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What did you do on Christmas Day?

by Christine H - 0 Comment(s)

 

PC 142

Mission Hill, up which they ran

Postcards from the Past, PC 142

Christmas day is usually a time for family and friends. Some folks volunteer to serve dinner to those who are less fortunate. But how many of you ran a marathon? In Calgary, starting in 1906, the Calgary Herald ran a road race outdoors on Christmas day. The 1906 event was led by Cappy Smart, the fire chief, who was described as “no mean athlete.” And for every year following, except the year he was in hospital due to an automobile accident, he started the race by firing his pistol. The dates of the race changed over the years, but in 1911, it was run on Christmas day. The race started and finished at the Herald offices and ran up Mission Hill and under two of the ‘subways’ under the railway tracks. It was won by Alex Hepburn- a recent immigrant from Scotland- who ran the 6 mile plus race in 34 minutes 57 ½ seconds.

 

Map of Calgary Herald Road Race

Map of the 1911 Calgary Herald Road Race

From the Calgary Herald December 23, 1911

This was a very big deal, with competitors coming from all around the country. It was also another way for Calgarians to beat Edmontonians at something or other. It was started by the publisher and editor of the Calgary Herald, J. J. Young, to prove that such races could be run in Calgary during the winter. I have read accounts of baseball games being played in January in Calgary (with the comment that a nice breeze kept the day from getting too hot) but all of us who live here know that it can be either extreme. And so it was in 1937 when a cold snap forced the cancellation of the event. From '38 tyo '40 it was held on Remembrance day and in 1941 it was moved to Thanksgiving. It's last run was in 1950 but in 1970 the race was revived and run at Heritage Park in July. Are we getting softer?

Anyway, I did not perform any athletic feats on Christmas day, unless eating is a sport. Here's looking at 2012 - our centennial year.

Merry Christmas

by Christine H - 0 Comment(s)

PC 152

Merry Christmas Postcard showing Carnegie Library, Calgary, 1912

Postcards from the Past, PC 152

I like to look in the newspapers and see what was going on in Calgary in earlier times. This is becoming more of a habit now that the library is celebrating its anniversary next year. Now I have a legitimate excuse to be reading the paper (albeit from 1912) at work. I think that newspapers provide an interesting window into the world of our ancestors. What I have generally found is that we are not so very different. Sentiments around Christmas have not changed over the years – well, maybe we’re more crassly commercial than our Edwardian ancestors – no I take that back. Have a look at the some of the newspaper ads of the time and you will see retailers shilling all kinds of goods to be purchased for the Christmas season. I even have one posted over my desk: “Give your horse a Christmas present”. Another favourite of mine is “Don’t Blame Your Wife…if she doesn’t appear as attractive as when you were courting her. It’s because you don’t buy her nice little presents of Jewelry as you used to do.” So a visit to C. Campbell Welch, Jeweler and Optician, will solve your problem, gentlemen.

Newspaper ad 1910 Herald

Advertisement from Calgary Daily Herald, December 23, 1910

I like this one, too, for Hennessey Brandy. Perhaps we can see where the temperance movement got its inspiration: “Suppose someone is taken ill at night and you had promised to get Hennessey Brandy but ‘forgot it’…Will you risk precious lives by being caught unprepared?” Interestingly enough, you probably could have gotten a prescription for brandy during prohibition, as medicinal use was not illegal. So, stock up, and prepare for the worst. And of course, have a Merry Christmas, brandy or no.

Ad from Calgary Daily Herald, Dec 23, 1910

The Barron Building: Art Deco in the Oil Patch

by Christine H - 2 Comment(s)

Barron Building courtesy Judith Umbach

Barron Building, 610 8th Avenue SW

Photo by Judith Umbach

It seems hard to believe, but there was a time when there wasn’t much office space in Calgary. When the oil strikes of the 1940s were made, companies set up shop in old hotels and run-down office buildings. Very little building had been done in Calgary since the depression and it seemed likely that the administrative offices of the hordes of oil companies would have to be established in that “E” place (Edmonton – the capital, for those of you outside of Alberta). That was not how Jacob Bell Barron imagined the future. He saw the opportunities offered by the oil boom and started building. The Barron Building (called the Mobil Building, for its tenant, from 1958 to 1969) was the first of the office towers erected in the wake of the Leduc discovery. It was a different kind of office building to what we are used to. It was mixed use, combining a movie theatre, retail space, office space and J.B.’s magnificent penthouse and rooftop garden. The garden, complete with a lawn for J.B.’s dog Butch, won a Vincent Massey Award for excellence in urban planning.

When the building was built, it was considered something of a risky venture. The outcome of the oil strikes could have been a boom or a bust. Barron was willing to take the risk and, not just that, build a building that was almost exuberant in its details. The architects, Stevenson, Cawston and Stevenson used a step-back design, popular in the 1930s, that allows for more sunlight to come to the street and also for terraces on the roofs of the projecting floors. The theatre, while reflecting J.B. Barron’s interest in the entertainment industry, was not unusual in mixed-used buildings. The methods used to construct the building were cutting edge as well. They used Q-floor construction which is strong, but light, and allowed the electrical and ventilation to be run in the floors. This allowed for maximum flexibility in the placement of room partitions. The strip windows were also a first in the city.

We are developing a greater appreciation for buildings from the mid 20th century and the Barron is an outstanding example of this Moderne style and valuable for the pivotal role it played in bringing the oil industry to Calgary.

Barron Building by Judith Umbach

Barron Building

Photo by Judith Umbach

News for French Canadian Genealogy Researchers

by Christine H - 1 Comment(s)

Front page of Tanguay

Front page of Tanguay's Dictionnaire généalogique ...

Ancestry.com recently announced that they have added a very valuable resource to their collection. The Dictionnaire généalogique des familles canadiennes depuis la fondation de la colonie jusqu'à nos jours by Father Cyprien Tanguay is the resource for people researching French Canadians. It is often called just “Tanguay” (a sure indication that it is important!) and includes information about the founding families of French Canada.

In its paper incarnation Tanguay is 7 volumes plus supplement (it sits in our genealogy collection at 929.3714 TAN). It is the product of a lifetime of research and data collection by Fr. T. whose passion for genealogy led him to archives and churches in Quebec, the Maritimes, Ontario and the U.S. The result is a massive collection of pedigrees that, in some cases, takes the families back to their place of origin in France.

This collection is arranged by the surname of the male head of the family and can include dates and places for major life events as well as the names of children and their spouses. The collection is, of course, in French, so searches should be in that language. And, as with any compilation on this scale, there can be errors, but it is still one of the best resources for French Canadian research. And the nice thing about the collection as it appears in Ancestry is that there is a transcription of the page. This can be very helpful when looking at documents such as this one that were published in the 19th Century. The print isn’t always as clear as we would like. Its availability as a database also means that you will be able to search all the names in an entry, not just the head of household’s.

Ancestry also has several other great resources for searching French Canadian roots, including the Drouin collection (see, another source known only by the compiler’s name). These databases can be accessed through the library subscription to AncestryLE at any branch of the Calgary Public Library.

We also have other great non-database resources for those researching their French Canadian ancestors including an index to Quebec land grants, the Drouin collection on CR-ROM, the aforementioned Tanguay in paper form, as well as a number of very good guides to doing French Canadian research, including Miller’s Manual. 1886560471 You can find them in the catalogue by searching ‘Quebec genealogy.’

Le Pere Lacombe

Postcards from the Past, PC 1597

PC 1597