CHI'S BUILDING HISTORIES INITIATIVE

Celebrations for Canada’s 150 years of confederation are underway, with a special focus on heritage. In 1867, Calgary was part of the western immigration boom. When the Canadian Pacific Railway reached Calgary in the 1880’s, development really started to take off.  By the country's centennial year in 1967, the Calgary Tower was under construction along these same tracks. Unlike Canada’s eastern cities, Calgary’s built heritage may not reach back to confederation, but there are plenty of stories yet to be told about the buildings, homes, industries, and people that followed the boom-bust cycles of our development.

Inspired by the National Trust for Canada’s goal for the nation's 150th, the Calgary Heritage Initiative  has exciting plans to “broaden our circle of supporters and public champions". CHI will reach this goal through 150 Stories about building histories, a three-year program of engagement, education, discovery, and storytelling about our built heritage. 

Many Calgarians are surprised to learn that one in three communities in the city harbour places and stories of historical merit dating from the 1800s to the 1960s.

  • Year 1 of our 3-year program focuses on stories from the frontier years, railway era and early settlement, up to 1905.
  • Year 2 covers the age of optimism before the first World War through to the bust of the depression and WWII.
  • Year 3 explores the oil boom of the mid-century and the post-war influences on the City’s development, with an eye on the future.

Our goal is to have 150 story-telling activities completed by year 3.  Here are some ways that you can get involved:

  • Research the history of your house or apartment building and who lived there
  • Research a building where you work, shop, eat or drink, and the business personalities that came before
  • Research your favorite public building, cultural site, or park 
  • Research threatened and demolished buildings in your neighbourhood
  • Record an interview a longtime resident or senior
  • Photograph, write an article, or produce a video
  • Give a talk, lead a walk, start a blog, or organize a blockparty
  • Draw, sketch or paint built heritage and host a gallery show
  • Engage with your local school in Grade 4 local history and culture curriculum projects
  • Investigate the industries that supported traditional trades and local building materials

CHI is partnering with groups like The Calgary Public Library, The Glenbow Museum, University of Calgary, Chinook Country Historical Society, Jane's Walks, Doors Open YYC, and Calgary’s community associations to deliver events to support the program, including:

  • Workshops on community engagement, how to research historic properties, demystifying the historic resource designation process, and renovating heritage properties.
  • Seminar series on creative writing, photography, videography, how to conduct oral histories, how to lead neighbourhood walks, how and where to post stories.
  • Talks and tours that share the stories of Calgary’s built heritage.

 “We think of Calgary as being such a shiny new city, but there are many historic places just waiting to have their stories told, from the early settlement era in the late 1800’s, to the development frenzy before World War  I, on up to the mid-century oil boom era. CHI wants to engage Calgarians in preserving our built heritage by showing them how to research these properties and share their stories before the wrecking ball hits again.”  - Karen Paul, CHI’s Communications Chair

CHI wants to share your stories! We are seeking short, 400-500 word illustrated articles for our web posts/archive and social media. Inspire others to be as passionate about preserving heritage as you are. Visit our "Posts" page for examples and email contact@calgaryheritage.org with “150 Stories” in the subject line if you have questions or want to submit. 

Stay connected with CHI’s events and posted stories– join CHI today and sign up for our emails.