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50th birthday bash for beloved Alberta legislature burger

Kelsey Kendrick, program assistant Visitor Services, holding the famous resin-encased hamburger that is housed in the Alberta Legislature library, and their celebrating its 50th birthday by throwing it a party, having a large burger-shaped cake and food-themed tours all at the Federal Building in Edmonton, March 21, 2019. - Ed Kaiser
Kelsey Kendrick, program assistant Visitor Services, holding the famous resin-encased hamburger that is housed in the Alberta Legislature library, and their celebrating its 50th birthday by throwing it a party, having a large burger-shaped cake and food-themed tours all at the Federal Building in Edmonton, March 21, 2019. - Ed Kaiser - Postmedia News Service
EDMONTON, Alta. —

A group of burger-loving Albertans stood in the Edmonton Federal Building foyer Thursday night, wearing party hats as they sang Happy Birthday to a hamburger.

To understand why, we must back up 50 years.

On March 27, 1969, as interim supply debate raged inside the Alberta legislature, one MLA stopped discussion in its tracks with a theatrical flourish — he reached into his drawer, pulled out a hamburger, and plonked it on his desk.

That MLA was Clarence Copithorne, independent member for Banff-Cochrane.

He had purchased the burger from the legislature cafeteria, much to his disgust.

“When talking about supply, one thing they should supply us with right upstairs is good nourishment at noon,” Copithorne told the house.

“In the past two weeks, we have sat in this house, I don’t think we’ve accomplished too much.”

The reason? Copithorne pointed squarely at the floppy burger.

Handing it to the page, he declared, “There’s nowhere a man’s needs can be sanctified at noon, whatever that means.”

He later told the Edmonton Journal he wouldn’t be happy until the cafeteria was fixed up “so we can get a good steak at noon.”

Copithorne’s sandwich stunt drew “hearty deskthumping from both sides of the house,” according to a Journal article of the day, before then-highways minister Gordon Taylorn quipped he would like to order 65 copies of the exhibit for the house.

Thus, the slightly squished burger entered into the official records of Alberta’s legislature as Sessional Order Paper 301.

Burger’s birthday bash

Alberta’s legislative library must preserve records tabled in the house.

That’s why the burger is now encased in resin, displayed in a glass case opposite decidedly more traditional records (though it rests next to a rattling can of Canadian Lake Whitefish caviar, tabled in 1980).

Next week marks the hamburger’s half-century — a milestone that visitor services program assistant Kelsey Kendrick was unwilling to let pass without proper celebration, so she organized the burger birthday bash.

Following food-themed tours of the legislature building, folks lucky enough to secure a ticket to the sold-out event sung a rousing rendition of “Happy Birthday,” and shared in a slice of burger-shaped cake as they took selfies with the guest of honour.

“I love weird stories, so the fact we have a 50-year-old hamburger in our library is delightful to me and tickles my funny bone,” Kendrick said.

“When I realized this was its 50th birthday, I decided of course we have to have a party for the burger. Why wouldn’t you?”

By Emma Graney

egraney@postmedia.com

twitter.com/EmmaLGraney

Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2019

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