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The Heritage Triangle PDF link

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!

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