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Let's Fly

by Christine L Hayes - 0 Comment(s)

PC 1122

The Airport, Calgary, Alberta, Canada (circa 1940s?)

Postcards from the Past, PC 1122

We’re pursuing the theme of Mavericks this season, partly because of our inaugural One Book One Calgary celebration and partly, I think, inspired by the results of our recent election, where Calgary voters surprised the world with their “maverick” choice for mayor. Interestingly enough, the mavericks I had in mind for this week’s blog entry, were the aviators; people who took to the skies when flying was still in its infancy. Reaching for a segue, I suppose I could mention that Mayor Nenshi wants very much to provide access to the Calgary airport by finding ways to build a tunnel under the new airport runway (well, it is a stretch, but…)

One of the first manned heavier than air flights in Calgary was a truly maverick operation. Two young men, Alf Lauder (15 years old) and J. Earle Young (12 years old) designed a kite like flier powered by a motorcycle engine. It would not lift off, however, so they borrowed a two-cylinder Buick car and towed the contraption and finally did manage to get it off the ground.

Prior to World War I, most flying in Calgary was done for entertainment. Fliers exhibited their skills at the Calgary Exhibition and at air shows. After the war, though, flying took off, so to speak, and Calgary, with its typical can-do attitude soon had an aircraft company, the McCall Aero Corporation Ltd which was founded by Freddie McCall in 1919. An Aero Club was established in 1926. This club trained more pilots under a scheme by the government of Canada that saw flying clubs earn $100 for every pilot’s certificate its graduates attained. Sixty people graduated from the ground school in 1928, with a girl at the head of the class.

Calgary served as an RCAF air base during the Second World War Lincoln Park air base was built. It housed the Number 3 Service Flying Training School and the Number 10 Repair Depot. One of the hangars currently houses the Calgary Farmers Market. Also during the war, Calgary’s municipal airport was leased to the RCAF. It was not returned to the city until 1949.

The history of flight in Calgary is as interesting as the rest of our rogue history. If you are interested in finding out more about flight in Calgary, join us during our Heritage Weekend, November 5, 6 and 7. We are hosting two aviation related programs. On Friday November 5 at 7:00 in the John Dutton Theatre at the Central Library, Stephane Guevremont, from the University of Calgary, will be talking about Calgary’s Forgotten Heroes: 403 Squadron. Another program for aviation buffs, From Triumph to Tragedy, F is for Freddie recounts the electrifying story of the Mosquito bomber that flew more missions than any other in WW2 with Richard De Boer. It is also in the John Dutton Theatre, on Saturday November 6 at 11:00. You can register for these or any of our other Heritage Weekend programs online at (click on Programs and then search either the name of the program or “heritage weekend” to see all of the programs). You can also register in person at your local branch or by telephone at 403-260-2620

PC 1871

RCAF Photo 79, over Calgary, circa 1940s

Postcards from the Past, PC 1871

How did we get here?

by Christine L Hayes - 0 Comment(s)

City Plan, Mawson Report

Preliminary Town Planning Scheme

From the Mawson Report

Did you know that the Calgary Public Library's Community History and Family Heritage Room has a collection of over 300 maps relating to Calgary, Alberta and Canada?

We no longer have to think about paper maps as often as we once did. Now we can program coordinates into a GPS, and a friendly voice will help us reach our destination. (And as a bonus, you never have to try to fold a GPS to make it fit in the glove compartment!) Or you can go to Google Maps, enter an address, and instantly get driving instructions. You can even use Google Street View to zoom right in on a building or street for a better look, without ever leaving your chair.

But paper maps still have stories to tell. Several of the maps in our collection are beautifully illustrated, and elegantly lettered by hand. Others are surrounded by vintage advertising for local businesses and attractions, and indicate the locations of buildings that are no longer standing. If you would like to find the location of an Alberta homestead, a railway, an old Calgary street or neighbourhood, or an Alberta town no longer in existence, our map collection may be able to help. This collection is also useful if you would like compare Calgary in different time frames to see how our city has grown, or if you are writing a historical story and want to establish the setting. (Where would your characters catch the train, and which towns would it pass?)

Some of the maps in our collection are of the earliest representations of Canada. Several explorers lead various expeditions to the wilds of this uncharted territory, creating maps as they travelled. I am always impressed by the bravery and fortitude of these trail-blazing individuals, men like John Palliser and Peter Pond, and by the assistance and wisdom of their First Nations guides. Some of these maps are now known to be quite inaccurate, but their creators didn't have the benefit of an aerial view to see if they were right! (Palliser Expedition - Map CAN 5) (Peter Pond - Map CAN 22)

We have many maps of Calgary in our collection, representing the city from her earliest days to the present. The earliest map for Calgary is a reproduction of an 1883 land map, and it shows the homesteads of some of Calgary's earliest pioneers, men like James Barwis, Louis Roussel, Felix McHugh, James Walker, Napoleon Mayett, and Baptiste Anouse (Map CALG 40). The most current map in our collection is a Calgary Transit route map for 2009-2010 (Map CALG 124). We have several maps of Calgary showing the former names of neighbourhoods, and of areas that were annexed and named but then not developed until MANY years later. (This city has always been in flux, with many boom-and-bust cycles over the years.) Do you know where the neighbourhoods of Grand Trunk, Harlem, Strathdoune, Claralta, Kitsilano, Balaclava Heights or Spring Garden were? Harrison & Ponton's Map of the City of Calgary for 1913 (Map CALG 7) shows all of these neighborhoods. (I am guessing that Balaclava Heights was named after one of the international cities with that moniker, and not for the headgear, but with Calgary's winters, who knows?)

