If you’re looking for some family fun this Labour Day weekend, consider visiting one of Alberta’s Provincial Historic Sites, Interpretive Centres or Museums. There is a lot of great programming that offers something for everyone – from strolling through gardens and learning about 1920s fashion, to carriage rides, guided hikes and tours, and getting your hands dirty and bellies full at the Reynolds-Alberta Museum Harvest Festival! Many of our sites, centres and museums are open year round but several others will be closing for the season after Labour Day. Don’t miss your opportunity to visit these sites before they close for the year!
New Uses for Old Places is a RETROactive series in which we are looking at examples from around Alberta of historic sites that have found interesting new uses for spaces that were originally designed for other purposes. In this last installment we will be looking at King Edward School in the neighbourhood of South Calgary as an example of adaptive reuse project underway to repurpose the building as a mixed-use arts incubator (a place that nurtures the growth and development of artists and arts organizations).
The King Edward School was constructed in 1912 as a four-storey building that features a symmetrical design, rock-faced sandstone walls and a dressed sandstone front entrance. During its time as an institution of learning, the School also functioned as a community hub, hosting dances and other events. The school operated as versions of both King Edward Elementary/Junior High School and South Calgary High School. The school closed in 2001 and sat empty…until now.
In 2011, cSPACE Projects was established by the Calgary Arts Development Authority and the Calgary Foundation for the purpose of promoting opportunities for artist and non-profit arts/community groups. cSPACE became the new owners of the property and is now embarking on an ambitious rehabilitation effort.
The project involved the removal of a 1960s addition that was deemed to be non-character-defining to the historic value of the place as well as the construction of a new addition and two adjacent art studio pavilions. Modelled around the concept of providing a ‘creative commons’, ‘learning commons’ and ‘community commons’, the finished product will include facilities for artistic production, exhibition and rehearsal and will serve as home to a range of arts organizations and independent artists.
To learn more about this project, watch this video:
As part of the project the owner and the City of Calgary have entered into an agreement to ensure that the King Edward School will be designated a Municipal Historic Resource.
(A related example is that of the Hudson’s Bay Company Stables / Ortona Armoury in Edmonton’s Rossdale Neighbourhood that is operated by the Ortona Armoury Tenants Association, a group established to coordinate the involvement of the wide range of artists and related groups currently utilizing the space. The property was designated as a municipal historic resource in 2004.)
Written by: Rebecca Goodenough, Municipal Heritage Services Officer.
Back at our Place Matters! Municipal Heritage Forum in November 2012, we heard a dynamic presentation from City of Calgary Senior Heritage Planner, Darryl Cariou, about Stephen Avenue. He described – with his usual wit – the history of the Avenue from its early days through the various “pedestrian mall” concepts popular from the 1960s through the 90s. One of the most compelling aspects of the presentation was the juxtaposition of images and photographs of the Avenue over the decades.
Here is a link to Darryl’s image-rich presentation of Stephen Avenue.
Numerous Provincial and Municipal Historic Resources line Stephen Avenue. What some of you may not know is that this historic district is actually a National Historic Site of Canada, commemorated as such by the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada in 2001. The Parks Canada website describes the importance of Stephen Avenue as:
Calgary’s Stephen Avenue provides a direct link to the unique circumstances that shaped the character of urban development on the Canadian Prairies between the 1880s and 1930.
The typical prairie city was a distinct entity from the beginning: built according to a gridiron plan oriented to the convenience of the railway and its station, with a spatial organization that placed retail and financial businesses close to the station, industry on the outskirts of the core, and residential areas in outlying suburbs that were serviced by streetcar systems. The combination of rapid growth, gridiron plan and distinct commercial, industrial and residential zones distinguished western cities from their older eastern counterparts.
During Calgary’s “sandstone era,” entrepreneurs converged on Stephen Avenue, building rows of commercial blocks in brick and stone that reflected the dramatic growth in the retail sector of the Canadian economy at that time. This street became the hub of Calgary’s retail district, strategically situated near the station and rail yards, and at the convergence point for streetcar lines leading to the city’s outskirts.
