A vintage hamburger that is even older than some MLAs is one of the strange items on display at the Alberta Legislature Library.
“In 1969, a hamburger from the Legislature Cafeteria was tabled by Mr. Clarence Copithorne, member for Banff-Cochrane, during an interim supply bill,” Valerie Footz, the legislature librarian said.
He presented it while making a motion for better food in the legislature cafeteria.
“When talking about supply, one thing they should supply us with right upstairs is good nourishment,” he was recorded as saying in the House.
The hamburger was later encased in an airtight acrylic/resin box for preservation and given to Copithorne. The library believes the clerk at the time, William H. Macdonald, arranged for it to be preserved.
Years later, Copithorne’s son Don found the hamburger while cleaning out the garage. He gifted it back to the Legislature Library in April 2008.
So, did the dramatic presentation have its intended effect? Is legislature cafeteria food much better now?
“We don’t know what the food was like in 1969,” Footz said. “So we can’t comment if it has impacted it.”
Food items aren’t allowed to be tabled any longer. The Standing Orders were changed in 2002 to state that “tablings must be in paper form,” which certainly makes archiving them easier.
But before the changes were made, the Legislature Library collected its fair share of weird and wacky exhibits.
“Over the years, many things have been tabled that would not be accepted today, including a tin of caviar and a cross-section of [the] Calgary rapid transit line,” Footz said.
“In December 2011, Phyllis Telford arrived in the Alberta Legislature Library with a curious object to donate. She carefully unfolded a piece of cloth covered in signatures and explained that it was handed down in the family from her grandfather, Robert Telford.”
“Research by library staff revealed that the cloth is signed by the Lieut.-Gov., Members of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta and family members, senators, journalists, assembly staff, and Canadian Pacific Railway staff,” Footz explained.
“This cloth appears to be a napkin or part of a table cloth complete with tea stains. After holding its first sitting of the first legislature from March 15, 1906 to May 9, 1906, the new legislators embarked on an extensive railway tour of central and southern Alberta.”
Footz said the piece of cloth has been framed and is now hanging in the Legislature Library.
“It has the signatures of Premier Rutherford, Lieut.-Gov. Bulyea and Speaker Charles Fisher, among others.”