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House History

by Christine H - 0 Comment(s)

PC 5213th Avenue looking east

13th Avenue Looking East

Postcards from the Past, PC 52

On Saturday May 12, we will be presenting a workshop, with an archivist from the City of Calgary Archives, on how to research the history of your house. We have done these before, but this time we are happy to be giving the presentation as part of an initiative called “Century Homes.” What we want to do is to encourage people to research the stories of their homes. Your house doesn't have to be 100 years old for you to attend, but we would like people who do have a home that was built in or before 1915 to look into the Century Homes initiative (http://www.centuryhomes.org/). Doing house research is kind of like doing genealogy, but much, much less complicated (houses don't move, change their names or hide from the law, for the most part). Between the members of the Heritage Triangle, we hold vast amounts of information about homes and the people who lived in them.

Calgary experienced a building boom in the early part of the 20th century and there are still plenty of houses around from that era. If you own one of them, you can get a kit from Century Homes to help you make a yard sign. You will be asked to put up the sign during Historic Calgary Week (Friday July 27 through to Monday August 6) The information you gather about your house will be archived here at the Calgary Public Library so we will have a record of your house. As I like to tell people, history is made by the people like you and me – the very people who lived in your house. (My colleagues will tell you I beat this topic like a rented mule) Your home doesn’t have to be a massive sandstone pile to have historic value. Cities are built by the folks in the three room cottages, the tiny bungalows and the once grand multi –stories converted to boarding houses. So, think about participating in this very exciting initiative. Researching your house is not an onerous job – there are lots of sources and there are people to help you use them. And I want to stress that, while your home has to be 100 years old or thereabouts, to be considered a Century Home, there is lots of information available for people whose houses are younger. Join us to find out how to get started with your own home's unique story.

Registration for the May 12 program will begin on April 23.

Century Homes Logo

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

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.

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

Heritage Roundtable : New Uses for Old Places

by Christine H - 0 Comment(s)

PC 908

East Calgary (National Hotel in centre)

Postcards from the Past, PC 908

The Heritage Roundtable is taking place this week. The topic will be Adaptive Re-Use which is conserving older buildings by finding new uses for them. The meeting will be at the Temple B'Nai Tikvah, 900-47th Avenue SW. beginning at 7:00 pm (doors open at 6:30)

Adaptive re-use is recycling on a grand scale and can be a new lease on life for buildings that can no longer serve the purpose for which they were built. There have been some notable successes in Calgary. The Palace, once a movie theatre, is now a nightclub; The Lorraine, built originally as an apartment block is now an office building and the King Eddy, once a fairly notorious hotel, is poised to open as the centerpiece of the Cantos National Music Centre. There are other projects afoot and we will be hearing from some of the driving forces behind those projects. The speakers will be:

Howard Bell, a member of the renovation team that converted a church into Temple B’Nai Tikvah

John Kerr and Philip Dack on plans for the historic National Hotel and livery barn in Inglewood

Shara Rosko, Director of the John Snow House, which has been converted to a resource centre by the New Gallery.

Reid Henry, President and CEO of cSpace Projects, on the plans to turn the sandstone King Edward School into an “Arts Incubator”

This promises to be yet another deeply interesting evening. I always coming away from these events marvelling at the dedication of the heritage community and filled with optimism for historic preservation in this city. If you would like to join us, you can register at http://www.calgarycommunities.com/events.php (use the drop-down menu to find Roundtables – Heritage New Uses for Old Spaces – and fill in the form. There is no charge for attending the Roundtables)

And if you’d like to see pictures of some of Calgary’s heritage, built and otherwise, visit our Community Heritage and Family History Digital Library (under Books & More on our website)

AJ 0458

King Edward School (photo taken in 1967)

Alison Jackson Photograph Collection, AJ 0458

Birthday Wishes to Two of Our Branches

by Christine H - 0 Comment(s)

Calgary Public Library Archives

Exterior, Millican-Ogden Branch, 1980s

Calgary Public Library Archives

Next year is the big 100th anniversary celebration for Calgary Public Library. On January 2, 1912 we opened our doors to the public and have been going strong ever since. Our first branch was opened in the next year, October 1913, in Crescent Heights. It was a very popular branch, as all of our branches have proved to be. This month, two of our branches are celebrating anniversaries, Glenmore Square, which turns 25 and Shawnessy, which is 10.

Branches have been a very important part of the library system. Our first Head Librarian, Alexander Calhoun, believed that one central library could not serve the already widespread population of the city. Crescent Heights was a logical choice for a separate branch as it was cut off from the city by the Bow River. There were bridges spanning the Bow but the population, which was about 10,000 at the time, could not always easily reach the city centre. Remember that the magnificent Centre Street bridge which now spans the river, was not finished until 1916, the bridge that they used to get across to the city centre was the rickety “McArthur” bridge, which would eventually be washed away in a flood.

Calhoun was a great believer in bringing the books to the people. In 1914 he opened a reading room, aimed at the unemployed, in the Rex Theatre. In 1915 he sent library discards donations solicited from the public to the YMCA reading room, the Sarcee Military Camp and at Victoria Barracks. Actual branch expansion was halted until the 1940s when the Inglewood, Hillhurst and Glengarry branches were opened.

Our celebrants, Glenmore Square and Shawnessy are relative newcomers, reflecting the expansion of the city. Glenmore Square branch started its life as the Millican-Ogden branch in 1986 and Shawnessy opened its doors in 2001. Both branches are hosting celebrations in honour of their birthdays and would like to invite everyone to come and visit and celebrate with them. There are programs and storytimes (and probably cake) at both branches. Check out the schedules on our website under Programs and Events on the left side of the page.

Calgary Public Library Archives CPL 351-03-22

Shawnessy Branch Under Construction

Calgary Public Library Archives CPL 351-03-22

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