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Aboriginal Awareness Week

by Christine Hayes - 0 Comment(s)

Aborignal Awareness

This week is Aboriginal Awareness Week in Canada. Yesterday I took a stroll into Olympic Plaza (another one of the perks of working at the Central Library) and watched some of the events that celebrated the theme “Power of Youth, Wisdom of Elders.” There were young dancers and drummers in their traditional costumes, young people that carry the pride of their ancestry and the continuation of the old ways into the new millennium. I also listened to the speech by Narcisse Blood, who brought the wisdom of his elders into the debate on the relationship of man and nature in this new, commercial world.

In this blog I talk about our built environment, the historic buildings that are under threat or have been repurposed. I also talk about genealogy, which celebrates the past and our ancestors place in that past. I often think I have my head buried in the past with only passing concern for the future. But watching the young people celebrate their past and listening to Narcisse talk about moving into the future, using the wisdom of the past, I came to the realization that one is inseparable from the other. I know it is a cliché to say that those who don’t remember the past are doomed to repeat it, but I believe that not only is there a very great chance that we won’t learn from what we know of the past, but that if we don’t learn, there may not be a future. Originally I had posted an entry this week about endangered places but listening to Narcisse’s speech, I realized that the First Nations people in this area of the country had already lost their places. The grasslands that supported the people are gone along with the buffalo which was hunted to near extinction in a very short period of time. Narcisse passed on the wisdom of his grandfather, who, rather than be impressed by his grandson’s catch of nine beautiful whitefish, admonished him to only take what he needed. This, possibly, is the way we need to approach what we have. This applies to places, to people, and to things. Let’s use only what we need. Let’s fix what we have and celebrate our successes. Let’s bring the past into the future and learn from what both our youth and our elders have to tell us. To quote Narcisse: “Greed is not an option.”

The Calgary Public Library has lots of resources for anyone who is interested in the history of the first peoples of this area. There is a very good collection in the Community Heritage and Family History section of the Central Library including some early accounts by explorers who were among the first to encounter the people who lived in this area.

Pc 849

Sarcee Camp

Postcards from the Past, PC 849

The Rivers that Shaped Calgary

by Christine Hayes - 0 Comment(s)

PC 1308

At the Junction of the Bow and Elbow Rivers, Calgary

Postcards from the Past, PC1308

I’ve written before, I think, on the rivers of Calgary, or more specifically, on the floods in Calgary. But the theme of this week’s Heritage Roundtable got me thinking about the importance of the rivers in Calgary’s history. After all, we are a city with a district called Bridgeland – obviously, there is some importance attached to the rivers and the crossing of them. The earliest settlement of Calgary was established at the confluence of the Bow and Elbow rivers. Fort Calgary was built in 1875 in what is now the east side of the city but at the time, and until the CPR decided to situate further west, it was the hub of settlement in this area. There is a reason that City Hall is in the east end of Calgary, that was, in the early years, where the action was.

It is possible that the decision to establish the settlement where the Bow and the Elbow meet was in keeping with the encampment of the First Nations people who would settle there for the winter. The bluffs around the city, carved by those very rivers, were suitable for use a buffalo jumps and the water was clear and clean and necessary for life. The Elbow River still serves as the source of our drinking water, which is some of the best in the world. This was not always the case. Before the construction of the Glenmore Dam, the city’s water was delivered via a gravity feed system from somewhere near Twin Bridges to a reservoir in what is now the Richmond Green golf course. Reports of small fish and other things coming through the taps prompted the building of a proper dam and water treatment system that still serves part of the city.

The history of the library was also affected by the river running through our centre. Alexander Calhoun felt it was necessary to establish Calgary’s first branch library on the north side of the Bow because the inhabitants of that side of the city were cut off from the “city proper”.

I can’t imagine what life would be like without those marvelous rivers. I remember lazy summer afternoons drifting down the Elbow, skipping school to swing on the rope in what is now Lindsay Park, but was, then, just scrub land. I love the summer walks in the Weaselhead area, watching the swallows building their nests on the bridges and visits to the pelicans at the weir in the Bow. The Bow and Elbow rivers have played an important role in many aspects of the growth and development of Calgary and they have provided the inhabitants of Calgary with some of the most beautiful scenery in the world.