The remarkable thing about Stephen Avenue is that it continues to perform its original function as Calgary’s main street, despite the dramatic changes that have transformed retailing and urban cores across the country. Today, the rows of two to six storey commercial buildings that line both sides of the street continue to house a broad range of retail services, while their designs reflect the architectural revival styles of a bygone era, in sharp contrast to the office towers that now encircle the area.
Saved from redevelopment through the efforts of far-sighted Calgarians in the 1970s, the buildings along Stephen Avenue serve as reminders of the central role that retail streets have played, and continue to play, in sustaining the vitality of Canada’s cities.
Whether you stroll Stephen Avenue this summer as a tourist, rush along the street during your lunch break or dine in one of the many restaurants along the Avenue, perhaps the next time you experience Stephen Avenue you will take a moment to breath in the history and heritage of this significant cultural landscape!
Written by: Matthew Francis, Manager of Municipal Heritage Services
At the Place Matters! Municipal Heritage Forum back in November 2012, we heard about a highly successful community program called “Century Homes Calgary.” This initiative engaged hundreds of Calgarians in showcasing the unique heritage of their 100-year old homes, with over 500 homes participating.
Recently, the Century Homes Calgary project, and its parent organization the Calgary Heritage Initiative Society, received recognition as the 2012 English winner of the prestigious Governor General’s Award for Community Programming.
Here are the two presentations made at the Forum about the Century Homes Calgary project:
The group’s presentation at our Forum generated a lot of interest from other communities to learn how they could develop similar events.
Congratulations on your award and thank you for being an inspiration!
Written by: Matthew Francis, Manager of Municipal Heritage Services
During the Centennial year of the Calgary Exhibition and Stampede, we are posting a short series about the Big Four and the geographical features named for them. The Big Four were the ranchers and businessmen that funded Guy Weadick’s 1912 wild west show and rodeo, which grew to become today’s Calgary Stampede. Part one of our series was posted on July 10, 2012 and featured Stavely area rancher George Lane and Lane Creek. Today’s post will feature Nanton area rancher and Calgary brewer A. E. Cross and Cross Creek.
A. E. Cross: Rancher, Politician, Oilman and Brewer
Alfred Ernest Cross was influential in many aspects of Alberta’s economy. Cross was born in 1861 at Montreal. He trained as a veterinarian and came to the North West Territories in 1884 where he was employed as a veterinarian at the Cochrane Ranche (now a Provincial Historic Resource). He left the Cochrane about a year later and started his own operation, the A7 Ranche, on Mosquito Creek, just west of Nanton. For health reasons, Cross returned to Montreal for a time. During this period, he maintained control of the A7, but he also apprenticed as a brewer. He returned to Calgary in 1891 and founded the Calgary Brewing and Malting Company and established a chain of brewery-owned hotels across Western Canada. He was active professionally and socially in the Calgary region, being a founding member of the Ranchmen’s Club, the Calgary Board of Trade and the Western Stock Growers Association. He was elected to the Legislative Assembly of the North West Territories in 1898, representing East Calgary. Cross contributed to numerous charitable causes and was a noted philanthropist in southern Alberta. He was also instrumental in establishing Alberta’s oil and gas industry; in 1912, he was a founding partner of Calgary Petroleum Products, which would discover gas at Turner Valley a few years later. Despite all of these accomplishments, Cross’ lasting legacy is in the ranching sector. By 1919, the A7 Ranche had grown to control over 25,000 acres and was one of the largest ranches, possibly even the largest, in Alberta. A. E. Cross died in 1932. The A. E. Cross House in Calgary is a designated Provincial Historic Resource. As of 2012, the A7 Ranch continues to be operated by the Cross family.
Cross Creek, a tributary of Mosquito Creek, is named for A. E. Cross. The creek flows generally north and enters Mosquito Creek in Section 15, of Township 16-1-W5, about 20 km west of the Town of Nanton. The creek flows through land that was owned and operated by A. E. Cross.
Historical recordings of Cross Creek are difficult to trace. Although a number of surveyors with the Dominion Land Survey (DLS) record the presence of a small spring fed creek in the general vicinity of Cross Creek, the creek does not appear on the DLS plans for Township 16-1-W5. However, on the plan for Township 15-1-W5, there is a feature noted as “Willow Creek” that corresponds partly to today’s Cross Creek. The name “Willow Creek” was likely abandoned in order to avoid confusion with the more substantial Willow Creek a short distance to the south.
