Throwback Thursdays: Alberta Block

Alberta Block Then

Today’s Throwback Thursday photograph comes courtesy of the Collection of the Glenbow Museum Archives, and it’s of Alberta Block located at 804 – 1 Street SW taken in 1924.

 

The long time home of Cordon’s Palace of Eats, this building was built in 1903 by a group of eastern investors including Donald A. Smith (Lord Strathcona), R.B. Angus, E. Osler and Wm. Scarth.

Smith is well known in Western Canadian history as being the person who helped negotiate a settlement with Louis Riel to the Red River Uprising, and was a major stock holder in both Canadian Pacific Railway and the Hudson’s Bay Company.

The building retains its original metal cornice and frieze, and the building comprises offices on the upper floor and retail stores on the main floor.

Alberta Block

Today, Alberta Block makes up one portion of Fashion Central, along with Hull Block and Macnaghten Block.

Fashion Central is a premier fashion destination that focuses on boutiques offering unique, innovative contemporary, cutting-edge and quality-driven fashion.  Featuring seven street-front shops and eighteen interior units, you can find both designer brand fashions not typically found in regular shopping centres as well as fashion designer boutiques.  If you’re in the market for style that you simply can’t find anywhere else, make sure to drop by Fashion Central!

And speaking of fashion, if you know of someone who exhibits style, you should nominate them as a 2012 Downtown Style Icon.  The deadline is June 18, 2012 and winners will become the face of Downtown Calgary’s Back To Style event in the Fall, along with winning a bunch of other cool prizes.  Be sure to include a picture and let us know their favourite things about downtown Calgary.

That’s it for this week’s Throwback Thursday. Tune in next week and every week in 2012 for more glimpses into the past of Downtown Calgary.

Do you have any photos of Downtown Calgary from the past that you’d like to share with us?  If so, send us an e-mail at [email protected] and it may appear in our weekly segment!

Throwback Thursdays: The Family of Man

The Family of Man Statues in Calgary - Then

This week’s Throwback Thursday photograph comes courtesy of the Collection of the Glenbow Museum Archives, and it’s of the art sculptures located at 515 Macleod Trail SE right outside the old Calgary Education Centre taken in 1971.

 

Called The Family of Man (also known as the Brotherhood of Mankind), these sculptures were created by Spanish artist Mario Armengol,  who was commissioned to create them for Britain’s Pavilion at Expo 67.  The sculptures were designed to inspire two moods:  An immediate reaction to man dominating, followed by a contradictory feeling of insignificance and dependence.

The Family of Man Statues in Calgary - Now

At the end of Expo 67, Robert Cummings purchased the sculptures on behalf of Maxwell Cummings and Sons, who then donated them to the City of Calgary in 1968.  A special citizen committee reviewed various offers of sites for the statues before ultimately settling upon the area in front of the old Calgary Education Centre, and they were a part of the Calgary Board of Education’s logo for many years.

The statues are 21 feet high and are placed in groups with hands extended in gestures of goodwill and fellowship.  A staple of the downtown Calgary art scene, these statues have greeted Calgarians for years as they’ve commuted through the core and have become a beloved presence.  They’ve even been the subject of a yarn bomb by a local artist.

That’s it for this week’s Throwback Thursday. Tune in next week and every week in 2012 for more glimpses into the past of Downtown Calgary.

Do you have any photos of Downtown Calgary from the past that you’d like to share with us?  If so, send us an e-mail at [email protected] and it may appear in our weekly segment!

Throwback Thursdays: The Palliser Hotel

Palliser Hotel Calgary Then

This week’s Throwback Thursday photographs comes courtesy of the Collection of the Glenbow Museum Archives, and it’s of the Palliser Hotel taken in 1913.

 

Named after Captain John Palliser, an explorer in the Western Canadian region during the 1850s, the building incorporates the Edwardian style of architecture and was designed by architect Lawrence Gotch of E. and W.S. Maxwell of Montreal.  Built between 1911-1914 on land owned by the Canadian Pacific Railway (by a division of CP Rail called Canadian Pacific Hotels) at a cost of over $1 million, the Palliser became the hub of social life in Calgary hosting political conventions, dinner functions, balls and more.

Palliser Hotel Calgary Now

The building was originally 12 stories high with three more stories and a penthouse added in 1929 increasing the number of rooms from 350 to 492, and was Calgary’s tallest building until 1958.  The hotel has undergone several renovations and expansions since then, including a complete restoration and renovation in the 1980s and a $28 million renovation in 2000.

