Wander Through the Woodlands
Light the Night is a series of unique, never-before-seen light-based art installations that will illuminate Calgary’s winter nights. Running from Friday, Jan 13th to Saturday, Mar 18, 2023 Light the Night takes place in the heart of Currie: the Woodlands, a newly opened naturalized space in Alexandria Park.
This rich storytelling experience celebrates the magic of winter, Currie’s military roots and connection with the Indigenous peoples.
Light the Night includes 7 distinct installations that will illuminate winding pathways with more than 30 individual light pieces that include lanterns, projections and suspended artworks. Read more about each installation and hear from the artists below.
A teardrop from the moon, a crescent profile, a cupped hand in the air catching a great light and sharing it all around. MoondropsXO invites you to consider that the feeling may be the meaning.
A short post series of Bollard-style lanterns, Propellard’s patterning and glow evokes the movement of turbines, windmills and propellers, and the invisible effect rotating blades have on air and water.
How the Thunder Pipe came to the Blackfoot People – Changing Seasons
This is a sequential installation that uses Blackfoot pictographs that tell the story of Thunder. Through a series of 32 panels on small lanterns, visitors will learn the story of the Blackfoot and their first ceremonial pipe. Blackfoot stories are passed down orally through generations and rely on memory to retell them, with details sometimes changing depending on the person telling the story, but the meaning or moral stays the same.
These stories speak to the Blackfoot’s relationship with the environment, spiritual entities, animals and each other. They are the basis of and animate our cultural patrimony.
This particular story focuses on the importance of Thunder, how it reminds us of the power of the natural world and how it is powerful and to be respected. It also tells how the Blackfoot people acquired the Thunder Pipe, their first medicine pipe and is used to celebrate the arrival of spring.
In our time we take Thunder for granted, it often comes in the spring and stays with us through to the fall, and occasionally in winter. Thunder is a powerful force and reminds us of the strength of the natural world. It serves as a signal for lightning, which can hurt or kill us. As such, Thunder is a powerful entity that is to be feared and respected.
Sometimes Thunder can also be malicious, shooting lightning from his eyes and stealing women from the tribe.
Once such case was with a family—father, mother and child. They were sitting in their lodge when, suddenly, Thunder struck them. The father and child were shocked and frightened, before realizing that the mother was gone, unaware that Thunder had stolen her.
At first, the father thought that she had gone out to gather supplies. He asked the members of his camp if they had seen her, but not one had. They had also heard Thunder and were worried that he might have something to do with it.
The father then realized that Thunder had stolen his wife. This was a terrible thought, as they had a child to care for, and it made the father sad. He wandered into the forest and hills to mourn his loss, and wondered what to do.
He started to speak with the animals. When he spoke with the Wolf, Wolf explained that every animal was afraid of Thunder because he could strike them at any moment. They did not want to find Thunder. Rather, all they wanted to do was run away and hide when they heard Thunder.
Undeterred, the father continued to search for Thunder. One day, he found Crow’s lodge, which was made of stone. The Crow was friendly and invited him into the lodge and fed him.
He asked why the father had come here and the father explained that Thunder had stolen his wife and the he wanted her back so that they could care for their child, who also missed her.
The Crow knew Thunder lived nearby. He told the father that Thunder was terrible and his lodge was also made of stone and contained the eyes of everyone Thunder had stolen, which hung in his lodge, along with drums.
He then asked the father if he was brave enough to enter Thunder’s lodge and the father said he was scared and did not want to see such terrible things.
It was then that the Crow said that there is only one that Thunder feared, only one that Thunder could not kill. It was the Crow.
Crow told the father that he could give him his medicine, so that Thunder would not harm him. He gave the father a Crow’s wing and told him to flap it at Thunder and tell him he wanted his wife back. It should make him cold and afraid, causing him to retreat.
He also gave the father an arrow made from elk horn and told him that if the Crow’s wing did not work, to shoot the arrow through the lodge.
But still, the man was afraid and asked how he could know that this would work. The Crow told the father to trust him and took him outside and rubbed some of his medicine into the father’s eyes.
Crow told him that you have traveled far and can no longer see your camp or your people, but with the medicine you will. As the father opened his eyes, he saw his camp, the painted lodges and his people. It was then that he believed in the power of the Crow.
The father then went to Thunder’s lodge, entering it and sat by the door. Thunder, angry that this man had entered his lodge, looked at the father with his lightning eyes and asked why he had come here.
The man looked at the many eyes in Thunder’s lodge and found his wife’s eyes. He told Thunder that he wanted to get his wife that Thunder had stolen, that he loved her and that he and his child needed her. Thunder rose up and told him that no one comes to his lodge and take back what he had taken and was about to strike the father with his lightning eyes. But the father took out the Crow’s wing and flapped it at Thunder.
