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Calgary

Calgary's roots can be traced back to the arrival of the North-West Mounted Police. They established their presence in 1875 where the Bow and Elbow rivers cross and patrolled an area once dominated by illegal whiskey trading. By the end of that year, Calgary prominently featured a police fort, a general store, a trading post owned by the Hudson's Bay Company, and a Methodist Church.

It was the West's open prairies that attracted settlers to southern Alberta. In 1881, the federal government began offering leases in the area at one cent per acre per year to encourage cattle ranching. Fort Calgary was chosen as the site of the new Canadian Pacific Railway linking the Northwest Territories to central Canada. The line was completed in 1883.

Optimistic ranchers arrived in scores, erecting tents and log cabins and thus converting Calgary into a successful ranching community. By 1883, Calgary had its first hotel, the Royal Hotel, a furniture store, harness-maker, architect/building superintendent, and sawmill. In 1884, the CPR built a depot west of the Elbow River. In response, Calgarians opted to be closer to the depot and relocated the townsite. The CPR began leasing lots that were quickly bought up by developers. Due to the success of the ranching industry, Calgary's growth outpaced that of Edmonton's. By 1884, Calgary was incorporated as a town with a population of approximately 500. Calgary continued to grow steadily, with its commercial district centered along Stephen Avenue and residential housing surrounding the commercial core. An industrial area began to grow along the CPR line to the east, with lumber mills and agricultural-related industries.

Grant MacEwan's Calgary Cavalcade: From Fort to Fortune was originally written in 1958 and is an anecdotal rather than comprehensive account of Calgary's development. MacEwan tended to focus on the characters and unique stories that capture the identity of the Canadian West. In this book, for instance, he introduces readers to Calgary's first farmers, Sam Livingstone and John Glenn, two adventurers who had travelled across North America before settling in the foothills. Calgary Cavalcade reads like a collection of short stories-each one introducing the reader to a fascinating event or captivating individual. Ernest Cashel, a famous criminal who made a number of daring escapes police from in 1902 through 1904, is the consummate Western outlaw. To celebrate Calgary's centennial, Calgary Cavalcade was reprinted, and MacEwan added a final chapter aptly titled "The New Calgary-One Hundred Years Later."

He takes particular pride in the City of Calgary and its development over the years and has written a number of biographies on influential Calgarians like Pat Burns, Paddy Nolan, and Bob Edwards. Calgary, according to MacEwan, is the epitome of the Prairie West-the city exudes progress and modernity yet celebrates its Western roots.

Resources

MacEwan, Grant. Calgary Cavalcade: From Fort to Fortune. Edmonton: Institute of Applied Art, 1958


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