In 1999, Canadian Pacific Hotels purchased the Fairmont operator of hotels and resorts and soon after, the Palliser Hotel was renamed to what it is currently known as today, The Fairmont Palliser, where conventions, dinner functions, balls and more continue to take place today.

That’s it for this week’s Throwback Thursday. Tune in next week and every week in 2012 for more glimpses into the past of Downtown Calgary.

Do you have any photos of Downtown Calgary from the past that you’d like to share with us?  If so, send us an e-mail at [email protected] and it may appear in our weekly segment!

Throwback Thursdays: The Lancaster Building

Lancaster Building Circa early 1900s Calgary Alberta

This week’s Throwback Thursday photograph comes courtesy of the Collection of the Glenbow Museum Archives and it’s of the Lancaster Building located at 304 – 8 Avenue SW taken in 1913.

The Lancaster Building was constructed between 1912 and 1918.  Designed by architect James Teague of Victoria, British Columbia, the building incorporates the Edwardian style of architecture.

Calgary’s first 10-storey structure downtown, this building was named after the House of Lancaster, one of the sides in the British War of the Roses as the subject of history was an interest to the building’s original owner, J.S. Mackie.

Lancaster Building Downtown Calgary Alberta Today

Rumoured to be haunted, at various times this location housed the Grain Exchange, the offices of Prime Minister R.B. Bennett, an Eaton’s Store and a pioneer radio station.  In 1978, extensive interior and exterior renovations were carried out and in 1980, the Heritage Foundation of Canada awarded the building the National Award of Honour in part due to the adaptive re-use and renovation of the building.

Today, the building houses many organizations, including the Historical Society of Alberta and the Calgary Downtown Association, more commonly known as Downtown Calgary, the proprietor of this blog.

That’s it for this week’s Throwback Thursday. Tune in next week and every week in 2012 for more glimpses into the past of Downtown Calgary.

Do you have any photos of Downtown Calgary from the past that you’d like to share with us?  If so, send us an e-mail at [email protected] and it may appear in our weekly segment!

Throwback Thursdays: The Calgary Courthouse

In honour of Calgary Law Day this Saturday, April 21, this week’s Throwback Thursday photograph comes courtesy of the Collection of the Glenbow Museum Archives, and it’s of the Calgary Courthouse located at 530 – 7 Avenue SW taken in 1915.

One of the last buildings in Calgary to use sandstone, this building was the second courthouse built in Calgary by the provincial government (the first was built by the federal government in 1886) and is the largest surviving courthouse from Alberta’s first decade as a province.  Construction began in 1912 and was completed in 1914.

Incorporating the Neocalssical Revival style, architect Allan M. Jeffers (also responsible for designing the Legislature Building in Edmonton) created the initial designs, and Richard P. Blakey made minor modifications to the interior layout and most of the exterior facade.  Between 1964-1975, the Courthouse was the home of the Glenbow-Alberta Institute and Museum, and from 1986 to 2001 it housed the Provincial Court of Appeal.  The Court of Appeal has since moved to the Transcanada Pipelines Tower and most judicial duties are now carried out at the newly built Calgary Courts Centre.

2012 is the 30th anniversary of the Canadian Bar Association, and in cooperation and with funding from the Alberta Law Foundation and the Law Society of Alberta will be organizing activities throughout the province to celebrate Law Day.

Calgary Law Day takes place this Saturday, April 21 at the Calgary Courts Centre at 601 – 5 Street SW from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.  Featuring an open house complete with tours through court rooms, holding cells and the Law Library, as well as mock trials that you can observe and partake in (plus other activities too), this is an excellent hands-on opportunity to learn about how the judicial system works without being forced to be processed through the system yourself (if you catch my drift).

That’s it for this week’s Throwback Thursday. Tune in next week and every week in 2012 for more glimpses into the past of Downtown Calgary.

Do you have any photos of Downtown Calgary from the past that you’d like to share with us?  If so, send us an e-mail at [email protected] and it may appear in our weekly segment!

Throwback Thursdays: The Globe Cinema

Towne Cinema Calgary Circa 1970's

This week’s Throwback Thursday picture comes courtesy of the Collection of the Glenbow Museum Archives taken in June 1974, and it’s of the Towne Cinema, now known as the Globe Cinema.

Now located at 617 – 8 Avenue SW, the Towne Cinema opened as a single screen theatre in 1965.  In the early 1970s, it expanded into a twin theatre with two screens named CINEMA RED and CINEMA BLUE.  The complex could hold 756 people with 378 in each theatre.  Landmark Cinemas eventually took over operations of the theatre in the 1990s and renamed it the Globe Cinema where the theatre now shows a mix of first-run films and the typical art house films you find in smaller theatres.

