Central Park and Carnegie Library
Memorial Park Library and west end of the park
I have a certain fondness for Memorial Park since it is the site of Calgary’s beautiful Carnegie Library, our first library and the first public library in Alberta. The park was originally surveyed by the CPR and reserved for parkland, thanks to William Pearce – an important man in the history of Calgary’s green spaces. In 1894 the land was used as a nursery and distribution centre for the city’s tree planting program (another nod to William Pearce – we would have had very few trees in Calgary were it not for this program).
It seems logical that Calgary’s first park would house Calgary’s first library, but it wasn’t a foregone conclusion. The matter of the library’s location went to plebiscite and the park was chosen. The park was renamed “Memorial” in 1928, reflecting its role as the home of Calgary’s memorials for the Boer War and the two World Wars.
In recognition of its value and aware of the need to reclaim the green space for the neighbourhood, an $11.5 million refurbishment was started in 2008. The library, itself the object of a major refurbishment a few years back, is still a beautiful aspect of the park with its magnificent sandstone “bow” providing a charming backdrop to the Edwardian-era feel of the landscaping.