Twice-told tales: Cranbrook Arts Group book revisits an iconic Cranbrook story

An iconic Cranbrook tale is being retold in striking fashion.

“Fourteen Trumpeting Elephants” recounts the story of the 14 pachyderms who escaped from the Sells Floto Circus in 1926 in Cranbrook — in particular Charlie Ed (later renamed Cranbrook Ed) — and who wandered the wilds of the local backcountry for days.

But it’s never been told like this. “Fourteen Trumpeting Elephants” is a project of the Cranbrook Arts Group, a consortium of artists under the auspices of the Cranbrook District Arts Council. Eleven of them have banded together to retell the story as a children’s art book in 14 chapters — each chapter illustrated by a unique painting in the individual artists’ styles.

Norma Kroeger has written the text for the book.

Yvonne Vigne, one of the artists, said it is hoped that the book — scheduled for release in the spring of 2019 — will be the first in an annual series.”

“We would like this project to be ongoing,” she said. “This story is iconic, but we’d like to do a book every year — representations of our area: historic, or geographical …”

The artists describe the book as an embellished story of historical facts, aimed at children 12 and under. The story is told by a grandfather and his grandson as a crowd gathers around them. It describes local events and places, and the reader can follow the antics of the elephants as they experience freedom in the wild.

“This is something done by the community that’s about the community,” said artist Dawn Fenwick. “The the people are recognizable. Cranbrook can see itself in this book.”

“It will teach children about their history, about the arts and about their community today,” added Laverna Peters.

The book is divided into the following chapters (with the illustrating artists named):

• The group gathering to hear the story (Dawn Fenwick)

• Elephants stampeding (Laverna Peters)

Continued from A1

• Mary in the Apple Tree (Ann Holtby Jones)

• Elk (John DeJong)

• Telegraph Dispatch (Lynn Taylor)

• Picnic with Huckleberries (Dawn Fenwick)

• Bear Introduced (Laverna Peters)

• Maude and Rudy and the Model T Ford (Monique Culbertson)

• Old Miner On A Horse (Ann Holtby Jones)

• Loggers (Yvonne Vigne)

• Charlie Swimming Along The Steamship (Sam Millard)

• Indian Elephants (Bill McColl)

• Charlie Climbs Fisher Peak (Ann Aitkenson)

• Fall Fair (Yvonne Vigne)

• Champagne and Miss Paterson (Josie Rousse)

The Cranbrook Arts Group will also be kicking off their fundraising campaign by inviting the public to make a donation to the “Fourteen Elephants” book project.

For the months of November and December, donors can drop by the Cranbrook District Arts Council gallery on Baker Street downtown and buy an “elephant ornament to hang on the Cranbrook Arts Silver Elephant Christmas Tree. Donors’ names and/or business names will be attached to the ornament, and entered in a draw for a copy of the book.

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