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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)

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King Edward School (with the west wing intact) 1967

Alison Jackson Photography Collection, AJ 0458

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

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

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

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

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

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Some (Other) Calgary Schools, ca 1910s

Postcards from the Past, PC 853

Heritage in Calgary

by Christine H - 0 Comment(s)

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Storytime at Calgary Public Library, 1915

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

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

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

Heritage Roundtable

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

Heritage Roundtable - Calgary in 1912, January 2012

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

CPL 103-26-01

Museum Room at Calgary Public Library, 1912

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

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

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

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

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

Calgary Public Library Archives, 103-05-01

cpl 103-05-01

The Calgary Herald Building

by Christine H - 0 Comment(s)

Herald Building JU

Calgary Herald Building

Judith Umbach Photography Collection

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

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

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

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

Alison Jackson Photography Collection, AJ 0233

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

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

Postcards from the Past, PC 144

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

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

Alison Jackson Photography Collection, AJ 94-10

Heritage Roundtable - Calgary in 1912

by Christine H - 0 Comment(s)

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.

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Lougheed Building/Grand Theatre 191?

Postcards from the Past, PC 579

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

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Princess Patricia at the 1912 Stampede

Postcards from the Past, PC 310

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

Storytime at the Library, 1912

Calgary Public Library Archives CPL 103-15-01

CPL Archives 103-15-01

We Are 100 Years Old!

by Christine H - 0 Comment(s)

CPL Archives 103-01-01

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

Calgary Public Library Archives CPL_103-01-01

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

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Empty shelves prior to opening, 1911

Calgary Public Library Archives CPL_103-23-01

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

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Calgary Museum Room in the New Library, 1911

Calgary Public Library Archives, CPL_103-26-01

Horses, horses, horses

by Christine H - 1 Comment(s)

PC 324f

Guy Weadick, Organizer and Manager of the STAMPEDE, 1912

Postcards from the Past, PC 324f

The Calgary Stampede has announced its plans for the big centennial celebration in 2012 and I am thrilled to say that the party will include “Together we create” which will showcase the horse. It is only fitting that these magnificent animals will play an important part in the Stampede Centennial.

I love horses. They have always been the highlight of the Stampede for me. I’m not really a midway fan and though I enjoy the spectacular stage shows and all of the hoopla that goes with the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth, it is always the horses that draw me to the grounds. I try to catch the heavy horse and cutting horse competitions and I always visit the barns to see who is there. I am a city girl, and have never owned a horse (or really wanted to) but I do appreciate the intelligence and the grace of these big animals. I heard a man once describe them as being like big dogs, meaning that you develop the same kind of bond with a horse, that they are loyal and loving and smart. That certainly has been my experience of them.

While cruising through our postcard collection here, I came across a series of wonderful postcards showing Alberta Slim (Eric Edwards), Canada’s Yodeling Cowboy. The photos show Slim and his horse Kitten (named for his beloved childhood pony) who, it is said, could tell fortunes and perform any number of tricks (see the photo below). In addition to the photos, we have Alberta Slim song books in our Local History collection.

More trivia: Did you know that we have a national horse? The Canadian is a breed that had its origins in the horses that were sent to Quebec by Louis XIV in the 17th Century. The breed was used to develop other North American breeds such as the Morgan and the Tennessee Walking Horse. It is a multi-purpose breed that was used in logging, pulling coaches and for riding. Strong, smart and easygoing (just like the rest of us Canadians) it was named the official horse of Canada in 2002. I saw this beautiful breed at Horse Haven at the Stampede last year (See, I do spend a lot of time in the horse barns). Let’s celebrate the horse!

Alberta Slim and Kitten

Postcards from the Past, PC 1559c

PC 1559c

Lest we Forget: Researching Military Ancestors

by Christine H - 0 Comment(s)

PC 1478

IODE War Memorial in Memorial Park

Postcards from the Past, PC 1478

The Military keeps excellent records. Some of them they won’t let you see, but some of them are rich with detail for the family historian. We are privileged at Calgary Public Library, to be included in a project with Library and Archives Canada called ‘Lest we Forget.’ The aim of this project is to commemorate those who gave their lives in the service of their country. Students are given the opportunity to use primary source material (some of those wonderful records created by the military about their men and women) and tell the story of a member of Canada’s Armed Forces who died. Students can get the names of people they would like to research in a number of places – on cenotaphs, in the Books of Remembrance (http://www.veterans.gc.ca/eng/collections/books) the Virtual War Memorial http://www.veterans.gc.ca/eng/collections/virtualmem) or through the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (http://www.cwgc.org/debt_of_honour.asp?menuid=14)

There are also resources for research closer to home. Many schools have plaques dedicated to their students who served in the military; churches also have memorials to their members who died in war. I have found lists of the war dead in company histories and in the histories of towns and communities, many of which we have in our Community Heritage and Family History collection. And that is just the beginning.

