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On the Move

by Christine H - 0 Comment(s)

AJ 1075McHugh House in 1966

It's been quite an interesting week watching the McHugh house on the move. Contemplating the extent of the job and the equipment required made me really appreciate the efforts of Calgarians of the past who picked up and moved their homes, with, seemingly, no cares. This can’t have been the case, but the number of incidences of “mobile homes” in Calgary in early years always astonishes me. In the program on house history that with do with our Heritage Triangle partners, the City Archives and Glenbow, we even have a section about finding out exactly where your house started its life, as moving houses was common enough, at one point in the city’s history, that the city government had to legislate that a permit was required to move your house. Before that you could just harness up the horses and drag your house down the street.

The Deane house was moved, not once but twice, in its long life. The first move saw it shifted from one location to another on the Fort Calgary site. The second move saw it migrate across the Elbow River on a temporary bridge. That feat was daring enough to garner a mention in Popular Mechanics (July 1930).

Popular Mechanics July 1930Deane House Being MovedI'm guessing that houses were moved for lots of reasons but in many cases, I blame the railway. Certainly when Calgary was just a baby town, the CPR decided to lay out a townsite on the west side of the Elbow River, whereas most residents had set up on the east side. Many of these enterprising pioneers picked up their houses and moved.

Whole towns up and moved when the railway finally announced its routes. Castor, Alberta, known then as Williston, was picked up and moved a mile to be closer to the rail line. Wainwright, too, had to be moved 2 ½ miles to closer to the Grand Trunk line. This move included the hotel, which was pulled by horses along the railway grade. An earlier post to this blog talks about these moving villages as well as others.

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