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King Edward School

by Christine H - 1 Comment(s)

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King Edward School (with the west wing intact) 1967

Alison Jackson Photography Collection, AJ 0458

One of my favourite places is in the news again and I am so happy to hear that not only is the building going to be preserved, it is going to be turned into an arts incubator and community groups. The building was purchased by cSPACE (the art space development arm of Calgary Arts Development) and will be transformed under the guidance of cSPACE president Reid Henry, whose presentation on the Wychwood Bus Barns project in Toronto at the Lion Awards in 2010 was an inspiration to all of us. Have a look at what can be done with some inspiration and innovation. http://www.torontoartscape.on.ca/places-spaces/artscape-wychwood-barns

The idea of an arts incubator is rather cutting edge for a city whose culture was once unfavourably compared to yogurt (What is the difference between Calgary and yogurt? Yogurt has a culture!) Many of us who have been here our whole lives always knew that there was an exciting and vibrant arts scene in the city; it was just a question of giving it a home. And the new King Edward development will do that by providing live, work, studio, and gallery space for artists, groups and community organizations

King Edward school is one of the plethora of sandstone schools that were built in the heady times just before the first war (1912, again!) The influx of people into the city had strained the school system to the breaking point. King Edward was built on the west edge of the city to accommodate what would surely be the huge population that was going to grow into the newly annexed lands. No one could have known that expansion would halt and it would be well into the 50s before the city grew much farther to the west.

The school was built from locally quarried sandstone – the quarrymen’s kids would have been some of the students there. The first principal of the school was William Aberhart. And, I must add, that one of the last teachers there was my mom, who taught junior high there at the end of her career. It was fitting, in a way, because King Edward School was actually one of the first to offer a special ‘junior high school’ program in 1931. It was so successful that it became standard throughout Alberta in 1935. Until then students were either in elementary or high school. The second floor of the school was turned into a Normal School during the war, with many teachers being granted emergency teaching certificates after four months of training, a measure designed to address the urgent need for teachers.

I am delighted that this beautiful old school will be preserved and turned into something marvelous. I am anticipating great things for this development.

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Some (Other) Calgary Schools, ca 1910s

Postcards from the Past, PC 853

Research for Writers

by Christine H - 0 Comment(s)

Filing cabinet

To my surprise and delight I was asked to present at our annual Writers’ Weekend which was held on February 4. I presented “Historical Research for Writers” to a very surprising (to me, at least) crowd of 125 people who were all eager to find out where all the good stuff is stashed. As is usual with me, I was set off on a tangent thinking about the authors who have worked in our Local History room.

I remember when Will Ferguson, author of a number of books (all available at the Calgary Public Library) had his first “office” in the local history room. While working on Canadian History for Dummies, he stored his computer (kind of a joke to call it a laptop) in the Local History workroom. He tells the story in a Swerve magazine article. You can read it here and see a picture of him in the room.

We have also recently hosted Brian Brennan, who was researching and writing the official history of the Calgary Public Library, which will be released in April (to celebrate the “official” opening of the new library in 1912). I’m looking forward to this one, because Brian is such an inspiring storyteller and what I’ve seen of the book seems to me to be his finest work yet.

We also provided research assistance for Katherine Govier, whose protagonist in the book Between Men becomes obsessed with the story of Rosalie New Grass, a Cree woman who was brutally murdered in 1889. Rosalie’s tragic story is true and Ms Govier researched the case in the Local History room. Our copy of Between Men is signed “with gratitude” for the assistance she received on her project from our staff.

As I mentioned, the Writers’ Weekend was a huge success and I was chuffed to see the crowd that came out to hear about research. Nothing turns me off a piece of writing quicker than an error. (Well, bad dialogue comes a very close second). Where the work is fiction or non-fiction, good, solid research always has a place. We are very lucky to be able to meet and assist authors with their projects. We have helped with fairly modest publications, such as family histories, and with some major projects, such as the upcoming history of the library. We are always delighted to be able to assist – it is an opportunity for us to show off our wonderful collections and we always learn something new. What I guess I am trying to say is that you should all come down and visit us and see what weird and wonderful things you can dig up.