In July 1938, a series of memos were sent between various officials and representatives of the Geographic Board of Canada (GBC) regarding the approval of names in the Stimson Creek region of southern Alberta. One of these memos concerned Cross Creek; F. P. DuVernet (a member of the federal topographical survey) suggested that the creek be named Cross Creek after “the well known family in the locality who owns or controls the land through which the creek flows.” The suggestion met the approval of the GBC, but concerns were expressed about getting the consent or opinion of the Government of Alberta. Alberta had not sent a representative to the GBC for most of the 1930s. The records of the Alberta Geographical Names Program do not include any communication with provincial officials in the 1930s, so it is not clear whether Alberta’s opinion or consent was ultimately secured. However, the name Cross Creek was officially adopted at the December 12, 1939 meeting of the Geographical Board of Canada.
Written by: Ron Kelland, Historic Places Research Officer and Geographical Names Program Coordinator
National Topographic System Map Sheet: 82 J/08 – Stimson Creek
50° 15’ 50” N & 113° 59’ 30” W (approximate location of head waters) to
50° 20′ 36″ N & 114° 03′ 30″ W (at confluence with Mosquito Creek)
Alberta Township System:
NE ¼, Sec 13 Twp 15 Rge 30 W4 (approximate location of head waters) to
SS ¼, Sec 15 Twp 16 Rge 1 W5 (at confluence with Mosquito Creek)
Flows generally northerly for approximately 21 km (10 km straight line) until it joins Mosquito Creek about 20 km west of the Town of Nanton.
More information about A. E. Cross and the A7 Ranche can be found at:
“Alfred Ernest (A. E.) Cross”, Calgary Business Hall of Fame, , available from http://www.calgarybusinesshalloffame.org/bio.php?page=laureates/2007/AECross.php.
“A. E. Cross: Rancher and Jolly Brewer 1961-1932,” Trailblazers, available from http://www.cowboycountrytv.com/trailblazers/aecross.html.
“About the A7 Ranche: History of the Ranche,” A7 Ranche, available from http://www.a7ranche.com/about/.
On the morning of July 6, 2012, the 100th Calgary Exhibition and Stampede roared into life. On the west side of Stampede Park, rising from the seething mass of carnival rides, concession stands and humanity that is the Stampede midway is the Big Four Building. This building is named for the Big Four – the four Southern Alberta ranchers and businessmen who funded Guy Weadick’s proposed rodeo and wild west show in 1912. Intended to be a one-time event, the show and rodeo grew to become the Calgary Exhibition and Stampede. To say that the Big Four influenced Calgary’s popular culture would be a great understatement.
However, the legacy of the Big Four extends beyond the boundaries of Stampede Park. They left their mark not only in Calgary, but on the geography of the Province of Alberta. Today’s blog post is the first in a short series that will look at the Big Four – George Lane, A. E. Cross, Archie McLean and Pat Burns – and the places named for them.
George Lane: An American in Calgary
George Lane was born in 1856 just outside of Des Moines, Iowa. From there his life story reads like an adventure novel. As a teenager he and his father searched for gold in the Montana Territory. He then worked as a scout for the United States Army and as a ranch hand before coming to Canada in 1884 as a foreman at the Bar U Ranch (now a National Historic Site). He left the Bar U three years later and set himself up as a cattle trader, often working in partnership with the Winnipeg-based cattle company Gordon, Ironside & Fares. Lane acquired a number of ranches in the Porcupine Hills region of southwest Alberta, including the Flying E Ranch (previously named the Victor Ranch), the YT Ranch and the Willow Creek Ranch; in 1902, Lane and his partners acquired the Bar U Ranch. Lane became known as one of the most successful cattle traders in Western Canada and at one point was raising nearly 20,000 head of cattle on these ranches and adjacent leased crown lands.
Unlike many of Alberta’s ranchers, who saw the arrival of homesteaders as a threat to their way of life, George Lane saw the shifting agricultural frontier as an opportunity. He experimented with irrigation and raised herds of draft horses for sale to the west’s new farmers. Most notably, he switched large parts of his land holdings from cattle range to grain farms, becoming, by 1915, one of Alberta’s two top grain producers.
