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Calgary's Chequered Past: Auto Racing in the Stampede City

by Christine H - 0 Comment(s)

PC 1270

Demonstration by the 100,000 Club

Postcards from the Past, PC 1270

I had the immense joy of being at Phoenix International Raceway for the infamous Sprint car race that saw a huge brawl in the pits after one driver deliberately forced another into the wall. It was a melee worthy of the sport. The race was only a part of the experience, however. NASCAR in the south is a cultural event and there were food vendors, beer gardens, souvenir shops, you name it and you could probably buy it at the track, for a wildly inflated price. You can visit the paddock and see the cars in their stalls and talk with the folks who make the cars go. What it really reminded me of was the Calgary Stampede without the barn smell.

That got me to thinking – the Calgary Stampede should think about having car racing as part of their events. What a novel idea, except, it has already been done. Back when cars were a novelty, the events at the Calgary Exhibition included a race on the half mile oval at Victoria Park, where horse racing normally took place. The first race was at the Exhibition of 1917 and included at least one driver who had competed in the Indianapolis 500. Also scheduled was a race between an “aviatrix” in her airplane and George Clark, the Indy 500 racer. This was cancelled due to high winds but would be on the minds of organizers into the next decade, when they scheduled Freddy McCall to race his plane against an automobile. This event was also cancelled, as Capt. McCall had been forced to land his airplane on top of the merry-go-round on the midway during a demonstration flight the day before.

Auto racing brought in hundreds of excited spectators and would be a large part of the Exhibition for several years. When the Exhibition merged with the Stampede in 1923, the track and infield area were given over to rodeo events and the car races put off to the end of the fair. But by then the novelty of car racing had worn off. Victoria Park would be used for car racing again, in the 1940s and 50s but as cars became more powerful, dirt tracks, especially those used for horse racing as well, could not accommodate them. A number of purpose-built tracks and tracks adapted for motor racing (such as the Chinook Jockey Club track which became Springbank Speedway) would be opened and closed in Calgary over the years. For more information about racing in Calgary, have a look at The Speediest Land Traveller by Richard McDonell

CDH July 1919

Panoramic view of the auto races at the 1919 Calgary Exhibition

Calgary Daily Herald, July 7, 1919 p12-13

Give Me Shelter: Civil Defense in Calgary

by Christine H - 0 Comment(s)

Calgary Herald photograph

Civil Defense Headquarters bunker

Calgary Herald, March 29, 1955

I had the privilege of hearing some of this city’s great historians at the Heritage Weekend. Max Foran, Hugh Dempsey, Nancy Townsend and Harry Sanders all spoke about great Calgary characters and events. The highlight of the afternoon had to be Brian Brennan talking about Paddy Nolan and finishing up with “When Irish Eyes are Smiling”, a song that Paddy may have enjoyed himself. All the presentations were excellent, capping off a really great weekend of heritage programs.

Dr. Foran spoke on an event which is somewhat amusing, but also speaks to the fears faced by many during the Cold War years. I had originally done some research on this story when I was looking for information about the fate of the air-raid sirens that were scattered throughout the city. There had been one in the yard of my kindergarten (which was held in the community hall) and I always wondered what they were for. Digging into the clippings files in the local history room, I found a wealth of information about civil defense and, particularly, about Operation Lifesaver, the topic of Dr. Foran’s talk.

The idea behind Operation Lifesaver was to practice an evacuation of a portion of Calgary, to simulate what might happen in the event of an enemy attack. So, the Civil Defense Authority planned the evacuation of a quadrant of the city, requiring the population to pack up and move to designated safe spots outside of Calgary. This was planned for September 21, 1955 and the quadrant chosen was the northeast. The population of that area was about 40,000 people at that time. Most were expected to participate. The populace was asked to fill out cards (such as the one below) to indicate whether they had a car, how many people the car could hold, whether they were physically capable of participating, ages of any children etc. Calgary Herald

Calgary Herald, May 5, 1955

The headquarters of the Civil Defense Authority were in a specially built bunker in the Municipal Golf Course (now Shaganappi Point). The photo above isof the interior of the bunker taken from the Calgary Herald of May 29, 1955.

