202 17th Avenue SE, ca 1965
Alison Jackson Photograph Collection, AJ 1344
Our last posting was about Millionaire’s Row on 4th Avenue SW. This week I’m going to have a look at a house in a slightly more modest area of town. This stems from some research I did for Ed’s Restaurant. They are back in business, having been shut down by the floods, they were looking for some history of their building at 202 17 Ave SE.
The restaurant is an example of a great reuse of an old home. The part of the city it is in still has a few old gems, including the McHugh house just up the road, but their numbers are falling. The area around the Stampede Grounds was not a snazzy neighbourhood like Mount Royal or Elbow Park and the houses are fairly typical middle class and working class homes. Often these are exactly the houses that fall to the wrecker’s ball because they have no noted names associated with them. But as I always tell my genealogists, it is not just the well-heeled who made this city what it is; without the everyday folk, there would be no city. The house that is now Ed’s is a wonderful example of just that kind of place as evidenced by the variety of folks who called it home.
The people who lived at 202 17 Ave E were working folk. Percy McNaughton, a barber at Gem Barbershop, was the occupant in 1910. In 1911 it was a widow, Agnes Flanagan, living there with her boarder Laura Josh.
In 1915 the house was occupied by William Shergold who was shown to be on active service. His story was quite poignant. He was a young cabinet maker who came to Canada in 1913. Having served with the 5th Devon Territorials, he offered his talents to the 103rd Calgary Rifles and, when war broke out enlisted in the army. He was 23 years old, fair haired and grey eyed. Sadly, while he survived the war, he later died of TB of the kidney, which was attributed to his service overseas. He is buried in Edmonton.
After the war, Charles Mennell lived in the house. He was a chef and his wife (Mrs. Chas. in the directory) was a clerk at Binning’s Dry Goods on 8th Ave E. By the late 20s and early 30s, the revolving door of occupants had slowed and the house was occupied by farmer Raymond Preffer and his daughter Genevieve, who was the proprietor of Norma’s Beauty Parlor (which, it appears, she ran from her home).
The house continued to be occupied by average, working class people through the 40s, seeing another barber, an oil driller, and a landscape gardener. By the 1970s it had been subdivided into apartments occupied mostly by retirees. By then that part of 17th Ave E had become somewhat shabby and down at the heels. The houses started to go, and businesses sprung up, but somehow 202 and its neighbour survived. There are just a few of these old gems left in the neighbourhood, but when we see them we can remind ourselves that they housed the lifeblood of this city, the people who made Calgary what it is today.
Another house in the area, 17th Avenue SW between 1st and 2nd Streets
Alison Jackson Photograph Collection, AJ 1346