Local History Room

Heritage in Calgary

by Christine H - 0 Comment(s)

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Storytime at Calgary Public Library, 1915

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

Well, I told you it was going to be a doozy and it really was! The last Heritage Roundtable meeting was one for the books! We had a phenomenal turnout of around 140 people to hear Professor Don Smith, Stampede archivist Aimee Benoit and author Brian Brennan talk about Calgary in 1912. Thanks to the Calgary Public Library Foundation for loaning us their space which is on the second storey of the beautiful Memorial Park library. The venue was perfect. The area had once housed a lecture hall and the Museum Room and it wasn’t hard to imagine the display cabinets in the space.

It felt like the entire Calgary heritage population turned out. I saw many familiar faces and loads of new folk as well. One of the presenters joked that if a disaster struck, Calgary would have lost much of its heritage community!

Heritage Roundtable

Just a sampling of the crowd (those lucky enough to have found seats!)

Heritage Roundtable - Calgary in 1912, January 2012

And the speakers! Oh my goodness. Calgary was an exciting place in 1912, and all three speakers really drove home the excitement and energy that people must have felt. The optimism was unbounded. Aimee had pictures of the Duke of Connaught and Princess Patricia at the first Stampede. That was a very big deal. By 1912 we were already celebrating a way of life that had mostly passed but we celebrated it in a way that acknowledged the importance of that past, while at the same time it celebrated the exuberance that would be Calgary’s future (or so we thought). The population of the city exploded, as pointed out by Professor Smith, from ….. in the 1901 census to …… in the 1911 census. The city was annexing land at an alarming pace, to keep up with the future that would surely bring the population to….by the 1920s. And visionary men, like Alexander Calhoun, our first chief librarian, would bring culture to the masses from the beautiful “educational edifice” that was the new Central Library.

CPL 103-26-01

Museum Room at Calgary Public Library, 1912

Calgary Public Library Archives - Our Story in Pictures, 103-26-01

As Calgarians, we know from experience what the next step in a scenario like this is, don’t we? The bounding optimism is always followed by a healthy dose of reality, and by 1914 all this had changed. But Calgarians then, as now, kept a little kernel of that optimism alive in their hearts. I don’t know if it is coded in our DNA or if we somehow breathe it in with the Chinook air, but we always manage to hang on ‘til the next boom – we can see it coming.

I was speaking with an author whose work and insight on Calgary’s psyche I very much admire, and he said that the real story of Calgary could be told by looking at 1913, and I understand what he means. It is what makes us what we are, how we deal with the inevitable busts that follow our booms. I’m hoping that he will deliver just such a story to us in the near future.

But for the time being we are going to celebrate that marvelous year that gave us the Memorial Park Library, the Stampede and the Grand Theatre, just to name a few. We are busy planning for Historic Calgary Week and this year's event promises to be bigger and better than ever. Keep watching this space!

University of Calgary Staff and Students in from of Calgary Public Library, 1912

Calgary Public Library Archives, 103-05-01

cpl 103-05-01

Genealogy Conferences for 2012

by Christine H

Files

I am ashamed to admit that I have only ever attended one genealogy conference and that was as a representative of the library, manning a booth. That is all going to change, though, in April. On the weekend of April 13, the Alberta Family Histories Society, in partnership with the Alberta Genealogical Society will be holding a conference, “Find your Tree in the Forest” hosted by the Red Deer Branch of AGS. Registration is now open. You can access the schedule, speakers’ bios and registration information at the website: http://rdgensoc.ab.ca/conferenceindex.html

Many of the speakers at this conference are household names in the genealogy field. Dick Eastman and Gena Philibert Ortega will be there, Thomas MacEntee will be present via webinar and many local speakers will be presenting on topics as diverse Prairie settlement and introducing the Online Parish Clerks program in the UK. It promises to be a very interesting and informative conference. The early registration deadline is March 15.

Alberta Family Histories Society member Lois Sparling will also be presenting at the Ontario Genealogical Society Conference in Kingston from June 1st to 3rd. The theme this year is “Borders and Bridges, 1812-2012” and Lois will be presenting 4 sessions ranging from land records to Loyalists. This annual conference is a very extensive learning experience for researchers. It is like genealogy boot-camp, but with more parties. You can view the brochure at the conference website: http://www.ogs.on.ca/conference2012/

These are just two of the conferences that are going on this year. Dave Obee, on his blog Cangenealogy, has an events listing that includes other conferences that you may be interested in. You can find him at http://www.cangenealogy.com/index.html. Events are listed at the bottom of the page and there is also a link to the upcoming events page. Global Genealogy also lists upcoming events on their site: http://globalgenealogy.com/workshops/off-site.htm And, of course, the AFHS blog lists events of interest to Calgary genealogists. Their blog can be found at : http://afhs.ab.ca/blog/category/events/

So, if attending a conference was once of your genealogical resolutions for 2012, you’ve picked a good year.

