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Canada Census, 1891

by Christine Hayes - 0 Comment(s)

Census 1891

Library and Archives Canada has announced the launch of a new database, the 1891 Census of Canada. This census marked the third time names and statistical information was collected from the whole of the country. The intent was to reflect the population as of April 5, 1891. In all data was collected from 4,833,239 people from all the provinces and territories. LAC has acknowledged the contribution of, without whom the project could not have been completed. The records are free to search through Library and Archives Canada (see hot link above) and through Ancestry LE. You can access Ancestry LE free of charge with your Calgary Public Library card at any branch of the Calgary Public Library.

The database is a collection of digitized images taken from the microfilm produced in 1955. Unfortunately, the quality of the images on the microfilm is uneven - some pages are good, others not so good. The originals were destroyed so that all that exists are the microfilms of the population schedules (Schedule 1). Some of the images are not decipherable so if your people don't show up in the indexing, it may be that they are on one of the unreadable pages. If you would like to check the microfilm, Calgary Public Library owns a (nearly) complete collection of all released census microfilm, with the exception of the 1916 Census of the Prairie Provinces, which is still on order. The films are held in the genealogy section on the fourth floor of the Central Library. You can ask for assistance in finding the films or using the microfilm readers (or anything else, for that matter) at the reference desk.

And a reminder for all you avid genealogy buffs, we offer Family History Coaching with volunteers from the Alberta Family Histories Society on the last Saturday of every month from 10:00 am to noon in the genealogy area. If you'd like more information on anything genealogy related, please feel free to contact us. Our telephone is 403-260-2785 and our direct email is

Researching Calgary's Military History

by Christine Hayes - 0 Comment(s)

I grew up on the west edge of the city near the Currie and Harvie Barracks. Having the military as neighbours was a normal, albeit sometimes exciting, part of my youth. We could ride our bikes to the bluff that is now called Battalion Park and on balmy summer nights, we watched the flares and listened to the guns from the military exercises that were taking place. Helicopters sometimes flew overhead. We could wave to the soldiers as their convoys passed us. It was better than watching the movie from beyond the fence at the 17th Avenue Drive-In!

PC 569

Six Soldiers, World War I

Postcards from the Past, PC 569

It was only years later, as I studied the history of my home town, that I realized what a proud military history we have. Since Fort Calgary, the city has had a military presence in one form or another. Calgary has been home to a number of famous regiments and their history is preserved in the newly renovated and expanded Military Museums. Along with the Naval, Army and Air Force Museums are the Regimental Museums of the Calgary Highlanders, Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry, the King's Own Calgary Regiment and Lord Strathcona's Horse. They also house the W.A. Howard Library and the Arthur J.E. Child Archives.

We are delighted that experts from the Military Museums and the University of Calgary will be giving a talk on Saturday February 28 at 1PM in the meeting room on the fourth floor of the Central Library. They will present information about strategies and resources for researching the history of the military in Calgary.

Heritage Day, 2009

by Christine Hayes - 0 Comment(s)

AJ 1082

CNR Station, formerly St. Mary's Parish Hall

Alison Jackson Photograph Collection, AJ 1082

The theme of this year’s Heritage day (Monday February 16) is Heritage and the Environment: Saving Places Built to Last. It is an opportunity for Canadian communities to celebrate the numerous environmental benefits achieved from the rehabilitation of heritage properties. These are issues that Calgarians are facing right now, as we look at the two working man’s hotels, the Cecil and the King Eddy, and contemplate the future of these two old-timers.
While it sometimes seems that we are a city of “razers” we actually have quite a few outstanding examples of buildings that have been rehabilitated and repurposed. The photo in this posting is of the old Canadian Northern Railway station. It has been repurposed twice in its lifetime. It started its life as the parish hall for St. Mary’s Cathedral. It was then sold and renovated to become the CNR railway station. In its third incarnation it is the Nat Christie Centre, the home of Alberta Ballet.
You can see photos of other historic buildings, including some like the Lougheed Grand, the Clarence Block (which was McNally Robinson booksellers) and the Dominion Bank (now Teatro Restaurant) in our databases Postcards from the Past, A Virtual Tour of Historic Calgary and Calgary’s Heritage Homes.
In addition to information about historic buildings in Calgary, the Community Heritage and Family History room at the Central Library also houses items which may be of interest to those of you looking to restore a vintage home. In addition to books of the nitty gritty how-to variety, we also have catalogues from hardware stores that include paint samples and pictures of various fittings. We also have resources for those of you interested in researching the history of your home. Come and see us on the fourth floor of the Central Library and we would be delighted to show you the resources we have.

Black History Month

by Christine Hayes - 0 Comment(s)

PC 1485

Main Street, Pincher Creek, 1908

Postcards from the Past, PC 1485

February is Black History month and it is the perfect time for an examination of the people who settled this lovely province of ours. Because I am a family historian, my focus has always been on the stories of "regular" folks - not the kings and politicians that make up the official record but people like me and you and our families, the real builders of this country.

People of African descent have settled in Alberta since the middle part of the 19th century. Many were escaping slavery or racial discrimination and all were looking for a better life. People like John Ware, a legendary rancher who was born into slavery in South Carolina and whose skills as a cowboy made him famous. Or people like the Lewis family who settled near Calgary and moved into the bustling town to work in the construction trade during one of Calgary's many booms. Or Annie Saunders, a nanny and domestic to Colonel Macleod's family who set herself up in business in Pincher Creek.

Black History month is our chance to celebrate those pioneers and their descendents. Check the Community Heritage and Family History collection for books like John Ware's Cow Country, Blacks in Deep Snow: Black Pioneers in Canada or the magazine Alberta Views which contains a fascinating article on Annie Saunders by local author Cheryl Foggo in the January/February 2009 issue.