The Eau Claire & Bow River Lumber Company, recently home to the 1886 Buffalo Café, was temporarily relocated on October 14th to allow for the redevelopment of the Eau Claire Plaza. The City-owned building was constructed in 1903 and was the second head office for the company which was the largest supplier of lumber in the North West Territories. In addition to supplying lumber for many of Calgary’s early 20th century constructions, the Eau Claire & Bow River Lumber Company also backed the construction of the Tribune Block, a sandstone Romanesque Revival commercial building located on 8th Avenue SW. In 1893, the lumber company assumed ownership of the newspaper itself, which remained in print from the same building under various names until 1907. Unlike the municipally designated Tribune Block, the humble office of the Eau Claire & Bow River Lumber Company building has no legal protections.
Relocation is not generally supported by The Standards and Guidelines for the Conservation of Historic Places in Canada, but Calgarians will recognize relocation as a likely outcome when heritage is seen to be in the way of development. Recent examples include the Eau Claire Smokestack (de-designated in 2017 to allow for its relocation as part of the same Eau Claire Plaza development project), and the Nimmon’s House (relocated on the same lot in Bankview to allow for construction of a new mixed-use structure on the grounds). Relocation is a concern when the original location is a character defining element contributing to the structure’s historic value. In the case of the Eau Claire & Bow River Lumber Company, the lack of municipal designation and recognition of character defining elements means the structure has no legal protection…at least not yet. Fortunately, the City of Calgary has committed to protect the building and its historic value during the move and Plaza redesign.