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The Plus 15 Walkway System

by Christine Hayes - 0 Comment(s)

Judith Umbach photograph

Plus 15 to Penny Lane, 5 St & 8 Ave SW

Judith Umbach Photograph Collection

Calgary’s Plus 15 System is synonymous with the downtown core. It is an extensive 16 kilometer public skywalk network of 57 bridges, designed to protect pedestrians from inclement weather and help reduce congestion on the streets. To get a better sense of how large the Plus 15 System really is, if you could rearrange all the skywalks into a straight line the walkway would be longer than 159 football fields placed end-to-end. Harold Hanen, who is “credited with being the father of Calgary’s plus-15 system” [“Striving for an affinity,” Calgary Herald, Sept 23, 1984], designed the network of 15 ft high walkways - hence the name Plus 15 - in the late 1960s.


The first official Plus 15 bridge, which connects the Westin Hotel to Calgary Place across 4th Avenue S.W [PAM FILE 388.41 CAL 1999], was built in 1970. However, this bridge was not the first pedestrian bridge built in Calgary. The first pedestrian bridge in Calgary is thought to be a bridge that connected the New Calgary Market (129 – 7th Avenue SW) to the Arcade on 8th Avenue [“Calgary Stock Exchange,”

If you are interested in learning more about the Plus 15 system, including the project’s architect Harold Hanen, the library has a wealth of resources for you to consult. We have a newspaper clippings file, local history books, pamphlet files, and historical maps of the Plus 15 system, as well as biography clippings file on Harold Hanen. In addition, we have historical photographs of the Plus 15 System in the Community Heritage and Family History Digital Library. I found the map “1987 Calgary - Downtown Business Area” (Calg 34) to be particularly interesting as it shows what businesses were in the buildings connected by the Plus 15 system in 1987, as well as proposed Plus 15 & C-Train routes. For instance, did you know that there was a Plus 15 connecting a Dairy Queen to the Chevron Plaza on 5th Ave and 4th St S.W. in 1987?

(Photograph of the Arcade is from:

Shaganappi Golf Course

by Christine Hayes


Sometimes, when you see something every day, you actually stop seeing it in any real sense. Such, for me, is the Shaganappi golf course. I have passed it at least once a day nearly every day of my adult life. I grew up and still live in the west side of the city and I travel down Bow Trail nearly every day. I had stopped seeing the golf course. Now, of course, it is hidden behind the construction for the new leg of the LRT but it is still back there. I have had occasion recently, to gather some of my friends and neighbours around me to reminisce and my next door neighbor reminded me that she is a fifth generation Calgarian and told me the story of her grandfather, Joe Ferguson, who was the pro and the man responsible for the care of the Shaganappi golf course for many , many years. I was intrigued, especially when she told me that Joe actually lived on the golf course.

This picture is from Morris Barraclough's book and was given to him by Joe Ferguson. It shows the opening of the new municipal golf course in 1916:


From Prairie to Park, page 59

This, of course (and my friends are well aware that I am mining their conversations for blog inspiration) caught my fancy. Several years ago a donation was made to the Community Heritage and Family History collection. It consisted of notes and a manuscript of Morris Barraclough’s From Prairie to Park: Green Spaces in Calgary, which was part of the Century Calgary publications for the centennial of the founding of Calgary in 1975. I knew Morris had interviewed Joe and had documentation on the history of Shaganappi Park and golf course. It proved to be a treasure trove. Excerpts from the Superintendent’s report on Shaganappi from 1905 show that the 80 acres on the west side of the city, which were a gift from the Dominion Government, were considered unsuitable for park purposes but could be improved for field sports. In fact, in 1914, a 9 hole golf course was proposed, both for the purposes of enjoyment but also as a means to increase the revenue of the street railway, which ran out that way. By 1915 an 18 hole golf course built, sort of. 2,153 people teed off between August 7th (the date of its opening) and November 30 when it closed for the winter (really!) The following year it opened in March and some of the greens and tees were relocated on the advice of the players. William Reader, then parks superintendent “loaned a number of chairs and tables (my personal property) for use at the Club House, without expense to the city except for cleaning at their return.” That year 7582 people teed off at Shaganappi. In 1917, shortly after opening in March, the course burned over and the pro from the Banff golf course was called in to re-plan it. It became a very popular course and by 1920 it was seeing nearly 15,000 golfers a season. Golfers so loved it that on fair days in the winter, although the course was officially closed, golfers could come out to play.

