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Everyday People and the Houses They Live In

by Christine H - 3 Comment(s)

AJ 1344

202 17th Avenue SE, ca 1965

Alison Jackson Photograph Collection, AJ 1344

Our last posting was about Millionaire’s Row on 4th Avenue SW. This week I’m going to have a look at a house in a slightly more modest area of town. This stems from some research I did for Ed’s Restaurant. They are back in business, having been shut down by the floods, they were looking for some history of their building at 202 17 Ave SE.

The restaurant is an example of a great reuse of an old home. The part of the city it is in still has a few old gems, including the McHugh house just up the road, but their numbers are falling. The area around the Stampede Grounds was not a snazzy neighbourhood like Mount Royal or Elbow Park and the houses are fairly typical middle class and working class homes. Often these are exactly the houses that fall to the wrecker’s ball because they have no noted names associated with them. But as I always tell my genealogists, it is not just the well-heeled who made this city what it is; without the everyday folk, there would be no city. The house that is now Ed’s is a wonderful example of just that kind of place as evidenced by the variety of folks who called it home.

The people who lived at 202 17 Ave E were working folk. Percy McNaughton, a barber at Gem Barbershop, was the occupant in 1910. In 1911 it was a widow, Agnes Flanagan, living there with her boarder Laura Josh.

In 1915 the house was occupied by William Shergold who was shown to be on active service. His story was quite poignant. He was a young cabinet maker who came to Canada in 1913. Having served with the 5th Devon Territorials, he offered his talents to the 103rd Calgary Rifles and, when war broke out enlisted in the army. He was 23 years old, fair haired and grey eyed. Sadly, while he survived the war, he later died of TB of the kidney, which was attributed to his service overseas. He is buried in Edmonton.

After the war, Charles Mennell lived in the house. He was a chef and his wife (Mrs. Chas. in the directory) was a clerk at Binning’s Dry Goods on 8th Ave E. By the late 20s and early 30s, the revolving door of occupants had slowed and the house was occupied by farmer Raymond Preffer and his daughter Genevieve, who was the proprietor of Norma’s Beauty Parlor (which, it appears, she ran from her home).

The house continued to be occupied by average, working class people through the 40s, seeing another barber, an oil driller, and a landscape gardener. By the 1970s it had been subdivided into apartments occupied mostly by retirees. By then that part of 17th Ave E had become somewhat shabby and down at the heels. The houses started to go, and businesses sprung up, but somehow 202 and its neighbour survived. There are just a few of these old gems left in the neighbourhood, but when we see them we can remind ourselves that they housed the lifeblood of this city, the people who made Calgary what it is today.

AJ 1345

Another house in the area, 17th Avenue SW between 1st and 2nd Streets

Alison Jackson Photograph Collection, AJ 1346

Calgary's Millionaire's Row

by Christine H - 3 Comment(s)

PC 1013

Houses of Peter Prince, Hugh Macleod and Victor Anderson on 4th Avenue W

Postcards from the Past, PC 1013

One of Heritage Park’s jewels, the Peter A. Prince House, has been a part of the park since 1967. The Prince House is just one of several grand homes which once lined Reinach Avenue West, also known to locals as ‘Royal Road’, or ‘Millionaire’s Row’. When the city changed to a numbered quadrant system in 1904, Reinach became 4th Avenue West.

Peter Anthony Prince's stately house was built in 1894, and originally stood at 238 4th Avenue SW, at the northeast corner of 4th Avenue and 2nd Street West. Prince moved to Calgary in 1886, and became the manager of the Eau Claire and Bow River Lumber Company. His wealth came from several business ventures, including a flour mill and elevator, the Prince-Kerr ranch at Brooks, and he later formed the Calgary Water Power Company. In 1966, Alberta and Southern Gas and Alberta Natural Gas donated the Prince house to Heritage Park, sponsoring the move and restoration as a project for Canada’s Centennial in 1967. In preparation for the move, the woodwork and 25,000 bricks were removed, and the house was divided into three sections. It was reassembled on a simulated sandstone foundation, where it still stands today.

Hugh S. Macleod, proprietor of the New Grand Central Hotel, made his home in a large Queen Anne mansion at #312.

The home of R. N. Kirkpatrick, customs inspector, was at #318. This home was later owned by Henry A. Perley, proprietor of the Alberta Hotel, which still stands on Stephen Avenue. H. A. Perley left money in his will for the Perley wing of the General Hospital.

Home of DW Marsh

Residence of D.W. Marsh, 203 4th Avenue W

From Picturesque Calgary, 1901 published by the Calgary Herald


One of Calgary's grandest homes was that of Daniel Webster Marsh, located at 203 4th Avenue West. D. W. Marsh arrived in Calgary in 1884, and was mayor in 1889. He made his fortune through fur trading in Montana, supplying beef to Canadian Pacific Railway crews, and later as a Calgary merchant. When he died in 1916, he left an estate valued at $351,000, equivalent to nearly $6,000,000 today. The Marsh home was later divided into eight suites, and was demolished in 1953-54 to make way for Universal Motors.

In 1892, D. W. Marsh also built another home at 215 4th Avenue SW, next door to his own. He sold this home to the Anglican Church, and it was the official residence of Bishop Cyprian Pinkham, known as ‘Bishop’s Court’. In the early 1900s, the home is listed to Mrs. D. W. Moore. Mrs. Moore ran a boarding house, and her home was later expanded to become the 68-room Braemar Lodge. The exclusive Braemar Lodge had a total of 68 rooms, and was considered the finest hotel in the city, until the Palliser Hotel was built. The Braemar Lodge graced 4th Avenue West until 1965, and was in the process of demolition when it was destroyed by fire.

