Marshall McLuhan House Celebrated in the Highlands, Edmonton, Alberta


Photo: Marc J Chalifoux Photography

Yesterday Arts Habitat Edmonton was joined by supporters, special guests and neighbours to celebrate the grand opening the McLuhan House – a new historic resource and home for arts and ideas in the Highlands.

In 2012, Arts Habitat Edmonton purchased the house with assistance from the City of Edmonton and the Edmonton Arts Council.

The acquisition of this house is a source of pride for Arts Habitat, whose goal is to provide sustainable space for Edmonton’s arts community.

“Arts Habitat Edmonton is thrilled to preserve this house in the Highlands, and to honour the legacy of its famous first inhabitant, Marshall McLuhan”, says Linda Huffman, Executive Director of Arts Habitat. “Arts and culture regenerations create diverse, inclusive and healthy communities. This new investment adds an historic resource to the city inventory and to this historic neighbourhood.”

The property was rezoned in January 2013, and is currently in line for Municipal Heritage designation. The House will now host small office, studio, and meeting spaces. An interpretive display on Marshall McLuhan highlights a one-of-a-kind McLuhan Family Portrait Collection. The new designations will allow for these uses, and also protect the exterior heritage features of the home.

The celebration included a presentation by Michael McLuhan, highlighting 54 unpublished photos of his father for the LIFE Magazine shoot in 1966 by Henri Dauman. The McLuhan TV Wall, on loan from the University of Alberta, is on display in an upstairs room.

A number of families associated with the house were at the event: The McLuhan Family was represented by Michael, youngest son of Marshall and Edmonton cousin Stuart MacKay, the Husbands were represented by twins Fred and Margaret, now 83. They were the next family to live in the house, and still have stories to tell of the house and neighbourhood from the 1920’s. Doug and Cheryl Toshack and their daughter Tracy came. They bought the house in 1974. Their dream to preserve the house was fulfilled with its sale in 2012 to Arts Habitat.

Marshall McLuhan, who became a leading 20th century thinker, lived in this house one hundred years ago. His early years significantly influenced his long-term philosophical theories, including “the medium is the message” and the global impact of mass media, which went on to shape the international community.

The McLuhan Portrait Collection was made possible through generous donations from Michael McLuhan and the McLuhan Estate, with supporting narratives and genealogy compiled by McLuhan family cousin Stuart MacKay.

The McLuhan TV Wall, created by University of Alberta students and professors, displays documentary images and sounds of Marshall McLuhan’s many appearances on U.S. and Canadian television from the early 1950s to the late 1970s. The TV Wall was first exhibited at the Art Gallery of Alberta and has also been exhibited at the Edmonton International Airport.

McLuhan-house Marshall McLuhan House, Edmonton

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