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Ride through Time at Lougheed House

by Christine H - 0 Comment(s)

 

AJ 14-10

Beaulieu from the south east

Alison Jackson Photograph Collection, aj-14-10

We are going to be at Lougheed House on Saturday July 21 for their annual Ride through Time. Ride through Time is a great chance for all Calgarians to see the house and its gardens. It is a party atmosphere, with a pancake breakfast for the first 600 guests, a display of antique cars and fun and games for the whole family. This is one of our favourite events of the year because we meet a huge variety of people. Another perk is that we get to set up our display in the magnificent Lougheed House, which is the only remaining Victorian residence in Calgary.

The house has seen one hundred and twenty years of this city’s development. It has ridden the booms and the busts. The house was built in a boom year, 1891, on 2.8 acres of land which was part of a larger parcel granted to Senator Lougheed in 1890 (see Land Patent below). Beaulieu was pretty much out on its own at the edge of the city. A photo in an article on the “bright future” of Calgary in the Globe of October 17, 1891 shows the house under construction with no buildings anywhere nearby. It really was out on the bald prairie. But, as the Globe article stated, Calgary’s future was bright, and in a short time the city had grown and the community of what is now the Beltline was well populated. (You can read the article by going to the database “The Globe and Mail: Canada’s Heritage from 1844” under History and Genealogy in our E-Library)

 

Letters patent for Senator Lougheed Letters patent, issued to Senator James Lougheed, on block 86, lots 1-20

Western Canada Land Grants Database, Library and Archives Canada

 

Central High School would be built a few years later, and, as the postcard below shows, the area was well populated by 1912.

Senator Lougheed died in 1925 and Lady Lougheed continued to live in the house, even after it had been taken by the City of Calgary for non-payment of taxes in 1934. (This was not an uncommon occurrence. Many of Calgary’s great homes were seized during the depression for non-payment of taxes.) After Lady Lougheed’s passing, the city organized an auction to clear the house of its furniture, art and other fixtures. The family had taken what they could but the rest was sold. I can only imagine the grief of the Lougheeds at this development.

Once the city owned the land, the question arose of what to do with it. The beautiful sandstone mansion could have been lost to the wreckers ball but, in an ironic twist of fate, the very economic downturn that had led to the city owning the house, also led to its survival. Unemployment was soaring and young people had very limited options. The Federal Government pledged one million dollars for courses to prepare young people for work. What better place to hold these classes than Beaulieu.

With the coming of World War II, the training programs ended and Beaulieu was shuttered for two years. In 1941 the Canadian Women’s Army Corps (CWAC) was formed. They needed training and once again beautiful Beaulieu stood at the ready. It was converted into barracks for the women. After the war, the house was briefly a YWCA residence for demobbed service women and then came the Red Cross. They rented the building and then later purchased it. Land that was not purchased by the Red Cross was developed as small apartment building in the 70s. Eventually the Red Cross outgrew its space and once again there was talk of demolishing the building in order to build a bigger facility. It was a boom time. The small apartment buildings were knocked down to make away for larger towers. However, by 1980 we had hit a bust and the plans for the large apartment towers were abandoned. In the interim, though, Beaulieu had been declared a provincial historic resource and ownership was transferred to the province. The Red Cross was given a building nearby and a parking garage was built under the backyard.

The house lay empty for 15 years. In 1993 the city purchased the land on which the apartment buildings had stood and set it aside for park purposes. The Lougheed Estate was finally back together, though owned by two different arms of government.

The Lougheed House is a wonderful symbol of this city’s history. Drop by on Saturday and say hi! 

 

Pc 165

Thirteenth Avenue [looking] east showing Beaulieu on the right

Postcards from the Past, PC 165

Stampede Genealogy

by Christine H - 0 Comment(s)

PC 1405

Wally Lindstrom, Wild Steer Decorating, Calgary Stampede

Postcards from the Past, PC 1405

At the last general meeting of the Alberta Family Histories Society, Stampede Archivist Aimee Benoit presented the story of Guy Weadick and his wife Flores La Due. Members of the Society did some digging into the history of these two folks and were able to pull up a great deal of genealogical information. It’s always lots of fun to do these “extreme” genealogies where all you have is a name and a few bits of information – we are going to be doing a version of that for Historic Calgary Week, when we present our enhanced “Ancestors and their Attics, 2.0” . But what if your family was part of the first Stampede? What kind of information could you pull up about them? I got to thinking about this as I was watching the parade and saw the great numbers of descendants of the Stampede pioneer families. What kinds of resources would be available to people who were researching folks who might have participated in some way in the Calgary Stampede over the years?