In the end, Operation Lifesaver was postponed due to bad weather (it snowed quite heavily on September 21). When it took place, a week later, smoke bombs were detonated and the air-raid sirens wailed. Only 10,000 (as reported in the papers, but some estimates put it at only 3000) of the 40,000 population participated, but it was still hailed as a great success. It was the first of its kind, where citizens were directed out of the city, and cities across North America took note.

This would not be the last civil defense drill Calgarians would be subjected to. By the 1960s the focus had changed from preparing for an enemy invasion to surviving a nuclear detonation. To that end, the government released the pamphlet “Your basement fallout shelter”. This booklet, pictured here, includes a message from our PM, John Diefenbaker and complete plans for the building of a fallout shelter and instructions on how to live in it after the nuclear disaster. It is made clear in the instructions that this is not a bomb shelter, so it wasn’t advisable to hide in the shelter to escape explosions; it was designed to protect the homeowner from nuclear fallout, assuming they survived the initial blast.

Pam file

So in the next exercise, in November of 1961, the sirens sounded to alert the population to a mock nuclear attack. Most of downtown was unaffected. The people, having not heard the sirens, continued on about their business. Some sirens didn’t sound at all. An investigation blamed dirt for the malfunction.

If you would like to find out more about Canada’s civil defense policy, Andrew Burtch has just published Give Me Shelter which examines the effectiveness (or lack thereof) Canada’s policies during the Cold War. (This title is on our NextReads History and Current Events newsletter. You can sign up for it here.) CBC was on hand to film the exercise. The video is available through their archives. You can see the clippings and the booklet on building a fallout shelter in the Community Heritage and Family History Room on the fourth floor of the Central Library.

Bob Edwards

by Christine H - 0 Comment(s)

Eye Opener June 15 1907

Cartoon from The Eye Opener, depicting editor Bob Edwards

Saturday June 15, 1907 p1

The Calgary Public Library Foundation is hosting the 37th annual Bob Edwards Award Gala this week at the Fairmont Palliser. This year’s winner is Mary Walsh who is best known for her own brand of journalism in This Hour has 22 Minutes. The Gala will raise funds for the Calgary Public Library Foundation.

Bob Edwards, for those of you who may not have heard of him, was the publisher of the newspaper The Eye-Opener, in various incarnations and locations, from 1902 until 1922. The newspaper was published in High River, Calgary, Port Arthur, Winnipeg and Calgary, again, on a fairly erratic schedule. It was unlike any other newspaper in town. Alan Fotheringham, in his introduction to Irresponsible Freaks, Highball Guzzlers & Unabashed Grafters: A Bob Edwards Chrestomathy says that The Eye-Opener “frightened the bejeezus out of Calgary….It could – and did- make or break politicians.” Edwards pulled no punches. The publisher of the Calgary Daily News, Daniel McGillicuddy, called Edwards “a ruffian, a moral leper” and “a skunk…” He also promised to prove that Bob was “a libeler, a character thief, a coward, a liar, a drunkard, a dope dealer and a degenerate.” Only the drunkard part could probably have been proven; Edwards’ relationship with alcohol was well known. If The Eye-Opener wasn’t published for a few weeks, Edwards would publish an apology saying he had been under the weather with “let us say, a very bad cold”

Though his politics were right-leaning, he would savage politicians no matter what their political stripe. His weapon was satire and he had a deadly sense of humour. For example, in the thick of the debate of which Alberta city would become the new province’s capital, Edwards, seeing that the cards were stacked against Calgary, wrote this imagined scenario, reportedly taken from the Edmonton Bulletin:

Dr. Lafferty yesterday became the first lieutenant-governor of the new province of Alberta. Edmonton was en fete. It was her first gala day since the hanging of King at the fort.

Lafferty was in great form. Every eye was bent on that weird figure as he was driven amid wild huzzahs to the scene of his inauguration, escorted by a body guard of influential real estate sharks. The tepees and shacks on either side of Main Street were tastefully decorated with bunting and streamers… while the goats on the roofs of the Irish quarter shook their shaggy beards in sympathy with the occasion.

