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Jasper’s Sherlock connection celebrated with month of movies, poetry and clay

The Doctor’s Case, based on a 1987 Stephen King Sherlock Holmes story, uses the historic Emily Carr House as a stand-in of the Holmes home. It is being screened at the Chaba Theatre April 13

Fuchsia Dragon | reporter@fitzhugh.ca

Every day in Jasper we walk the footsteps of late, great explorers, writers and poets.

One of those is Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who came to our little mountain town a century ago and was inspired to write a poem, The Athabasca Trail.

This month, Jasper honours the Sherlock Holmes writer with verses of artistic activities.

Habitat for the Arts has organised a photographic scavenger hunt, two film screenings, a poetry slam and a pottery exhibition.

Marianne Garrah, director of Habitat, said: “It’s a big deal our connection to Sherlock and nobody really knows it.

“When Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was here he left a mark – it’s one of the clues in the hunt.”

The photographic scavenger hunt has 12 clues, available from the art centre, for competitors to solve and then photograph what they believe represents the answer.

On April 10, local judges will decide the winners and award prizes of a pottery party, movie passes and pizza.

“I am hoping people get out and play with their cameras,” Garrah said.

April is Poetry Month, and the annual Mayor’s Poetry Challenge will see local poets compete to perform in front of council.

There will be an open mic night at Snowdome on April 10 for competitors to read their poems. One will be chosen to read in council and will be awarded a gift from council.

Three days later, on April 13 a new Sherlock film made in British Columbia last year, The Doctor’s Case, screens at the Chaba Theatre at 2 p.m.

Garrah said: “I am most looking forward to seeing The Doctor’s Case.

“The filmmakers are from Barkerville, BC, a heritage town that was a gold rush village.

“When you have passed the entrance to the town you are back in 1880. People are stuck there, buildings are stuck there.

“When I heard about the movie I got in touch and have been riding the wave with them ever since.”

Garrah said she hopes people will wear their best Sherlock hats and jackets to the movie.

She said: “Sir Arthur Conan Doyle will be at the movie.

“We have created a local character who will replicate the beautiful man with his big moustache and read The Athabasca Trail.”

And on April 17, Film Day, another Canadian Sherlock Holmes film, Murder By Decree, is being screened free at Habitat.

There will be a pottery show every Wednesday in April from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Habitat, because pottery is “Elementary, my dear”.

“It’s showcasing earth of clay,” Garrah said.

For more information about any of these upcoming events, email arts@iotad.ca.

Sir Arthur’s trip to Jasper

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle first arrived in Jasper on June 11, 1914.

He and his wife, Jean, travelled here on the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway and were the guests of an old friend, Colonel Rogers, who was the park’s superintendent.

The Jasper trip lasted eight days and Conan Doyle noted: “For a week we lived the life of simplicity and nature.”

He said: “Jasper Park is one of the great national playgrounds and health resorts which the Canadian Government with great wisdom has laid out for the benefit of the citizens.

“When Canada has filled up and carries a large population, she will bless the foresight of the administrators who took possession of broad tracts of the most picturesque land and put them forever out of the power of the speculative dealer.”

Conan Doyle and his wife visited many local spots including Pyramid Lake, Lake Edith, and the Maligne River and Canyon.

He wrote of Jasper: “Life in Jasper interested me as an experience of the first stage of a raw Canadian town.

“It will certainly grow into a considerable place, but at that time, bar Colonel Rogers’ house and the station, there were only log-huts and small wooden dwellings.”

Conan Doyle wrote The Athabasca Trail June 18, 1914. It was first published in The Gazette in Montreal July 2, 1914, and collected in The Guards Came Through and Other Poems December 16, 1919.

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