Well, I started close to home, in the Community Heritage and Family History collection here at the Central Library. We have a great deal of information and artifacts from the Stampede including things like souvenir programs, annual reports, prize lists. For example, did you know that in 1968 the first prize for an appliquéd cotton quilt in the Needlework and Homecrafts display was $5.00? Or that, in 1912, Fannie Sperry from Mitchell Montana won a gold mounted belt and 1000 dollars cash for winning the Cowgirl Bucking Horse World Championship? (I didn’t even know that there was a women’s bucking horse contest – good on ‘em) Even if you’re not researching your own family, we have a wealth of ephemera (that means the kind of stuff you generally toss out after the event) that paints a very intimate and interesting picture of what the Stampede was like over the years. Great for filling in family history stories or just for idle curiosity.

Of course, we have an excellent collection of photographs, especially from the first Stampede. If you had an ancestor who was a cowboy or cowgirl, you might find his or her picture in the CHFH Digital Library. The photo at the top is from, I believe, sometime in the 1940s, and shows Wally Lindstrom participating in the Steer Decorating competition. Wally was the Canadian Saddle Bronc Champion in 1941 but he competed in other events so he could be considered for the All Around title.

The photo below shows Tex McCloud riding a “squalling bronc” in the 1912 Stampede. Is he, perhaps, an ancestor? Let us know if you have any rodeo in your roots. We’d love to hear from you!

(Of course there are other repositories that you can visit for Stampede history. The Glenbow Museum and Archives has a great collection as do the Stampede Archives. The Stampede Archives have an online presence through the Alberta Heritage Digitization Project at the U of C. Check it out.)

PC 276

Tex McCloud on the Squalling Bronco, Stampede Calgary, 1912

Postcards from the Past, PC 276

100th Anniversary Stampede Parade - Yahoo!

by Christine H - 0 Comment(s)

PC 1573

Cowboys and Cowgirls in 1912 Stampede Parade

Postcards from the Past, PC 1573

Well, it’s nearly here! The 100th anniversary Calgary Stampede begins with the parade on Friday. The parade is, for many, the most important part of the Stampede celebration. The streets are lined with thousands of folks, many of them dressed up in western regalia. The first Stampede parade I can remember was in 1965. Walt Disney was the parade marshal, and if I’m not mistaken, Mickey Mouse was here, too. I may have been at other, earlier, parades as my parents loved the Stampede and my dad’s office was right on the route. I wouldn’t have been one yet when Bing Crosby was parade marshal, but I bet my parents took me to that one – they were Bing Crosby fans. I don’t remember the Three Stooges, but I bet I was at that one, too as my brother was a die-hard fan.

AJ 34-06

Bing Crosby, Parade Marshall, 1959

Alison Jackson Photograph Collection, AJ 34-06

My favourites were always the marching bands and the mini-cars. Those seemed to be pretty standard over the years. I live near a wide open field so I get a sneak preview of some of the marching bands as they practice (at 9:00 in the morning on the weekends, mind you). My other faves were the First Nations representatives who have been an integral part of the Stampede since the beginning. And with the 100th anniversary Stampede parade, the chiefs of the Treaty Seven Nations are going to be honourary parade marshals. It is going to be something, I tell ya.

PC 593

First Nations People in Traditional Dress in Stampede Parade, undated

Postcards from the Past, PC 593

I believe that everybody, even those of us with curmudgeonly tendencies, loves a parade. And it seemed that in the days before we were inundated with entertainment options, parades were a very common event. Military bands paraded up and down the streets, returning soldiers paraded through the city, there was a parade on the opening of baseball season, (for which the mayor had declared a half-day off for the city). There were Victory Bond parades, which included floats and fire eaters supplied by Cappy Smart and the fire department. It seems that on any excuse, a parade was held. This must have been a very interesting time. Some of the fanciest parades, pre - Stampede, were for the Dominion Exhibitions that were held here. The postcard below is a photo of a Roman chariot in the parade for the Dominion Exhibition of 1908.