The next step in the students’ research is to look at the personnel records of their chosen person. These are available online at Library and Archives Canada for members of the Canadian Expeditionary Force in World War I ( http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/databases/cef/index-e.html ) and can be requested for those who died in World War II. Of course there are other military service records, many of which can be viewed at the Central Library (for example, some mercenary soldiers came to Canada after the American Revolution and put down roots. We have lists of these soldiers in our genealogy collection – weird, eh?)

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Of course there are tons of other records that can be accessed if you have military ancestors. You can find out some of what is available for your own research in the following sources:

Canadians at War, 1914-1918, a research guide

Index to Canadian Service Records of the South African War

Tracing your Army Ancestors

And that doesn’t even begin to touch the resources that are available for “putting the flesh on the bones” so to speak - the resources that can tell us what it was like to serve in the war. These are available online and at the library. We have an extensive collection of books and resources relating to the Canadian military. There are also resources at the Military Museums, the Regimental museums and the University of Calgary.

If you are a teacher and are interested in having your class participate in the “Lest We Forget” program, please contact me, Christine Hayes, at email

If you are interested in learning more about researching your own military ancestors, keep our Family History Coaching program in mind. On the last Saturday of every month (except December) from September to June at 10:00 we have two coaches from the Alberta Family Histories Society on site to help genealogists with their questions. We also have knowledgeable staff available at all times to help with any and all questions related to genealogy (and anything else Humanities related)

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Six Soldiers in Calgary, 1916?

Postcards from the Past, PC 569

Bye Bye Ogden Grain Elevator

by Christine H - 2 Comment(s)

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Ogden Grain Elevator, 1974

Alison Jackson Photograph Collection, AJ 1185

Sometimes even the ugliest structures evoke a feeling of nostalgia. I felt very sad when the Robin Hood elevator came down in 1973. It had been a landmark from my childhood – I liked to see the jaunty Robin as we made our way downtown. I was impressed that he was also on our flour bag at home. Nice, warm fuzzy for such a cold, concrete structure, eh? Its destruction netted 27,000 tonnes of rubble that was cleared away to make room for the new Gulf Canada Square. Admittedly, there is not much that can be done with huge concrete tubes, in the way of repurposing, but it is still sad to see these landmarks go.

The Odgen Federal Grain Elevator had that effect on a many people, as well. No less a person than Le Corbusier discussed the Dominion Grain elevators in his publicationToward an Architecture. He speaks of them as “not pursuing an architectural idea, but simply guided by the results of calculations (derived from the principles that govern our universe)… [they] stir in us architectural emotions, thus making the work of humanity resonate with the universal order.” (p. 106). Well, I guess that explains it. I was responding to the universal order when I cried at the loss of Robin Hood (I’m going to go with that explanation, it sounds like I know what I’m talking about). The illustrations of the elevators included in Toward an Architecture were considered so beautiful (or something) that they were reproduced as postcards. Years later, Yousuf Karsh would photograph similar elevators in Port Arthur, treating them, he said “just like cathedrals.”

The Ogden Elevator had an interesting history. Normally these huge concrete terminals were built in port cities. The prairie elevator, with which we are all familiar, was the tall wooden structure situated every five or so miles along the rail line. Those elevators, the prairie sentinels, definitely evoke warm fuzzy feelings. But the Dominion Elevators were designed for the much larger volumes of terminals and ports. The Dominion/Federal/Ogden elevator was designed by C.D. Howe and built in 1915 by the Dominion government to work in conjunction with similar elevators in Saskatoon and Moose Jaw, as well as with port terminals such as Port Arthur, Vancouver and Port Nelson. It would provide storage and cleaning facilities for 2.5 million bushels of Alberta grain and act as the shipping centre to the ports. It was a marvel of construction for its time. It was powered by electricity from the City of Calgary, channeled through a substation on the site to power the 53 engines required to work the machinery; there was a state of the art dust collection system installed and it could handle the loading of 36 railcars per hour. It cost one million dollars to build this massive concrete structure. It was such a wonder that it featured in a publication put together to promote business development in Calgary.

But what do you do with 56 cement silos? It was no longer efficient to run the elevator and its location in the heart of the city made it difficult for farmers to get their grain there. The Calgary Heritage Authority has been working with the owners of the site and has photographically recorded the interior and exterior of the building so there will be a record of its existence. But the old gal herself is gone. I read it took six seconds to bring her down.

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Robin Hood Flour Mills

Alison Jackson Photograph Collection, AJ 1265

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