Find Your Tree in the Forest

AGS/AFHS Conference, April 13-14, 2012 Finding your tree in the Forest Logo

The Calgary Herald Building

by Christine H - 0 Comment(s)

Herald Building JU

Calgary Herald Building

Judith Umbach Photography Collection

I was reading Brian Brennan’s blog, (to find information that I could use in my introduction for him on Thursday when he reads from his bookLeaving Dublin) and was reminded of the fact that a demolition permit has been issued for the Calgary Herald Building. Although architecturally uninspiring, due in large part to a mid-sixties reno, the Herald Building contains so much history within its unremarkable walls, that it will be a real shame to lose it. It is, in fact, the ninth Calgary Herald Building.

The first Calgary Herald was published, as the Calgary Herald Mining and Ranche Advocate and General Advertiser (whew, image that on a masthead!) on August 31, 1883 by founders Thomas Braden and Andrew Armour. The intrepid businessmen put out the paper on a circa 1845 printing press that was shipped by train to “T. Braden, end of the track.” The first Herald Building was a tent on the banks of the Elbow River. Calgary was not the place it would become by any means. There were tents – tents that housed saloons and restaurants and not much else. Prospects for the town were poor. No one expected the little tent-cluster to become anything more than a passing memory. But at the end of his first day of touring the little encampment, Braden and Armour had 100 subscribers.

By 1884 the paper had a more permanent home in a shack near the I.G Baker store near the Elbow River on the railway line. They stayed there until 1886 when they moved to a location on Centre Street and Stephen Avenue. They then moved to a sandstone building on Stephen Avenue and then in 1895 they moved a few doors down to 134 8th Avenue SW and then, in 1903, they moved to this lovely building on 7th Avenue and Centre Street (702 Centre Street) – where they stayed until 1913.

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Central Building, once the Calgary Herald Building, 702 Centre Street

Alison Jackson Photography Collection, AJ 0233

In 1913, just as the oil boom was starting, the paper built this magnificent Gothic structure, complete with Royal Doulton gargoyles. The Herald stayed there until 1932, when the paper needed more space and the offices were let out to physicians and surgeons. Southam sold the building to Greyhound building was turned into the Greyhound depot in the 1940s. The main floor was gutted to allow the buses to drive through. In 1972 that building was demolished to make way for the TELUS/Len Werry Building. The gargoyles were salvaged.

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The Calgary Herald Building, later the Greyhound Depot, ca 1920s

Postcards from the Past, PC 144

The paper moved across the street to the 1912 Southam Building, also the possessor of some lovely gargoyles (which were removed when the building was remodeled in 1966/67, although there is speculation that the original façade is hiding behind the marble cladding.) It had originally been the Calgary Furniture store and then became the “Southam Chambers” housing government offices and lawyers. The paper stayed there until the 1980s, although some of the editorial offices remained in the building until the bitter end. The paper is now produced in the Herald Building overlooking Deerfoot Trail.

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Frieze on the Calgary Herald/Southam Building before cladding, 1966

Alison Jackson Photography Collection, AJ 94-10

Heritage Roundtable - Calgary in 1912

by Christine H - 0 Comment(s)

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Artists concept of Lake View Park, part of the planned community of Lake View Heights (NE Calgary, 1912?)

Postcards from the Past, PC 925

It is time for the next Heritage Roundtable and this one is going to be a doozy! Calgary, in 1912, was a city of great bustle and optimism (we all remember optimism, right?) In the ten years between 1901 and 1911 the population had grown by nearly 1000 percent (from 4,091 to 43,704). A vast swath of land surrounding the existing town (all the way to what is now McKnight Boulevard in the north, 50th Avenue in the south (and Ogden in 1911) had been annexed to accommodate the envisioned continuation of the population boom. The maps were drawn, the communities laid out (where exactly is “The Bronx” in Calgary?) The new City Hall had been open for a year, Calgary Public Library had just opened its doors, we had our first Stampede, the magnificent Lougheed Building and the Grand Theatre were opened and Calgary had its first “university”. Life was good and Calgary was in what was probably its biggest boom. 1912 can be said to be the year that made Calgary a city.

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Lougheed Building/Grand Theatre 191?