Calgary districts such as Sunnyside, Bowness, Montgomery, Forest Lawn and Midnapore were once independent towns and villages, separate from Calgary. In earlier maps, there is often a gap between the city and these areas. One map (map CALG 10) shows Bowness in 1959, before it was annexed by the City of Calgary in 1964. Sunnyside was annexed in 1910, Midnapore and Forest Lawn were annexed in 1961, and Montgomery became part of the city in 1964. The hamlet of Shepard, east of the city, was annexed in 2007. Calgary continues to grow.

If you would like to see what’s UNDER Calgary, have a look at the Calgary Geoscape (map CALG 137). This map includes fascinating information on Calgary’s geography and geology, and has notes on this area’s aquifers, sandstone sources, petroleum resources, and glacial erratics.

If you are doing more current research on Calgary, we have a book containing aerial views of the city in 1995. (Call number Local History O/S 917. 12338 CAL 1995). We also have address and atlas books for Calgary for 1992, 1995, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2004, and 2007.

The Calgary Public Library's collection of historical maps is located in the Community Heritage and Family History Room on the 4th floor of the Central Library. We have several recent additions to our map collection, so if it has been awhile since you've had a look, come see what's new!

Heritage Matters

by Christine L Hayes - 0 Comment(s)

AJ 34-04

CNR Station Decorated for Queen's Visit, July 1959

Alison Jackson Photograph Collection, AJ 34-04

I was delighted to read that the City of Calgary won honourable mention for the Prince of Wales Prize for Municipal Heritage Leadership at the Heritage Canada Foundation conference in St. John's on Saturday October 2. According to the Heritage Canada Foundation: For the second time since the inception of the Prince of Wales Prize, the jury made a unanimous decision to award an Honourable Mention to the City of Calgary, where efforts to develop policies and plans that favour the conservation of the city's built heritage have been ongoing for 30 years. This is quite an honour for a city as young as Calgary and that, in decades past, has had lovers of old buildings tearing their hair out. We have come a long way.

The City was nominated by the Calgary Heritage Initiative to acknowledge the progress has been made including the passage and ongoing implementation of the Calgary Heritage Strategy. Congratulations in particular to the City of Calgary's heritage staff, and to City Council for its growing support of heritage. Keep up the good work!

And if you’re interested in just how this honour was achieved, come down to the Central Library for our program Heritage Matters: Historic Preservation the Cowboy Way. On Friday October 22 at 5:30 pm, the City of Calgary’s Senior Heritage Planner, Darryl Cariou, will give a talk about heritage preservation in Calgary including some of the successes, some of the failures and some of the ongoing and unique challenges facing those involved in the business of evaluating and protecting Calgary’s built heritage. You can register for the program online at (click on programs), in person at your local branch or by telephone at 403-260-2620.

AJ 1045

Paget Hall, 1965

Alison Jackson Photograph Collection AJ 1045

Mother Fulham

by Christine L Hayes - 0 Comment(s)

AJ 1032

Mother Fulham's House, 612 6 Avenue Sw, circa 1960

Alison Jackson Photograph Collection, AJ 0132

I have just returned from a relaxing visit to my sister’s farm on Vancouver Island. She has a lovely little spread in the Cowichan Valley. In fact, the surroundings are so beautiful that people are buying up the agricultural land for residential use. Right at the bottom of her field, where she keeps the hens and is planning to keep her pig, a neighbour is erecting a palatial three storey home that will have magnificent views of the livestock. I think I see trouble brewing.

This little episode of "Green Acres" did, however, bring to mind a character from Calgary’s past, Mother Fulham, who kept pigs and a cow in the city, approximately where the Tim Horton’s is across the street from the courthouse. She drove her horse and democrat from hotel to hotel collecting garbage for her pigs. We have a picture of her house in the Alison Jackson Photograph collection (see above). She is also one of Calgary’s mavericks, as celebrated in our One Book One Calgary selection, Mavericks: an Incorrigible History of Alberta. Caroline “Mother” Fulham was an interesting character, her garbage-picking aside. It was said that she was the only woman who would drink in the male-only enclaves of the city and she did enjoy her drink. Sometimes too much, and it was this that landed her in the courts. She was also in the courts on the other side of the matter when her “prize” cow Nellie was killed by a CPR train. Bob Edwards loved Mother Fulham stories and was only too glad to publish them in the “Eye Opener”. The story of Nellie the cow and Sir William Van Horne was particularly relished. It seems that when Nellie was killed, Mother Fulham pursued compensation with her usual vigor, but got nowhere. When she heard that the president of the railway was in town, she appeared at his railway car and presented her case. Van Horne is reported to have said, “Your cow should not have been on the tracks, you know, we have signs forbidding entrance to the right-of -way”. To which Mother Fulham replied, “Ye poor damn fool. What makes ya think my pore ole cow could read?” (from Eye Opener Bob by Grant MacEwan.)

So, Mother Fulham’s problems had very little to do with the fact that she kept livestock in the city. That was not uncommon. It was logical, I suppose, when you consider that the horse was a major means of transport. Heck, the building in which I am sitting right now, the Central Library, was once the site (or very close to it) of the Elk Livery stable. People were actually able to keep chickens in Calgary until 1953, when the bylaw governing poultry in the city limits was changed. That bylaw has been in the news recently as supporters of the urban chicken movement have been challenging the bylaw. One of the ex-candidates for mayor was a proponent of the backyard chicken coop. I, myself, find chickens charming. I’m just not sure how I would feel with a piggery next door.

If you would like to read more about Mother Fulham, she is discussed in several books we have in our collections. Use her proper name "Caroline Fulham" as your search term in the catalogue to read more about this maverick Calgarian.