PC 868

Roman Chariot on 8th Avenue, possibly part of an historic parade

Dominion Exhibition, 1908(?)

Postcards from the Past, PC 868

So, the parade itself is a nostalgic event, from a time when you could just get up a bunch of yahoos and march down the street for any good reason. I like that. Let’s bring that spirit to the 100th Anniversary Stampede Parade and get your yahoos out.

AJ 63 15

Start of the 50th Anniversary Stampede Parade, 1962

Alison Jackson Photograph Collection, AJ 63-15

We have a Historian Laureate!

by Christine H - 1 Comment(s)

Historian Laureate

Harry Sanders is our Historian Laureate

Scott Jolliffe, Chair CHA, Harry Sanders, Alderman Druh Farrell

Photo courtesy Judith Umbach

I was delighted to be able to attend the crowning of Calgary’s first Historian Laureate. Being a long-time Calgary native, I have watched the attitudes of administration toward the preservation and celebration of heritage develop over the years from an almost personal animosity toward old buildings (think Rod Sykes being attacked by the Burns Building) to today’s understanding of the value of preserving the past. Our new laureate is a person who has spent his entire adult life bringing heritage to the people and interpreting it for them through his own, passionate view. Harry Sanders makes history meaningful. In his hands, heritage is a living thing, a story of everyday people – the people who make this city great.

Part of the investiture ceremony was a poetry slam. Our other laureate, Kris Demeanor, Calgary’s first Poet Laureate (and believe me, when I was growing up, studying literature at university, the idea that the city of Calgary, Capitalist Calgary, would ever have a poet laureate would have provoked gales of laughter in all of the cement and steel towers that line our streets) wrote and delivered a challenge – one that Calgarians have long been debating – what use is history?

With his permission, here is Kris’s throw down:

Okay, I know it’s not in the Calgary tradition of niceness and politeness, but I cannot hold my peace!

I don’t care about Guy Weadick’s rope and release any more than I do the fathers of Greece

It’s old news and we all know that’s only fit for wrapping fish and chips

Look, nothing against Harry, I’m sure he’s a wealth of facts colourful, sublime, astounding and scary,

But let me save you all two years of talk of beaver pelt hats and ‘That used to be a nunnery!’

And give you a quick and easy summary of all you need to know about history

PERSONAL: You are the genetic union of a mother and father, they gave you food and water, you grew, learnt a bunch of stuff, most of it useless, you got a job and barbecue.

THE WORLD: Big Bang, plants, fish, caveman, hominid, ice age, Egypt, Rome, Aztecs, war war war war war, Bible, Genghis Khan, Da Vinci, Queen Victoria, war, war, war, Einstein, guy in Hummer with a baseball cap and GI Joe facial hair, there, DONE.

History teaches us nothing, we have always just been bluffing our way from one grand embarrassment to another- we don’t look at letters from our last lover, or replay the video reel of us throwing up at the school dance or failing math.

Let our collective insecurity and shame over the past lead the way to a brighter tomorrow full of wisdom we don’t need to borrow. All I could learn from my forefathers and foremothers is how to stoke a coal stove and churn my own butter, and I don’t want to do that.

I don’t want to imagine a world without frozen pizza, omnipresent technology and direct flights to Cuban all-inclusives for five hundred dollars.

Look, Harry will claim that history is interesting, but when I look back I see buffalo carcasses stacked, endless trains rolling down endless track, dust, snowstorms, scarlet fever and clothing with colour choices ranging from beige to brown, look around, we’re surrounded by concrete, glass, GPS, pubs with seven beers from Belgium and full of people looking forward, ahead, and into the future, why go back or even stay in neutral, sure maybe the Marx Brothers played here, but I can get the latest and greatest sent straight from a satellite and into my ear.

History? Two weeks of the retro kitsch of Stampede is all I need to feel connected to folk of old who found themselves stuck in this cold, harsh land, I’m burning my brand into the hide of this city with a laser.

I’ve been here since birth, and trust me, we’ve long since paved over anything worth unearthing. Harry, good luck putting flesh on the past, but you’re going to run out of fodder fast!