The new lieutenant-governor ever and anon stood up in his carriage and raised his hat, smiling fatuously and wagging his head, at which hundreds and hundreds of partially Seagramized citizens raised their voices in enthusiastic acclaim…The sound of cannons issued from every billiard hall, and the screams from the neighboring asylum gave the scene a characteristic local tone. (The Eye-Opener, March 18, 1905, p1)

Edwards, along with his ability to puncture the most inflated ego, also had a soft spot for those at the other end of society. He weighed in on such topics as the inadequate wages paid by Eaton’s to their female employees, the plight of the other “working girls” and the working poor. He was an excellent journalist who was quoted by publications across the country and in the US. There are some wonderful collections of his work: Irresponsible Freaks mentioned above, and The Wit and Wisdom of Bob Edwards edited by Hugh Dempsey. Eye-Opener Bob by Grant MacEwan tells the story of Edwards’ life and career and there is an excellent short bio in the Dictionary of Canadian Biography which is accessible through the Calgary Public Library E-library. But to really appreciated Bob Edwards, you have to read his newspaper. The Eye Opener is available on microfilm in the Local History room at the Central Library. It is also available online at the Our Future Our Past website.

Bob Edwards' Residence, photographed just before demolition in 1968

919 4th Avenue SW

Alison Jackson Photograph Collection, AJ 0564

AJ0564

Awesome Heritage!

by Christine H - 1 Comment(s)

PC 947

On Friday we will be launching our third annual One Book One Calgary. This year’s book is The Book of Awesome by Neil Pasricha. There is going to be a lot of exciting programming associated with this celebration, starting with the launch itself – Calgary’s Poet Laureate, Kris Demeanor will be on hand as will a number of other prominent Calgarians who will tell us what they find awesome about this great city. Click here to find out more.

Another of the programs, and one that I am particularly looking forward to, will be with Calgary’s Historian Laureate, Harry Sanders (who is pretty awesome). He will be regaling us with awesome things from Calgary’s past. You can find out more and register for this program here. It will be at the Memorial Park Library (which is also awesome)

As my contribution to the “awesome” parade, I thought I would list the heritage buildings that I find awesome (and I’ll stop using that word now) This is only a very small part of my list, this is a blog, after all, and I’m sure I’d lose you all about number 40, so here is my much abbreviated list of some a-word heritage structures in Calgary.

The Cecil Hotel – it may seem weird that this hotel, which has recently been in the papers as a prime candidate for demolition due to its unsavory past, would make my list, but there is something about this building that I love and I would hate to see gone. It is one of the few remaining hotels of its period and although many call it an eyesore, it does have its own charm. For me, the Cecil represents the working class roots of Calgary, especially the East End of Calgary.

The Calgary Public Building – built in 1931, this edifice includes the only manned elevator in the city. It is a wonderfully elegant concrete structure which retains much of its original exterior detail . In its adaptation to modern use, it stands as an example of how heritage buildings can be made useful and efficient.Post Office

The Craftsman houses along 17th Avenue SW. I love the Craftsman style of house. There is a block just east of the Richmond Road turnoff that has several original Craftsman style homes still standing. I know this isn’t exactly a heritage site, but I smile whenever I drive past them.

The Burns Building – this was the building that got me interested in my city’s heritage. I was oblivious to all of the beautiful old buildings in the city until the Burns Building attacked Mayor Sykes and nearly sealed its own fate. That we were able to save it was a triumph and a symbol of what can be done when citizens raise their voices.

The CNR Building/St. Mary’s Parish Hall, beside St. Mary’s School. This building was derelict when I was attending St. Mary’s. We occasionally (don’t tell anyone) would sneak in and have a look around. It was a beautiful building, even in its dotage. It was also the scene of the most memorable event of my high school years. Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor filmed a part of the movie “Silver Streak” in the old building. It stood in for an abandoned railway station somewhere near Kansas. Sadly, the interior was gutted by fire in 1985 but it was brought back to life in 1987 when it became the home of the Alberta Ballet.CNR STation

These are just a very few of the heritage structures I find “awesome” (sorry) in this city. (And I didn’t mention the Glenmore Dam once) What is your most favourite heritage site?

