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The Heritage Triangle PDF link

Calgary Board of Education Celebrates 125 Years

by Christine L Hayes - 0 Comment(s)

PC 854

New Central School (later James Short School) 1907

Postcards from the Past, PC 854

In the next few years we are going to see a plethora of anniversaries being celebrated. The years at the beginning of the 20th century were a boom time for Calgary. Between the 1901 census and the 1911 census, the population of Calgary grew from around 4000 to around 44, 000. With the population growth came the establishment of important and lasting institutions and the construction of many fine buildings. The Calgary Public Library was built in 1911 and officially opened on the first day of 1912. The beautiful sandstone City Hall building was completed. In 1912 we celebrated our first Stampede. The street railway, our first transit system, was built in 1909. The period between 1900 and 1912 was one of major importance in the building of our city.

One organization, however, was already celebrating a significant anniversary in 1910. By that year the Calgary Board of Education was already 25 years old. On March 2, 1885 the Calgary Protestant Public School District No. 19 was formed by an order of the Executive Council of the North West Territories. A school had existed in Calgary before this time but it was funded through subscription, not through taxation. At the time of its formation, the Calgary Protestant Public School District No. 19 had 70 students and met in a small building on 9th Avenue and 5th Street SE. In no time the size of the student population had overwhelmed the school and space was rented on the second floor of a building on 8th Avenue E. owned by I.S. Freeze.

The student population continued to grow and the Board was forced to issue a debenture for the construction of a purpose-built school in 1887, which would become Central School, on 1st Street W north of 5th Avenue. By 1893, it, too, was overcrowded. Throughout these early years of its existence, the board was plagued by a shortage of classroom space necessitating the rental of rooms in various locations including the Alberta Hotel. In 1893 plans were put in place to build a new school, which would be called the South Ward School.

AJ 23-13

South Ward School, 1958

Alison Jackson Photograph Collection AJ 23 13

Growth continued to be matched by the growth of the student population and, therefore, a growth in the school system. Some of those magnificent sandstone schools were built to meet the demand of the burgeoning population. We have pictures of many of those schools in our Community Heritage and Family History Digital Library, which can be accessed through the link on the left. We also have some very good histories of education in Calgary, such as From Slate Pencil to Instant Ink and From Slate to Computer by McLennan. We also have the 1906 annual report of the newly formed Province of Alberta, Department of Education. These are all available in the Community Heritage and Family History Room at the Central Library. The Calgary Board of Education has put up a really good PowerPoint presentation about some of their historic schools. You can see it at this link: http://www.cbe.ab.ca/125thCelebration/index.htm

Happy Anniversary CBE. Here’s wishing you another 125 years.

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