The SAIT archives serve as a memory, keeping alive the stories of the Institute's journey through history. They are a link to the past, present and the future, and Karly Sawatzky, SAIT's Archivist, holds a privileged position as custodian of that collective memory.
“I became an archivist because I have a passion for history and an eye for detail. The papers, photographs, class notes and newspapers housed in our archives, as well as the artifacts, paint a detailed picture of the people who filled our classrooms and hallways.” Sawatzky, who has been SAIT’s Archivist for five years, says she’s often asked if she gets lonely being the only employee in the archives. “During our 100-year history, SAIT has had some VERY large personalities that keep me company – even from the records they left behind. I’m surrounded by the overwhelming enthusiasm and respect Fred Jorgenson (Principal 1969-84) had for his students, by the energy of Nyall Tweedle when he climbed the flag pole, or the contagious smiles of students at SAIT banquets and dances. We have an incredible history – of people, of lives lived, and of growth."
She says it’s important for SAIT to have archives to help preserve the past, and ensure the records of today are maintained for future generations; not only the institutional records, but the stories that shape what SAIT has become. “Without these windows into the past we couldn’t know what it looked and smelled like having classes under the Stampede Grandstand, what it was like for staff and students during the Great Depression, or the tricks students played on fellow students, instructors, and even the principal.”
Sawatzky will be sharing some of those curious stories discovered in the SAIT archives during guided walking tours as part of the centennial birthday on Oct. 16. Learn how SAIT began (hint, it all starts with a good old fashioned competition between Calgary and Edmonton), how the Institute survived the Great Depression, underwent a relocation during the Second World War, and even hosted a major musical act’s Canadian debut concert – by accident.
Guided campus tours will be starting from the SAIT library at 12:45pm, 1:45pm, 2:45pm and 3:45pm on Oct. 16. Join us and follow our wonderful guides as they take you back into history.
Visit the centennial events page for a list of the exciting 100th birthday activities.