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Bridges

by Christine H - 1 Comment(s)

PC 226

Centre Street Bridge, pre 1915

Postcards from the Past, PC 226

Well, after much controversy, many delays and a healthy dose of skepticism, the Peace Bridge is scheduled to officially open this Saturday with a celebration including the blessing of the bridge by a First Nations elder – suitable, as the confluence of these rivers had long been a meeting spot for the people living in this part of the country.

The bridge was designed by Santiago Calatrava, the architect chosen to design the train station which will be part of the rebuilding of the World Trade Center site in New York. He also designed two beautiful bridges that span the River Liffey in Dublin, one of my very favourite cities. Both are named for famous Irish authors (James Joyce and Samuel Beckett) and are beautiful additions to that city. But I digress. Our Calatrava bridge was faced with much nay saying and continual back and forth between proponents of the unique structure and those who felt the money could be better spent. Because I am a history buff, this called to mind the foofaraw over the Centre Street Bridge (of course there has to be a tie to something in the past, right?)

The part of the city north of the Bow had been settled long before it was part of the city. In fact, the area just beyond the Langevin was the red light district for Calgary because it actually fell outside of the jurisdiction of the city police. For people living on the north side of the Bow, it was imperative that they have a decent bridge to cross to the city. The developer of Crescent Heights had built a steel span bridge with wooden approaches. He sold shares in the company and used the bridge as a selling feature for the land that he was developing on the north side of the river. There were other crossings, but the closest bridge was at what is now Kensington, and it was a bit of a hike for people who were coming from Crescent Heights and area. When Crescent Heights was annexed by the city in 1908, many expected that the bridge would also fall under the care and maintenance of the city. The annexation meant that lots were opened up and houses were being built. Construction materials had to be hauled up to the hill, but the Centre Street Bridge Company was still the owner of the structure. The company wanted the city to pay $7,000 for the bridge, what it had cost them to build it. The city refused to pay even $5000. This back and forth went on between the city and the bridge company from 1908 to 1912 when the city finally agreed to buy the bridge for $300. Three years later, the structure would be washed out by one of our regular floods. What was left was sold to the provincial Department of Highways (for $200 more than the city paid the bridge company for it.) Construction had already begun on the new bridge that we all know and love. It was completed in 1916, again, with much controversy surrounding its design and the cost. Some things never change.

 

Centre Street Bridge Lion AJ

Eamon's Bungalow Camp

by Christine H - 2 Comment(s)

Eamon

Eamon's Bungalow Camp, 10220 Crowchild Tr. NW

From "Discover Historic Calgary"

We had a great time at the Heritage Matters program on Thursday night. Our mayor gave a talk about the importance of heritage and then answered questions from the audience. What was most interesting was the mayor’s perspective on what heritage means. We have tended, in the past, to view heritage as a concern of those with the leisure to contemplate the value of 100 year old, sandstone edifices. What Mayor Nenshi suggested is that Calgary’s heritage is a much broader concept, concerning all Calgarians in their infinite variety and looking at all places with a view to their value, not just as architectural monuments, but as signifiers of the history of the people of this city.

Two sites were mentioned that have garnered some press in the last little while, Eamon’s Bungalow Camp and the Barron Building. I have written a blog on the Barron Building, which is an example of a site which has significance beyond its structure. Eamon’s Camp is one of those sites which to many of us, who grew up in the middle part of the last century, seem merely “old fashioned” as they were once a common sight. There was a Royalite station in the neighbourhood I grew up in that looked much the same. These are the buildings that are most at risk – they are a part of my childhood, how can they be heritage?! But Eamon’s is one of the last examples still standing of the mid-century commercial architecture that was once ubiquitous. The city owns the site it is on and needs to build a C-Train station and parking there. While the sign is going to be preserved, many have expressed concern about the building itself. Because of citizen concern, plans for the site may be revisited.

The story of Roy Eamon and his “one –stop tourist service centre” is fascinating. Eamon was an entrepreneur of the real Calgary type – he had businesses galore and an ability to bounce back from disaster. It is rumoured that he made and lost several fortunes. But for many years, his drive-in, service station, motel was the place to stop on the way to Banff. You could buy gas, eat lunch (in the restaurant or in the car from a tray hooked to the window – does anyone remember that?) and have your car washed all at the same place. It was a beacon to travelers until the new Trans-Canada highway came through. If you’re interested in Eamon’s you can find a very detailed history on the City of Calgary database “Discover Historic Calgary”. It has also been discussed on the Calgary Heritage Initiative website as well as in the Calgary Herald (which you can read through Newspaper Direct Press Display in our e-library - under Newspapers and Magazines)

Spring Heritage Events in Calgary

by Christine H - 0 Comment(s)

Heritage in Calgary

Spring will come – I have it on good authority. And when it does it is going to bring with it a schwack of Heritage programming. I sometimes can’t believe the amount of stuff that the heritage community gets up to in this city. Quite a change from my youth, when a city official (who shall remain nameless) insisted that a building be torn down because it had tried to kill him (think Burns Building). Now, our mayor is coming to speak to us and talk with us about heritage in Calgary. That is going to be the kick-off for our spring heritage season. The meeting will take place in the John Dutton theatre at the Central Library on Thursday, March 8. Doors open at 5:00, with the talk starting at around 5:30. We will be serving refreshments, so join us and get your heritage spring started. Just show up, no registration is required.

