A Calgary Album: Glimpses of the Way We Were
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Before becoming the oil capital of the nation, Calgary was a nineteenth-century boomtown in the heart of Alberta. The roots of great prosperity were growing, despite the fact that politicians and the general public believed the West was best left to the trapper and trader.
Nurtured by a sense of vision and the sweat of good old-fashioned hard work, Calgary grew, and has now blossomed into a world-class cosmopolitan city noted for its burgeoning oil and gas industry, its famed Calgary Zoo, and of course, the Stampede. A Calgary Album is a sentimental journey into a cattle town that grew to be so much more. Through sixty-five glorious black and white photographs and engaging storytelling, the authors take the reader back to the time of the "real" cowboys, to the days when the streetcar seemed like science fiction, through the Depression, the great wars, the times of boom, bust, and recovery. We revisit the movers, the shakers, and the honourable everyday people who turned this "cow town" into a city worth bragging about.
The streets were full of sharks in suits and average people with dreams in their eyes. The man responsible for the frenzy was Archibald Dingman, founder of the Calgary Petroleum Products Company. The company made the first major naphtha-gas discovery in Alberta. The strike occurred in a once quiet stretch of the foothills southwest of Calgary known as Turner Valley. When gas and naphtha spewed out of the ground, Calgary’s fate as Canada’s oil and gas city was sealed. The Dingman #1 well in Turner Valley, May 1914.
Bowen, I. G. Baker (manager), “Ghost River” McDonald (father of D. P. ), Mr. Playfair, A. P. Patrick, Second Deputy Sheriff Fitzgerald, and Willie Bowmen (sixth from the right). Glenbow Archives, Calgary, Canada NA-345-18 Photographer unknown In 1875, The Hudson’s Bay Company’s trading post was located at the Bow River Fort. In 1884, its first store opened near the Royal Canadian Mounted Police fort in east Calgary. Glenbow Archives, Calgary, Canada ND-8-276 Photographer: Oliver, W. J. Calgary, Alberta An advertisement for the Royal Mail Line, Qu’Appelle & Calgary, 1885, from Burns and Elliott’s directory.
Those with vision, however, braved the elements and became pioneers of a way of life known as much for its hardships as its sense of promise. Calgary, to this day, stands as a monument to the struggles of the pioneer. If John Glenn, the first rancher to settle at First Creek in 1873, could have crafted himself a time machine — this resourceful man did, after all, build the first stone fireplaces for the old Bow River fort — would he have believed his eyes? Just how baffled would this pioneer be by this hustling, bustling city full of cars, cell phones, Web surfers and software developers?
The Battle Against Spirits “WHISKEY IS ALL RIGHT IN ITS place but its place is in hell. ” This curious quote from the July 3rd, 1915 edition of The Calgary Eye Opener was written by the colourful Bob Edwards. More than a bit of a sipper himself, Edwards was nonetheless highly influential in the vote for total prohibition. While his battle was primarily against the sale of whiskey (he thought beer consumption was fine), many called for a complete ban of liquor. The plebiscite was set for July 21st. Hoping to swing Edwards over to their side, hotel owners took the writer out and plied him with alcohol.
J. , Calgary, Alberta A Love of Leisure HOW DID THE SOCIAL ELITE OF CALGARY’S pre-war period spend their leisure time? Golfing at the new country club was an elegant affair, if not a fashion show in itself. Parties at ornate city mansions drew select crowds, as did the symphony concerts, music recitals, operas, and plays. Those with less money to spend, meanwhile, chose a different — and no less thrilling — form of entertainment. They packed theatres to gaze at the latest and most captivating invention from Hollywood: “moving pictures.