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Do You Remember the Good Old Days?

by Christine Hayes - 0 Comment(s)

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Inglewood Community Association in the old Firehall #3, 1960s

Alison Jackson Photography Collection, AJ 1273

I was born and raised here, so, even though my memory is fading somewhat, I do have a recollection of my community back in the old days. I lived on the edge of town, just east of Sarcee Trail, in what was then the ‘burbs. We had acres of open space and horses just across the road. I remember our community centre, which doubled as our kindergarten classroom. I remember watching the dads of the community flood the ice for the two rinks we had, one with boards, for the big kids and hockey players, and one without for us little kids. I remember the Summer Fun Fests, with hat contests and bicycle parades. My community is now over 50 years old and so is the Federation of Calgary Communities.

As part of the celebrations, the FCC is putting together a 50th Anniversary Magazine that they would like to fill with stories of your community association. If you were one of those dads flooding the ice, or one of the many volunteers who corralled those kids for a bike parade, the Federation of Calgary Communities wants to hear from you. They are offering participants a number of options to share their stories. You can sign up at The Federation has set up a sequence of dates corresponding to the decade your stories come from. You can see them on the site. If you would prefer, you can schedule a one-on-one conversation, conducted either in person or by phone by contacting Rebecca Dakin at 403- 244-4111 extension 204. You can participate either as a group or individually.

Because I work with a historical collection, I cannot over-emphasize the importance of projects like this. I know that as time progresses, what we lose from the record are the experiences of the participants in the events. When we’re doing research we can usually find dates and statistics and news reports, but what we don’t have are the stories of those who were there, and in many cases, this is what we really want to know. So I urge anyone who has volunteered for their community association at any time to participate in this project. It’s your stories that make history.

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Bridgeland Riverside Community Association, 2005

Judith Umbach Photography Collection, JU 051008-9

Jane's Walks 2011

by Christine Hayes - 0 Comment(s)

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Cecil Hotel, ca. 1912

Postcards from the Past, PC 947

It is hard to believe, but the season for Jane’s Walks is upon us (let’s just hope that the snow is gone, the birds are singing and the cherries are in bloom – oh, wait, that would be Vancouver – sorry). Let’s just hope for some of that famous Alberta blue sky, ok?

Anyway, weather aside, the Jane’s Walks are taking place on May 7 and 8 this year and we here at the Central Library are very excited that one of the walks will be starting at our library and touring our neighbourhood.

The East Village is one of Calgary’s oldest, newest, coolest communities (to steal a line from the walk description). It was where the Mounties established their fort. It was once the heart of the city’s commercial district – hence the presence of City Hall in this area. It was also the home to some of the more famous (and infamous) hotels, such as the Atlantic, the Cecil and the St. Louis. For a while it had fallen on hard times and was the target of the Calgary’s first urban renewal scheme which saw the demolition of many old buildings and the establishment of organizations like the school boards and the “new” Central Library.

The neighbourhood once known as Churchill Park is going through another phase of rejuvenation. With the opening of the River Walk and the development of any number of exciting new buildings either in the planning stages or nearing completion, it is an exciting time for us here in the Village. Check out this site for information on the East Village Jane’s Walk, which will also offer us the opportunity to visit one of our neighbours, the Drop-In Centre.

Also check the rest of the site for other interesting walks that will be going on. Some of the neighbourhoods you will be able to visit will be Bowness, Brentwood, Chinatown, Sunnyside, and South Calgary and Marda Loop just to name a few. This is an excellent opportunity to get to know some of Calgary’s communities. Join us.

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Calgary Drop-In and Rehab Centre

423 4th Avenue SE

Judith Umbach Photograph Collection, JU 021005-15

RMS Titanic

by Christine Hayes - 0 Comment(s)


On right now, until June, at the Calgary Science Centre, is a display of artifacts from the Titanic and re-creations of the some of the rooms on board. The story of the Titanic has held our imagination since the ship went down and the fascination continues. This exhibit strives to tell the story of the RMS Titanic and the people who sailed on her through items retrieved from the wreck.

Like many disaster stories, the story of the sinking of the “unsinkable” ship has grown over the years. More and more people are finding personal connections with those who sailed on the Titanic,often through evidence found while doing genealogical or local history research.

We have several subscriptions to historical newspapers in our E-Library (under History and Genealogy) and it is fascinating to read accounts of the sinking of the ship and the aftermath. Every aspect of the loss is covered including lists of those who survived, a discussion of the effect of the loss on the insurance industry and even questions about the financial liability of the White Star Line for the loss of life and goods. It is also interesting to read about the Carpathia. I suppose I should have known that following the sinking only limited information would have been available, but I didn’t realize that the Carpathia didn’t come into harbor for more than a week after rescuing the survivors. Until the ship docked, information was sketchy at best and rumour ran rampant.

I also found out some things I didn’t know. Did you know that the president of the Grand Trunk Railway was lost on the Titanic? Mr. Charles M. Hays had given an interview to the London Times just before he set sail regarding investment in Canada (he urged caution). Also, did you know that two of the survivors of the Titanic lived in Calgary? Mr. and Mrs. Albert Dick were on their honeymoon in England and also purchasing furniture for their magnificent new Mount Royal home. The furniture was lost but Albert and Vera survived. Bert was the owner of the Alexandra Hotel on 9th Avenue East. You can see photographs of the hotel in the Community Heritage and Family History Digital Library.

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Alexandra Hotel, 224 9th Avenue E, ca. 1931

Postcards from the Past, PC 1942

RETROactive - a New Heritage Blog

by Christine Hayes - 0 Comment(s)

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Barnhart Apartments, 1121 6th Street SW

Designated a Provincial Historic Resource in 1996

Judith Umbach Photograph Collection

Alberta’s Historic Places Stewardship Program has a new blog. It is called RETROactive: Blogging Alberta’s Historic Places and covers all the activities of the Historic Places Program including the research and designation program, the Alberta Main Street program, the conservation advisory program and the geographical names program, among others. These are the folks who evaluate and designate sites for historic significance. Their blog can help us understand the process of evaluation, answer questions about conservation and make us aware of some very neat places in our province. It’s a great blog for anyone interested in history, owners of historic properties, and explorers of this great province of ours. Some recent postings have been about three new historic designations, (McDonald Stopping House in Smoky Lake County, the Red Brick School in Didsbury and the West Canadian Collieries site in Crowsnest) including information about their significance to Alberta History, an entry about place names in Alberta, and an article about the village of Holden. Of course, because this is a blog, you can post your own stories about the sites they cover, or add your comments to the discussion of heritage in the province. They also have a link to their photographs (and they are quite beautiful) on Flickr so you can see what some of these places look like.

You can visit this blog at and sign up for an email subscription or click on the link to their Facebook page and follow them that way. However you do it, this is a valuable resource for people who have an interest in Alberta’s history.

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Charles Ora Card Home, 337 Main Street, Cardston

Designated a Provincial Historic Resource in 1978

Alison Jackson Photograph Collection, AJ 0153