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Scary Calgary

by Christine H - 0 Comment(s)

 

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Fire Hall Number 3/Inglewood Community Association, ca 1960s

Alison Jackson Photograph Collection, AJ 1273

Hallowe’en is nearly upon us. I know that because it snowed this weekend and it’s cold outside. What would hallowe’en be without frost on the pumpkins? So with the cold weather, the approach of hallowe’en and the success of our Century Homes ghost tour on Saturday, I thought I’d have a look at some of the favourite ghosts haunts in Calgary.

Even though our city is relatively young, in the scheme of things paranormal we do have our share of strange and inexplicable happenings. Inglewood, as it is one of the oldest communities and still has a fairly good stock of original buildings, seems to be a focus for supernatural activities. One in particular is the old Fire Hall #3. This Fire Hall was built when Captain James “Cappy” Smart saw a need for emergency services in the quickly growing east end of the city. The members of the fire department were very much a part of the community and kept pets, in addition to the horses that pulled the fire wagons. One of these pets was a beloved monkey named Barney. Accounts vary but Barney met a bad end and was buried, on the grounds of the fire hall, in a specially made casket. Could this have been because Captain Smart, in addition to being one of our first fire chiefs was also one of the provinces first undertakers? However it happened, the ghost of Barney is thought to inhabit the old fire hall which is now the Hose and Hound Pub. Strange “monkey-business” takes place in the kitchen, with pots flying and ovens opening on their own. Barney is not alone, as a horse named Lightning, who lost his life in a fire, also makes the pub his home. His hoof beats are sometimes heard in the hallway.

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Gaspe Lodge/Deane House, ca 1965

Alison Jackson Photograph Collection, AJ 0308

Deane House is another reportedly haunted home in the Inglewood area. The house was built for Superintendent Richard Burton Deane at Fort Calgary. It was moved to its present location in 1929. It eventually became a rooming house called the Gaspe Lodge. Rooming houses were notorious dens of iniquity (at least that’s what I was told when I was young) so it isn’t surprising that some unsavoury events took place. Stories abound about murders and suicides that have left the spirits of the dead restless and ripe for a haunt. There have been reports of floating torsos, smoking gentlemen and reappearing blood stains. The ghosts of Deane house, are benign, however, and cause no problems for the staff.

These are just two of a long list of buildings that are home to the ghosts of our city. Even our City Hall is believed to have two supernatural inhabitants. If you’re interested in more of Calgary’s haunted history, visit us in the Local History room at the Central Library. We have lots of stories, and maybe even a ghost or two.

Skull and books from istock

History and Kids: Have a Blast with the Past

by Christine H - 0 Comment(s)

PC 620

Stoney (Nakoda) Children on a Travois, 1922

Postcards from the Past, PC 620

Part of our Heritage Weekend this year is a program for young people at the Nose Hill Library on Sunday October 27 from 12 to 3 p.m. We have folks coming in from Heritage Park, Fort Calgary, Military Museums, Archaeological Society of Alberta Calgary Centre, the 78th Fraser Highlanders, Lougheed House, the Aerospace Museum, and the History Wrangler. There will be lots of stuff to see and do and it’s a great way to get our young people enthused about our history.

Getting young people interested in history can be somewhat challenging, although I find when we do school tours there are always a few students who think that a one hundred year old business directory is “sick” (for us oldsters, that means really cool) or who think the old maps are “killer” (also means good). I even had one young man tell his friend that, no, history wasn’t boring, it was “awesome”!

So, in many cases the interest is there, but sometimes isn’t tapped until they can get their hands on a buffalo skull, or an artifact from a museum, or until they hear the stories of the everyday people who made this province. That is what we are going to do at the Family Heritage Fair. So if you have a budding historian in your life or even if you’d just like to take the kids to see what’s neat at the library, pop in on Sunday and have a blast with the past.

 

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Children's Story Hour at the Library, 1912

Calgary Public Library Archives: Our Story in Pictures, 103-15-01

More Heritage Weekend — Commerce and Sports

by Christine H - 0 Comment(s)

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Looking to the North East from the top of the Grain Exchange Building, ca 1910

Postcards from the Past PC 954

Our annual Heritage Weekend kicks off on Friday October 25 at 5:30 p.m. with Heritage Matters: Calgary’s Commercial Heritage. Author and photographer Steve Speer will present images from his book Building on the Bow: Landmarks in Calgary Commercial Real Estate. The images in the book are the culmination of a year’s work documenting Calgary’s changing architectural landscape. With Calgary being a city that grows in fits and starts, many old buildings are changed or lost and many new buildings rise. Sometimes it happens so fast, we don’t even notice. Building on the Bow provides an important record of the city’s commercial properties both old and new. I’m going to be there with bells on.