Globe Cinema Today

Next week, Globe Cinema will host the Calgary Underground Film Festival.  From April 16-22, you’ll be able to see contemporary works and films that defy convention.  Genres from sci-fi and fantasy to comedies and everything in between will be represented from all over the world, whether they be documentaries, animation, shorts or experimental film.  With the diversity of films this year, chances are there’ll be something that’ll appeal to you.

For more information, including where to buy tickets, check out calgaryundergroundfilmfest.org.

That’s it for this week’s Throwback Thursday.  Tune in next week and every week in 2012 for more glimpses into the past of Downtown Calgary.

Do you have any photos of Downtown Calgary from the past that you’d like to share with us?  If so, send us an e-mail at [email protected] and it may appear in our weekly segment!

Throwback Thursdays: City Hall

Calgary City Hall Then

Today’s Throwback Thursday photograph comes courtesy of the Collection of the Glenbow Museum Archives and it’s of City Hall still in the midst of construction in 1910.

In 1907, City Hall approved a budget to construct new administrative offices, a courthouse and a jail to replace the 1885 Town Hall, which you can see in the foreground of the first picture.  The cornerstone to the new City Hall is laid during this year on the northwest side of the main entrance and construction continued until it’s official opening to the public on June 26, 1911.

Initially designed by architect William Dodd (who was later replaced by Gilbert Hodgson and Ernest Butler), City Hall incorporates a variety of Victorian styles.  The building was primarily constructed from local sandstone from the Bone and Oliver Quarry on 17th Avenue and the cost to construct the building eventually reached a total of $500,000.

Calgary City Hall

City Hall was designated a Provincial Historic Resource in 1978, recognized by the Historical Sites and Monuments Board of Canada in 1984, designated a Municipal Historical Resource in 1990, and the building was renovated between 1995 to 1997 restoring many of the building’s original interior features such as the light well, the compass design at the bottom of the light well, the skylight, and the building’s original ornamental wrought iron balustrades.

Calgary City Hall Now

The Clock Tower that adorns the building is 21 metres high and was made by Seth Thomas Clock Co. which was purchased by City Council through D.E. Black Jewellers in 1911 for $3657.  It has to be wound every 10 days to keep time, and it fell silent only once when the clock winder couldn’t enter the Tower due to asbestos renovation work.

Fun Fact:  In 1912, 210 imported palm trees were planted around City Hall, but only one survived because it was moved indoors.

Today, Calgary remains one of seven cities in Canada that still retains its original City Hall.

That’s it for this week’s Throwback Thursday.  Tune in next week and every week in 2012 for more glimpses into the past of Downtown Calgary.

Do you have any photos of downtown Calgary from the past that you’d like to share with us?  If so, send us an e-mail [email protected] and it may appear in our weekly segment!

Throwback Thursdays: The Bridge Banner Project

Barclay Mall Calgary, Then

This week’s Throwback Thursday photograph is of Barclay Mall, taken from the vantage point of 3rd Street SW and 5th Avenue SW looking North some time in the 1990s.

 

While it’s obvious that a lot of retail development has taken place in the area since then (as evidenced by the lack of buildings such as the Sheraton Suites Calgary Eau Claire Hotel in the background), this week’s focus is on the banners you see all along 3rd Street SW adorning some of the city lights as you walk in either direction.

Barclay Mall Calgary, Now

While banners have been a part of Barclay Mall for quite some time now, it was in 2008 that The City of Calgary launched the Bridge Banner Project under Centre City as a way to engage local artists to provide artwork that explores Calgary’s characteristics of history, urbanity and natural landscape that Calgarians can enjoy as they enter the downtown core through many of the bridges that lead into it.  The banner sites in Barclay Mall were incorporated into the program.

The themes for these banners change throughout the years and are unique to the artist selected to create them.  The banners are changed every two years with a new look and story to welcome people to the core.

The current set of banners found at Barclay Mall were created by photographer Dianne Bos and were put on display in 2011.  She created them by using a medium format camera with black and white film to create overlapping sequential images of Alberta’s landscape, which were then altered digitally to add the vibrant colours you currently see.  The focus of the work is on the mood certain sites trigger in our memories but rarely can be captured on film.

The complete list of locations in Calgary where you can view these banners are:

  • 14 Street Bridge
  • Louise Bridge (10 Street)
  • Centre Street Bridge
  • Langevin Bridge (Edmonton Trail)
  • Inglewood Bridge (9 Avenue SE)
  • Zoo Bridge
  • MacDonald Avenue SE Bridge
  • Barclay Mall
  • Fort Calgary

So keep an eye out for them the next time you enter or exit the core!

