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‘A heck of a good idea!’: neighbourhood history comes to life on Calgary garbage cans

WATCH: People in one Calgary community are enjoying checking out a transformation in their area. Here’s Gil Tucker with an artist brightening up a neighbourhood by showcasing its stories on garbage cans.

People in one Calgary neighbourhood are in for a surprise the next time they toss a snack wrapper in a public garbage can — they’ll be getting a fun history lesson while they’re at it.

Calgary artist Nicole Wolf has just finished a project in the Ogden area, painting images and words onto 12 garbage cans around the neighbourhood.

The cans now feature illustrated stories about the area’s rich past.

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“This one is about all the pranks kids used to play,” Wolf said. “Children would catch grasshoppers and tie strings to them, and then lower them into the train fare boxes. The grasshoppers would grab onto tickets with their sticky legs and then [the kids] would reuse [the tickets].”

Community leaders recruited Wolf for the project, with the City of Calgary providing funding for it.

“The stories were graciously given to me by residents of Ogden,” Wolf said. “People were really excited to share what they remember from a long time ago.”

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Neighbourhood residents are enjoying the chance to learn more about the area.

“It’s a heck of a good idea!” Eric Meinig said. “Because at least people know what came before.”

One can features illustrations of a large metal figure that stood for years in Ogden, a nod to the community’s long association alongside a railyard.

“This is the story of Oggie,” Wolf said. “[A] robot that people created out of train parts.”

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Wolf transformed another can to showcase the Ogden Weed Gang.

“This was a group of boys that were hired year after year by a farmer, and he’d have them pull weeds,” Wolf said. “He would have the boys line up like soldiers and be like, ‘Boys, today you’re battling the enemy weed — not a weed can be left standing!'”

The colourful cans are now a highlight for many people in the area.

“It’s so much nicer in the neighbourhood when you see something you can look at and find some cool details you didn’t know about, rather than just having a brown box,” Anet Skocilasova said.

“It’s just fun!”