Today…. I was a tourist (Pt 2)

Good Afternoon 2013!

I figured being the first day of the year, it would be a wonderful day to continue my tour around the city… especially, since unlike a lot of people I am not hurting from last nights celebration.  Nope, I went to bed in good time so that I would be able to wake bright and early this morning and embark on another city adventure.  No feeling sick (as I have in the past couple of days), no being lazy, no excuses.

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This time, I didn’t have as much direction as I did last walk around the downtown core.  This time… I had a few places in mind that I wanted to check out, but ultimately, I was winging it. Hoping to find as many interesting things as I had the first time….  and you know what I realized? All the time when people talk about the rich history in the maritime provinces, the old buildings, the stunning architecture…  I feel jealous. I love toodling around old Quebec, I can’t say I have been farther than that… but I will probably combust the day I make it to St. John.  Today I learned that although my city has imploded many old buildings, much of our culture is still alive! So much! Yes we have a downtown core that is filled to the absolute brim with tall glassy buildings (what do you expect from oil companies?), but we also have these sneaky heritage buildings on almost every street!  And the best part? The heritage buildings are not boarded up… they’re being used in alternative ways!

For example…

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Imperial Bank of Canada……aka Catch. A seriously popular seafood restaurant!

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Travelling to Europe I looked at the buildings …..  all stuck together and some in Amsterdam especially that were wonderfully uneven giving so much character.  Well, isn’t that basically what we see here? Yes! I don’t know if it’s because of my camera… or my attitude, or possibly both, but I am officially seeing the beauty in absolutely everything. The building pictured above is primarily Doll Block – originally Doll’s Diamond Palace. Doll block is one of my very favorite stories: The building itself was built by Louis Henry Doll in 1907, Doll was a well-known jeweler originally from Toronto. A year after the Doll building was built, his young daughter died of scarlet fever throwing Doll into a deep depression. The depression resulted in him losing everything, and was eventually committed to the mental institution in Ponoka. The Doll building continued its rein in the jewel business via Doll’s apprentice, David Black. Seemingly cursed, that same year the building was victim to what was then the city’s largest ever jewelry heist! The thief was pretending to deliver a package and ended up making off with some $10,000 worth of gems!

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Canadian Pacific Railway played such a huge part in the building of this city, it allowed the eastern cities to connect with the prairie frontier.  This here is the last (restored) portion of the old CP Rail station within the city!

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“Locomotive 29” a standard locomotive costing little more than $7,000 to build in 1887.  29 was the last CP steam operated train to run the rail in 1960. It operated in Quebec during the first World War and remained there into the Depression.  Now… it lives near the heart of my city – seasonally donned with Christmas lights.

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The Grain Exchange building….

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Built in 1909, Grain Exchange was the city’s original sky-scraper. Cooool! At a whopping six stories, a technological marvel! Crazy how things have changed… what’s also crazy, is that I drive right past this building, oh probably 3 or 4 times a week.  I never knew that it was the Grain Exchange building, and I certainly never knew it was our first sky-scarper.

ImageThen there’s the Palliser Hotel…. a real beauty. I always find that Palliser hotels are so so so gorgeous – I really love the old, you know? Built in 1914, right off the CP railway, and right off the station too. In fact, it was considered by many to be a CP hotel and the city itself even dubbed “sure to grow” once the hotel was constructed. It took three years, one and a half million dollars, and five hundred men to build the 8.5 story Palliser. Of course, by the time it was built the city was in a bust, rather than a boom, and was dubbed “the only thing worth looking at or being interested in this city”.  Expansion in 1929 brought the hotel up another three floors + penthouse.

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The Palliser, said to be haunted (of course, what Palliser isn’t?) is definitely a blast from the past. Walking into the crazy thick aroma of brunch, old upholstery, and insanely glitzy Christmas trees…. Going up the elevator and meandering back down the creepy teeny tiny stairwell, I wasn’t sure if I felt more like I was in the Shining, or possibly Somewhere In Time.

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Out back, somewhere behind many of the lovely restored sandstone heritage buildings… was this.  I, of course loving the old… and apparently run down, find this building (and picture) charming. Sort of a reminder that there’s no need to hide what you are… there’s beauty in absolutely everything!

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Still lost between the Shining and Somewhere In Time…. in an alley way, stumbled upon this tin. I’m not sure why I decided to take a liking to it, but I certainly did. I imagine maybe because I don’t recognize the label it seemed to fuel my time warp, or maybe it was because – still not recognizing the label – I imagined if I was actually a tourist in a new city, there is a good chance I wouldn’t recognize the label on a random old tin of tomatoes. I’m not sure, but I like it.