Aviation History

by Christine H - 0 Comment(s)

PC 1122


The Airport, Calgary, Alberta Canada

Postcards from the Past, PC 1122

We had a wonderful Heritage Weekend despite the snowy weather and the inevitable fear of failure (mostly of the technology) it all went off without a hitch. And, boy did we have some speakers! We heard about the Barron building, the Century Homes project, the plans for Calgary that never happened, stories of interesting people and events from Calgary’s past, information about the heritage in our midst and about the great Calgary aviator, Freddie McCall. Pages Books was there selling the works of many of our speakers (thanks Richard) and the meet and greet included lots of people from many organizations, all chatting about heritage in this city. It was a real buzz! I don’t know how we will top it next year, but we’ll try!

I am almost, but not quite,” heritaged” out so I was madly casting about for a blog idea. As usual, the newspapers provided my topic. As I was doing some BMD transcription for the Alberta Family Histories Society (a great project, if any of you are interested in it) I found an article that fit quite nicely in with the subject of our Friday night speaker. On September 17, 1919 a flight was made by two airmen, Lieuts. Lobb and Rowe, from Saskatoon to Winnipeg, and it only took 5 hours! They had to make 3 stops for gasoline.

They announced that they would try a non-stop flight the next week so I went searching for the newspaper report of their success. I found a small article on page seven of the September 23 edition of the Calgary Daily Herald. It seems that, sadly, the weather did not cooperate and they had heavy rainfall for 2 hours and a strong head wind. They had to make three stops, again, but this time it took them 14 hours to complete the flight. The plane belonged to the Keng Wah aviation school and was “driven” by Lieut. Harry Lobb. The Keng Wah school was an interesting one. Set up by Stan McClelland, a lieutenant in the Royal Air Force, it was developed to train young Chinese men from the China, the US and Canada to fly for Sun-Yat Sen’s airforce. It's base was just outside of Saskatoon.

At the same time this was happening, Fred McCall was flying at fairs around Alberta. He was overwhelmed by the response from the people he met and was taking many of them on their first "flip". This was pretty brave of them considering that only two months earlier, McCall had "landed" his plane on top of a carousel at the Exhibition Grounds in Calgary. The history of aviation is a strange and interesting study, is it not?

You can find the story of the aviation school in Aviation in Canada: the Formative Years by Larry Milberry This title can be signed out. You can also sign out the biography of Fred McCall by Shirlee Smith Matheson, Maverick in the sky An interesting item you might want to have a look it is a 1919 publication called Aviation in Canada by Alan Sullivan. This book is in the Local History collection, so doesn’t go out, but it can be consulted at any time.

Article CDH Sep 18 1919

Headline of article on Fred McCall's efforts to establish a passenger flight service

Calgary Daily Herald, September 18, 1919, p. 8

From Our Future Our Past

The Next Heritage Challenge: Mid-Century Buildings

by Christine H - 0 Comment(s)

PC 216

Eighth Avenue looking east from First Street West

PC 216

When I look at some of the pictures in the Alison Jackson Photograph Collection, which is comprised of pictures of buildings that were threatened in the 50s and 60s by urban renewal and other development schemes, I sometimes ask myself, “What were they thinking when they tore that down?” Many of the buildings that were lost were outstanding examples of their period, such as the Burns Mansion, most of the hotels on 9th Avenue, the CPR station and huge numbers of homes. There were people, such as Alison Jackson, who were concerned and did their best to protect those buildings and, thanks to them, not everything was lost.

Now we’re starting the same process with some of our mid-century buildings. I know that I have a hard time thinking of heritage when I look at a building that was new when I was a child and sometimes, not always but particularly when confronted with anything “avocado” coloured, I have to say, “Eeeeuw!” Prejudices aside, if we don’t start looking at these buildings with an eye to the future, the next generations will look at the surviving pictures and say “What we’re they thinking?” Two buildings have recently been in the news, both of them mid-century and both under threat: The Barron Building and the Shaarey Tzedec Synagogue.