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Hockey Player (Alex Griesak) 1908

Postcards from the Past, PC 1596

The very next day, we have another program lined up that promises to be just as entertaining: an examination of Calgary’s Sports Heritage with Honoured Members from the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame. This is an aspect of life in Calgary that we haven’t covered before and I am really looking forward to hearing this presentation. We have always been a sporting community; the Mounties played polo nearly as soon as they got here and, with our balmy Chinook winters, we even had baseball games played in January (with commentators noting that the balmy breeze kept the spectators from getting too hot!) There is a long heritage of sporting excellence in Calgary and we will be celebrating it at 11 a.m. on Saturday October 26.

Find out more about the programs by following this link. You can register for the Heritage Week programs in person, online or by telephone at 403-260-2620. It runs from Friday October 25 to Sunday October 27. This is our big heritage blow-out so we have packed the weekend with great presentations and events for the whole family. Come on down and have a blast with the past.

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Football Team (perhaps Calgary Collegiate Institute) 1912

Postcards from the Past, PC 1131

Calgary's Aviation History

by Christine H - 0 Comment(s)

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The Airport, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Postcards from the Past, PC 1122

In my last blog post I wrote about the Bay Building in downtown Calgary. It is an iconic building and its importance to the life of the city cannot be overstated. But what I found out while I was researching it was that it played many roles in the lives of Calgarians beyond just that of a place to buy stuff. One of the most interesting uses I read about was the RCAF No. 4 Training Command post on the top floor. The command centre for the west of Canada from Vancouver to Regina, 300 people staffed this post. They stayed there until the No. 4 Command was merged with the No. 2 Command and the staff and equipment were shipped to Winnipeg late in 1944.

The first manned flight Calgarians actually saw was a hot-air balloon stunt at the Calgary Agricultural and Industrial Fair in 1906. ‘Professor’ Williams (apparently all hot-air balloonists called themselves professor) parachuted from a trapeze hanging from his hot-air balloon and landed in the Elbow River. This stunt did not seem to make much of an impression on the jaded citizens of Calgary. While I can give details of the winners and their prizes from every variety of livestock, and the winners of all the horse races, there is only passing mention of the balloonist. Maybe the Morning Albertan journalist was right, that “a Calgary crowd is a quiet crowd…[that] takes its pleasure without boisterousness” (until someone blocks their view of the finish line).

A dirigible was the highlight of the 1908 Exhibition, making flights around the grounds twice a day. It’s first flight was a bit of a disappointment as the pilot, Jack Dallas, couldn’t yet maneuver the ship in high winds and it was off course for most of its maiden voyage. It calmed down later in the week, but eventually a windstorm caused the dirigible to hit a mooring tower and burst into flames. Hydrogen does that.

Planes were often part of the grandstand show at the Calgary Exhibitions. Howard Le Van, a very young pilot, flew his plane (another Strobel machine) at the Exhibition until it crashed into a fence when it caught a strut in a gopher hole. Been there!

Katherine Stinson, one of the first female pilots, made several visits to the Calgary Exhibition, performing stunts and even making western Canada’s first airmail flight, taking off from a flat spot near Stanley Jones School in Renfrew to take mail to Edmonton. This area would become Calgary’s first municipal airport, and would have the first illuminated runway in the country. The hangar built by Rutledge Air Services, still stands and currently houses the Boys and Girls Club.

Calgarians continued to be fascinated with flight. The flat lands surrounding the city were perfect for pilots to launch their homemade planes. And they did so with a passion. The papers are filled with accounts of flight attempts. Some were successful, such as an attempt by two teenaged boys, Earle Young and Alf Lauder, to build a glider powered by a motorcycle engine which eventually got off the ground with the help of a tow from Dad’s Buick.