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How romantic life would be if the entire city looked like Stephen Avenue.  Maybe it’s just me…. but these buildings just make my heart swell. The wispy fonts titling which home, building or block it is, the abstractly shaped buildings connected to one another, I just love it.

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Our own little castle, right smack-dab in the middle of it all…

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…..the Lougheed mansion. Built in 1891, this mansion housed the city’s “power couple”.  Sir James Alexander Lougheed, remains the only Albertan to ever have been knighted.

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This baby…. was one I was pretty pumped about.. built 1928.  Oh, wait….   can’t quite see….

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Ahh, yes, there we go.  The Masonic Temple.   The Masonic headquarters from 1907-1922 were actually located in Alexander Corner, which was sold to make way for an expansion on Hudson’s Bay Company…. leaving the Masons to find a new home. They formed the Calgary Masonic Temple Ltd in 1927 and purchased this land, laying the cornerstone in June 1928.

Before making my way out of downtown…..  while listening to church bells ringing (yes, I know, it’s a Tuesday)…  I ventured up the hill to snap a quick picture or two…

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This here was until today, the only Ukrainian church I knew of in the city. You can see it peeking up, overlooking the city. The streets and parking areas around the church were crazy packed, and as I pulled into a parking space I noticed hoards of families shuffling in the doors. I personally had never been inside, and since basically every church I’ve ever been in that has beautiful steeples also has beautiful painting… I joined the hoards. Surprisingly, as it is a Tuesday, the church was full, congregation was singing, and families hurried past me to get a seat. I noticed, after standing in the doorway for a few minutes that there was no English being spoken… not in song, not between mothers, fathers or children. Again I was whisked away to another time and place.  I felt sheepish and unable to participate, so I left… and on my way out I realized that half the building is actually a Ukrainian cultural center… super awesome, except it was closed. I will certainly remember to go check it out though.

Then, as I was leaving I noticed….

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Bizarre, I had never seen this church before… or at least not that I recall.  I had no idea where it was, could only see the very top portion… so naturally I took off in the general direction…

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….. and ended up here. Here? I don’t know. Never seen this church before either….   following along the many traffic circles, feeling sort of excited at my new discovery and sort of disappointed that I couldn’t find the copper dome church… I made one last turn.

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Super awesome.  Again, the street was absolutely packed and people (this time, primarily elderly..) were shuffling inside. I followed suited, dutifully hiding my camera in my coat as one old woman gave me a stern look. I wanted to explain to her I had just been to the other Ukrainian church.. the one I thought was the only one here…  that I would never dream of photographing people during worship.. but she spoke zero English and honestly, I was sort of afraid of her anyway.   There are a lot of churches in this city, as far as I know – these are the only two adorned with copper.

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Carrying on into Inglewood (continuing with the blast from the past feelings…)

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First up is the Deane House built in 1906. The Deane House is the only remaining structure from the Fort Calgary garrison, built for Superintendent Richard Burton Deane. The Deane house is said to be one of the most haunted houses in Western Canada and is ironically home to the best Murder Mystery dinners in the city.   What’s even more exciting… is the Hunt House….

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Built somewhere around 1875, the Hunt House is thought to be the oldest existing building in the city. Awesome! What’s more awesome? It was built (allegedly) by Louis Roselle, a Metis buffalo hunter who was later employed by the Hudson’s Bay Company!  So awesome! I lived in Inglewood… and I had no idea this house was here.

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So charming, Inglewood.  It’s own little town within a city.

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Garry Theatre, built in 1936… built on the foundations of another building built in 1905.  There were a few small community type theatres in the city… Tivoli (in Mission), Plaza (in Hillhurst).  The threatre itself opened November 6th 1936 with “Forbidden Heaven”.

Doubling back and heading home… feeling incredibly chilled (despite it being only -7 with slightly windy air)..  I was thinking how lovely all this would have been if I had decided to begin my tourist journey in the spring….  mid thought…  I noticed this…

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It stopped me in my tracks, I tried to steady myself to take the picture… hands raised far above my head..  as I looked at it through my viewfinder I felt such peace.  Here I was spending my morning trampling all around downtown, looking at old buildings that were refurbished, looking at old and new buildings that were being torn down or had been boarded up…. thinking about how it is my generation responsible for keeping such relics in tact….  and here is another abandoned home.  It made me feel…. full circle.  Like reassurance.  That everything leaves the old to grow with the new, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the old is gone.

Again, dated information was from the City Walks of Calgary book 

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