Starlite Room mockup designed by a local miniaturist

A historic building emblematic of the local art scene has been miniaturized.

Bruce McDonald, retired Deputy Minister of Municipal Affairs, decided to combine his passion for creativity and history by creating miniatures of the city’s landmarks, his latest work being the Starlite Hall.

McDonald says he was inspired to create miniatures after reading a magazine article on a robbery three years ago.

“I stumbled upon it by accident,” he told CTV News Edmonton in an interview. “(I) read an article about a New York miniaturist who builds street scenes and things like that.

“I wrote to him and asked him: what do you use as material and how do you do it? And I became fascinated by it.

He started by creating a 1:24 scale version of a convenience store. His love for detail fueled 30 other miniatures, including seven from the Starlite Room.

“I’ve had musicians who performed there and want me to build it,” McDonald said. “I had a person who met his wife and actually got married in this building.

“I like to do it,” he added. “To me, it’s like asking someone how many hours do you spend golfing or gardening, and that’s a lot.”

McDonald’s uses the scratch method, which means it makes each item by hand instead of buying miniature accessories or accents.

“For me part of the challenge is figuring out how to make this lamp or what is it made of and how to determine the length of a ladder or staircase (to make them to ladder).

“So a lot of it is about trying to be analytical and trying to figure things out,” McDonald added.

Starlite Room owner and operator Tyson Boyd received a miniature of his building as a souvenir and was amazed at the level of detail McDonald’s captured.

“To be honest, I was blown away,” Boyd said. “The sidewalk detail itself and the asphalt patch and things like that are the ones that really hit me.

“Just because you really have to have a keen eye to catch some of those little nuances,” he added.

For Boyd, receiving the aftershock is now hitting harder than before, as the pandemic is impacting the legendary concert hall.

“I think we really needed it at this point in the pandemic where it was just kind of nostalgia,” he said.

“Having a miniature of the place itself in your possession shows me how important the venue and the building are to a lot of people, and it’s really something quite special.”

McDonald says he’s already started his next project with his niece, who plans to study architecture. The two recreate the old Hub News stand on Whyte Avenue.

“I really wanted to capture something on Whyte Avenue, and it’s something that burned down,” he said. “It’s something that’s burned down, so I’m kind of paying attention to our historic buildings here in Edmonton. “

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