This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to aviation history in Calgary. To find out more you can join us at our annual Heritage Weekend to take in the new documentary Wings of Change presented by Doug Wilson. This excellent documentary celebrates history of aviation in Calgary from the first flights at the beginning of the 20th century to the newest developments at YYC. This will take place, as I mentioned, during our Heritage Weekend on October 25 to 27. The film will be screened on October 25 at noon in the John Dutton Theatre at the Central Library. You can register online, in person, or by telephone (403-260-2620). Check out the other Heritage Weekend programs while you’re at it. We’ve got some great stuff.

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Calgary--As seen from an Aeroplane, ca 1924

Postcards from the Past, PC 699

Happy Birthday to an Iconic Building

by Christine H - 0 Comment(s)

 

 

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The Hudson's Bay Company's New Departmental Store in Calgary, ca 1913

Postcards from the Past, PC 1665

 

The Hudson’s Bay building downtown has turned 100 years old. It has been a part of the lives of Calgarians for a very long time. It has certainly been an important part of my life, even though I’m slightly younger than 100 (and my Nan worked at Eaton’s so I could get a discount). Still, I used to shop the bargain basement for my stockings when I was a candy bar girl (complete with red mini-dress) at the Palace Theatre across the street. I used to skip school to eat French fries and drink iced tea in the Chinook Room (because I didn’t want to run into my Nan at Eaton’s)

Now, while the building is 100, the company itself is much, much older. The Hudson’s Bay Company was established in the 17th century to take advantage of the fur trading opportunities. The first post was established in Calgary in 1876, hot on the heels of the NWMP establishment of Fort Calgary. It has always been a part of this city. Its growth was an indicator of the health of the city — kind of an indicator species, if you will. When the decision was made to run the transcontinental railway through Calgary, thus shifting the focus of settlement from the confluence of the Bow and Elbow to the west side of the Elbow River, the Bay followed suit, opening a small store at Centre Street and Stephen Avenue. But the city continued to boom and soon this little store became inadequate so a newer, more elegant store was built on the same site.

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8th Avenue looking East, (you can see the old Hudson's Bay Store at the end of the block on the left)

Postcards from the Past, PC 587

You can still see this building at 102 8th Avenue SW. As the city continued to grow, this store was added to and expanded but by the beginning of the 20th century, Calgary was booming again. The Bay needed to evolve to meet the needs of this new, sophisticated (and moneyed) town. The site they chose was on the corner of 1st Street and 8th Avenue, physically not too far from where they were, but the store the company would build was miles beyond the Victorian structure they left behind.

As they described it themselves in the announcement of the opening of the new store, their old place was “work — worn, wearied and the dear, faithful old walls “weren’t up to the challenge of the new century. It sounded more like they were describing someone’s grandma. They would be “winging their way to premises more dignified and capacious — befitting the aspirations of this progressive institution” and the aspirations of the progressive city which it served. The opening of this store, one of the grandest in the country, was a nod to the optimism and potential of Calgary.

The ad announcing the grand opening of the new location waxed eloquent about the sun setting on the old ideals and hopes and rising again on the renewed ambition and the new “life fluid coursing through [the] veins” of the new Hudson’s Bay; this could have been a metaphor for the new life blood that would be gushing through Calgary in the near future (sorry, couldn’t resist). The opening was a gala affair, kicking off on 14th Avenue east, winding its way to the Braemar lodge to pick up the Lieutenant Governor and then on to the store. There were bands and honour guards, a luncheon with speeches and toasts and band concert, held in The Rendezvous.

The Hudson’s Bay would become more than just a store for Calgarians. It was a meeting spot, a cultural centre and it even had a library for its customers. The Elizabethan Room promised an elegant dining experience and the children could be entertained on the rooftop playground. During the war its top floor housed the RCAF No. 4 Training Command, possibly because the store already had a beacon on its roof to guide pilots toward the airport. It was one of the grandest stores the Hudson’s Bay had ever opened and remains, to this day, one of the most beautiful buildings in the core. It is the Bay, what more needs to be said.

For those of you interested in Calgary's commercial heritage, our next Heritage Matters program - the launch for our Heritage Weekend - will be on just that subject. It will feature author Steve Speer speaking about his photographic vision of Calgary's skyline through his book, Building on the Bow. Landmarks of Downtown Calgary. For more information and to register check out our program guide.

PF 786.2078 PIA

Programme for a recital at the Hudson's Bay Green Room by Gordon Bryan, visiting examiner

from the Royal Academy of Music, 1933