Lane served a short stint as a Member of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta, elected as a Liberal in 1913, but quickly resigning to make his seat available for a defeated cabinet minister. In 1919, Lane entertained Edward, Prince of Wales at the Bar U. The Prince was so taken with the region and the lifestyle that he soon purchased a neighbouring ranch, which became the E P Ranch (now a Provincial Historic Resource). In his later years, George Lane continued to promote settlement and investment in Alberta and occupied himself raising his prize winning Percheron horses. George Lane died at the Bar U Ranch on September 24, 1925.
In 1883, John Francis of the Dominion Land Survey, surveyed the Township 14-30-W4. In Sections 13, 24 and 25 he recorded a spring fed creek that was approximately six feet wide and contained about eight inches of water. Francis did not name the creek. The first official recording of the name Lane Creek appears to be on the 1902 edition of the Macleod Sectional Sheet (No. 74), printed by the Government of Canada. The creek flowed through a substantial part of the land controlled by George Lane. The section where Lane Creek joins Willow Creek was co-owned by Lane and his partners Gordon, Ironside & Fares.
Although in use for over half a century, the name Lane Creek was not officially recognized as the name for that stream until May 1957.
Written by: Ron Kelland, Historic Places Research Officer and Geographical Names Program Coordinator
National Topographic System Map Sheet: 82 I/04 – Claresholm
50° 14’ 22” N & 113° 58’ 52” W (approximate location of head waters) to
50° 08′ 28″ N & 113° 57′ 04″ W (at confluence with Willow Creek)
Alberta Township System:
SW ¼, Sec 7 Twp 15 Rge 29 W4 (approximate location of head waters) to
SW ¼, Sec 6 Twp 14 Rge 29 W4 (at confluence with Willow Creek)
Flows generally southerly from the for approximately 20 km (11 km straight line) until it joins Willow Creek about 22 km west of the Town of Stavely.
More information about George Lane and his partnership with Gordon, Ironsides & Fares can be found in:
Evans, Simon M. “Lane, George,” Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online, edited by John English and Réal Bélanger, Vol. XV, available from http://www.biographi.ca/009004-119.01-e.php?BioId=41957&query=.
McCullough, A. B., “Winnipeg Ranchers: Gordon, Ironside and Fares,” Manitoba History, No. 41 (Spring/Summer 2001), accessed 9 July 2012, available from http://www.mhs.mb.ca/docs/mb_history/41/winnipegranchers.shtml.
The Butte Stands Guard: Stavely & District, Volume 1 (Stavely, AB: Stavely Historical Book Society, 1976), pages 14-20, 231-234.
When it was announced, in 1881, that the Canadian Pacific Railway would be passing by the site of Fort Calgary, interest in land around the Fort, which was east of the Elbow River, began to grow. By the time the railway was approaching, a community had sprung up outside the Fort. As land prices were consequently high, the CPR decided to skirt the existing community and acquire cheaper land to the west of the Elbow on which to erect its station. An exodus of people from east of the Elbow soon followed. A few earlier residents stayed however, including Major James Walker of the North-West Mounted Police, Major John Stewart, also of the NWMP, and William Pearce of the federal Department of the Interior. Walker’s home, called Inglewood, would later give its name to this community, and it was from his house that the first crude telephone system was installed in Calgary, when, in 1885, Walker ran a line from it to his lumber mill, two miles away.
Walker’s telephone system eventually had several other subscribers, but it was scrapped shortly after 1887, when Calgary Town Council invited the Bell Telephone Company to erect a system in the rapidly growing town. By the turn of the 20th century, Bell had a complete network throughout the City, operating from a central exchange. The City however was not pleased by the monopoly enjoyed by Bell, a feeling reflected by the new provincial government which came into being in 1905. By this time, Bell had set up systems in both Calgary and Edmonton, and in most towns in Alberta, but it would not extend costly services to most rural areas. As a result, the government bought out Bell’s interests in the province and set up a Crown corporation called Alberta Government Telephones. Soon, telephone services were moving to the rural areas, while those in the larger centers were improved.
