Calgary Public Market, 3rd Street SE
Postcards from the Past, PC 1375
We are having a Senior's Summer Market at the Central Library on June 5 from 11-3. A number of exhibitors will be here and we will have some of the treasures from our Community Heritage and Family History collection on display in the Local History room on the 4th floor. This market and my recent visit to Heritage Park as part of the Historical Society of Alberta's annual conference this weekend, got me thinking about markets in Calgary.
There had been a public market in Calgary as early as 1885 when a bylaw was enacted to establish a public market and weigh scales. It was generally an open air affair, with no permanent structures until 1903, when a shed was erected.
The building in the above photo is the Public Market which stood at on 3rd Street E. between 3rd and 4th Avenues. This market was conceived by the Women's Consumers' League, which was formed to relieve the financial pressure caused by rising food prices. Annie Gale, who would later become Calgary's first female city council member, was one of the most vocal members of this group. She was appalled at the cost of produce that, in her opinion, would have been fed to the cows in the old country.
The Consumers' League brought in food from local producers to compete with suppliers who brought in their produce from out of province. By 1915, in response to pressure from the Consumers' League and Annie Gale, the Public Market was incorporated as a city utility. Once she was elected to council in 1918, the public market became Mrs. Gale's pet project. The concept of the city being involved in the direct sale of produce at the market was contrary to the beliefs of many members of city council, however, and the proposal for more municipal participation was defeated. By 1920 the public market was a dead issue and, although it languished for a few more years, it was no longer listed as a city utility in the 1925 Municipal Manual. The building was used as a marketplace, housing various vendors through the years. It was purchased by Sam Sheinin and was the location of three of his businesses until it was destroyed by fire on Christmas eve, 1954.
The new Heritage Town Square at Heritage Park recreates the facade of this building.