That’s it for this week’s Throwback Thursday.  Tune in next week and every week in 2012 for more glimpses into the past of Downtown Calgary.

Do you have any photos of downtown Calgary from the past that you’d like to share with us?  If so, send us an e-mail [email protected] and it may appear in our weekly segment!

Throwback Thursdays: The Bank of Montreal Building

Bank Of Montreal Calgary - Before

This week’s Throwback Thursday photograph comes courtesy of the Collection of the Glenbow Museum Archives circa the 1930s, and it’s of the old Bank of Montreal building located at 136 – 8 Avenue S.W.

 

A branch of the Bank of Montreal had existed on this site since 1886.  By the late 1920s, it was decided to build a new building on the site to help facilitate expansion, and the adjacent Bank of British North America building next door was purchased for expansion.

The current Bank of Montreal building encompasses the neo-classical style of architecture, and was designed by Montreal architect Frederick Rea.  Built out of Manitoba Tyndall limestone, there is a carved relief of pine trees, beavers and First Nations’ people that surrounds the Bank’s coat of arms.  The coffered ceilings in the building’s interior is encrusted with 917 ounces of gold leaf.

Bank Of Montreal Calgary - Today

In 1993, A&B Sound occupied the building and spent $3 million in restoring the space, using the first two levels of the building as retail space.  A&B Sound maintained a presence at the location until they closed it down in February 2005, and the building has remained vacant ever since.

Now, after nearly seven years, new life awaits the long-vacant Bank of Montreal building as renovations have been taking place and the search is now on to find new retailers to lease space in the building.

That’s it for this week’s Throwback Thursday.  Tune in next week and every week in 2012 for more glimpses into the past of Downtown Calgary.

Do you have any photos of downtown Calgary from the past that you’d like to share with us?  If so, send us an e-mail [email protected] and it may appear in our weekly segment!

Throwback Thursdays: The Simmons Building

Simmons Building in the East Village

Today’s Throwback Thursday photograph comes from Calgary Municipal Land Corporation and the Collection of the Glenbow Museum Archives, and it’s of the Simmons Building located in Calgary’s historic East Village.

 

Also known as the Simmons Factory Warehouse, it was built in 1912 for the Alaska Bedding Company of Winnipeg.  It originally was a factory that produced pillows, mattresses, sofa beds and hospital beds, and during World War II, production from the building exclusively went to provide bedding for military overseas.  After the war, Simmons Canada used the building to produce bedding materials until 1966, where the building had sat mostly unused and unmaintained for years until the Calgary Municipal Land Corporation (CMLC) took ownership of the building and refurbished it to use as their base of operations in 2007.

Simmons Building Now

CMLC repaired windows and mechanical systems, refinished the the flooring and installed new doors and fire protection.  The lower section of the building functions as office space for CMLC, along with a beautiful multipurpose area that can host presentations and special events.

The upper level of the building acts as the main library and storage space, and while the beam and support structure mimics the layout of the lower level, most of the flooring on the second level remains unfinished.

This year, CMLC will relocate their head office to the restored Hillier Block, and the Simmons Building will be repurposed by a variety of vendors that will be able to leverage the venue and its beautiful backdrop of the RiverWalk pathway and Bow River to give Calgarians a wonderful experience.

Here are some additional photos of the building’s interior:

Simmons Building Interior

The presentation section of the main level is a beautiful and versatile space that can accommodate a variety of activities.

While plumbing, electrical and other infrastructure have been upgraded or repaired, and while most of the original structure in terms of beam layout has been maintained, the flooring remains unfinished on the second level of the building.

That’s it for this week’s Throwback Thursday.  Tune in next week and every week in 2012 for more glimpses into the past of Downtown Calgary.

Do you have any photos of downtown Calgary from the past that you’d like to share with us?  If so, send us an e-mail [email protected] and it may appear in our weekly segment!

Oh what a tangled web we weave…when first we break for lunch?

Beyond The Brink Productions Present The Servant of Two Masters

Misunderstandings abound in Beyond the Brink Production’s adaptation of Carlo Coldoni’s The Servant of Two Masters as a simpleton’s empty stomach results in almost tragic circumstances for all involved.

Of course, this production being inspired by Commedia dell’Arte (an Italian form of theatre characterized by masked stereotypical or stock characters and defined by comedic improvisation), tragedy typically isn’t an option.