The Shaganappi municipal golf course will celebrate its 100th anniversary very soon. It is very satifying to see that he course is still in use. Many of us who grew up near Shaganappi remember wheeling off on our bikes with two or three clubs slung across our backs to hack away on the municipal course. Many of my friends became life-long golfers and now take their kids to Shaganappi to knock around a few balls.

Morris Barraclough's great history of parks in Calgary is available at the Calgary Public Library. It is called From Prairie to Park: Green Spaces in Calgary and is included in the Centennial Calgary volume At Your Service Part 1. The items so kindly donated by his family are in the process of being added to the collection.

I am always looking for ideas for this blog. Do you have any historical or genealogical subjects you would like to see written about? Pop your suggestion into the comments at the bottom of this page and we'll do our best to round up a photo and write a short article.

Calgary's Military Heritage

by Christine Hayes - 0 Comment(s)

PC 1660

Mewata Armoury ca. 1934

Postcards from the Past, PC 1660

Last Saturday we enjoyed a march past of the Calgary Highlanders and the King’s Own Calgary Regiment. Both were celebrating their 100th anniversaries. The Queen’s Own Rifles was also celebrating their anniversary of 150 years, which makes them the longest serving infantry regiment in Canada. For several years, first and second battalions of the Queen’s Own were stationed at Currie Barracks here in Calgary. To celebrate this momentous occasion, Princess Alexandra, the Colonel-in-Chief of the regiment, was supposed to come to Calgary. The volcanic eruption in Iceland put the kibosh on that plan but the veterans who assembled, though somewhat disappointed, were glad to have the chance to celebrate and connect with other veterans.

The King’s Own and the Highlanders can both trace their origins back to the 103rd Calgary Regiment, Calgary Rifles. The regiment was formed on April 1, 1910. The 103rd formed several battalions during the First World War. The King’s Own Calgary Regiment grew out of the 50 Battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary Force. In World War II they were reorganized and had several names, among them the 14th Armoured Regiment (Calgary) commonly called the Calgary Tanks. The King’s Own have been an infantry, machine gun and tank regiment but are currently a reconnaissance unit. They are based at Mewata Armoury.

The Calgary Highlanders also grew from the 103rd Regiment. In 1921 they became a highland regiment, known from then on as the Calgary Highlanders. They were a volunteer regiment with members holding regular jobs. They trained on weekends and in the evenings. They were mobilized for the first time on September 1, 1939. Twenty-two of the Highlanders landed on Dieppe in August of 1942. All returned safely to England. Today the Highlanders are once again a regiment of “citizen soldiers” who train Wednesday evenings and one weekend a month.


Postcard describing the history of the Calgary Highlanders including insignia, ca. 1940

Postcards from the Past, PC 768

These regiments are a part of Calgary’s proud military heritage. If you are interested in researching more about the military in Calgary, we have a great collection of information in the Community Heritage and Family History Collection here at the Calgary Public Library’s Central Library. We are also very lucky to have the Military Museums located right beside the Currie Barracks site which is also rich with the history of Calgary’s military.

Stanley Park District

by Christine Hayes - 0 Comment(s)

PC 1248

Elbo [sic] River

Postcards from the Past, PC 1248

I was reading the old newspapers, again, when I stumbled on the announcement of the winner of the “name that district” contest on April 15, 1909. J.R.C. Smith, of 1811 Centre Street, Calgary, suggested the name Stanley Park for the new subdivision adjoining Elbow Park. For his prize, he was awarded a fifty-foot corner lot in the subdivision. Over seven-hundred people entered and this, according to promoters, was an indication of a potential rush of buyers for the new lots. I have no idea why the name Stanley Park was chosen over all the others and I have no indication of the significance of the name (although I am still looking). I am very curious so if anyone out there knows, please let me in on the tale.

I checked the Henderson’s directories to see if I could find out more information about Mr. Smith (suspecting, I must admit, that he was made up and this was all a publicity ploy) and what I was able to find was that there was a Smith living at 1811 Centre Street Calgary. Crispin Smith, who was a city magistrate, was the householder at that address. Could J.R.C. Smith have been his son? I don’t know and I haven’t been able to find any more information. No addresses turn up in Stanley Park in the five succeeding years of Henderson’s directories. Even though Stanley Park was named and lots were designated, little development took place until the 1950s. The park itself, was designated a park in 1924, but most of the development of the park took place when landscaping began in the 1960s. My resources are obviously incomplete on the subject of Stanley Park, so I would be most delighted to hear from anyone who can add to my information.

Even the photo I’ve put into this entry is not of the area of Stanley Park but of a lovely vista of the Elbo (sic) River.

