“Alberta Temple Rededicated,” Ensign, Sept. 1991, 75–76
CARDSTON, ALBERTA, CANADA—The Alberta Temple has been a white granite beacon rising against the backdrop of the Canadian Rockies for nearly seventy years.
That beacon drew more than 100,000 visitors to its open house in June and more than 25,000 Church members for dedicatory services following an extensive three-year renovation project.
President Gordon B. Hinckley, First Counselor in the First Presidency, and President Thomas S. Monson, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, presided over the twelve dedicatory sessions held from June 22–24. President Hinckley spoke of his deep regret that President Ezra Taft Benson was unable to attend, citing President Benson’s love for temple work and for Alberta.
The dedicatory prayer, read by President Hinckley at the first session, petitioned, “May thy Holy Spirit dwell here and bring peace and love everlasting into the hearts of those who serve within this temple.
“Touch the hearts of thy people with the Spirit of Elijah the prophet, who restored the keys of the divine work of the redemption of the dead.”
The prayer sought the blessings of the Lord upon Canada, “where is found freedom of worship, freedom to assemble, and freedom of expression. …
“Bless the Latter-day Saints of Canada that they may be good citizens of the nation, men and women of integrity worthy of the respect of the people of this nation, and contributing of their talents and strength to its well-being.”
“May this beautiful house, which is God’s holy house, become as a magnet which will draw you here,” President Hinckley told those attending the first session. At a later session, he called on members to use the temple “doubly to make up for the loss of time” while it was being renovated.
“This temple is beautiful and magnificent, but it isn’t a place to be looked upon, it’s a place to be used,” he said.
President Monson told those attending, “This is an opportunity today to rededicate ourselves as we rededicate this temple. Let us examine our lives and make that improvement where improvement needs to be made.”
Both President Hinckley and President Monson complimented young people who attended the dedicatory sessions. President Monson told the youth in one session, “Remember the spirit you feel. Remember this day and pledge to yourself, ‘I will return and partake of the ordinances here.’”
Other speakers at the dedicatory sessions included President Howard W. Hunter of the Quorum of the Twelve; Elders Boyd K. Packer, Marvin J. Ashton, M. Russell Ballard, and Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve; Elder Dean L. Larsen of the Presidency of the Seventy; and Elders Alexander B. Morrison and H. Burke Peterson of the Seventy.
Also speaking were Elder Victor L. Brown, an emeritus member of the Seventy; President Elaine L. Jack, Relief Society general president; President Ardeth G. Kapp, Young Women general president; President Roy R. Spackman and Sister Donna Mae Spackman, temple president and matron; and President Grant Matkin and President John R. Milne, counselors in the temple presidency.
President Thomas Young, Jr., of the Canada Calgary Mission and President Karl Keeler of the Canada Winnipeg Mission attended the dedication, as did regional representatives Phillip G. Redd (Calgary Alberta, Edmonton Alberta, and Saskatoon Saskatchewan regions), Lynn A. Rosenvall (Big Horn Wyoming, Great Falls Montana, and Missoula Montana regions), and Don Salmon (Cardston Alberta and Lethbridge Alberta regions).
The dedication was a homecoming for Elder Brown, Elder Morrison, Sister Jack, Sister Kapp, and President Keeler, all of whom grew up in Alberta.
The dedication was also an occasion for the First Presidency to announce the calling of a new temple president—Heber L. Matkin, formerly a stake president in Lethbridge. His calling takes effect September 1.
Both Latter-day Saints and those of other faiths were touched by what they felt at the temple.
Martha Woolley of the Taber Third Ward, Taber Alberta Stake, had watched the walls of the temple rise during its ten-year construction when she was a child. She would follow President E. J. Wood (then stake president in Cardston and the first Alberta Temple president) and other Church leaders when they gave tours of the uncompleted structure. She was thirteen when the temple was first dedicated in 1923. Being a witness to two dedications in the same temple was “just wonderful,” she said.
For Dixie Beaton, a member of the Okotoks Ward, Calgary Alberta South Stake, attending the dedication brought back memories of when she and her husband, Perry, and their children were sealed there in 1977, a year after they joined the Church. “It is so good to return there and show my children where we were sealed,” she said. In the five years since her husband died, the family has been strengthened by the knowledge of their eternal bond.
She said the dedication session she attended gave her tremendous spiritual strength. “I left feeling that there isn’t anything I can’t accomplish,” she added.
The number of visitors who streamed through the temple during the nine-day open house surprised members of the dedication committee, who had planned for 60,000. Neldon Hatch, who coordinated public relations for the open house and the dedication, praised the 5,000 volunteers who accommodated the 100,000-plus open house visitors and the crowds who attended the dedication. The number of open house visitors was surprising because Cardston, a small community, is removed from large population centers; many who attended had to travel more than one hundred miles.
Both broadcast and print media covered the open house amply. A chain of newspapers in southern Alberta published a 32-page insert for its editions. The number of people streaming into Cardston became a news story in itself, with reporters interviewing residents and business people about the impact of the events.
It was estimated that 50 percent of the visitors were not Latter-day Saints.
Alberta premier Don Getty, members of his cabinet, members of the legislature, and their wives flew to Cardston to attend a temple tour for government and civic leaders, conducted by Elder Ballard. Brother Rosenvall, who was in the group, reported that the premier was deeply impressed by the temple, as well as the Church’s orientation toward eternal families. During the tour, Mr. Getty asked if he could have a copy of the Book of Mormon; at a dinner later, he was given a copy of the triple combination (the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price) with his name embossed on it.
At the completion of a media tour conducted by Elder Peterson, one reporter asked if he could return to the room where the tour began, to sit there and enjoy the feeling of peace he had felt. Another reporter, Dean Pootz of Fort Macleod, north of Cardston, commented, “That was the most beautiful experience of my life. I’m so glad I was able to go there and see that beautiful building.”