Horses and Wagon outside of Fire Station Number 2
Postcards from the Past, PC 935
While I pride myself on my knowledge of the Community Heritage and Family History collection, I will admit that I don’t know every item in there. And I am always delighted when a customer passes on an interesting tidbit. This week a researcher drew my attention to the annual reports from the City of Calgary for 1909 to 1914. Now, I am not really a fan of government documents, but they do sometimes turn out to be the most fascinating things. That is true of these annual reports. Did you know that in 1909 it cost the police department twice as much to feed the horses as it did to feed the prisoners? Well, the horse feed coast $294.65 while food for the prisoners cost $138.28. Also, a fire alarm was called in on the 25 of January 1910 to the home of T. Wheatley 1012 17 Avenue W. The fire caused $50 damage and was caused by “matches and mice”. Those pyromaniac rodents! The Fire Department put it out. There is a roster (listed as “rooster” in the report) of firemen and the horses who served with them. For example, Frank was a 12 year old white horse, who stood 17 hands and weighed 1500 pounds while Brownie was an 11 year old black horse (?) who stood 16.2 hands and weighed 1550 pounds. Cap was Chief Cappy Smith’s horse, and though not very imaginatively named, he was a 12 year old bay who stood 15.3 hands and weighed 1150 pounds.
As for the police, they tried 3922 cases, 1334 of which were for drunkenness, 2 for fortune telling and one for “pigamy” (one hopes that is a misprint). They even kept statistics on the nationalities of those they arrested. Only one person was from Iceland. There is a complete roster of the police force including former service, the date the person joined the police force and the date when the person was appointed to their present rank. There’s another obscure source for you genealogists!
Now if someone could tell me what the Irish Suspense Account is. It is listed in the City Comptroller’s Office Annual Statement under receipts and is $195.93. I have a notion this may be a bit of a racial slur. Does anyone have any ideas?
The reports also give a very vivid statistical picture of the concerns of the citizens and the growth of Calgary. The Medical Health Officer’s report for 1913 lists every occurrence of every disease, points out the need for a new water treatment facility and calls for the establishment of free public baths because “there are hundreds of people in the city today who never have a bath from one year’s end to the another.” Between them and the horses the town must have smelled very interesting.
These reports could be very useful for genealogists, historians and folks who just want a glimpse of the history of the city (and, believe me, it can be a very entertaining experience). They are kind of hard to find in the catalogue – you have to go to Power Search and enter Calgary into the author box, Annual Report into the title box and Budget into the subject – or you could just remember the call number 352.0006 CAL – but they are well worth the search. Drop in for a peek.