East Village

by Christine Hayes - 0 Comment(s)

PC 1375

Calgary Public Market, 3rd Street between 3rd and 4th Avenue SE

Postcards from the Past, PC 1375

I was recently asked by the publisher of the East Village View to write an article about the site on which Booker’s B.B.Q. is standing. I was happy to do this as the East Village is my second home. I have worked in this neighbourhood for all of my adult life and I love this place. It has changed so much, but there are still stories to be told about the residents and the buildings. The East Village View is our community newsletter and part of its mandate is to bring these stories to the residents. We have copies of the newsletter in the Community Heritage and Family History collection at the Central Library, if you would like to have a look at them.

Writing about the Booker’s site allowed me to tell the stories of a bunch of interesting people who made their mark down here. Booker’s stands at 316 3 Street SE just across the street from the Cecil Hotel. The current building was built in 1956, following a massive Christmas Eve fire in 1954 that destroyed the original Calgary Public Market building that was on the site.

The Calgary Public Market had been built in 1914 in response to consumer concerns over poor quality and lack of competition. It was a pet project of Annie Gale, who was the first woman “alderperson” in the British Empire. The building to house the market was built in 1915 (see the picture above) and it was immediately filled with vendors. It was a public utility until 1925. Even after that it continued to function as a market. It was purchased in 1946 by Sam Sheinin, who had been manager of the public market and had bought the building as a home for his businesses. He had operated various businesses on the site, Home-Del Foods, Calgary Cold Storage and Sheinin’s Live and Dressed Poultry. Sheinin rebuilt and operated his businesses until 1959. By 1960 the Alberta Poultry Marketers Co-Operative had moved in. They operated from the site until 1960.

By 1972 the chickens were out and the “chicks” moved in. The Betty Shop, which seemed to be in every mall in the city when I was growing up, had its warehouse there. The Betty Shop was owned and managed by Lena Hanen. She was the daughter of a Rabbi, the wife of a successful businessman and the mother of Harry Hanen, the man who gave us the +15 system. She was also a very astute businesswoman and, by all accounts, a great boss. By the time of her death in 1979 she employed over 1000 people in 40 stores in Alberta, Saskatchewan and British Columbia.

Lena’s family seems to have owned the building until 1985 when the Kingfisher restaurant opened its doors. The Kingfisher was famous for its owner, Sandy Cruikshank, and his “Tuesdays with Webster” discussions. In the late 1990s it changed hands again and became Booker’s.

This part of the city has a fascinating heritage, one which I am very proud to be a part of. If you are interested in researching your corner of the city, come down to the Community Heritage and Family History room in the Central Library. We’d be glad to see you.

Skiing in Calgary

by Christine Hayes - 1 Comment(s)

PC 963

Ski Jump on the Roof of the Grandstand,

Built for the Calgary Winter Festival, 1921

Postcards from the Past, PC 963

Because Calgary is so close to the mountains, a ski hill within the city may seem unnecessary. What we need to remember is that at one time, getting to Banff and the surrounding area was not a simple drive up the highway. It could be a journey fraught with peril along the Banff Coach Road (so called, I believe, because it was designed for coaches not cars!) For a devoted skier, this was not an acceptable situation so over the years ski hills have been developed in and near Calgary.

A pioneering organization in the development of local ski hills was the Calgary Ski Club which was founded, originally, early in the 20th century by a handful of Scandinavian immigrants interested in ski jumping. The presence of this group led to the strangest sight ever in Calgary winter history, the ski jump on top of the grandstand at the Exhibition Grounds (see the postcard above).

In its second incarnation, founded in the 1930s, The Calgary Ski Club looked for a suitable venue in or near the city so that avid skiers could ski during the week. Golf courses provided some possibilities. They were unused during the winter and some, like Shaganappi, were owned by the city. So it was to Shaganappi that the Ski Club turned in 1938. A perennial problem in Calgary, of course, is the chinook wind and that, coupled with the drought of the 1930s made skiing in the city a sporadic affair. The Ski Club experimented with farm equipment and eventually started using a grain blower to blow snow from areas where it was abundant onto the hill. Despite its great location (on a bus route), the installation of a rope tow and its popularity, Shaganappi ski hill lasted only until 1951. It wasn't until some 20 years later that the City invited a private operator to re-develop the runs, exactly where they had been when the ski club had them.

Asked to move from the municipal course the club sought another hill, and found what it thought was a good choice, on the north side of what is now Coach Hill, just above Bowness. It was not a unanimously popular choice and the development of Paskapoo in 1961 kind of put an end to that idea.

