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Someone's in the Kitchen

by Christine Hayes - 0 Comment(s)

PC 843

Cowboys' Kitchen on the Prairie, Western Canada, ca 1912

Postcards from the Past, PC 843

I was taught to make bread by my grandmother. She told me to stop kneading when the dough "felt right." For generations of women, this was the way we learned to cook - a mother, grandmother, auntie or other female family member passed on her techniques and her secrets of the kitchen. The only time they ever used cookbooks was when they were trying something fancy. But they did have cookbooks. They had cookbooks prepared by the ladies organizations they belonged to, or from a company that sold spices or other food products, they had cookbooks from the gas company. I have inherited some of these - stained and written in though they may be ("these are not good" beside a muffin recipe that called for wheat germ).

So it is no surprise that for me, one of the highlights in the Community Heritage and Family History room at the Calgary Public Library is the great collection we have of cookbooks. We have items like the Watkins Cook Book (1936) and the United Farm Women of Alberta Cook Book (several editions). We have cookbooks from community organizations like the Troup 89 (Calgary) of the Boys Scouts of America and the Royal Alexandra Hospital Ladies Aid. These often include more than just recipes. They have household tips and dietary advice They could also include tips on etiquette and on cooking in special circumstances (for example for large groups or for the sick).

It is in books like this that we can discover the day to day existence of our mothers and grandmothers. Cookbooks provide a little window onto the lives of women and families that we often can’t find in other resources. So, please come down and visit us at the Central Library, in the Community Heritage and Family History Room. We’ve got lots of interesting stuff to see.

Farewell, Doc

by Christine L Hayes - 1 Comment(s)

PC 1327The city has lost a great man. Daryl "Doc" Seaman passed away on Sunday January 11, following a long battle with prostate cancer. Doc is probably best remembered as the man who brought the Flames to Calgary in 1980 but he was also a great philanthropist and a great businessman.

He was born in Rouleau Saskatchewan in 1922. He joined the Canadian Air Force during World War II and flew a Hudson bomber in 82 missions in north Africa and Italy. After the war he earned a degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Saskatchewan and with money saved from his wartime salary, Doc and his brothers B.J. and Don started a company that would grow into Bow Valley Industries.

But his lasting legacy can be found in his devotion to his community evidenced by his involvement in causes as diverse as amateur hockey, environmental protection and medical research. In every article written about his passing, mention is made that Doc preferred to keep his philanthropic work low-key and understated.

If you are interested in reading more about this great Calgarian, author Sydney Sharpe has donated copies of her biography of Doc Seaman, Staying in the Game, to the Calgary Public Library (and other libraries in Canada). You can place a hold on the title by following this link.

Calgary's First Fire

by Christine L Hayes - 0 Comment(s)

PC 540

Fire Hall #1, built 1887 demolished 1913

Postcards from the Past, PC 540

The first major fire in Calgary occurred on January 8 1885 in J.L. Bowen's house on Atlantic Avenue (now 9th Avenue). The house, valued at $575, which would have made it one of the finer homes in the city, was completely destroyed. Bystanders were unable to stop the fire mainly because there was no nearby source of water. Snowballs were hurled at the blaze and a bucket brigade was started to bring water from a town water tank, but to no avail. The best they could accomplish was to save some of the furniture and to drag the nearby henhouse, with its occupants, to safety.

It may have been this fire that spurred the approval for the digging of eight wells around the city. It also led to the development of the Calgary Hook, Ladder and Bucket Corps in August of 1885. James Smart, who would become Chief in 1898, was "hookman" on that brigade, .

The photograph above shows the Calgary Fire Hall built in 1887 on what is now 7th Avenue between Centre Street and 1st Street E. It comes from our postcard collection which is accessible through our Community Heritage and Family History Digital Library. Information about the history of the Calgary Fire Department can be found in our Local History room on the 4th floor of the Central Library.

Party Like It's... 2009 (or 1909)!

by Christine L Hayes - 0 Comment(s)


Wm. Aberhart's Calgary Prophetic Bible Institute, taken in 1967

Alison Jackson Photography Collection, AJ0506

With Barack Obama making history as the first African American to be president of the United States, our thoughts here have turned to all things political. In particular we are looking at Alberta's interesting history. Did you know that Alberta has had only four different political parties in power since it became a province in 1905? Can you name them? (See below)

Political Parties DisplayThe photograph in this entry is of a display in front of the Local History Room in the Central Library. It highlights some of the interesting items we have in the Local History room including election brochures, party publications (check out The Little Book of Reform and The Social Credit Challenge) as well as memoirs and histories.Pop in to check out the display and have a look at the collection of materials relating to Alberta politics. We're on the fourth floor of the Central Library.

(The four political parties are the Liberal Party, 1905-1921; United Farmers of Alberta, 1921-1935; Social Credit, 1935-1971; and Conservative, 1971 to present)