University of Lethbridge Faculty of Fine Arts unveil the Gushul Studio heritage sign.
Dozens of local residents attended the unveiling of the Crowsnest Heritage Initiative’s newly installed heritage sign at the Gushul Studio last Thursday, April 5th.
Fred Bradley of the Crowsnest Heritage Initiative, Crowsnest Pass Mayor Bruce Decoux and Dr. Desmond Rochfort, Dean of the University of Lethbridge Faculty of Fine Arts unveiled the sign, one of many which have been installed at heritage sites throughout the community as part of the Crowsnest Heritage Driving Route and Blairmore Historical Walking Tour.
Prior to the unveiling, Bradley detailed the history of the studio, which was built in 1902 and moved to Blairmore from the abandoned mining town of Lille in 1918 to be used as a photo studio by Thomas Gushul, who immigrated to Canada from Ukraine in 1906.
Gushul and his wife, Nena opened their first photography studio east of Coleman in 1921 and by 1928, most of their work was being conducted out of the studio in Blairmore.
The Gushul’s eventually began using the studio as their home and after Thomas’ death in 1962, Lena continued to work in the studio until her death in 1981.
Thomas Gushul is widely regarded as one of the most prolific photographers in Alberta’s history and his work, which depicts the Crowsnest Pass, it’s people and the mining industry, has won numerous awards and has been published in various newspapers and books.
Following Gushul’s death, the collection was distributed to heritage sites throughout Alberta, with the largest collection, approximately 60,000 prints, residing in the Crowsnest Museum and an additional 18,000 held in the Glenbow Museum.
The studio itself was renovated and restored in 1985 through a $160,000 project by the Alberta Historical Resources Foundation and registered as a Provincial Historic Resource in 1986.

Following the unveiling of the sign, guests gathered in the studio for refreshments and violin music by Shelly Groves, as Mayor Bruce Decoux recounted the times when the Gushuls would visit his parents for coffee and discuss photography, as well as how Gushul would take on the task of photographing all of the graduating Crowsnest Pass high school students every year.
“These buildings, these historical sites become part of our psyche,” said Decoux.
“I’m glad to see this one recognized.”
Dr. Rochfort discussed how the studio serves as an “ambassadorial residence” for the University of Lethbridge’s fine arts programs, with artists from across the country coming to Crowsnest Pass for artist residencies.
The studio was opened for artist residencies in 1988 and has since hosted more than 200 artists, scholars, writers and other professionals.
Dr. Rochfort noted that over the past 15 months, the University has undertaken a project to significantly upgrade the facilities, such as bedrooms and kitchens, as well as entering into artist exchanges with Australia, Mexico, Japan and other countries.
“With this studio, we have not only a priceless treasure, but a really, really important asset,” he said.
“It’s the glue that cements the relationship between the University of Lethbridge Faculty of Fine Arts, the town of Blairmore and all of our resident communities in Alberta and the rest of the world.”
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