We’ve already lost Earnest Manning High School, the Number 5 Fire Hall is at risk, the Barron Building’s future is up in the air and a demolition permit has been issued for the Shaarey Tzedec Synagogue. There is a lot of mid-century architecture in this city; we had one of our infamous booms during the 50s and 60s. Many of these are reaching the end of their lifespans and are will be looked at with a view to redevelopment. We need to be aware, before we start tearing things down willy-nilly, that what we look at today as an outmoded, electrically challenged nuisance, may one day be considered an outstanding example of the architecture of the time.

If you are interested in finding out about modernist architecture in Calgary there are a number of very good resources. Two books in our collection, both in Local History and in the regular collection are Calgary Modern 1947-1967 and Suburban Modern: Postwar Dreams in Calgary.

There is also a wonderful collection of photos at the Canadian Architectural Archives in the Calgary Civic Trust fonds.

And for those of you interested in the history of the Barron family and the building that bears their name, Irena Karshenbaum will be giving a presentation during our Heritage Weekend (October 19th and 20th) on the Barron’s and the importance of the Barron building as an anchor to the oil industry in Calgary. Find out more about our Heritage Weekend!

Barron Building CHAB

Barron Building

Courtesy Calgary Heritage Advisory Board

Canadian Federal Voters Lists in Ancestry

by Christine H - 0 Comment(s)

Ancestry LE

Thanks to the Alberta Family Histories Society discussion list, I found out about an excellent new resource available to genealogists researching their Canadian roots. Often, in the absence of census records, we suggest that our genealogists check out the voters lists for the area they are researching. We have the municipal voters lists in paper format in the Community Heritage and Family History collection at the Central Library. We also have one set of Federal Voters Lists, for 1974. We used to have to borrow other years from Library and Archives Canada on microfilm. Now Ancestry has put up Federal Voters Lists for Canada for 1935-1980. Most of these images have been indexed, but a few of the later years are still only available as images for browsing. (The indexing was done by OCR and if you have a look at some of those later lists, you’ll understand why they haven’t been indexed.) To find your people in the indexed lists, you can go to the Canadian Voters Lists database in Ancestry and type in the name. Keep in mind that OCR indexing is far from perfect and it may still be necessary to browse the lists, if you know someone should be somewhere but their name doesn’t turn up. You can also find people in the un-indexed lists, but in both cases, you will need to know in which electoral district they lived.

To find an electoral district there are a few resources. Not all sources cover all years so you may have to use more than one.

For electoral districts prior to the 2003 reorganization, you can visit the Elections Canada website. This site allows you to search the 301 districts by place name and keyword. Or you can try the Parliament website which has a list of historical ridings. It can’t be searched by town but you can get a list of all ridings in the province and this may help you narrow down your search.

There are also electoral district maps available online at this site, which includes the National Atlas of Canada.

Otherwise you can use print sources such as the Canadian Almanac and Directory, which we do keep, so our collection runs from 1911 on. There is usually a way we can help you find an electoral district, so if these resources don’t help, please ask us.

If you are still in love with the clickety click of the microfilm reader, you can still get these voters’ lists on microfilm. Dave Obee has produced two great finding aids: Federal voters lists in Western Canada, 1935-1979 and Federal voters lists in Ontario 1935-1979 You can find out more about using electoral lists at the Canadian Genealogy Centre.

If you’d like to find out more about the Alberta Family Histories Society discussion list, visit their website. Information about the discussion list is right there on the front page.

Remember, you can access Ancestry LE at any branch of the Calgary Public Library for free with your library card.

Voters List Calgary 1915

Calgary Municipal Voters List

Community Heritage and Family History Collection

Heritage Weekend is Just Around the Corner

by Christine H - 0 Comment(s)

PC 925

Lake View Heights, Proposed Community, 1912

Postcards from the Past, PC 925

Have you signed up for our Heritage Weekend programs yet? Better get on it – you wouldn’t want to miss any of these great programs.