Postcards from the Past, PC 579

But don’t take my word for it. Our speakers at the Heritage Roundtable on January 25th will be experts on Calgary in 1912. Professor Don Smith, Stampede archivist Aimee Benoit and author Brian Brennan (whose history of the Calgary Public Library will be published later this year) will all give us the run down on the heady days of 1912 when the future of Calgary seemed unlimited.

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Princess Patricia at the 1912 Stampede

Postcards from the Past, PC 310

We will be meeting at the original 1912 Calgary Public Library, now the Memorial Park Branch, at 7:00 PM (doors open at 6:30). As usual there will be time for us to have a chat and refreshments. This is going to be a fascinating evening and we would like you to join us. The Memorial Park Library is at 2nd Street and 13th Avenue SW. You can register for the event at this site: www.calgarycommunities.com/events.php. Look for Heritage Roundtable in the drop down menu. You can also register by calling 403-244-4111

Storytime at the Library, 1912

Calgary Public Library Archives CPL 103-15-01

CPL Archives 103-15-01

Interesting blogs for genealogists

by Christine H - 3 Comment(s)

Blog

Since I write a blog, I like to read blogs by other people and organizations. (Any of you who have attended my “Cool Internet Tools for Genealogists” have heard my confessions about my never-ending blog list). So when I come across something new, I like to spread the word. So it was very big news for me that Library and Archives Canada is piloting a new blog < http://thediscoverblog.com/> This site is going to be a goldmine for Canadian genealogists. Library and Archives Canada is our essentially our ‘national memory’. They collect information on the country and its people. The resources it holds are extensive and includes materials that every genealogist needs. For example, you want to find an obituary for Uncle Joe who died in a small town in Saskatchewan. You think there might be a newspaper but for the life of you, you can’t find it in Google News or any of the other online sources. Calgary Public Library doesn’t have it so what do you do? Well, you can hire a researcher to find the obit, you can ask the local library if they will do a lookup for you or you can check the Library and Archives “Canadian Newspapers” database to find out what the newspaper for the small town in Saskatchewan was called, see if it is available from them on microfilm and place an interlibrary loan request for the appropriate date through your local branch. How would you know that? Well, it’s in the LAC blog.

Or say you want to order a copy of your grandfather’s military service record. Can you do that? Yes you can and the LAC Blog tells you how. I suggest that every person who is researching Canadian genealogy have a look at this blog. I am so glad that they launched it because every time I show a new genealogist the wealth of information held by LAC, they are astonished. And the blog provides a great introduction to not just what is in the collection, but also how to get at the information in the collection. Did you know that if you need a copy of a document and ask for a digital version, you are helping to build the digital collection at LAC? Whenever it is possible, LAC repurposes the digitized image for their online collection. So, you help yourself and others at the same time. How could this be any better?

So, while we’re on the topic of archives and blogs, I want to introduce you to the Smithsonian Archives blog. http://siarchives.si.edu/blog/start-new-year-right-tips-archives (I warned you about my blog addiction). Most people have heard of the Smithsonian. It is a huge collection of museums, archives, galleries, and research institutions which are known the world over. What I know about the Smithsonian is that when I am looking for information on the preservation of data in its various formats, I turn to them. They are world leaders in the field and, best of all, they make the information available to the public in terms anyone can understand. The posting that the link above will lead you to is particularly pertinent to people who collect things (as most genealogists do). It gives pointers on how to organize and preserve the “stuff” that has become part of our lives including digital photographs and email. It also has links to other blogs that discuss similar topics as well as a link to the Smithsonian’s Flickr feed which includes some stunning photographs ranging from hatching frigate birds to exploding stars. So, Happy New Year – now get back to work on your family tree!

We Are 100 Years Old!

by Christine H - 0 Comment(s)

CPL Archives 103-01-01

Alex Calhoun and Staff working in an office in City Hall, 1911

Calgary Public Library Archives CPL_103-01-01

This is a very big year for the Calgary Public Library. It is our 100th anniversary. On January 2, 1912, the new public library in Central Park opened its doors to the public. It was a very exciting time for the City. Not only did we get a brand, new Carnegie library, but many other projects were started or completed in the early part of the second decade of the new century. City Hall had just been completed. As matter of fact, while the new library was being built, Alexander Calhoun worked out of an office on the top floor of the new city hall building, alongside the Health Department. As part of the celebrations of our centennial, we will be launching a new photograph collection from the Calgary Public Library Archives. These photos span the entire history of the Calgary Public Library and all its branches. The photos included with this blog post are from the earliest collection, dating from prior to the library’s opening and just following it.

