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Lois Hole: Queen of Hugs

It may seem impossible to confine Lois Hole's legacy to a small gallery space inside the University of Alberta's Human Ecology building, but when you step into the dimly lit room, it is reminiscent of the same intimacy that those who knew her felt in
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It may seem impossible to confine Lois Hole's legacy to a small gallery space inside the University of Alberta's Human Ecology building, but when you step into the dimly lit room, it is reminiscent of the same intimacy that those who knew her felt in her presence. A wall of glass showcases glow beneath the spotlights highlighting mementos of a woman's life that spanned from the ground to Alberta's Legislative Assembly.

The exhibit, Lois Hole: Queen of Hugs, runs from now through March 22, 2015, and was created to honor the contributions of the former Lieutenant Governor, which have endured since her passing ten years ago.

The team of curators, Vlada Blinova and Lori Moran, were tasked with the goal of narrowing down the items donated by the Hole family to tell the story of a woman who was as comfortable meeting the Queen as she was interacting with the patrons of her greenhouse in St. Albert.

“I was researching material for this exhibit,” said Blinova, “and I found it quite amazing that one person could do so much in one lifetime. We thought it would be a good idea to do this commemorative exhibition to remind the people who knew her, and to tell new Canadians and the younger generation, who she was and what she did for the province.”

The exhibit features approximately 90 pieces of everything from elegant pearls and evening wear worn while meeting dignitaries from around the world to the humble black rubber boots and garden hoe that would accompany Hole and her legendary green-thumb at her family's business.

“I keep thinking of the blue skirt and the running shoes,” responded her son, Jim Hole. “She always had that skirt on with the running shoes, because that is what she wore out in the greenhouse all the time. She could have her skirt be wet from being in the greenhouse and have dirt on it, and the next thing you know, she was all dressed up to go to a fancy function. There was this amazing transformation in the clothing and how she could be in both worlds quite easily.”

Perhaps more telling than the items themselves are the quotes that adorn a plaque that runs floor to ceiling on a wall adjacent to the collection. Everyone from political leaders, academics, and those closest to Hole remark on the positive influence she had. Her life was not measured in the possessions that were left behind, but for the woman that she was.

“When I look back to when she was on the farm, she was always giving away vegetables to whoever walked in the door,” recalls her son. “She would give away a bunch of carrots or a head of cabbage, and that is not going to make or break anybody, but for somebody who may be struggling, that would be a nice thing to have. It is the same thing as a hug. It's giving something which really solidifies a relationship with another person.”