It is unfortunate that for the cost of progress, 20% of Canada’s historic buildings have been demolished. However, there are organizations, like the Canadian Register of Historic Places, that are seeking to preserve old homes and buildings, of which Calgary has many.
Walking into these homes, or just strolling by, is similar to what you would expect from a step back in time; when pedestrians hurried to catch streetcars, homes were manufactured from wood frame, and none of the buildings were more than a few stories tall. Today, the buildings that remain stand as stalwart reminders of where we’ve been, and how far we’ve come. They are a testament to history’s good, bad and the ugly, but point to more good than bad, and to a future bolstered by yesterday’s strength.
The Colonel James Walker House, named for its primary resident of 25 years, Colonel James Walker, the historic home is located in Inglewood, and is a prime example of an early twentieth century dwelling. The two-story brick house is trimmed in sandstone and is flanked on two sides by a wide veranda. The original house and the adjacent brick carriage house are each designated as national historic landmarks. By the way, Colonel Walker affectionately called the home “Inglewood”, and it is from this designation that the neighborhood’s name was derived. In 1929 the property became a sanctuary for migratory birds, and since that time is recognized as the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary.
A savvy businessman, Colonel Walker was said to have laid Calgary’s first sidewalk, strung the first telephone line and was responsible for illuminating the city with natural gas from a well on his property. Significantly, Walker also founded the Calgary Agricultural Society, which morphed into the Calgary Stampede. He died in 1936. Forty-one years later, the Colonel was named Calgary’s Citizen of the Century.
Inglewood Bird Sanctuary
The A. E. Cross House was the residence of Alfred E. Cross, and was built in 1891. It is one Calgary’s oldest residences. Like many homes of the day, the A.E. Cross House was a two-story structure, situated on seven lots along the border of the Bow River. The location was known as “Old Town” in East Calgary. The house might remind you of a gingerbread house, with its hip roof, cross gables, gingerbread trim and clapboard siding. A widow walk is also attached to the house. A widow walk is a cupola, or single dormer at the top of the roof, surrounded by a railing. From this vantage point, as the story goes, women watched and waited for their men to return from the sea.
A.E. Cross owned one of the largest and earliest ranches. He was a member of the Big Four, which established the Calgary Stampede. A political figure, Cross, was elected to the Territorial Legislation in the 1890’s.
1240 8th Ave. SE.
The three-story wood frame National Hotel is situated on three lots in the Inglewood area. It is yellow and red brick, and have beautiful arch designs located over the windows. The link of the site to the community of Inglewood, a brewery, and livery stable all contributed to its historical designation status. The town grew very quickly during and after the First World War. Inglewood was established in the 1880’s and the National Hotel came to be in 1907, though the doors didn’t open until 1908. The setting of the hotel is reminiscent of Edwardian architecture. It was the typical design of early hotels in Alberta, and built in urban settings.
1043- 10 Ave. SW
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