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Empty shelves prior to opening, 1911

Calgary Public Library Archives CPL_103-23-01

The library was a beautiful building both inside and out. Marble staircases led to the second floor (they are still there). There were two mahogany trimmed fireplaces on the main floor. The back of the building curves gracefully and include an expanse of windows that look onto the park. Its setting qualifies it as one of the best situated libraries in the city. The recent revitalization of the park has only enhanced the beauty of the setting. The restoration that was done on the building in 1976 maintained much of the beautiful interior and exterior detail, so the library and its surrounding park constitute one of the gems of Calgary’s inner city. If you haven’t seen it, you must come and attend some of the centennial programming that will be going on in the library. Keep checking the website for details.

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Calgary Museum Room in the New Library, 1911

Calgary Public Library Archives, CPL_103-26-01

What did you do on Christmas Day?

by Christine H - 0 Comment(s)

 

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Mission Hill, up which they ran

Postcards from the Past, PC 142

Christmas day is usually a time for family and friends. Some folks volunteer to serve dinner to those who are less fortunate. But how many of you ran a marathon? In Calgary, starting in 1906, the Calgary Herald ran a road race outdoors on Christmas day. The 1906 event was led by Cappy Smart, the fire chief, who was described as “no mean athlete.” And for every year following, except the year he was in hospital due to an automobile accident, he started the race by firing his pistol. The dates of the race changed over the years, but in 1911, it was run on Christmas day. The race started and finished at the Herald offices and ran up Mission Hill and under two of the ‘subways’ under the railway tracks. It was won by Alex Hepburn- a recent immigrant from Scotland- who ran the 6 mile plus race in 34 minutes 57 ½ seconds.

 

Map of Calgary Herald Road Race

Map of the 1911 Calgary Herald Road Race

From the Calgary Herald December 23, 1911

This was a very big deal, with competitors coming from all around the country. It was also another way for Calgarians to beat Edmontonians at something or other. It was started by the publisher and editor of the Calgary Herald, J. J. Young, to prove that such races could be run in Calgary during the winter. I have read accounts of baseball games being played in January in Calgary (with the comment that a nice breeze kept the day from getting too hot) but all of us who live here know that it can be either extreme. And so it was in 1937 when a cold snap forced the cancellation of the event. From '38 tyo '40 it was held on Remembrance day and in 1941 it was moved to Thanksgiving. It's last run was in 1950 but in 1970 the race was revived and run at Heritage Park in July. Are we getting softer?

Anyway, I did not perform any athletic feats on Christmas day, unless eating is a sport. Here's looking at 2012 - our centennial year.

Merry Christmas

by Christine H - 0 Comment(s)

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Merry Christmas Postcard showing Carnegie Library, Calgary, 1912

Postcards from the Past, PC 152

I like to look in the newspapers and see what was going on in Calgary in earlier times. This is becoming more of a habit now that the library is celebrating its anniversary next year. Now I have a legitimate excuse to be reading the paper (albeit from 1912) at work. I think that newspapers provide an interesting window into the world of our ancestors. What I have generally found is that we are not so very different. Sentiments around Christmas have not changed over the years – well, maybe we’re more crassly commercial than our Edwardian ancestors – no I take that back. Have a look at the some of the newspaper ads of the time and you will see retailers shilling all kinds of goods to be purchased for the Christmas season. I even have one posted over my desk: “Give your horse a Christmas present”. Another favourite of mine is “Don’t Blame Your Wife…if she doesn’t appear as attractive as when you were courting her. It’s because you don’t buy her nice little presents of Jewelry as you used to do.” So a visit to C. Campbell Welch, Jeweler and Optician, will solve your problem, gentlemen.

Newspaper ad 1910 Herald

Advertisement from Calgary Daily Herald, December 23, 1910

I like this one, too, for Hennessey Brandy. Perhaps we can see where the temperance movement got its inspiration: “Suppose someone is taken ill at night and you had promised to get Hennessey Brandy but ‘forgot it’…Will you risk precious lives by being caught unprepared?” Interestingly enough, you probably could have gotten a prescription for brandy during prohibition, as medicinal use was not illegal. So, stock up, and prepare for the worst. And of course, have a Merry Christmas, brandy or no.

Ad from Calgary Daily Herald, Dec 23, 1910

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