The Servant of Two Masters is a cautionary tale on how a web of deceit can quickly spiral out of control as lies upon lies have to be spun to support previous lies, and the more people that are involved, the more convoluted that web can get.

The play opens with the introduction of Beatrice, a woman who has traveled to Venice assuming the identity of her late brother Federigo Rasponi in order to find his killer, who just happens to be her lover Florindo.  Florindo killed her brother Federigo in a duel when her brother forbade her to marry him.  Beatrice hopes to collect the dowry money from Pantalone, the father of Clarice (who is actually betrothed to her brother Federigo), so that she and Florindo can escape together and live happily ever after.  However, thinking that Beatrice’s brother Federigo was dead, Clarice has instead fallen in love with another man, Silvio, and the two have become engaged.  When Beatrice shows up masquerading as her brother Federigo, suffice to say, hijinks ensue.

Right away, it’s easy to see how tangled up the web of deceit is, but it is manageable.  It isn’t until the introduction of Truffaldino, the central character in this play, that things start to truly spiral out of control.  Always complaining of an empty stomach, all Truffaldino wishes to do is satiate his hunger with something to eat.  Thinking that his master is still alive (who, incidentally, is Beatrice’s brother Federigo, whose identity is now assumed by his sister Beatrice), Truffaldino accompanies “him” to Venice on “his” trip and is incredulous when he hears from Pantalone of his master’s apparent demise.  As he hungrily waits on his master who has gone off on an errand, an opportunity arises to serve another master (incidentally, Florindo) that greatly increases his chances of him getting a second meal, and it is here where we start to see things unravel as Truffaldino must work hard to keep up appearances to ensure that neither master learns of the other.  As he works harder and harder to cover his tracks, the lies pile up higher and higher eventually encompassing and affecting all the characters in the play as the consequences of said lies ripple ever outwards.

Traditional Commedia dell’arte is 100% improvised without a script, and Venetian playwright Carlo Coldoni made his mark on the genre by scripting the stories while still incorporating traditional Commedia stock characters.

Director Mike Griffin’s adaptation of Coldoni’s work preserves the essentials of Commedia while managing to make the genre accessible to new audiences.  The cast executes his vision with melodramatic flair, with grandiose gestures and over-the-top delivery of lines that, when put all together, result in an energetic performance that is a pleasure to watch.

With the exception of Catherine Vielguth who plays the character of Pantalone, all of the cast of The Servant of Two Masters play multiple roles, one with a mask and one without.

As Pantalone, Catherine Vielguth uses her mask to portray herself as Clarice’s father, an old, rich man concerned about money, but also about his daughter’s well being.

Kyall Rakoz plays both lovestruck Silvio and the indecisive Truffaldino with aplomb, rising to the physical demands of both roles by jumping, diving and combat rolling across the stage.

Cari Russell’s performance of Beatrice and Smeraldina (Pantalone’s feisty servant) is nuanced and heartfelt as she (as Beatrice) searches for news of her lover Florindo upon learning that he too is in Venice searching for her.  Russell positively dazzles when she reveals her true identity as Beatrice to all involved, and further manages to distinguish her performances beyond a simple disguise when she is pretending to be her brother Federigo and portraying herself as Beatrice.

Angela Valiant’s performance of Clarice is the epitome of a lovestruck lover, complete with charming (yet sappy) declarations of love and devotion along with the bouts of melodramatic melancholy that usually accompany such feelings during the bad times.  Her performance of Brighella is no nonsense as Brighella acts as the main force in the story trying to keep everything in order and everyone from committing actions as a result of all the lies that they may regret later.

Finally, Kelsey Flower’s portrayal of both Florindo and Dr. Lombardi is the proverbial icing on the cake as Flower tackles both roles with simple macho flair and style.  In my viewing of the production, Flower always got a pop from the audience whenever he appeared on stage.

While Commedia is generally meant to be light-hearted, it is to the credit of Director Griffin and the spectacular performance of the cast that, just for a moment, the audience could truly believe that everything could possibly fall apart in the worst way.  I can honestly say that I haven’t laughed as hard or as loud in a long time since I’ve seen this play, and I would highly recommend it to anyone who loves a good over-the-top production.

Beyond the Brink Production’s adaptation of The Servant of Two Masters runs at the EPCORE CENTRE’s Motel until Saturday, March 17 with daily shows at 8 p.m. and a 2 p.m. matinee on Saturday.  The show runs for 90 minutes with no intermission, and tickets are available (cash only) at the door and can be reserved by calling 403.461.1995.  For more details, check out beyondthebrink.ca.