So, though tongue-in-cheek, this does raise the question – What value is there in the past? Harry’s job as historian laureate will be to answer this question, which he did, in verse, no less:

Poetry may be the more universal art

Some things are best said in verse

But a forgotten poem is never repeated

So forgetting our history is worse

Those we follow inform who we are

Crowfoot, Macleod, Weadick, Edworthy

They’re with us still, for good or ill

Daily, we’re shaped by our history

So, it is a great honour to have a small part

In celebrating this 100th anniversary

I pledge to remind you all of our shared past

As Historian Laureate of Calgary

I know that Harry will continue to answer the question in his own inimitable style. Way to go, Harry!

Poet Laureate and Historian Laureate

Poet Laureate Kris Demeanor asks the Question "What's so great about history?"

Photo courtesy Judith Umbach

Heritage Roundtable: Century Homes

by Christine H - 0 Comment(s)

Cliff Bungalow by Bill Longstaff

Cliff Bungalow School

Photo by Bill Longstaff

The next Heritage Round Table is on Thursday at the Cliff Bungalow–Mission Community Association. In keeping with our Century Homes theme, we will be hearing presentations on how to identify the style of your home from David Monteyne of the U of C Faculty of Environmental Design, how to photograph your century home from photographer James McMenamin and historic paint colours and sampling with heritage consultant Laura Pasacreta. If you have a picture of your home, you can bring it along for a “What style is it?” consultation with the experts.

The Cliff Bungalow-Mission Community Association is at 2201 Cliff Street SW in the historic Cliff Bungalow School. The program is on June 21 from 7:00-9:00 p.m. Doors will open at 6:30 p.m. and there will be refreshments, of course. You can find out more on the Century Homes website www.centuryhomes.org

I think just the opportunity to see this beautiful old school would be reason enough to come, but the speakers will be the icing on the cake.

This is proving to be a very popular program and it is filling up fast. Get you registration in today, if you’d like to hear these great presentations.

Century Home

A Beautiful Century Home as Photographed by James McMenamin

UPDATE:

The Round Table was a roaring success. Over 100 people attended. Here is what happened, thanks to our summer library student, Melissa:

On Thursday, June 21, Calgary Public Librariy was pleased to attend the Heritage Round Table hosted by Calgary Heritage at the Cliff Bungalow–Mission Community Association.

David Monteyne, Associate Professor at the University of Calgary Faculty of Environmental Design, began the evening with a presentation about various residential architectural styles from Calgary’s early boom. The two-story home in the photograph below is one example of the homes that would have been available for purchase a century ago from the Sear’s Modern Homes Mail Order Catalogue. This architectural splendor would have sold for only $1277!

Bungalow Plan Sears Catalogue

Modern Home No. c187, The Sherbourne, from the Sears Modern Homes Mail Order Catalog 1913 to 1922

Professor Monteyne also concluded the evening with a “What style is it?” consultation for those attendees who brought along pictures of their century homes to help them identify the style of their homes.

Following Professor Monteyne’s presentation on architectural style, architectural photographer James McMenamin discussed how to photograph century homes. While this was less of a technical demonstration, McMenamin provided helpful hints on lighting considerations, on selecting photographic angles, and on how to position objects in architectural photographs. Some helpful hints include: 1) If there are objects, such as a tree or a flag pole in your yard, be sure to include the entire object; and 2) Try to take pictures of your home in soft lights rather than hard lights, such as the sun, which create dark shadows. Examples of McMenamin’s photography can be viewed at: http://www.jamesmcmenamin.com/.

The presentations for the Round Table concluded with Heritage Consultant and Historic Archaeologist at Donald Luxton, Laura Pasacreta, who discussed historic paint colours and paint sampling of century homes. If you have a century home and you are interested in having your paint sampled to establish its original colour, contact Ms. Pasacreta at laura@donaldluxton.com.