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Bow River and Irrigation Canal, Calgary

Postcards from the Past PC143

In addition to the historic images of the rivers in and around Calgary available in our Community Heritage and Family History Digital Library (link is on our homepage and to the left of this entry), we have a number of different books that have interesting information on the history of water in Calgary. Max Foran's Calgary: an illustrated history has a very good account of the founding of the city, as well as information about Calgary's water supply. From Prairie to Park by Morris Barraclough, which is available in the collection At Your Service: part 1 includes a very detailed history of Calgary's parks including the attempts by early horticultural pioneers such as William Pearce to bring irrigation, and therefore the ability to grow trees, into the city. We also have two books by John Gilpin on order for the collection: Elbow Valley: a People Place and Builders and Benefactors: the Story of Calgary's Parks and Open Spaces. both are listed in the library catalogue and, so, you can place a hold on either or both. We are looking forward to reading them ourselves.

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.

Brewery Gardens

by Christine Hayes - 0 Comment(s)

AJ 51-08

Disney Themed Display

Calgary Brewing and Malting Company Gardens, 1960

Alison Jackson Photography Collection, AJ 51-08

The days are getting longer. Thanks to a wonderful Chinook things are warming up. Now is the time to think about gardens. OK, so maybe it is a bit early to think about actually gardening in Calgary but I stumbled across this picture of Snow White in the Brewery Gardens and I thought now would be a great time to talk about those particular gardens and what they’ve meant to Calgarians over the years.

The gardens were originally developed in 1932 and were a project of James Cross, the son of A.E.Cross who had taken over management of the Brewery from his father. Originally the plan for the garden was a bit of a make-work effort. In keeping with the Cross family tradition of looking out for their employees and giving back to their community, the gardens were an idea designed to reduce the need for layoffs and to give employees something to do during the Depression. It was a simple design, stands of trees and shrubs and a few flower gardens.

This would all change with the introduction of the fish ponds. James Cross was interested in water. Calgary Brewing and Malting’s slogan for a time was “The water makes the difference, naturally.” Indeed, the brewery was founded where it was because of the presence of an artesian well on the property. Water was important to good beer, and James realized that fish, too, needed clear, clean water to thrive. The symbolism was not lost on James Cross. From 1938 to 1972 a fish hatchery would be operated on the Brewery site. Water, warmed in the brewing process, would be used to sustain the hatchlings and the fish raised at the hatchery were used to populate the ponds and streams in the garden. The hatchery was just the first step in a process that would make the Calgary Brewing and Malting site a community centerpiece. By 1960 the Cross family had opened a large aquarium on the site – the largest inland aquarium in Canada. The second floor was designed to house James’ collection of western memorabilia. This would become the Horseman’s Hall of Fame in 1963.

The gardens themselves would house artifacts. A cabin, believed to be the oldest building in Calgary, was rescued and moved to the gardens in 1933 (see the picture below). Streetcar 14, after completing its final run, was moved for preservation to the site. Its frame was used to build the replica streetcar that runs at Heritage Park.

AJ 21=14

Cabin in Brewery Gardens 1957

Alison Jackson Photography Collection, AJ 21-14

The gardens were open to the public and were a very popular spot. In the winter, decorations were put out to make the gardens a year-round attraction. The first photograph shows a Disney-themed display from 1960 as viewed by Alison Jackson, whose collection of photographs can be viewed in our Community Heritage and Family History Digital Library.

According to a 1997 Historical Resource Impact Assessment of the site by Ken Hutchinson Architect Ltd. (which is available in the Local History room on the 4th floor of the Central Library) the structure of the gardens were found to be intact “with the important exceptions that the pools no longer contain water and fish and that the gardens no longer have the floral displays”. The 1875 cabin was still on the site, as was a replica of the original buffalo mascot. The talk surrounding the Calgary Brewing and Malting site has included the possibility of bringing the gardens back to their original state. That would be an interesting development and one many residents of the area (and others) would like to see.

PC 1406

Calgary Brewing and Malting Company Gardens

Postcards from the Past, PC 1406

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

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 www.thecalgaryfoundation.org. 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 jblack@thecalgaryfoundation.org or at 403-802-7720. You can get more information about Jane’s Walks on the website www.janeswalk.net.

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 information@calgarypubliclibrary.com.

