Former Prime Minister John Diefenbaker officially opens the Calgary Convention Centre, the largest full-service meeting space in Canada. In its first year of operation, the Centre hosts 90,000 visitors at 350 events. Thirty-nine years later in 2013, the Centre hosted 350,000 visitors who attended 700 events.
A Plus 15 connecting the north and south sides of the Calgary TELUS Convention Centre is built based on a design by city planner Harold Hanen, who envisioned the world’s longest skywalk system (16 km). In 2000, it was the setting for the movie Waydowntown a sardonic comedy about 30 something Calgarians who bet a month’s salary that they can avoid going outside.
The Doll Block building is extensively restored and awarded a Community Heritage Plaque. The building was constructed of locally quarried sandstone in 1907 by Toronto businessman Louis Henry Doll to house his jewellery shop, Doll’s Diamond Palace. Following the tragic death of his young daughter that same year, Doll closed his business and leased the space to his apprentice who, in 1910, fell victim to the biggest diamond heist of the day. No word on whether the building’s second-floor ghost – said to be Doll’s wife, who sits at the curved bay window – was disturbed by the modern renovation.
Variously referred to as the steam-punk Clydesdale and the mechanical horse, this rusty statue officially answers to Powder the Plow Horse. He was built by American sculptor Dixie Jewett out of old farm machinery and arrived in Calgary via flatbed truck from Sedona, Arizona.
Hundreds of dressed-to-the-nines, in-the-know Calgarians flock to the alley behind Charcut and stand in line to get their hands on a gourmet burger. This social-media-fuelled craze for what became known as the Alley Burger was the genesis of Charcut’s food truck, one of the city’s first roving restaurants. Three years later, Calgary is home to nearly two dozen food trucks.
Following the lead of previous VIP guests like Brad Pitt, Oprah Winfrey and Elton John, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama gets a room at the Fairmont Palliser. The hotel’s very first guest, banker Charles W. Rowley, checked-in a hundred years ago.
PanCanadian Petroleum and Alberta Energy – two Canadian energy giants – seal the deal on a $30-billion merger. The resulting venture – EnCana Corporation – instantly becomes one of the largest independent oil and gas companies in the world. The hush-hush deal involved secret meetings between the CEOs at a downtown hotel, and talks were fast-tracked as rumours of a merger intensified.
Stephen Avenue is designated a National Historic Site. Calgary’s pedestrian mall was named in honour of entrepreneur George Stephen, who started his career as a silk merchant’s apprentice. By the 1870s, he was one of the richest men in Canada. He risked much of his wealth to finance the Canadian Pacific Railway, and become its first president in 1881.
The swanky, circa-1921 Palace Theatre – once home to William “Bible Bill” Aberhart’s religious radio broadcasts – is declared a National Historic Site. In 2006, a twist of fate has the band Bad Religion playing in the building, now known as Flames Central.
This two-of-a-kind, hand-carved wooden horse in front of Riley & McCormick Western Wear (the other one lives at the Glenbow Museum) stood here for nearly 90 years before an inebriated, Stampede-happy passerby managed to knock ol’ Riley over, breaking the horse’s neck, jaw and tail. Glue and paint fixed up the worst of the injuries and, with any luck, a new wooden platform will help keep this equestrian relic in place for 90-plus years to come.
On April 11, folk musician Cal Cavendish piloted a low-flying plane over downtown Calgary, where he dropped a load of manure and 100 copies of his latest LP. While Cavendish’s stunt successfully drew attention to his plight as a folk artist struggling in a town where, he thought, everyone else was getting rich, it didn’t improve his financial situation: the artist got a $3,000 fine for reckless flying.
These 26-metre metal “trees” became one of the most controversial structures ever erected in a public space in Alberta. Commissioned by Bankers Hall, the structures are actually the vestiges of what was intended to be an enclosed galleria – an extension of the mall. Instead, they are widely accepted as a public art project – commonly thought to have been designed to help reduce wind gusts along the downtown corridor.
Gulf Canada Square makes a cameo appearance in Superman III, which was filmed largely in Calgary. The Man of Steel also flies past the Calgary Tower, uses a photobooth outside Bow Valley Square and has drinks in the bar at the St. Louis Hotel, former Mayor Ralph Klein’s favourite watering hole.
Look-up – You’re standing in front of Calgary’s first skyscraper. Following threats of demolition, the 1950s-era Barron Building is promised protected status in 2012 as a Provincial Historic Resource. In its heyday the building was home to Mobil Oil, the glamorous two story Uptown Theatre, and a residential penthouse complete with a rooftop garden for J.B. Barron’s dog Buster.
Do Re Me Fa Sol La Si Do, an eight-horse sculpture celebrating harmony between sister cities, is unveiled. The work of internationally acclaimed Saskatchewan artist Joe Fafard is one of two identical sculptures; the second herd runs along the banks of the St. Lawrence in Quebec City.
National Energy Minister Pat Carney is denied entry to an industry meeting at the all-male Petroleum Club due to her gender. Understandably, the Minister takes great offense (the next such meeting was held at her club, the YWCA) and ignites a heated, years-long debate about whether women should be allowed into the Petroleum Club after four decades. In 1989, the membership votes to allow women as full members.
Look up and imagine a growing city. In honour of the hundreds of cranes employed to build dozens of skyscrapers, including Bow Valley Square, Calgary’s unofficial bird of 1977 is declared cranus constructus.
After the building booms of the 1970’s and 80’s Calgary experiences a new boom – SUVs. The vehicle was popular with the city’s oilmen who waited months for the arrival of their new automobiles. Unfortunately the 70’s era parkades were unable to accommodate their height and rumour has it more than one oilman got his vehicle stuck by the low ceilings. By the late 90’s most parkades (like the ones you see around you) were forced to keep up with the popularity of SUVs by increasing the maximum headroom by mere inches.
A secret room is discovered in the 101-year-old Grand Theatre. The second-floor room, which appears to have been used for film-reel storage at the 102-year-old former cinema, was stumbled upon by a staff member who noticed an oddity on blueprints as the theatre prepared to renovate its bar and restaurant.
Jackass comedian and stuntman Steve-O climbs Juame Plensa’s Wonderland, the giant sculpture in front of The Bow. While he wasn’t arrested, he’s no stranger to our legal system, having spent a night in jail here following a kerfuffle with a fan in 2003.
An LRT tunnel is abandoned underneath City Hall and can only be reached via a locked doorway inside the city parkade. It’s inaccessible to the public. Subway plans were shelved when it was decided that the original 7th Avenue line had all the passenger capacity the city needed. Twenty-nine years later, the tunnel has yet to see any light-rail action.
Calgary is the first Olympic city to create an official pin-trading venue. Seven million souvenir pins in 600 different designs commemorating the XV Olympic Winter Games in Calgary are bought, sold, given away and traded by obsessed “pinheads” from around the world. Collectors set up mini trading booths along Stephen Avenue, with the mother ship Pin Trading Centre located under a 22,000-square-foot tent. Favourite pins include the Jamaican bobsled team and the 1988 Winter Olympics mascots, Hidy and Howdy.
Full 40 Hours of Fun, Food & Culture contest details are here.