For more information on the Century Homes project, visit http://centuryhomes.ca, or follow them on twitter @CenturyHomesYYC or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/CenturyHomesCalgary

Essential Skills for Successful Genealogists

by Christine H - 0 Comment(s)

PC 1649

New Settlers, Their First House, Western Canada

Postcards from the Past, PC 1649

I read an interesting blog posting this week which outlines some of the skills that a successful genealogist will need to develop. Some of these are quite straightforward, things we probably learned in kindergarten, such as, be polite, be a good listener, be patient. Others might not be so obvious, or may be so obvious as to be overlooked. Here is the list, adapted from Bob Brooke at the Genealogy Today blog.

Have a plan: I speak from experience here; you need to have a plan. While certain advertisements and television programs suggest that you really don’t need to know what you are looking for, you really do and having a plan of attack will save you much grief in the long run. It also pays to plan how you will organize the information you collect long before you have too much information to organize. You don’t want this to happen:

Messy desk

Question authority (well, sort of.) In my wild and misspent youth, I had this as a bumper sticker. I’ve adapted it a little for genealogy. What it means is that everyone makes mistakes, even the people who record our data. It helps to know why the document was produced and who provided the information. You know that the person listed on a death certificate did not provide the information to the officials, so who did? Generally, it is best to verify every fact with at least one other document (two documents if the information comes from your family membersJ)

Listen: Learn to listen, not just to family members, who, even if they are not always the most accurate, often have great stories that may provide clues to investigate, but also listen to other genealogists. I have learned far more from the coaches in our Family History Coaching program, from other members of the genealogical society and from customers in the library that I will ever learn from classes. This is why I can highly recommend our Family History Coaching program. We are getting more and more genealogists who are coming to the program simply to work on their research while there are others working on the same thing so that there can be collaboration and information exchange. Many hands make light work (to quote my Nana)

Learn how to ask questions: This skill will arise from your planning skills. Knowing what you are looking for makes it easier to articulate a question. And, yes, you can ask questions. Librarians, archivists, genealogy societies, local history associations, message boards, all invite questions from genealogists. But, it is far easier to answer the question “do you have a transcription for the cemetery in which I think my ancestor is buried and could you look him up?” than “what do you have on Joe Blow?” or “send me everything you have on Joe Blow.”

Learn about the records: It can save you a lot of pain if you learn about the records for the area in which you are researching. Find out what is available, where they are held, how to you access them etc. Don’t waste your time looking for a birth certificate in a place or a time in which births weren’t registered. This also leads to another pointer: learn as much as you can about the place where your ancestors lived. Knowing the history, social customs, religious beliefs etc can lead you to any number of records that may exist. It can also give you insight in to the way your ancestors lived and, perhaps, how they thought. This can also provide clues.

Be patient: Genealogy is not something that can be done in the week before your family reunion. Finding records takes time, getting the records takes time, verifying the records takes time. Pursue this as a long term research project and you will get years and years of enjoyment from it.

Cite your sources: Learn how to take notes and how to properly cite a source. In the long run this will save you endless hours of frustration when you need to go back to find the source again (and believe me, you will) I have known people who have come in with a photocopy of a page of a book asking if we recognize it. Sometimes we do, sometimes we don’t. If you are planning on publishing, you can consult a manual on how to cite sources in genealogy such as Evidence: Citation and Analysis for the Family Historian by Elizabeth Shown Mills). If you are planning on keeping records for the family, the citation may not need to be as detailed, but you should give a basic citation that will allow you or anyone following in your footsteps, to find the record again. .This is usually the title, the author, if there is one, the volume number, the page number, the date it was published. For microfilm you can record the reel number and the name of the repository (each archive and library uses a different numbering structure). Actually, it probably wouldn’t hurt to read Evidence even if you’re not publishing.

Keep an open mind: This applies in many different instances. Keep your mind open to other resources, follow any leads, no matter how thin they may seem and please, please, keep in mind that just because you spell your name one way, doesn’t mean your ancestors didn’t spell it differently or that is wasn’t butchered by a census taker, a transcriber, a government official or anyone else.


So that was my lecture. I’m sure there are lots of other pointers, but in my long career as a genealogy-helper, these are the ones I wish I had followed (especially the organization one – that isn’t my desk in the photo above, but mine is just as bad)

So Happy Hunting and remember, the librarian is your friend.

