Walton donates $1.5 million to create arts performance space on Stampede Park’s Youth Campus

Calgary – The Walton Group of Companies is contributing $1.5 million to the Calgary Stampede Foundation to create Walton Hall, a new performance and classroom space for arts organizations. Located on Stampede Park’s Youth Campus, Walton Hall will incorporate historic elements of Westbourne Church, currently located on Stampede Park and is part of the Calgary Stampede’s vision to become a world-class, year-round gathering place.  


“Youth Campus is an important development to Walton as it promotes Calgary as a great place to live, work and play,” says Leslie Fryers, Executive Vice President of Law at Walton. “Walton Hall will celebrate the past and build a strong, vibrant and exciting future.” 


One million dollars of the Walton gift will be allocated to create Walton Hall, which will bring much needed arts rehearsal and performance space in Calgary, when it opens, which is expected to be in 2016.  This facility will feature a classroom and a 60 seat recital hall, to be used by The Young Canadians of the Calgary Stampede and the Calgary Stampede Showband as well as other performing arts groups from across Calgary. The remaining $500,000 of Walton’s generous donation will support the overall development of Youth Campus programs.


“Seeing Youth Campus come together with the support of donors like Walton is incredible,” says Ann McCaig, Calgary Stampede Foundation chair and We’re Greatest Together co-chair. “The Campus will be a spectacular gathering place to help our next generation of youth be creative, innovative and engage in their community.”


The Calgary Stampede is working with heritage consultants and the City of Calgary to determine which architectural or interior elements of Westbourne Church can be repurposed for Walton Hall.  Located on the banks of the Elbow River, Youth Campus will feature ample green space and be custom-designed for indoor and outdoor classrooms, training and performing. Public charter school Calgary Arts Academy will also make its new home on Youth Campus. “This is where new generations of Calgary’s most spirited citizens will be nurtured,” adds McCaig.


About Walton Group of Companies

The Walton Group of Companies ("Walton") is a family-owned, multinational real estate investment, planning, and development group concentrating on the research, acquisition, administration, planning and development of strategically located land in major North American growth corridors.

Walton has been in business for over 30 years and takes a long-term approach to land planning and development. Walton’s industry-leading expertise in real estate investment, land planning and development uniquely positions Walton to responsibly transition land into sustainable communities where people live, work and play. Its communities are comprehensively designed in collaboration with local residents for the benefit of community stakeholders. Its goal is to build communities that will stand the test of time: hometowns for present and future generations.

For more information about Walton, please visit www.walton.com.


About the Calgary Stampede Foundation

Since its inception in 1994, the Calgary Stampede Foundation has worked to preserve and promote western traditions, culture and heritage through charitable giving as well as promoting and advancing character-building youth programs. Through its current $100 million “We’re Greatest Together” capital campaign, the Foundation is working with community leaders and philanthropists to develop world class programs and facilities that ensure our western legacy is preserved for future generations. The Calgary Stampede is a shareholder of the Foundation, which is responsible for a number of youth-oriented programs including Stampede School, the Calgary Stampede Showband and The Young Canadians School of Performing Arts. 


BACKGROUND on Westbourne Baptist Church Building

Calgary – Walton Hall, originally known as the Westbourne Baptist Church, opened in Calgary’s Victoria Park neighbourhood in 1910. An endowment for the church was provided by the congregation of Westbourne Church in London, England, and the new church in Calgary was named in its honour. Its first minister was Reverend R. Dack.

This iconic building is best-known for its association with former Alberta Premier and founder of the Social Credit Party, William “Bible Bill” Aberhart (b.1878 – d.1943). Aberhart was born in Ontario and trained as a teacher and Presbyterian minister. In 1910, he joined the many thousands of people who migrated west to the Prairie Provinces. Indeed, as families from eastern Canada, the eastern United States, and Europe heeded the call of the Laurier government to settle the “Last Best West,” there came a great demand for educators. Aberhart worked in two Calgary schools before becoming the first Principal of Crescent Heights High School in 1915. Meanwhile, Aberhart remained an active minister, first at Grace Presbyterian Church and then at Trinity Methodist Church. In 1915, he became an unofficial minister at the Westbourne Baptist Church. Despite being a Presbyterian, not a Baptist, Aberhart was popular with the congregation, and was able to secure a loyal following, even in the face of pushback from Baptist leaders who disagreed with some of Aberhart’s fundamentalist teachings.

In 1921, some members of the Westbourne Baptist Church congregation became independent from the Baptist Convention, and in 1923 the Church was incorporated on its own. By 1923, Aberhart had established night theology courses at Westbourne Baptist Church, which later inspired the creation of the Calgary Prophetic Bible Institute. It was also at Westbourne Baptist Church that Aberhart began his formative radio broadcasts, which would eventually help propel him into the premier’s office. Aberhart left Westbourne Baptist Church in 1927 when he opened the Calgary Prophetic Bible Institute. In the following years, the Westbourne congregation began to question Aberhart’s fundamentalist teachings. In 1930, the congregation ended its association with him completely, and helped to found the Regular Baptist Missionary Fellowship of Alberta.

In 1967, the Westbourne Baptist congregation relocated to north-west Calgary. The building remained vacant until 1975, when it was taken over by a Pentecostal congregation. It was later owned by Religious Divine Worship. From 1992-2007, the church served as the Victory Outreach Centre, which ministered to Calgary’s homeless and working poor.

Walton Hall features Gothic Revival-style architecture, as typified by its pointed windows and cross gabled roof. Imported from Europe, the Gothic Revival-style was popular for churches in Canada in the pre-First World War period.