In Calgary, which reached a population of 29,265 by 1909, the manual exchange system was proving woefully inadequate, and so AGT decided to install an automated one. This was a red brick structure at 1311-9th Avenue East, which was designed by Alberta’s Provincial Architect, A. M. Jeffers who designed most of the first major government buildings in the province. The new Calgary telephone building, which was opened in 1909, served as a sub-station to the main exchange on 7th Avenue. It was equipped by the Automatic Electric Company to handle 300 telephone lines, but, as this soon proved inadequate, the building was enlarged the following year to enable it to handle 1,000 lines.
Before long, other exchanges became operational as, by 1921, most homes and businesses in Calgary were equipped with telephones. What became known as the East End Telephone Exchange continued to serve the southeast end of the City until 1957, when it was closed down in favor of newer and more modern facilities. The building was then leased to various other interests and served different purposes, including a nursery and a shoe repair store.
In 1972, the building was sold by AGT to the Inglewood Community Association and began to serve as the Silverthreads Community Center. In 1981, it was declared a Registered Historic Resource by the Alberta Minister of Culture, and, in April 2009, it was designated a Provincial Historic Resource. Its historical significance lies both in its representation of the introduction of an automated telephone system to Calgary in 1909, and the establishment of Alberta Government Telephones, the province’s first Crown Corporation, the year before. It is important too as a structural representative of the rapid urban development of Calgary prior to World War I, and as a landmark in the Inglewood district.
Written by: David Leonard, Historian
Visit the Alberta Register of Historic Places to learn more about the heritage value of the Inglewood Telephone Exchange. In order for a site to be designated a Provincial Historic Resource, it must possess province-wide significance. To properly assess the historic importance of a resource, a historian crafts a context document that situates a resource within its time and place and compares it to similar resources in other parts of the province. This allows staff to determine the importance of a resource to a particular theme, time, and place. Above, is some of the historical information used in the evaluation of the Inglewood Telephone Exchange.
You may have read that Calgary’s city council has decided to incorporate the Eamon’s Gas Station (also known as the Eamon’s Bungalow Camp) into the planned Tuscany LRT Station. Calgary will conserve a historic resource rather than demolishing it to make room for parking. This is exciting news!
We recently talked with Christy Caswell, one of the City’s Heritage Planners, and she said that Calgarians today are enthusiastic in supporting their city’s historic places. The interest garnered by the Eamon’s project has been one of many catalysts for people to think about historic places in a new way, and how they can be creatively integrated with new development.
Alberta’s municipalities can identify and conserve historic resources without the provincial government’s permission or involvement by legally protecting these places as Municipal Historic Resources. If interested, municipalities can also offer conservation incentives. By extension, each municipality is free to determine its own criteria for deciding what to designate. Calgary is a fine example of this.
Calgary has identified a range of heritage values that a place must reflect to be considered for conservation. For example, the Calgary Heritage Authority has overseen the development of context papers for many of Calgary’s historic communities. The city’s heritage planning program regularly evaluates potential historic place for significance. The result is Calgary’s Inventory of Evaluated Historic Resources. Each place on the city’s inventory reflects a local heritage value. Indeed, the Eamon’s Bungalow Camp is one of over 600 places included on Calgary’s Inventory. Be sure to read the listing to learn about the site’s history.
The Municipal Heritage Partnership Program (MHPP) helps municipalities develop programs that will identify, evaluate and conserve locally significant historic places. For more information, visit the MHPP website.
Written by: Matthew Francis and Michael Thome, Municipal Heritage Services
One advantage the major cities of the Canadian prairies had over their eastern counterparts was that, when they entered periods of frantic development in the early 20th century, they could see what pitfalls in urban planning the earlier established eastern cities had already encountered. Urban design was, therefore, probably undertaken with a greater sensitivity towards landscaping and park space than would otherwise have been the case. Though commonly regarded as unsophisticated towns of the wild west, both Edmonton and Calgary made sure they had ample space set aside for parks and gardens, in both their suburbs and their downtown cores, and planted trees along many of their streets, and, in many cases, provided extra spaces for flowers and lawns. The two cities were thus able to avoid the image of an urban jungle which had initially prevailed in many industrial cities of the East.