Librarian

The Cowtown Dilemma

by Christine H - 0 Comment(s)

PC 1394

Cows on the Bow River, Calgary 1903

Postcards from the Past, pc 1394

I was cruising through the newspapers, looking for something genealogical or locally historical to talk about in the blog. I thought I’d hit something when I read an ad for cholera medication. On second thought that seemed a bit grim for the beginning of summer, so my next idea was to see what was going on in the city in 1912 but Harry the Historian has that covered, so that one was out. Then I decided to take the advice of a historian who I admire and look at what was happening in Calgary in 1913 – the year after the big boom. And I found this in the Calgary Daily Herald’s Query Column on January 2.

Question 777: Kindly inform me if there is any bylaw prohibiting people from letting their ducks and hens come on your lawn. I live right in the centre of Calgary and my neighbour’s hens come along the walk…and when the door is open they go into the house. Can you kill the hens…?

Ans. A person who keeps fowls in the city is obliged to keep them shut in. …You are not allowed to kill them. You should keep your door shut.

It was forty years later that poultry farming was made illegal within the city limits. I’ve written before about my sister’s “farm” – I spent a lovely week out there helping her build a bird coop so her chickens, pheasants and, particularly, the peacock (I know, but it is Vancouver Island!) wouldn’t go into the neighbour’s yard. Now, granted, a peacock isn’t everyone’s idea of livestock, but she does live in a rural area , so having wandering animals is not unusual. But Calgary is now a major urban centre with a population of over 1 million, very far from our rural roots.

However, I am constantly reminded that we are not so far from those roots as we may think. I still remember farm houses sprinkled through the neighbourhoods at the west edge of the city when I was growing up. The Pony Palace riding stables were out there within smelling distance. And there were farms just over the rise where Christie Estates now stands. If I faced west, I could see horses grazing on the hill, when I turned east, I could see the towers and office buildings in the downtown core. This is the very nature of Calgary. I remember reading an article in which the writer proposed that instead of the white cowboy hat, we could be wearing oil derricks on our heads. It is a valid point.

The Stampede turns 100 this year. Even at its start, the Stampede was a celebration of a way of life that was passing. It was supposed to be a one-time event, so the space for the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth was leased from the Calgary Industrial Exhibition. In 1923 the Exhibition would merge with the Stampede to become The Calgary Exhibition and Stampede, thus uniting the rural past with the industrial present. We have always had our feet in two worlds and this may be what gives us our unique character. I am planning on whooping it up big time during this special Stampede week, maybe even while wearing an oil derrick, a la Flare Square, on my head.

Chickens

D-Day: The Battle for Normandy - A Program

by Christine H - 0 Comment(s)

 

They must not go alone

into that burning building! – which today

is all of Europe!

 

(from Poem and Prayer for an Invading Army by Edna St Vincent Millay)

 

The dangers confronted by Canadian soldiers on June 6, 1944 are unfathomable to anyone who didn’t live through those times or fight those battles. For the most part we know war stories through the dramatization of film, through school lessons blurred by time, or the reluctant reminiscence of veterans. Unless you are a devout student of history you may not often get the chance to be the audience of empassioned, highly-informative presentations on subjects that continue to shape our lives, even 68 years later.

On Wednesday, June 6, the library offers such an opportunity as we host “D-Day: The Battle of Normandy”, presented by a military historian known to leave audiences dazzled and enlightened - Stephane Guevremont. Bringing the gems of his research to life, along with many of the actual artefacts in the form of rare film footage, photography, enlistment documentation or machinery maintenance reports, Guevremont’s presentations are guaranteed to engage you with history in a refreshing light.

Don’t miss Guevremont’s presentation on Canada’s critical contribution to the success of D-Day. The details:

 

Wednesday, June 6
7 - 9 p.m.
2nd floor, John Dutton Theatre
Central Library

Register in person, by calling 403-260-2620 or online.

 

Century Homes - A Guide to the Resources

by Christine H - 0 Comment(s)

PC 1402

Unidentified House in Calgary, ca 1910

Postcards from the Past, PC 1402

I have to mention it again, but I swear it will be the last time (for a while): 1912 was a very big year in this city. And despite our reputation as a city of demolition, there are still a good number of buildings still standing from that period. Your home may be one of them. I have posted before about the Century Homes project. We have held two very successful workshops, as part of this project, to introduce owners of homes that are 100 years or so old, to the resources available at the various libraries and archives. I thought I would put this list on the blog, so that anyone who is interested in doing this research can do so.

