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'Sentimental and romantic': Mindbender note rediscovered almost four decades later

The Mindbender was one of West Edmonton mall's main attractions for the better part of four decades.

It's a pile of scrap metal now as the rollercoaster was decommissioned in 2022, taken apart and cleared out of Galaxyland, the mall's indoor amusement park.

For one man, however, the steel structure is a reminder of a love for his wife and family.

Once upon a time, Stuart Houston -- a former mayor of Spruce Grove now serving as a city councillor in the Edmonton bedroom community -- was an ironworker who toiled for 30 years as the structural maintenance supervisor at West Edmonton Mall.

Some of the job required him to build the tracks of the Mindbender.

"I ended up working inside on all the ride construction," Houston told CTV News Edmonton. "I was able to be a steel connector on the Mindbender rollercoaster as well as the Drop of Doom and a few other rides."

Stuart Houston, the former mayor of Spruce Grove, worked for three decades as an ironworker, including as the structural maintenance supervisor at West Edmonton Mall. (Source: Stuart Houston)

In July 1985, as construction of the 14-story roller-coaster neared completion, he wanted to personalize the work he did on the project.

"Ironworkers will sometimes write stuff on the bottom of steel columns, and I happened to write something on the track."

Houston etched the words 'Stu loves Deb, Kyle and Cam' as a love note for his wife and his two sons, who were three and five at the time.

Stuart and Debra Houston are shown in this undated photo with their three kids. Stuart worked as a the structural maintenance supervisor at West Edmonton Mall while the children were young. (Source: Stuart and Debra Houston)

Stuart and Debra's daughter was born two years later.

"Stuart's always actually been very sentimental and romantic," Debra Houston said.

It was a romantic message Stuart forgot about until a friend dismantling the Mindbender found the hidden note.

"A cute little message in a bottle that got discovered, and who would have thought 38 years later someone would have found that," he said.

Stuart and Debra Houston speak to CTV News Edmonton on Nov. 5, 2023, in front of West Edmonton Mall, where Stuart previously worked as a the structural maintenance supervisor. (CTV News Edmonton / Evan Kenny)

"It was kind of a cute little surprise the other day when he got that phone call," Debra said. "He was excited, and it was kind of neat to remember back that far." Top Stories

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