PC 638

Sunnyside, ca. 1912

Postcards from the Past, PC 623

Calgary Brewing and Malting - Follow-Up

by Christine Hayes - 0 Comment(s)

PC 758

East Calgary, Alberta with the Brewery in the background, ca. 1910s

Postcards from the Past, PC 758

The Town Hall Meeting regarding the Calgary Brewing and Malting site at the Inglewood Community Centre last Thursday was a resounding success. Nearly 200 people listened to a variety of speakers including Max Foran, who spoke about the history of Calgary Brewing and Malting, his wife Heather, who told about her experience as the underwater fish feeder at the aquarium and Darryl Cariou, Senior Heritage Planner for the City of Calgary, talked about the heritage value of the site and the status of the project. We also heard from community members who shared their experiences of the Brewery and the significance of the site to their lives and we heard about projects such as the Ramsay Exchange, where preservation of heritage buildings has fit in successfully with development plans. It was a very positive meeting, and raises hope that the needs of the community, both the immediate community of Inglewood and the larger community of the city, and the needs of the developer can be accommodated. For the latest information and updates visit www.calgaryheritage.org.

Calgary Public Library had a display of materials related to the subject and were our resources well used. Dr. Foran read from a copy of the Heritage Resource Impact Assessment done by Molson’s in the 1990s and Global TV used two of our postcards of the Brewing and Malting site to illustrate their news story. We do have a good collection of material related to Calgary Brewing and Malting including the postcards in the Community Heritage and Family History Digital Library. Use the search term “brewery or brewing”. The results should include a postcard of the Brewery gardens and the Horseman’s Hall of Fame. If you are interested in finding out more about the history of the brewery, the history of the neighbourhood or the history of the Cross family, come down and visit us in the Community Heritage and Family History collection at the Central Library. We are open from Monday to Thursday, 9am to 8pm, Friday 9am to 5pm and Saturday 10am to 5pm. Stop at the reference desk at the 4th floor and we'll show you around.

Calgary Brewing and Malting

by Christine Hayes - 3 Comment(s)

PC 1376

Calgary Brewing and Malting Co.

Postcards from the Past, PC 1376

Another historic Calgary site has been in the news recently. The owner of the Calgary Brewing and Malting site in Inglewood has applied for demolition permits for some of the buildings on the site. Although it is a Class A heritage site, this designation does not legally block the owner from demolishing the buildings. A Historic Resource Impact Assessment has been ordered.

The Calgary Brewing and Malting Company was really one of the very first Calgary industries. It was founded in 1892 by A.E. Cross, one of the Big Four, on a site which was, at the time, just outside of the city limits. It had two key elements important to a brewery; its proximity to the rail line and an artesian well nearby (because we all know, "the water makes the difference, naturally.") Some of the buildings on that site date to the original founding of the company. There are also buildings on the site that hold historic significance because of their architecture. For example, the administration office was designed by Hodgson and Bates in 1907 and maintains some of the original detail including a sandstone carving of a buffalo head and horseshoe, the logo of the company and a familiar symbol to anyone who grew up quaffing the company’s products (which did include soft drinks!) Calgary Brewing and Malting was the first industry in Calgary to use natural gas in 1908. The gas came from a well drilled by Archie Dingman's Calgary Natural Gas Company on Colonel Walker's estate.

The site also bears historic importance because of the role of the company in the life of this city. The area around was known as Brewery Flats because of the importance of the industry as an employer to the people who lived there. The Cross family employed people in good times and in bad. During the Depression, rather than lay off employees, they were put to work creating the Brewery Gardens, trout ponds and fish hatchery. They held the jobs for those who had gone to serve in World War II. The grounds also housed the largest salt water aquarium west of Vancouver and the Horseman’s Hall of Fame. There is an excellent discussion of the site and its importance to the city on the Calgary Heritage Initiative’s website:

http://www.calgaryheritage.org/phpbb/viewtopic.php?p=1678

The Community Heritage Roundtable and the Inglewood Community Association are hosting a meeting regarding this site on July 16, 7 pm at the Inglewood Community Hall, 1740 – 24th Avenue SE. RSVP your intention to attend at the following website by July 14: http://www.calgarycommunities.com/events.php

or you can telephone 403-244-4111.

