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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.

 

The Times they are a Changin'

by Christine H - 0 Comment(s)

Library and Archives Canada

Genealogists and local historians are people who love heritage – that is an obvious statement, I think. Genealogists and local historians are also people who understand the value of heritage and of the documents and artifacts that constitute that heritage. Here at the Calgary Public Library we put requests in for documents that are sometimes arcane, sometimes bizarre, but always valuable in the pursuit of our history. We often request these items from our national “memory keeper” Library and Archives Canada.

Changes are taking place at Library and Archives Canada, though, and they may have an effect on how we are able to access those documents that are so important to our research. Proposals for trimming the budget include reducing hours of service in the Library and Archives itself and ending LAC’s role in the national interlibrary loan program. There are also changes being made to what LAC will acquire and hold and who will be responsible for protecting the documents in the care of the national repository. These changes may have far reaching effects on those of us who rely on our national library to have and hold the literary output of our country.

Anyone who works in a library and most of you who use our library are aware that the way libraries do what they do will have to change. Library and Archives Canada has been noticing a decrease in in-person visits, with a corresponding upsurge in the use of their website. And, to be fair, the changes proposed for Library and Archives Canada do include the potential for increased digitization of the holdings that are most accessed. What scares many of us genealogists is that we remember what happened with the last technological advance in document management, the evil microfilm. While we are glad that we have it (it is virtually indestructible) we are leery of what happens with the originals once the copy is made. In the case of census records and passenger lists, once the microfilming was completed, the originals were destroyed. For most of the collection that is fine but there are several dozen reels that are filmed very badly, are basically unreadable, and we have no recourse to the original. Now, I understand why destroying the census originals seemed like a good idea at the time. The books were large and hard to store, old paper requires special care and a special environment. Getting rid of these things might have seemed like a great cost-cutting measure. I’m not sure it was.

These changes are going to have effects in the future that we can’t even begin to foresee. While changes do need to be made in all libraries we need to consider the LAC as a special case. They are not just any other library and their role as the collector and protector of the country’s documentary heritage needs to be recognized as a pillar on which we can build the future. We will never maintain the greatness of this country by dismantling the past.

If you are interested in developments at Library and Archives Canada, you can visit our E-Library under Newspapers and read the papers in Newspaper Direct Press Display. You can read up on the cuts in a number of Canadian newspapers by entering a search in the text box at the top of the page.

Attestation Paper from LAC

World War I Attestation Paper from Library and Archives Canada Collection

Inspiring Life Stories

by Christine H - 0 Comment(s)

Inspiring Life Stories

I know you’re probably tired of my rambling on and on about our 100th birthday, but I am sooooo excited (and I just can’t hide it). So many cool things will be going on connected with our birthday that we are guaranteed to have the best year yet. And the event that I was most excited about will be happening on May 17 when our own history book Calgary Public Library: Inspiring Life Stories since 1912 will be publically launched. Because it is a book about our history and I work in the history area of the library, my colleagues and I were involved (in varying degrees) in some of the research for this book. And we were privileged to have the author, Brian Brennan, working in our local history area.

You may think that a book about the history of a library may not exactly be your cup of tea, but when you think about it, the library is central to the life of a community. It is a meeting place, a place where you can come to learn, to have fun, to just hang out. That is what a good library should strive to be. And I think we are a great library. The story of the library is the story of our city, it is our story, so please join us on May 17 at the place where it all began, the magnificent Memorial Park Library (Click here for a link to the information about the program) . You will be able to buy a copy of the book and have it signed by the author. Or you can purchase the book on www.goodread.ca - Your Library Store. All proceeds from the sale of the book support the Calgary Public Library Foundation.

As I mentioned, the book launch is only one of a huge number of programs that will be offered to celebrate our 100th. You can check out what is going on at the Celebrate our Centennial cpl100.ca section of our website. There will be birthday parties, the Annie Davidson Lecture Series, Community Gardens and on and on. You can also check out our archive photographs in “Our Story in Pictures” also available at the cpl100.ca site. It is going to be a great year – please come and be a part of it.

CPL 103-22-01Our Stories in Pictures, cpl 103-22-01

It's Jane's Walk Time Again!

by Christine H - 0 Comment(s)

AJ 63-09

House of Jacob, 1962

Alison Jackson Photograph Collection, AJ 63-09

Spring must be coming because it is Jane’s Walk season again. This has become an annual event, and for any of you who have not heard of the Jane's Walks, well, let me fill you in. Jane's Walks are named in honour of Jane Jacob's who was an extremely influential thinker who advocated a community approach to city building. As part of this legacy, the Walks are held every year in many major cities. These tours are led by volunteers who talk about their communities. Last year we had a number of excellent neighbourhood tours, and this year, the momentum continues to grow and we have a choice of some extremely interesting topics and areas.

One that I am particularly looking forward to is Harry Sanders’ tour of Jewish Calgary on Sunday May 6. It will start at the Central Library and meander up to Memorial Park Library and back. Harry will point out historic and modern buildings, sites of demolished buildings, parks and institutions that have a link to the Jewish community in Calgary’s past. This is going to be great. Harry has a great knowledge of Calgary’s history and a brain packed with fascinating details. I never fail to learn from him and his talks are always entertaining. He and Marje Wing, the Customer Service Manager of the Alexander Calhoun Library, will also be conducting a walk through Marda Loop, starting at the Calhoun library on Saturday.

Calgary Public Library is connected to some other walks as well. Two of our staff members will be taking interested “Jane’s Walkers” on an Art Circuit tour of the City of Calgary’s art collection. This tour also starts at the Central Library and will proceed from there through the Plus 15 system. That tour will take place on Saturday May 5.

For a look at a “newer” area, Ann Lidgren, the Customer Service Manager of Nose Hill Library, will be exploring the Brentwood area around her branch and talking about the impact that a library branch can have in developing a community.

There will also be a tour starting out at the Louise Riley Library that will explore the history and homes of the surrounding area. This tour is led by Professor Graham Livesay.

This is just a hint at some of the walks that will be taking place. The subjects range far and wide, just like this vibrant city. You can find out about the East Village (with Clayton Buck), you can visit the Drop In Centre and see the wonderful work they are doing there, you can check out the bridges of the Mission area with Marilyn Williams or look out at the city from Crescent Road with Judith Umbach and her co-presenters. Our new Poet Laureate, Kris Demeanor, is even involved, giving us his view of the Bridgeland area. The list goes on and on. You have to check out the website (http://janeswalk.net/cities/landing/category/calgary/) and the huge variety of walks available. The chance to have an insider’s look at the various communities is a great way to get to know about our home. The walks and talks are always interesting and this year’s selection is the best yet.

PC 1278

Mission Bridge, ca 1936 (from postmark)

Postcards from the Past, PC 1278

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

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

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