Thunder fell back and began to shiver and freeze before rising again. The father took out the elk horn arrow and shot it through the lodge, piercing the stone and letting the sun shine through.
This stopped Thunder, who asked the father to stop. He told him that the father had strong medicine and that he could take his wife back. The father cut the string that bound his wife’s eyes and she appeared before him.
Thunder said that the father now knew his weaknesses and that Crow’s medicine was greater than his. Realizing this, Thunder decided that he would live here in the summer, but when winter came, he would go south with the bird.
Thunder then grabbed his pipe and gave it to the father, telling him that he has great power and it rests in the pipe. He told the father to take the pipe, keep it and when Thunder comes back in the spring, to light it, smoke it and pray to Thunder, yourself and the people. He told the father he will bring the rain that will make the berries grow.
Thus, the father and his wife returned to the camp where they were reunited with their child. The father told their story and now the people had their first medicine pipe.
This is how the Blackfoot got the Thunder pipe, each year when Thunder comes back, we light the pipe and pray to him, ourselves and the people, an annual renewal that ensures and celebrates the arrival of spring and the growth of food.
Dylan’s signature polychromatic lantern pathway. Swaying gently in the breeze or dancing in the storm, the Topaz Lanterns chaotically intersecting symmetries transforms your nighttime walk.
An non-engineered approach to the Engineering Corps that are a part of Currie’s history. Bridge Layers is a sliced take on a temporary span across two solitudes. Following the path under the bridge, we step into the flow of Currie’s Light the Night.
These lanterns honour the history and bravery of four Indigenous Soldiers from Alberta. They are a reminder of the history of the Currie Barracks and Canadian Military engagements. They remind us that Indigneous soldiers have and do play a large role in Canadian Military history. Each lantern will focus on the identity, history, and life of these soldiers through pictographic representations. Currie Barracks rests within Blackfoot Territory, three of the soldiers honoured are from Blackfoot Territory.
Michael Mountain Horse (WWI)
“Miistatisomitai” was born in 1888. At that time Kainai (Blood Tribe) was adapting to Reserve life. At the age of six, Michael was sent to a residential school on the Reserve operated by the Anglican Church.
Mike and his brother Joe enlisted in the Canadian Expeditionary Force to avenge their sibling Albert who had died on his way home from injuries on the battlefield. In France, Mike was wounded by an enemy’s bayonet at the battle of Cambrai and shipped to England to convalesce.
Mike returned home and took employment as an interpreter with the Royal North West Mounted Police, he worked as a locomotive labourer in the Canadian Pacific Railroad and in the 1920s, Mike became a journalist, and wrote many newspaper articles for the Lethbridge Herald. Mike was respected among the Kainai Nation, he was elected to the Blood Tribal Council. Mike Mountain Horse passed away in 1964.
Albert Mountain Horse (WWI)
Albert Mountain Horse is believed to have been the first Aboriginal person from Western Canada to enlist in the Canadian Expeditionary Force during the First World War. He was caught up in the German’s chlorine gas attack at the Second Battle of Ypres in April 1915, he survived the heavy fighting. Albert was gassed two more times in 1915. He suffered significant lung damage as a result and was kept in the hospital. Seriously ill, he was diagnosed with pneumonia and declared unfit for active duty. Sadly, his pneumonia turned into tuberculosis and Mountain Horse died three days after returning to Canada. He was only 22 years old.
Albert Mountain Horse grew up on the Blood Indian Reserve in Southern Alberta. Named Flying Star by his mother. When he was old enough, Albert joined the Cadet Corps, and then later, attended a military school in Calgary. Albert’s two older brothers, Mike, and Joe enlisted soon after their younger brother’s death and served in France for the duration of the war.
Mike Foxhead (WWI)
Mike was born on the 16 of August in 1898 on the Siksika Nation, Alberta. Foxhead enlisted in Calgary in October of 1916. Despite the objections from the elders in the community, he expressed his motives in a letter in 1917, writing that he wanted “to put up a name for the Reserve, so they can say that they have one of their boys over here. I could have got out of it when the boys got their discharge only, I wanted to do my bit like all other Canadians.”
Foxhead joined the 191st Battalion and sailed from Halifax in the spring of 1917 aboard SS Olympic (Olympic was the sister ship of the Titanic). Upon his arrival in England, he was transferred to the 21st Reserve Battalion before being assigned to the 50th Battalion in France since it needed reinforcements. Shortly after arriving at the front, Foxhead was killed in action on October 23, 1917. His battalion was involved in the Battle of Passchendaele and on the 23rd it sustained considerable enemy bombardment amidst the water-soaked and muddy conditions.
His name is among the 55,000 inscribed on the Menin Gate Memorial, a monument designed to commemorate those who fell trying to protect the Ypres Salient and whose bodies were never recovered.