We also have resources available here at the Calgary Public Library. Of particular interest is the four volume Historical resource impact assessment done by Ken Hutchinson Architect Limited for Molson’s in 1997. This is in the Community Heritage and Family History room at the Central Library, along with other information about the company.

The Stampede Parade

by Christine Hayes - 0 Comment(s)

PC 868

Parade on Stephen Avenue, ca 1900s

Postcards from the Past, PC 868

Did everyone see the parade? We are strategically placed here at the Central Library. We have windows that look right over 6th Avenue E, right at the beginning of the parade route. We were able to catch a little of the action on Friday morning. Mike Holmes was the Grand Marshal and in good cowboy style, he was proudly astride a horse. No buggy rides for him.

The parades haven’t changed too much in the many years I have been watching them. There are always lots of horses (and the attendant street sweepers) lots of bands, plenty of colourful costumes and our First Nations neighbours in traditional dress. The Native bands around Calgary were among the first people that Guy Weadick approached when he was putting together the first Stampede in 1912 and they have been a part of the parades and, really, every aspect of the Stampede since then.

Our first Stampede parade was led by the fire chief Cappy Smart. Of course, parades were a part of city celebrations long before the Stampede. There was a great parade for the Dominion Exhibition in 1908. The postcard image in this entry is of a Roman chariot being driven through the streets of Calgary for that parade. I don’t know why I’m always surprised to realize that the streets in Calgary were dirt at that time, but they were. We have lots of postcard images of parades in Calgary. You can search the Community Heritage and Family History Digital Collection (the link is on the left side of this page) for “parade” and turn up some interesting ones. If you’re interested in Stampede history, we have a very fine collection of postcards of the original Stampede along with cards from other events, including the 1908 Exhibition. Use the search term ‘stampede’ or ‘dominion exhibition’ to see those. We also have a good collection of material such as programs, livestock catalogues, lists of prize winners and even planning documents from when the Stampede was proposing to move to Lincoln Park. Come on down and see us!

St. George's Island

by Christine Hayes - 0 Comment(s)

PC 1755

St. George's Island Park, Calgary

Postcards from the Past, PC 1755

I don't know what you did on Victoria Day but I'll bet a large number of Calgarians celebrated by visiting some of the city's fine parks. This photo shows a large crowd of people in the park on St. George's Island. St. George's Island was a park long before it housed the Calgary Zoo. Originally the island was a stopping point for itinerant travellers, but by 1890, the city had obtained a lease on the islands, St. George, St. Andrew and St. Patrick, from the Federal Government on the recommendation by William Pearce. The lease stipulated that the city upgrade the islands for use as parks by the citizens of Calgary. A ferry service was provided from 1892 to 1900, when a footbridge was constructed. In 1907 a by-law was passed to raise $25,000 to build the Algoma steel bridge that exists to this day. It was completed in 1908.

Calgarians loved the park. There was a bandstand and a biergarten (constructed without checking about the legality of selling beer in a public facility - so it became a teahouse). The top floor of the biergarten was a dancehall. Cinder pathways were laid and fire places installed for picnickers. Average turn outs for the band concerts were estimated, in a Calgary Herald article from 1911, to be 1,500 to 2,000.

There had been a few attempts to start a zoo in Calgary. Citizens thought that the island would be a perfect setting. After a few false starts, the zoo's collection began with two wayward deer that had found themselves in the big city and were corralled in the cages the dog catcher had set up near the biergarten. The display became so popular that the fledgling zoo, under the direction of parks superintendent William Reader, began to grow.

We now have a zoo that is known the world over. St. George's Island continues to be a popular attraction for locals and visitors alike.

To see more photos of St. George's Island and the early years of athe zoo, check out the Community Heritage and Family History Digital Library. The link is on the right side of the page. If you are interested in finding out more about the history of the Zoo, you can check out the CHFH collection on the 4th floor of the Central Library. The resources I used in researching this entry were the Summer 1979 issue of Dinny's Digest (590.737123 DIN Winter - Fall 1979); Ark on the Bow River, a bound manuscript by Catherine Phillip (590.744 PHI) and The Evolution of the Calgary Zoo by Taylor Trafford (590.737123 TRA). We also have newspaper clippings in our files as well as a number of other interesting items. Drop by, we'd love to see you.

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