Calgary Public Library has the following resources – most are in our local history room on the 4th floor of the Central Library

  • Henderson’s Directories (early years also available at http://peel/library.ualberta.ca/bibliography/2961.html )
  • Maps
  • Lists of voters
  • Census records
  • Photographs (through the CHFH Digital Library http://cdm16114.contentdm.oclc.org/cdm/)
  • Newspapers (clippings, digital, microfilm)
  • General Histories
  • Community Histories
  • Building Inventories
  • Architectural histories
  • Community Profiles
  • Plan Books
  • Catalogues (to see what the interiors might have looked like)
  • Promotional material

City of Calgary, Corporate Records, Archives has the following:

  • Historical assessment information
  • Building permits
  • Some photos and plans
  • Annexation information
  • Records from towns and villages (Bowness, Forest Lawn, Montgomery, Crescent Heights) that became part of the City

Glenbow Museum, Library and Archives has these resources:

  • Directories
  • Fire Insurance Maps
  • Photograph collection
  • Selected Architectural plans
  • Personal Papers
  • Selected community information

(Update: Some fire insurance plans have been digitized by Library and Archives Canada and can be found by accessing their website: http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/lac-bac/search/all and using the search term "fire insurance plan" <include the quotation marks> and the name of the location for which you are searching. )

These resources (and the outstanding staff at all of these repositories) are available to you to assist in your house research. You may want to check out the history of your house even if it is a relative “baby” in the city. You never know what you may find! There are links on the right side of the page to the Heritage Triangle brochure, which outlines the collection strengths of the three libraries/museums/archives above as well as a guide to doing building history in Calgary. This kind of research can turn up all kinds of interesting information. Come and talk to us if you’d like to get started.

PC 52

13th Avenue, Looking East

Postcards from the Past, PC 52

Ancestry Tips and Tricks

by Christine H - 0 Comment(s)

Ancestry screen shot

Screen shot of Ancestry LE showing drop-down menu

Ancestry.com has just announced that it now has over ten billion records in its database. Wow! It wasn't all that long ago that I looked at the database and decided it didn't have enough Canadian or international content to make it worthwhile. Things change very quickly. Now I can’t imagine how we would function without our Ancestry LE subscription.

Of course, finding something in a database with 10 billion records can be something of a challenge. I liken it to being dropped in the National Library with the notion that somewhere there is a book with information about my family in it. Now go find it. Yikes, this could take a while.

There are a couple of fundamental strategies for finding information in a gargantuan collection such as this. The first thing I always recommend is for new users to look at either the Card Catalogue (you can find that by hovering over “Search” or clicking on the arrow beside “Search” on the front page of Ancestry LE) or by checking the locale where you are searching (you find the interactive map by clicking on “Search”). That way you can find out what records exist for the area you are searching. It pays to know what is in a database before you start searching. For example, if you are looking for a birth registration for someone in Alberta, you’d probably like to know that those records are not in Ancestry before you spend valuable time looking for them.

The next tip is to search one record set at a time. If you fire your name into the general search, you could turn up thousands of records, many of which are not relevant to you. By using the card catalogue to narrow the search down, you know that your results will be more likely to be relevant. Of course, this method requires that we know what we are looking for, which is one of the first rules of genealogy. It is always easier to find what you are looking for if you know what you are looking for (no matter what the advertising and “Who do you think you are?” say to the contrary.) If your search is for “grandmother’s birth record,” you have a better chance of success than if your search is for “everything about grandmother.”

Keep in mind, as well, that Ancestry LE has a great learning centre that can be accessed by clicking on “Help” in the upper right hand corner. There is a Wiki and an Answers section that can both be searched by keyword. It is a great resource to check if you are just starting out, or if you have encountered something in a record that you can’t figure out.

So, with those pointers in mind, visit us at any branch of the Calgary Public Library to try out Ancestry LE. You can access it with your library card number and PIN in any of our 18 branches. We've come a long way, from dusty originals to digitized records.

Ancestry LE interactive ma

Screen shot of Ancestry LE showing interactive map and tabs

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