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Vital Conversations, 2010

by Christine Hayes - 0 Comment(s)

Mawson City Plan

City Plan, 1914

Calgary: a preliminary scheme for controlling the economic growth of the City by Thomas Mawson

On Friday, in the John Dutton Theatre at the Central Library, The Calgary Foundation and the Calgary Public Library, with support from the City of Calgary’s Office of Sustainability are hosting a discussion based on issues raised by the 2009 Vital Signs Report. You are invited to come and add your voice to help shape our rapidly changing city. We are interested in building a sustainable city and need your input. If you would like to attend, please RSVP to The Calgary Foundation either through their website http://www.thecalgaryfoundation.org/ or by telephone at 403-802-7719.

This discussion will embrace many topics and certainly one that we must consider, and one that is dear to my heart (this is a heritage focused blog, right) is the importance of sustaining the built heritage of our city. The Community Heritage and Family History collection at the Central Library is integral to that goal. The mandate of this collection is to preserve and make accessible items relating to the history of Calgary. We have a wide range of resources for people interested in finding out more about their homes, their communities and the way our city has developed.

The collection, itself, is something of an historical artifact. It is as old as the Calgary Public Library. Our first Head Librarian was Alexander Calhoun, a man whose innovative ideas, including tailoring the library collection to the needs of the community, made the Calgary Public Library a dynamic and responsive organization from the day it opened its doors on January 2, 1912. Calhoun was very involved in his community and was very interested in making Calgary a great place to live. The city was facing then, as it is now, unprecedented expansion that saw the city grow from 12,000 people in 1906 to 44,000 in 1912.

Calhoun was a member of the first city planning commission in 1911. It is possible that he heard the presentation by Thomas Mawson, “The city on the plain and how to make it beautiful” which he delivered to the Canadian Club of Canada. The city planners engaged Mawson to make a plan which would see Calgary into its future. They believed the city would reach a population of 1 million by the year 1914. (We never see those "busts" coming, do we?) Mawson’s Plan, called Calgary: a preliminary scheme for controlling the economic growth of the city, is available, along with transcripts of the two speeches he gave in Calgary, in the Community Heritage and Family History collection at the Central Library. If you have never seen it, you must come down and have a look. Our downtown would have looked very different had the planning commission been able to affect any of the changes he suggested. Mawson was very concerned with the way people lived in cities. He was influenced by the City Beautiful movement and the Garden City movement and his plan reflects those influences. It was a very beautiful vision of the future of Calgary. Here is a picture of what he envisoned for the market area of the city.

Market area, Mawson Plan

Mawson’s report is only one of the resources relating to city planning that we have in our collection. We are on the 4th floor of the Central Library (616 Macleod Trail SE). Drop in for a visit.

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