Looking East from the Grain Exchange Building, 1911
Postcards from the Past, PC 1690
I’ve just had a look at the animation of the master plan for the East Village. You can see it on the CMLC website. It’s a very exciting vision and the I'm excited that the library is going to continue to be an important part of the life down here.
In a way, this is a rebirth for the East Village. It’s hard to believe, looking at it now with its unending vistas of parking lots, but the east end of the city was once the centre of this bustling metropolis. I was reminded of this once more, by a question from a customer about what was on the site of the current Central Library before it was built. And as luck would have it, while I was looking into this question I ran into one of my favourite local historians who was able to tell me alot about what was on the site before the library was built, including a gas station and Nagler's Department Story. I don’t know how I missed this important detail, but it got me thinking about the new library site and what was on it before its redevelopment (read “parking lot-ization”).
I consulted some of my favourite resources, in addition to my local historian, including the fire insurance plans for Calgary (available on the Library and Archives Canada site) and the Henderson's directories (available in the local history room at the Central Library and online at Peel's Prairie Provinces)
The strip along 9th Avenue SE was home to many of our early hotels, of which only the King Edward (until recently) survived. The Imperial, Grand Union, and Oxford, along with the Maple Leaf Boarding House, lined the street, a natural outgrowth of the proximity of the train station. Serving these hotels were livery stables and there were two still active on 9th Avenue E. in 1911, the Atlantic and Brandon and Young. There were two livery stables on or near the site of the present Central Library as well, Elk Livery and Palace Livery. The New Central Library site is just to the west of the Oxford Hotel and Atlantic Livery, sitting on the back part of the Calgary Iron Works site and blacksmith John R. Grayshon’s shop.
On what would have been the Eighth Avenue side of the site (back when Eighth Avenue was continuous) there were several shops, including Chicago Outfitting and McLeod and Co. There were also several grocers, the Sunnyland Café, the Excelsior Block, a furniture store and McLeod’s Men’s Furnishings. The Seventh Avenue end of the site was residential, with homeowners Mrs. Peter Ronn, saddler Frank Carson and plumber Maxime Longuet all living there. On the same street, though not on the site of the New Central Library, there was a cigar factory and a Moravian Church.
The East end of the city was a bustling and vibrant place back in 1911. The plans for its revitalization are exciting and promise to bring back the vitality and vigor that was present before we paved it.
You can find out more information about the New Central Library by following the link on our website
Moravian Church, 7th Avenue and 3rd Street East, ca 1964
Alison Jackson Photograph Collection, AJ 1294