Happy Valley

View of the Chalet at Happy Valley Ski Hill, 1960s?

Happy Valley Calgary's Year 'Round Playground

Paskapoo remained a public hill and many of us learned to ski there. It would later become Canada Olympic Park. Just down the road a bit (advertised as being 5 miles from the city limits) was Happy Valley, “Calgary’s year ‘round playground,” which included a ski hill with a chalet and two poma lifts. The photograph of the beautiful chalet comes from a brochure dating from the 60s that we have in the Community Heritage and Family History collection here at the Central Library. Also in that collection is the book I used to find out about the Calgary Ski Club, Calgary Goes Skiing: a history of the Calgary Ski Club by David Mittelstadt. If you are interested in finding out more about skiing in and around Calgary, we have some great resources in the Local History Room and we would be happy to show you the ropes (rope tows,perhaps ).Laughing

Not Just Ancestry LE : More Online Resources for Genealogists

by Christine Hayes - 0 Comment(s)

Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online

PC 503

R.B. Bennett Receiving Nomination Convention of Conservatives, Winnipeg 1927

Postcards from the Past PC 503

This is the second of my installments about some of the subscription databases (other than Ancestry LE) that genealogists should try. This week I want to introduce you to the Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online.

In my introductions to the genealogy collection here at the Central Library, I always like to mention National Biographies as a potential resource. Many countries have them and they are the semi-official records of the people who played a role in the formation of their respective countries. The grand-daddy of these is the Dictionary of National Biography (DNB – I warned you about libraries and acronyms!) DNB is the national biography of Great Britain. Calgary Public Library owns the original 22 volume set and the 15 volumes of supplements. Sources such as these can be very useful especially if you have ancestors who were notable in some way. In Canada, sometimes being notable just meant being here early so the Dictionary of Canadian Biography, in addition to politicians and industrialists, includes, pioneers, fur traders, and First Nations leaders. The articles are written by many different, reputable authors and include extensive bibliographies of primary and secondary source material. The DCB (again with the acronyms!) covers people who died between 1000 and 1930 (it is traditional in national biographies to include only dead people and to indicate coverage by date of death)

The Dictionary of Canadian Biography was started in 1959 as a joint project of the University of Toronto and the Université Laval. It is available in English and French and has been a staple reference source, in its paper incarnation, on reference shelves in libraries across Canada for decades. Now that it is available online it is much easier to use and the full text searching pulls up names of people mentioned in articles but not necessarily the subject of an entire article themselves.

You can access the Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online through our E-Library accessible through the catalogue or via the link at the top of our homepage. In the E-Library you can click on either “Canadian” or “History and Genealogy” and scroll down to the Dictionary of Canadian Biography. You will be asked to sign in using your library card number and PIN. Choose your language, and off you go. You can browse the collection by name, by category or by geographic location.

You can also search the Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online through the site at Library and Archives Canada.

Jane’s Walk : Walk and Talk our City’s Neighbourhoods

by Christine Hayes - 1 Comment(s)

PC 907

Residential View - Mount Royal

Postcards from the Past, PC 907

I have been very lucky over the last week to meet a number of people who are passionate about their communities. At the Heritage Round Table last Thursday, I was able to hear people speak about Haysboro and Meadowlark Park. I also heard a presenter from the This is My Cecil project talk about the community feeling engendered by that wonderful old hotel and importance of a touch point like The Cecil for the community that existed here in the East Village in the past. I was also able to speak with “Uncle Buck” who is the editor of the East Village View, an important information resource for the people of this East Village community. It may be that as the city grows, the communities that make it become more important. We all want to feel a part of a larger group and many of us want others to know the stories of our communities. I live in the community I was brought up in. It is just over 50 years old and was the ‘burb of its day, but is now considered to be nearly inner city.

I am very proud of my community. If you have strong feelings about your community, or just “community” as a general concept, you may want to consider volunteering with Jane’s Walk to give a tour of your community or to help with other things. Jane’s Walks have been happening since 2007, with the first walk in Toronto. Since then a dozen other cities have started Jane’s Walks. Calgary is one of those cities. The walks are a way to combine a simple stroll around the neighbourhood with stories from the people who live there, people who know the history and local lore of the area. They are named in honour of Jane Jacobs, a visionary thinker, whose book The Death and Life of Great American Cities championed the interests of residents and pedestrians over the car-centred approach to urban planning that was then the norm. She stood up for old buildings and their refurbishment, rather than their destruction. She changed the way we thought about urban life. Her work would inspire generations of urban planners and community activists.