AJ 33 17

Braemar Lodge, 215 4th Avenue W, ca 1959

Alison Jackson Photograph Collection, AJ 33-17

This post was written by Kayla M.

W.R. Brock and Company

by Christine H - 4 Comment(s)

PC 901

W.R. Brock and Co. Ltd, 8th Avenue and 2nd Street SW, ca. 1912?

Postcards from the Past, PC 219

This most beautiful building was the Calgary home of W.R. Brock Company Ltd. It was a western branch of an established Toronto firm, owned by William Rees Brock, a native of Eramosa Township and brother to the founder of Great-West Insurance, Jeffry Brock.

When this building was erected, in 1905/06, it was out in the boonies. The location had been decided by the company’s traveler, W.H. Berkinshaw, who liked the prospects in Calgary so much that he made a deal with W.R. Brock. Brock wanted to open the western branch of the store in Winnipeg, but Berkinshaw, promised the manager-ship of the western branch, championed Calgary and so this beautiful building was built on the corner of 8th Avenue and 2nd Street W. According to Elsie Morrison (Calgary, 1875-1950), the only other business out that way was a livery stable. That may be a bit of an exaggeration, as the 1906 map shows a number of businesses in the area, including Frontier Livery, but also including R.C. Thomas’s businesses, a tailor and a ladies shop as well as a drug store.

W.R. Brock was a dry goods supplier who specialized in carpets, woolens, tailors’ trimmings and fabrics, men’s furnishings, women’s clothing, including dainties, and ran a mail order business. By 1912, the business was doing so well a third storey was added, overseen by William Stanley Bates. The plans and specifications are in the Glenbow Archives.

The building was very much on the cutting edge of design. It had a sprinkler system and a commercial alarm hooked into the fire department (Morrison reports that in 1950 it was still No. 1 on the Fire Department’s alarm list). This may have something to do with the fire in the business district of Toronto in 1904 that consumed many businesses, Brock’s among them (even though that building, too, had a fire sprinkler system). It also boasted the first concrete sidewalk and passenger elevator.

When the Great War started, the company saw its share of men enlist. You can view the Honour Roll online. One of the Calgary men who enlisted was Edwin Lyle Berkinshaw, the son of W.H. Berkinshaw. He died in the Ypres Salient in 1916.

W.R. Brock and Co. lasted on the Calgary site until 1952. At that time the listings in the Henderson’s Directories change to Robinson, Little and Company, another dry goods store. It appears that the building was demolished some time before 1956 (or was it just reclad, as suggested by one of our readers, see comment below) and in 1957 the Empire Building is shown as occupying the spot. A restaurant called Bennett’s was on the main floor of the building. I have been unable to find out exactly what happened to the Brock business. For a time the building was occupied by a company called Robinson, Little and Co. which traded in the same kinds of goods as W.R. Brock. A little more research and I'm sure I'll turn up something.

PC 901

Interior, W.R. Brock Company Limited, Calgary, ca 1913

Postcards from the Past, PC 901

Viva the Village

by Christine H - 1 Comment(s)

PC 1690

Looking East from the Grain Exchange Building, 1911

Postcards from the Past, PC 1690

I’ve just had a look at the animation of the master plan for the East Village. You can see it on the CMLC website. It’s a very exciting vision and the I'm excited that the library is going to continue to be an important part of the life down here.

In a way, this is a rebirth for the East Village. It’s hard to believe, looking at it now with its unending vistas of parking lots, but the east end of the city was once the centre of this bustling metropolis. I was reminded of this once more, by a question from a customer about what was on the site of the current Central Library before it was built. And as luck would have it, while I was looking into this question I ran into one of my favourite local historians who was able to tell me alot about what was on the site before the library was built, including a gas station and Nagler's Department Story. I don’t know how I missed this important detail, but it got me thinking about the new library site and what was on it before its redevelopment (read “parking lot-ization”).

I consulted some of my favourite resources, in addition to my local historian, including the fire insurance plans for Calgary (available on the Library and Archives Canada site) and the Henderson's directories (available in the local history room at the Central Library and online at Peel's Prairie Provinces)

The strip along 9th Avenue SE was home to many of our early hotels, of which only the King Edward (until recently) survived. The Imperial, Grand Union, and Oxford, along with the Maple Leaf Boarding House, lined the street, a natural outgrowth of the proximity of the train station. Serving these hotels were livery stables and there were two still active on 9th Avenue E. in 1911, the Atlantic and Brandon and Young. There were two livery stables on or near the site of the present Central Library as well, Elk Livery and Palace Livery. The New Central Library site is just to the west of the Oxford Hotel and Atlantic Livery, sitting on the back part of the Calgary Iron Works site and blacksmith John R. Grayshon’s shop.

On what would have been the Eighth Avenue side of the site (back when Eighth Avenue was continuous) there were several shops, including Chicago Outfitting and McLeod and Co. There were also several grocers, the Sunnyland Café, the Excelsior Block, a furniture store and McLeod’s Men’s Furnishings. The Seventh Avenue end of the site was residential, with homeowners Mrs. Peter Ronn, saddler Frank Carson and plumber Maxime Longuet all living there. On the same street, though not on the site of the New Central Library, there was a cigar factory and a Moravian Church.

The East end of the city was a bustling and vibrant place back in 1911. The plans for its revitalization are exciting and promise to bring back the vitality and vigor that was present before we paved it.

You can find out more information about the New Central Library by following the link on our website

AJ 1294

Moravian Church, 7th Avenue and 3rd Street East, ca 1964

Alison Jackson Photograph Collection, AJ 1294