Latest Posts

  • Oct 15 - The Empress of Ireland - This year marks the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Empress of Ireland. Her legacy in Canadian immigration lives on
  • Oct 7 - World War I Remembered - Calgary Public Library is offering some great programs to commemorate the start of WWI
  • Sep 30 - The Cecil Hotel - The Cecil Hotel is in the news again and its not looking good for the old fella
  • Sep 23 - Fall is the Season for Heritage Programs - There are a lot of very cool heritage events taking place over the next few weeks
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Upcoming Genealogy Events

by Christine H - 0 Comment(s)

 

Dave Obee is coming to town! The Alberta Family Histories Society is bringing Dave Obee to Calgary for a day-long event covering many aspects of Canadian genealogical research. He will be talking about using the internet for research, finding information on our immigrant ancestors, how to squeeze the last drop of information from the census and Canadians in World War I. Dave Obee is a very big name in Canadian genealogy circles and has written a number of books that I use nearly every day. This is going to be a great seminar and it is dirt cheap - $35 if you register before March 1, $45 if you register after. Check out information on the Alberta Family Histories Society website. I am so looking forward to this – I hope to see you there.

Closer to home, we will be offering our Genealogy for Beginners program at the Fish Creek Library on February 22 at 7 PM. This is the perfect opportunity to find out how to start that family history project. For more information and to register click here.

Also remember our Family History Coaching sessions on the last Saturday of the month from 10 to noon until June 28. We meet on the 4th floor of the Central Library and we can help you one-on-one with your genealogical research. This is a drop in program, so no registration is required.

In the genealogy vein, but not exactly a genealogy program, is the lecture series being put on at the Military Museums to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the start of the First World War. A series of lectures will be run over the next three months including Dr. John Ferris, talking about the outbreak of World War I, Rob Alexander sharing his grandfather’s account of the Dieppe Raid and the invasion of Italy from his diaries, and Lindsey Sharman introducing Forging a Nation: Canada Goes to War, the newest exhibit in the Founder’s Gallery at the Museum. For more information visit their website.

Sarcee Camp

192nd Battalion, Sarcee Camp Calgary, 1916

Postcards from the Past, PC 965

If you are a teacher looking for an interesting way to engage your high-school students in the life of a World War I soldier, contact me about presenting our Lest We Forget program. We bring the service records of local soldiers and each student can use these documents to create a story or a tribute to the soldier. This has been a very successful program, leading students to a deeper understanding of the meaning and impact of war in the lives of our ancestors. If you’re interested, contact me.

Tonight is the Heritage Trades Roundtable at Rideau Park School. We will be listening to presentations about Beautiful Brick. For more information and to register visit their site.

 

If you have an upcoming genealogy event you would like us to mention, please feel free to post a comment below.

The Amazon, Again

by Christine H - 0 Comment(s)

PC 1591

Five People in a Rowboat at Bowness Park

Postcards from the Past, PC 1591

When I wrote about the Amazon statue back in December of last year, we felt we were hot on the trail of finding out what had happened to the statue. We were inspired by the article that Daniel Lindley had written for Stephen, the magazine put out by the Epcor Centre, to comb the City’s annual reports and the reports of the Parks Department to see if we could find any trace of what had happened to her. The statue was moved, as previously mentioned, to the South Mount Royal Park in 1934 but it disappeared some time before 1953. And the reason I know that is that Daniel was contacted by someone who lived in the area and who showed him pictures of the statue and also a picture of her dog on the vacant plinth in 1953. You can read the update in the latest issue of Stephen. So, we’re a little closer to narrowing down a date, but I can find no mention of the fate of the Amazon in any of the reports.

I did find some other interesting stuff, though. The Parks Department reports are fascinating reading. Most include lists of animals at the zoo, locations and sizes of the various parks, what was planted in the parks and on the boulevards, what it cost to do various tasks. I found two separate charges for the moving of the museum specimens from Coste house; one in 1941 “Moving museum to car barns” at $3.23 and again in 1943 : “Coste’s residence, moving museum specimens” at $73.22. This would have been the collection that included our buffalo (see my previous post.)

Something else I found is that there was a street car placed in Roxboro Park to serve as a shelter. In the 1940 report, Mr. Reader, the superintendent stated: “ The old street car that was placed on this park and converted into a shelter is abused to such an extent that it seems practically useless to make any more repairs. “ I think it was dismantled in 1942. I can’t find any other record of it, but I will certainly keep looking. Wink

PC 1138

Calgary Tigers Playing Football in Hillhurst Park

Postcards from the Past, PC 1138

Beautiful Brick: The Heritage Trades Roundtable

by Christine H - 0 Comment(s)

ch 2012 008

Parkdale house, developed by Alfred McKay and built with Crandell Pressed Brick

Century Homes Photographs, CH 2012-008

The second Heritage Trades Round Table is set to go on January 28. This one is particularly apropos given the decision recently taken by the CBE to demolish the lovely old Elbow Park School, as it is on the subject of beautiful brick.