On St. Patrick’s Day, there is a free course in the “Partners in Planning” program put on by the City and the Federation of Calgary Communities. This series is aimed at community members and the general public to introduce them to planning issues within the city. Urban planning in Calgary is at an exciting stage, where stakeholders and communities work with heritage organizations and concerned members of the public to build a culture of preservation. The program on March 17 is called “Planning with Heritage in Mind” and will include an introduction to preservation principles, illustrated with local case studies. You can register at www.calgarycommunities.com > Workshops and Events or phone 403-244-4111. It takes place on Saturday, March 17 from 9:00am to 12:00pm at Bankview Community Association, 2418 - 17 Street SW.

On March 22, Matco Investments is hosting "More Than Just Beer - An Historic Presentation" a talk about the Inglewood Brewery site by conservation architect Lorne Simpson. He will examine the economic and social history of the brewery. The event is free but you will need to register. You can do so at this website:

http://calgarybrewing-eivtefrnd.eventbrite.com/

Chinook Country Historical Society offers very interesting programs every month. March is the month for their Annual General Meeting which takes place on the 27th at the Varsity Community Centre. It is a dinner event so you will have to purchase tickets, but the speaker that evening will be Harry ‘The Historian' Sanders who will talk about a subject near and dear to his heart, the history of hotels in Alberta. Check out their website for further information www.chinookcountry.org

Cecil Hotel

Cecil Hotel, 1912

Postcards from the Past, PC 947

April 19 will bring the next Heritage Roundtable. The topic isn’t set yet, but these events are always well attended and one of my faves (see the posting about the last Roundtable) You can find up-to-date info on the Roundtables – and other events-- at www.calgaryheritage.org

At the end of April, CHI – the Calgary Heritage Initiative- will have its annual general meeting on the 26th at 7 pm at the Lougheed House. The speaker that night will be another one of my favourite historians, Max Foran. For those who don’t know about CHI, the work they do in the Heritage Community is valiant. A visit to their website is a must for anyone concerned with heritage and history. The website holds information about upcoming events, about buildings, threatened and success-stories, it keeps an eye on developments that may have an impact on the built heritage of our city, just to list a few highlights. Have a peek.

May will bring flowers and Jane’s Walks which celebrate our neighbourhoods and the legacy of Jane Jacobs, urbanist and heritage advocate. (www.calgaryfoundation.org) It looks like you can still volunteer to lead a walk in your neighbourhood.

On the 12th of May, we will be conducting a repeat of our program “Research the History of your House” in association with Century Homes Calgary. You don’t need to have a century home to research the history of your house, so join us at 10:30 at the Central Library for some pointers on how to find out the secrets of your home. Registration opens on April 23.

Those are just a few of the programs that are coming up. Everything is listed at www.calgaryheritage.org and we will try to keep posting information here about the programs coming in the summer. Try to come to some of these programs – the heritage community in Calgary is energetic and exciting and is about so much more than buildings. Hope to see you there.

Burns Home

Burns Residence, built 1901, demolished 1956

Postcards from the Past, PC 581

Heritage Matters with Mayor Naheed Nenshi

by Christine H - 0 Comment(s)

Clock tower

Well, it is a New Year and boy what a year it is going to be. One hundred years ago Calgary was riding the crest of a boom that would make us the city we are today. Many organizations are celebrating their 100th anniversaries and heritage is really on people’s minds. That said, we are proud to once again be hosting Heritage Matters. Any of you who have attended these programs, offered jointly by the Calgary Heritage Authority, City of Calgary Land Use, Planning and Policy and the Calgary Public Library, will know how valuable these meetings can be. We have had a wide range of speakers at these programs and every last one of them has given their audience something to take home and mull over.

Our first Heritage Matters program of this year is going to be no different. It will feature our own Mayor Nenshi. We will meet in the John Dutton Theatre on the second floor of the Central Library at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday March 8. It looks like it is going to be a very interactive kind of meeting so bring your questions and your opinions and join us. We always have fun at the Heritage Matters programs and the networking opportunities are unrivalled (and we serve refreshments). So drop in and see us. No need to register in advance.

King Edward School

by Christine H - 1 Comment(s)

AJ 0458

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.

PC 853

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)

cpl103-15-01

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.

AJ 0233

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.

PC 144

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.

AJ 94-10

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)

PC 925

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.

PC 579

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.

PC 310

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

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