While driving along Calgary’s boulevards and trails, have you ever noticed an old building or two that seem to stick out from the surrounding area? One such place is Brower House, located just east of the intersection of Memorial Drive and 10th Street N.W.

Brower House, 2023 (Anthony Imbrogno)

Sunnyside is better known today for its abundance of condo buildings, infills and retail spaces than structures like Brower House. It represents how the neighbourhood used to look, with stately homes overlooking the Bow River.

Actually, these homes came later. Sunnyside was settled in the 1880s by homesteaders. Then, workers and their families from Eau Claire Sawmill and the Canadian Pacific Railway moved in. Their homes were wood-framed cottages, the sidewalks were also wooden, and the roads were dirt. Over time, mansions were constructed facing the river along Memorial Drive (formerly called Sunnyside Boulevard, until it was renamed after the Great War).

“Panoramic view of Sunnyside district, Calgary, Alberta.”, 1911, (CU183161) by Unknown. Courtesy of Libraries and Cultural Resources Digital Collections, University of Calgary.

Brower House is one of these residences. It was listed on Calgary’s Inventory of Evaluated Historic Resources in 2010 as one of the oldest houses in the neighbourhood. Built in 1907, Brower House symbolizes the expansion of urban life northward across the river from the city’s centre.

It’s also unique for its construction. Its architectural style is Queen Anne Revival, which was popular in Calgary roughly between 1890 and 1914 and features fanciful and exuberant flourishes. While more moderate than other examples, Brower House’s large front veranda with turned supports, flat roof deck, and buff-coloured bricks fit the mark.

Real estate speculation at the time of its construction meant Brower House had five different owners within three years, until it was bought by the Brower family in 1919. Frank C. Brower published the Olds Gazette and lived there with his brother Archibald and family.

“Baseball team, Olds, Alberta.”, 1912, (CU1193654) by Vogel’s Studio. Courtesy of Glenbow Library and Archives Collection, Libraries and Cultural Resources Digital Collections, University of Calgary.
Back row, L-R: Will Saunders; H. A. Samis; Mr. Maybank; A. H. Mann. Middle row, L-R: P. Cutton; F. Peterson; W. Bruce; Joe Girding. Front row, L-R: L. Walkley; Frank Brower.

The House was spared destruction when the CTrain’s “Northwest Line” was built in 1987. In 1993, it was sold by the family. Today, Brower House is a Calgary Heritage Award-winning office space redevelopment. It’s no longer a home (and has no official heritage protection), but it retains its charm and history as one of Calgary’s early residences.

– Anthony Imbrogno is a volunteer with The Calgary Heritage Initiative Society/Heritage Inspires YYC

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