We start the weekend with Heritage Matters on Friday night. We will hear about the fabulously successful Century Homes project and follow the quest of one homeowner to discover his homes’ past.

Right after that, pop up to the Dutton Theatre to hear about one of Calgary’s aviation heroes, Freddie McCall (for whom McCall Field was named). Shirlee Smith Matheson and Freddie McCall Jr. will be speaking and the Aero Space museum (a partner in this presentation) will have artifacts and art on display. You don’t have to register for this one – just drop in.

Next day starts with Irena Karshenbaum presenting The Oil Barrons, a talk about the Barron family and their remarkable contribution to Calgary. I’ve heard Irena speak and can say from experience that this will be a great presentation.

Then at noon, there is a Communities Heritage Roundtable about Canadian Heritage in our Midst. A panel of experts will talk about sites of national significance right here in Calgary.

At 1 o’clock we will hear from Stephanie White about Unbuilt Calgary. This will be an intriguing presentation as we hear about a century’s worth of plans for Calgary development, some of which never made it off the drawing board, some which may one day come to fruition (boating reach ‘round City Hall, anyone?)

At 2, we are going to be regaled with Stories of Calgary. Some of my favourite historian-storytellers are going to be on hand to tell us stories of Calgary’s past and the intriguing people who made up this great city. Hugh Dempsey, Harry Sanders, Max Foran, Nancy Townshend and Brian Brennan – all brilliant storytellers, will keep us entertained, and probably teach us a thing or two.

Last, but not least, we will have a Meet and Greet with representatives of some of Calgary’s heritage organizations. These are the folks who work behind the scenes to support and protect heritage in Calgary. Come and mingle with some of the most interesting people I’ve ever met – it’s going to be grand.

To find out more information and to register, follow this link.

I hope to see you there.

AJ 70 18

Calgary Municipal Airport, McCall Field, 1962

Alison Jackson Photograph Collection, AJ 70-18

Smoke, Sweat and Tears: The Calgary Fire Department

by Christine H - 0 Comment(s)

PC1068

Aerial Ladder, Calgary Fire Department (1906 or after)

Postcards from the Past, PC 1068

I have seen a lot of firefighters in the last few days, what with the news of grass fires and arson and house fires (and, possibly because of the fire we had on the third floor of our library) so while I was casting about for an idea for this blog, I started thinking about the history of our Fire Department. I have had a deep and abiding affection for firefighters, not just because they run into burning buildings while we run out, but because of an event when I was a wee girl. My mom was newly widowed with four kids. One night we smelled smoke and called the Fire Department. They arrived with their lights blazing, in their fire gear and quickly found the source of the smoke – a component in our TV cabinet that was melting. The TV was hauled into the back yard and we were safe. But the firemen didn’t just go away. When they found out my mom was on her own, they checked her insurance policy and informed her that she needed to up her coverage, they searched the back yard for my new kitten who had escaped during the fracas (it was something to see this small ball of fur settled into the enormous glove of the fireman who found him) and they checked to make sure everything was in order. They didn’t have to do that, but they did it anyway. So, for this, and all the other reasons, firemen have always been my heroes. (Police and EMS, too, but that’s for a later blog.)

We haven’t always had a Fire Department, although in a place where buildings were mostly of wood and were heated with fires and lit with candles and gas lamps, the need for a volunteer fire department was quickly recognized. When the great fire of 1886 broke out on the morning of November 7, church bells were rung, to call the volunteers and other citizens, men, women and children, to form a bucket-brigade. The fire, believed to be started by an “incendiary” would eventually consume at least 18 of the city’s wooden buildings. It also prompted the mayor to throw the doors open to a vigilante group which could deal with the culprit “as you like.” It was this fire that encouraged people to build with the local sandstone, earning Calgary the nickname “The Sandstone City”. It was also the impetus for the reorganization of the Hook, Ladder and Bucket Corps into two divisions, a ladder division and a hose division, each with 30 men, the purchase of a steam engine and the building of a fire hall. “Cappy” Smart (then just James or Jack) volunteered for the fire brigade in 1885 (before that he was the town’s first funeral director). In 1898 he became the first paid fire chief for the city. The firefighters were still volunteers, however, and had to pay $18 of their own money for their uniforms. It wasn’t until 1909 that the fire fighters were paid. They were given $70 a month with 10 hours off each week. Men lined up to join what was touted as the most advanced fire department in the country. The Calgary Fire Department is still recognized as a world leader in firefighting.

