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1916 Census of the Prairie Provinces

by Christine Hayes - 0 Comment(s)

1916 Census Regina

I was very excited when Library and Archives Canada released the 1916 Census for the Prairie Provinces. This will be the first census that both my grandmothers will be on. This is going to open a new path of research for me as my maternal grandmother was never very forthcoming about her history. I will be able to find her in her family before she was sent to the orphanage with her sisters following the death of her father. It will also give me her mother's name and the names of her siblings and may help solve, once and for all, the mystery of her birthdate.

The 1916 Census for the Prairie Provinces was released in 2008 and has already been indexed and launched by This means that users of Calgary Public Library can access the index and the images through the library's subscription to Ancestry Library Edition. This is just one of the many Canadian resources that can be searched through Ancestry LE. If you have a Calgary Public Library card you can use this wonderful resource at any branch of the Calgary Public Library. It is also accessible to customers who use their laptops in the library and access our wireless server.

Pop in an have a peek at the latest census release.

NEW We have just finished shelving the microfilm reels for this census. They are in the microfilm cabinet in the Genealogy Area on the 4th floor of the Central Library

Where, Exactly, is Balaclava Heights?

by Christine Hayes - 0 Comment(s)

Map, 1907

Detail from a 1907 map of Calgary

Community Heritage and Family History Collection

Maps are very useful tools for navigation but they can also speak volumes about the history of a city. The Community Heritage and Family History room at the Central Library has a great collection of historical maps. I love to use the maps to illustrate our stories of the history of Calgary's development. You can see times of extreme optimism as in the map that accompanied the 1913 Henderson's directory. The city looks enormous. New subdivisions have sprung up all around the perimeter of the city. Districts like The Bronx, Harvetta Heights, The Nimmons Subdivision and Balaclava Heights. What is fascinating is that none of these places actually existed. The map, however, shows residential lots and roads and other fascinating features. What this map represents are the dreams and aspirations of Calgary's boosters and its real estate developers. The reality was that Calgary was facing one of its infamous busts and though the city's promoters would have liked to create these wonderful neighbourhoods, the economy would just not support it (doesn't sound familiar, does it?)

To highlight some of the interesting maps in our collection, we have mounted a display in the windows of the Local History Room on the 4th floor of the Central Library. Next time you're walking by have a peek in and see some of this cartographic history of our fair city.

St. Patrick's Day, 1893

by Christine Hayes - 0 Comment(s)

PC 1376

Calgary Brewing and Malting Co.

Postcards from the Past, PC 1376

The Calgary Brewing and Malting Company was founded in 1892 by A.E. Cross and his partners. It was just outside of the outskirts of the city on land that Cross had purchased from his father-in-law, Colonel James Walker. The property had a river fed aquifer giving it great water (as we know, "it's the water..." that makes a great beer!) and it also had access to the rail line. The brewery was such an important part of the community, providing jobs for many people, that the residential area that grew up around it was known as Brewery Flats.

Brewing began on March 9, 1893. A story has come down to us regarding the first batch of beer brewed on the site. As the tale is told, a group of gentlemen of the Celtic persuasion, frantic to procure libations for their St. Patrick's Day festivities, stormed the new brewery trying to persuade Cross to give them some of the new brew. The fact that the ale was still "green" did not deter them and much of the town spent the next day suffering the ill effects. Is this, perhaps, the origin of the green beer tradition in Calgary?

Vanishing Sentinels

by Christine Hayes - 0 Comment(s)

PC 842

Slim Moorehouse at Vulcan Grain Elevator

Postcards from the Past, PC 842

It is not difficult to wax poetic about the grain elevator. My earliest interest in built history was in these sentinels of the prairie. As I drove the backroads of Southern Alberta I would stop and photograph elevator after elevator and marvel at the simple elegance of their structure. They were often the hub of the community, a meeting place as well as a place of business. I remember, very dimly, a visit to the "coop" elevator in Shipman, Saskatchewan with my great-uncle (I could almost spell, and to me it looked like coop, who knew co-op at 4?) It was a scary place with noise and dust but it was a fun place, too, with the farmers "chewing the fat" and catching up on news of the town.

But the world is changing, and these giants are disappearing. Jim Pearson, in his book Vanishing Sentinels: The Remaining Grain Elevators of Alberta and British Columbia, has documented the ones that still stand. He will be visiting the Calgary Public Library on Wednesday March 18 at 6 PM in the meeting room on the 4th Floor of the Central Library. Jim's presentation includes photographs of grain elevators and information about their history and how they work. You can also visit Jim's website to find information about his book and other projects.

Afternoon Tea Served on the Terrace

by Christine Hayes - 0 Comment(s)

PC 433

Banff Avenue in Winter

Postcards from the Past, PC 433

So now we're well into winter and it looks like maybe it won't last forever. Although the icy, rutted roads are starting to really get tiresome, there is still beauty in the white stuff. Walking along the wintry streets always reminds me of Banff and those beautiful postcards of the snow blanketing the town. And it also makes me long for summer.

I came across a delightful beverage and dessert menu from the Banff Springs Hotel from 1924. We have a number of menus in the Community Heritage and Family History collection at Central Library. Among my favourites are the menus from the dining cars on the CP trains and those from the elegant Banff Springs Hotel.

The beverage and dessert menu has a list of beers available (Chinook, Silver Spray, Alberta Pride and Old Fashioned Lager – 30 cents a pint), Cooling Drinks such as Horse’s Neck, Loganberry Lemonade and Bromo Seltzer; Mineral Waters such as Appollinaris, Vichy and Duncan Water and, what must have been very delightful, the Rose Marie Ice Nectar, which was made of “mingled strawberry ice cream and syrup with Ginger Ale and Whipped Cream Top”. For dessert you could have a Three Sisters Sundae, comprised of “Vanilla, Strawberry and Chocolate Ice Cream, Sliced Banana, Chocolate Sauce, Whipped Cream” or a Bow Valley (Orange water ice with apricot sauce, peaches, pistachio nuts and whipped cream.)

The last page of the menu reads “Afternoon tea served on the terrace”. Ahhhh.

PC 976

Banff Springs Hotel

Postcards from the Past, PC 976