Henry Northwest WWI
Henry Northwest was a Metis marksman, he was born in Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta. In his nearly three years of service with the 50th Canadian Infantry Battalion, the lance-corporal achieved a sniping record of 115 fatal shots. He also merited the Military Medal and bar, making him one of roughly 830 members of the CEF to be awarded this double honour.
The battalion’s star marksman earned the MM in 1917 at a peak on Vimy Ridge. Most of the Ridge was taken on the first day, three days later, the two remaining enemy positions, including a German stronghold known as the Pimple, were conquered.
According to his award citation, Norwest showed “great bravery, skill and initiative in sniping the enemy after the capture of the Pimple. By his activity he saved a great number of our men’s lives.”
The following year, Norwest was awarded a bar to his MM. During the Battle of Amiens, in France, Norwest destroyed several enemy machine gun posts and achieved a sniping record that was a battalion high. A week later, on August 18, three months before the war ended, Norwest was killed by a sniper.
This is an exciting refresh of an unconventional lantern that has lit paths across events for more than a decade. This version is about twinkling stars, glowing cocoons and spider webs in the frost.
The Light Installations
The Military Museum Foundation
The Military Museums Foundation is offering enhanced experiences for your Light the Night walk with personalized guided tours that examine the history behind some of the light installations, as well as the Woodlands itself.
These experiences also include an after hours tour of The Military Museums and includes some light refreshments.
There is an additional cost for this experience.
Dylan Toymaker & Adrian Stimson
Read and hear about the artists stories below
Dylan Toymaker is a light design and installation artist currently residing in Edmonton, Alberta. He began his artistic career in craft, unexpectedly, while receiving a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology. Early experience working internationally in craft production in places such as Toronto, Vancouver, Tucson, New Orleans and New York, lead him down a long and winding road to his real passion: light design.
He enjoys spending his days creating fully immersive installations with community and event-based art with a focus on placemaking and way-finding, including monumental structures and lantern systems. Previously, he has created and curated art for the Flying Canoë Volant festival, and designed and built lantern installations for a variety of Alberta festivals, including the Edmonton Folk Music Festival and the Jasper Dark Sky Festival.
Some of Dylan's Work
Adrian Stimson is a member of the Siksika (Blackfoot) Nation in Southern Alberta, with a Bachelor of Fine Arts with distinction from the Alberta College of Art and Design and a Master of Fine Arts from the University of Saskatchewan.
He is an interdisciplinary artist whose mediums include painting, performance art, videography and sculpture. He participated in the Canadian Forces Artist program which sent him to Afghanistan in 2010 and was awarded the Governor General Award for Visual and Media Arts in 2018. Stimson’s work has been exhibited nationally and internationally and has included notable places such as the British Museum and the Burning Man Festival.
Some of Adrian's Work
What You Need To Know
Here are some answers to some commonly asked questions for Currie’s Light the Night event.
If you have other questions about the event, please email:
This is an entirely free event open to the public! However, should you want to enhance your evening, we offer guided tours from The Military Museums Foundation at an additional cost.
Light the Night is for those who love the magic of winter or are looking for a reason to get out and enjoy a winter night. It is an all-ages event.
The Woodlands Area, where Light the Night is located, is dog friendly, although we ask that you keep your furry friends leashed. If your pup wants to work off some excess energy, you can take them off-leash at the Currie Bark Park nearby!
Light the Night will be accessible from January 13 to March 18.
The installation will be open to the public every night until March 18. The best time to view the installations would be after sunset.
The walk itself can run between 15-45 minutes while The Military Museums Foundation guided tour can take up to 2 hours.
No registration is needed for the walk. However, registration is required for The Military Museums Foundation guided tour. We do recommend bringing a curious mind (and warm clothing!)
Free on-street parking is available. Once you drive into Currie, we’ll have signs to help guide you. Please abide by any parking signs or permit restrictions. The best streets to park along are:
· Alexandria Green SW
· Normandy Drive SW
· Bessborough Drive SW
· Calais Drive SW
Yes. Our partners at The Military Museums Foundation are offering guided tours, followed by refreshments and further discussion at The Museums. To learn more or book a tour, visit here.
While there are no food vendors in Alexandria Park, there are several businesses nearby that offer warm food, refreshing beverages and more. They include:
· The Inn on Officers’ Garden
· Wild Rose Brewery
· Burwood Distillery
· Vaycay Brew Co.
Unfortunately, there are no on-site washrooms.
Barring unforeseen technical issues that may arise from bad weather, there are no plans to cancel any viewings.
For your safety, please stay on the denoted pathways and do not touch the light installations.
The art installations don’t have any photosensitivity issues and should be safe for everyone’s enjoyment.