Artist taking look back at Canada's history and aliens with new exhibit

The year 1967 is remembered for various reasons.

The classic spaghetti western film A Fistful of Dollars starring the man with a permanent scowl Clint Eastwood was released that year, Pink Floyd released their debut album — but for Canada it was the country's centennial.

One hundred years after Confederation, the country began celebrating and one Alberta town, St. Paul, did so by building a landing pad for alien spaceships. In attendance on the day it was unveiled, June 3, 1967, was former minister of national defence, Paul Hellyer. 

The correspondence which lead Hellyer to travel to the town in place of John Fisher, chief centennial commissioner, is examined in an art exhibit Space Fiction and the Archives, put together by artist Jacqueline Hoang Nguyen.

The show opens Saturday at the McKenzie Art Gallery and runs through September.

Nguyen's work is research based, and the piece Folders contains letters between the citizens and leaders of St. Paul and multiple Canadian politicians. 

"It's not just a question of being nostalgic or looking at 1967 as this particular euphoric year," Nguyen said, explaining it's about framing the past in relation with current times. 

Canada's 150th falls on July 1, 2017. As part of the project, Nguyen tracked down Hellyer and had him read a transcript of a speech he delivered that day as part of the exhibit. 

"The best part about it is he's one of the most fervent ufologists that we have in Canada now," she said of Hellyer. 

"I guess it's to kind of look at the type of [imagination] that existed at the time," she added.

Nguyen said history has a lot to say and people can learn a great deal if they're attentive.