Calgary has long been known as the "Sandstone City" due to the number of nearby sandstone quarries. Many people are unaware, however, that we had a good number of brickworks in the vicinity as well. The area around Cochrane had the silty hard clay that was great for making bricks and much of the production of the three brickyards operating there in the early 20th century was shipped to Calgary. Calgary had its own brickyards as well; the earliest of these being Peel’s brickyard which opened in 1886 in the area of what is now Roxboro. “Gravity” Watson’s yard was established in 1893 near the Edworthy Ranch in the Shaganappi area. This became known as Brickburn. The company was later sold to Edward Crandell, whose beautiful brick home still stands in Patterson Heights and is perhaps better known as the house where Stu Hart lived and trained his wrestlers.

Another entrepreneur who got into the brick business and whose imposing home still stands was William Nimmons. He started a small brickyard on the site of his quarry in the Bankview area. The quarry at Glenbow also had brickworks on the site. There were also small brickworks, run by home builders who provided bricks for their own construction. William Kempling was one such. His operation was located between Centre St. and 4 St. E.

If you are a brick aficionado and would like to learn more about the history of brick production and construction in Calgary, you need to come to the next Heritage Roundtable. You will meet some of the people who make the preservation and maintenance of the buildings and features we love possible. The evening will include:

•Historic brick production & industry in Alberta — Malcolm Sissons, president, I-XL Industries Ltd., a 4th generation family business founded in 1912 as the Redcliff Pressed Brick Co.

•Current brick masonry trade, traditional methods — Neil Puype, principal of a heritage building consulting company and 5th generation brick and stone mason

•Early brickyards & building with brick in Calgary — Marilyn Williams, Heritage Roundtables steering committee

This is going to be great, talking ‘bout brick in the Sandstone City, so join us. The event takes place Rideau Park School gymnasium, 829 Rideau Road SW and starts at 7:00 pm (doors will open at 6:30 pm). It is open to the public and free of charge. To register, click here.

 

AJ 88 05

Mewata Armouries, entrance to the Drill Hall, ca 1965

Alison Jackson Photograph Collection, AJ 88-05

The Value of Old Buildings

by Christine H - 0 Comment(s)

Elbow Park School

Elbow Park School

From the Elbow Park School Website

Elbow Park School is in the news again. The CBE is meeting to discuss what will be done with the school – should it be torn down and replaced or restored? Schools often present challenges for the people who want to save old buildings. They are large and occupy vast tracts of land, often in very desirable neighbourhoods. The people who hold Elbow Park’s fate in their hands are facing a real dilemma. Yes, a new school would have all the bells and whistles, enough plug ins for all the electronics (I work in an older building myself and understand this challenge especially), a better gym, and all the amenities that new buildings offer, but they will also lose a character building, in a sense they will lose the history of their school. The neighbourhood, which is one of the oldest in the city, will lose more of its defining characteristics, the characteristics that make it such a wonderful place to live.

So what, you might say. This is a pointless discussion. An old building is an old building and the best way to deal with it is to replace it. That it is flood damaged is the perfect opportunity to look to the future and build something “better.” This is at the heart of much of what we do in the heritage community. What is the value of an old building? Is there more than monetary value to consider when we decide their fate? Is newer necessarily better?

There are lots of arguments to support both points of view. Reusing old buildings adds character to cities – remember when Mordecai Richler famously stated that Calgary would be a helluva city once it was uncrated? We’ve come a long way from there. We value our heritage and realize that preserving our old buildings gives a sense of the history to a city, something that we lose every time we knock one of them down. Old school buildings are especially important in the history of place. “Schools were once thought of as important civic landmarks built to last a century. They represented community investments that inspired civic pride and participation in public life," said Richard Moe, president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. There is an excellent study on the fate of historic neighbourhood schools by the Trust called “Why Johnny Can’t Walk to School: Historic Neighborhood Schools in the Age of Sprawl.”

There is also the practical value of restoration. It is a far greener option than dumping demolition rubble into a landfill. Restoration allows for the removal of any nasty stuff like asbestos and allows for a general buff-up. If Jane Jacobs is correct that new ideas require old buildings, sending our kids to school in a historic building could open the way for who knows what kind of engagement. If you don’t want your kids to go to school in an old building, then perhaps we should reconsider the value of Ivy League schools, or Oxford or Cambridge. Part of what makes the experience there so valuable is the history behind them, represented, not in the least, by their wonderful historic buildings.

I hope we get to keep that beautiful school. It would be a shame to lose another one.

PC 1998

St. Mary's School

Postcards from the Past, PC 1998