In Calgary, the City created the position of Superintendent of Parks and Cemeteries in 1913. For the position, it hired a horticulturalist from England, William Reader, who had recently been the gardener for Pat Burns and his commercial empire. Reader had actually been trained as a school teacher, but he developed a personal interest in gardening, and designed the gardens of several large estates in England before migrating to western Canada in 1908. Upon his appointment in Calgary, he embarked on a vast planting project, lining many of the streets with trees and expanding the park space from 520 to over 1,300 acres. Over the next 29 years, he would create several public parks, such as Central Park, Tuxedo Park and Victoria Park. He would also create a number of children’s playgrounds, golf courses, tennis courts and outdoor skating rinks. His work occasionally took him out of Calgary as well, for example, his landscaping of the EP Ranch for the Prince of Wales.
The project to which Reader is most closely associated, however, is called the Reader Rock Garden, which was built in his own back yard, which was City owned space at Macleod Trail and 25th Avenue SE. The space included an area for the residence of the Superintendent of Parks & Cemeteries. Reader was inspired by the City Beautiful movement which had taken hold in Europe and North America towards the end of the 19th century. Envisioning Calgary as a “showplace city” he embarked on a plan to make the space next to his residence into a model garden, featuring a wide range of flowers, trees and other plant species. Areas were spaced off with rock fences, with other colourful rocks also interspersed among the plants and trees. Reader also experimented with plant and flower varieties, with his garden becoming part of the system of Dominion agricultural research stations. As a result, his reputation grew with time, as seeds from his garden were used by a number of prestigious gardens in England and North America.
Most of Reader’s creative work was done during the 1920s. The Depression did much to curtail park expansion and the landscaping of boulevards. Reader himself was forced to retire in 1942 at age 67, and, the following year, he passed away. In 1944, his garden was named in his honour, but its upkeep in the years that followed did not live up to his reputation. His cottage was removed in 1944, and, in later years, furnishings and other buildings were removed. Foreign and unsympathetic plants were allowed to invade the garden. Recently, however, efforts were made to transform the site back to its original condition of horticultural excellence. In 2006, the Reader Rock Garden was designated a Provincial Historic Resource. Its historical significance lies in its representation of the efforts of its developer, William Reader, to transform the bustling City of Calgary from a sprawling western metropolis of office blocks and redundant suburbs into a showplace city filled with parks, landscaped boulevards and recreational facilities.
Written by: David Leonard, Historian
Visit the Alberta Register of Historic Places to learn more about the heritage value of the Reader Rock Garden in Calgary. In order for a site to be designated a Provincial Historic Resource, it must possess province-wide significance. To properly assess the historic importance of a resource, a historian crafts a context document that situates a resource within its time and place and compares it to similar resources in other parts of the province. This allows staff to determine the importance of a resource to a particular theme, time, and place. Above, is some of the historical information used in the evaluation of the Reader Rock Garden.
CalgaryFire Hall No. 1 was designated a Provincial Historic Resource in 2009. In order for a site to be designated a Provincial Historic Resource, it must possess province-wide significance for either its history or architecture. To properly assess the historic importance of a resource, a historian crafts a context document that situates a resource within its time and place and compares it to similar resources in other parts of the province. This allows staff to determine the importance of a resource to a particular theme, time, and place. Below is some of the historical information used in the evaluation of the Calgary Fire Hall No. 1.
The first attempt to provide an orderly method of firefighting in the frontier community of Calgary came with its incorporation in 1884 when a volunteer fire committee was established. One of its first acts was to acquire a horse drawn wagon for a volunteer bucket brigade. In 1886, a major fire devastated the downtown and, as a result, most new commercial buildings were made of brick or stone, but these were still vulnerable to internal fires. A serviceable fire hall was obviously required.
In 1887, a wood frame fire hall was erected on 122 – 7th Avenue East. This served the town well at first, but Calgary continued to grow rapidly, and the need for another facility was soon apparent. It was not until 1905, however, that another fire hall was erected, this being another wood frame structure on 1801 Macleod Trail to serve the south side of the city. Even this was hardly adequate, for Calgary continued to grow at a frantic pace, its population rising to over 43,000 in 1911.
In 1911, both Calgary fire halls were replaced with modern brick facilities. Other fire halls were also soon built in other parts of the city. By this time, a Fire Department was a part of the civic administration, and paid fire fighters were stationed right at the halls. Reports on fires were sent in through the newly installed telephone system, and responses were handled by motorized fire trucks with pressurized pumps.