Jane’s Walks are a series of free neighbourhood walking tours that aim to put people in touch with their environment and their neighbours. They are given, free of charge, by people who have an interest in their neighbourhood. They aren’t necessarily about architecture or history or planning – they offer a more personal take on the neighbourhood; local lore and culture, issues facing residents, the social history of the area. If you are interested in Jane’s Walk, it will take place in Calgary on May 1 & 2, 2010. It is organized by the Calgary Foundation and starting in April you will be able to see the roster of walks at If you would like to volunteer to be a walk leader, or would like to volunteer in any other capacity you can contact Julie Black at or at 403-802-7720. You can get more information about Jane’s Walks on the website

If you are interested in leading a walk in your community (or if you are just interested in the history of your community) we have wonderful resources here at the Calgary Public Library in the Community Heritage and Family History collection. We would be delighted to help you find information to enhance your "Jane's Walk" of your community. You can find us at the Central Library, 616 Macleod Trail SE, on the 4th floor; you can telephone us at 403-260-2785 or you can contact us by email at

PC 638

Sunnyside, ca. 1912

Postcards from the Past, PC 623

Know Alberta

by Christine Hayes - 0 Comment(s)

AJ 60 14

Cochrane Ranch House

Alison Jackson Photograph Collection, AJ 60-14

There is now another way to access our Community Heritage and Family History Digital Library., which is a doorway into the collections of a wide range of organizations such as museums, historical societies, government agencies and, of course, libraries, now includes the Alison Jackson Photograph collection, Postcards from the Past and the Judith Umbach Photograph collection.


York Hotel

Judith Umbach Photograph Collection

The collections at Glenbow and at the Lois Hole Campus Alberta Digital Library are also accessible through this portal. Calgary Public Library’s digital collection is the only one from a public library accessible on Know Alberta, and the content of our digital library is larger than those of U of Lethbridge and Athabasca University. The site is an initiative of The Alberta Library (TAL), which is a consortium of over 290 libraries across Alberta that seeks to provide barrier-free access to information for all Albertans. There are some very interesting collections available through this initiative. Click on “Browse” for a link to the participating organizations and to see what collections are available. In addition to digitized photographs, Know Alberta provides a link to video collections, maps, audio collections, documents and other media.

PC 1957

Central High School

Postcards From the Past, PC 1957

The Conservatory at the Calgary Zoo

by Christine Hayes - 0 Comment(s)

I was looking for a suitable topic for a Thanksgiving entry and stumbled across this photograph of the Conservatory at the Calgary Zoo taken on Thanksgiving Day 1963 by Alison Jackson.

AJ 80-01

Alison Jackson's photographs make up one of the collections in our Community Heritage and Family History Digital Library. Miss Jackson was a librarian with the Calgary Public Library from 1941 to her retirement in 1974. One day, walking home for lunch, she shot a photo of the Patrick Burns mansion which was shortly to be demolished. The demolition of this building and, especially, the old courthouse galvanized Alison into preserving on film buildings which were under threat. She had a keen eye and an exceptional talent and in 1975 her photographs were used to illustrate two books on the built history of Calgary: Be It Ever So Humble and A Walk Through Old Calgary both by Trudy Soby (now Cowan). These items can be borrowed from the library if you would like to see some examples of Miss Jackson's photographs. After Miss Jackson's death in 1987, her estate donated her photographs and slides to the Calgary Public Library. They have been digitized and can be viewed in the Community Heritage and Family History Digital Library (the link is on the left hand side of the page. To browse just the Alison Jackson Collection, just click on the link.

When Alison took this photograph, the Conservatory was not under threat. In fact it was new. A donation from Eric Harvie, through the Woods Foundation, provided the money for the first component of the conservatory which was opened by John Ballem, who was the President of the Zoological Society at the time. It had been built on the site of the old Biergarten/Band Stand that had been built in 1912 before there was even a zoo on St. George's Island. The original intention was that the building, seen in the postcard below, would be a true biergarten but the province was officially "dry" and no alcohol, not even beer, could be served. The building became a teahouse with a dance hall on the second storey.

PC 541

ST. George's Island Biergarten

Postcards from the Past, PC 541

There are a number of very good books on the history of the Calgary Zoo. One of the newest is by Tyler Trafford: The Evolution of the Calgary Zoo. You can find this and other titles in the collection by entering the words "calgary zoo history" in the catalogue search box on the Calgary Public Library website.

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