If you’d like to learn more about the history of firefighting in the city, we have a wonderful collection of photos, like the one above, in the Community Heritage and Family History Digital Library. We also have a good collection of books in the Local History room (and on the third floor, once the fire damage is cleaned up.) Notable are Yours for Life , 100 Years of Smoke, Sweat and Tears by Grant MacEwan, and Milestones and Mementoes, 1885-1985.

PC 936

The Webb Car, CFDs First Piece of Motorized Equipment, Cappy Smart is at the Wheel

Postcards from the Past, PC 936

We Say Goodbye to a Great Man

by Christine H - 1 Comment(s)

analecta 1947

Central Collegiate Institute Hockey Team, 1947

from Analecta, 1947

Peter Lougheed passed away last week. We have lost a great man. I had the pleasure of hearing him speak at an awards evening and at other events and I always came away from those speeches inspired and proud of my province. He was a member of one of Calgary’s oldest and most notable families, but he treated every one he encountered as an equal. He has earned a place in the hearts of most Albertans, not just for his accomplishments, which were great, but also for his qualities as a person.

I wanted to write something about Mr. Lougheed that spoke to these qualities. I remembered a question we had had, shortly after I started working with the Local History collection. We use this story to illustrate how parts of the local history collection can be used for genealogical research. A customer had called asking us to find out, if we could, what Peter Lougheed had done in high school: what clubs he belonged to, when he graduated, what sports he played, etc. We knew that he had attended Central (it was called Central Collegiate Institute at the time) and that we had some of the yearbooks, the Analecta, in our collection. (I know it is kind of a dirty trick to pull someone’s high school yearbooks and look at the photos – I never tell any of my colleagues the year that I graduated, because we have my high school yearbooks here in the collection, and the last thing I want them to see is me in my teenaged glory. But I am not one of the great leaders of our century, so this is different). We have the Analecta for the years that Mr. Lougheed attended. He was called Pete then and he was a handsome and richly accomplished young man. His is a yearbook to be proud of. The photo above, is of his year on the Central Hockey team. (I like this one in particular because one of his teammates is a man that my father worked with and who lived next door to us when I was growing up.)

That year St. Joseph’s, a school in Edmonton, wanted to have an unofficial “Alberta Interscholastic Hockey Championship” and the only Calgary school that answered the call was Central. It was proposed that the two teams play a two-game, total-point series. St. Joseph’s took the first game, played April 11, 1947, 6-5. Pete Lougheed scored an unassisted goal late in the third, but it was not enough to push Central to victory. The next night Central came out shooting. Lougheed scored one in the second which helped Central score 8 goals to St. Joseph’s 5, giving Central the “mythical title” (as the Herald put it) of provincial high school hockey champs.

This is just one example of Pete Lougheed’s many accomplishments in high school. He lettered in Activities and Athletics in 1946, serving on student council (he was president in 1947), participating in Hi-Y, playing basketball, hockey and rugby, doing track, coaching football, working on the Analecta, and participating in Naval Cadets. His nickname was Chief. Prophetic, perhaps?

When I think of Peter Lougheed, I do so with affection. Although I’d met him only a few times, I felt I knew him, maybe that is how we all felt. Under his leadership, Alberta realized that it was a great province. Looking at his record of accomplishment in his youth, it is obvious he was destined for greatness, but perhaps that is because he did not see anything as impossible. It seemed nothing was beyond his capabilities. He made us feel that way about ourselves, about our province. That may be the greatest gift he has given us.

PC 1957

Central High School

Postcards from the Past, PC 1957

 

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