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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

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)

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King Edward School (photo taken in 1967)

Alison Jackson Photograph Collection, AJ 0458

'Bob Edwards has left us - gone over the hill'

by Christine H - 0 Comment(s)

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Bob Edwards' Residence, 919 4th Avenue SW

Alison Jackson Photograph Collection, photograph taken 1968

On this day in history we lost a unique voice in Alberta journalism. Bob Edwards passed away on November 14, 1922, due to a leak in his heart (as reported in a special edition of The Calgary Eye-Opener) Likely the cause of death was pneumonia, possibly from influenza, possibly from his particular relationship with alcohol, to borrow a phrase from my sister-in-law.

Whatever the cause of his death, Edwards’ passing left a huge hole in the journalistic world. Never a “just the facts, ma’am” kind of journalist, he wrote scathing and often libelous articles criticizing politicians and social figures. He had a biting wit and a “forcibility of expression” as was stated in one of the many eulogies printed in the Eye Opener. His wit and forcibility of expression often got him into trouble and more than once he was taken to court to defend his words against charges of defamation.

But he was funny! It is well worth the time to read the Calgary Eye Opener. It offers a different perspective on staid old Calgary. Nothing escaped Edwards’ eye. One of my favourite articles is from the Eye Opener of July 15, 1905: “The Edmonton Fair Association this year featured the climbing of a greasy pole, on the top of which was hung a five dollar bill. Every little while the Edmontonians do something to indicate that they don’t think the world expects very much of them.”

He was something of a paradox, however. He was highly critical of politicians, but in the end, he became one, joining the Alberta Legislature as an MLA in 1921. (Maybe that's what killed him.)

If you'd like to read about Bob Edwards, you can find an article in the Dictionary of Canadian Biographyavailable online through our E-Library under History and Genealogy. Or you can read the excellent "chrestomathy": Irresponsible freaks, highball guzzlers & unabashed grafters : a Bob Edwards chrestomathy : in which are collected extractions from the Calgary eye opener, Wetaskiwin free lance, The channel (Boulogne-sur-Mer, Fr.) & other estimable broadsides helmed by the late R.C. Edwards, M.L.A. : fact, gossip & fiction for readers of the English language the title of which neatly expresses the style and "forcibilty" of Edwards' journalistic style, or you can read the brilliant biography by Grant MacEwan, Eye Opener Bob. These are all available at the Calgary Public Library. I also highly recommend that you read the Eye Opener itself. It can be read online at the Alberta Heritage Digitization Project website www.ourfutureourpast.ca. Select Early Alberta Newspapers and then use the drop-down menu to choose Calgary. It is also digitized at Peel's Prairie Provinces. We also have the paper on microfilm in the Community Heritage and Family History Room at the Central Library and we have paper collections of articles as well. Drop down and visit and we'll introduce you to the wit and wisdom of Bob Edwards.

Lest we Forget: Researching Military Ancestors

by Christine H - 0 Comment(s)

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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)

PC 569

Six Soldiers in Calgary, 1916?

Postcards from the Past, PC 569

Canada Gazette is Online

by Christine H

Page from Canada Gazette

Page listing Divorce Notifications from Canada Gazette 1889

Courtesy Collections Canada

The Canada Gazette turned 170 years old on October 2. Why is this important? Does anyone know what the Canada Gazette is? Well, for those of you who are not govdoc nerds, it is the official newspaper of the Government of Canada and has been published since 1841. So, why should we care? Well, like some government documents it can be kind of, (how do I put this nicely), dull. But like many government documents it contains all kinds of unexpected and valuable information that can help researchers and genealogists find that elusive next bit of info.

Yes, the Canada Gazette contains information about rules and regulations that govern our lives, but it also contains all kinds of good stuff about people. Did you know that until 1968, to get a divorce, Canadians had to petition the Senate where a special committee would weigh the evidence and then pass and Act of Parliament granting the divorce? The intent to divorce had to be published six months in advance in the Canada Gazette and two newspapers from the district where the petitioner lived. So, if you suspect that great grandpa had more than one wife, you can check to see if he was a bigamist or a serial monogamist. The online version of the Gazette is searchable by name or keyword.

You would actually be shocked at the number of genealogists who find more than one marriage for one of their ancestors. And the often don’t find the divorce documents. As I said in an earlier posting, when you do genealogy, you have to brace yourself for the unexpected. And sometimes that means using resources that you may not have thought of. I always like to try out new sites by running the names I am researcher through the database. When I tried this time, I found that two of my relatives had declared bankruptcy, that an uncle of mine has an unclaimed bank balance and a member of the American branch of my family was given a visa exemption. I also found some land allotments and some company information.

Sources such as this can also be wonderful resources for finding out what was going on in the country at a given time and what was on the minds of Canadians and their elected representatives.

If you are really interested in the history of the Gazette, you can have a look at 160 Years of the Canada Gazette. We have a copy at the Central Library in our Government Documents collection on the third floor. There is also a link to the online version right here: http://www.gazette.gc.ca/cg-gc/book-livre/toc-tdm-eng.html

If you’d like to search the Gazette online, it is on the Library and Archives Canada website right here: http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/databases/canada-gazette/index-e.html?PHPSESSID=l5tc67ddnkvf1afr9qle7k8hr3