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McDougall Centre

McDougall Centre, the Alberta Government Centre for southern Alberta, was for most of its life a school for student teachers and grade school students.  The government decided upon Calgary as the site for the province's first Normal School, as teachers' colleges were then called, after Premier Rutherford announced that the University of Alberta would be built in Strathcona, near Edmonton.  Allan Merrick Jeffers, who also designed the province's Legislature, drafted plans for the new school in the "Renaissance Revival" style.  Construction began in 1906, and the building was opened in 1908.

From 1908 to 1922, the Normal School trained thousands of student teachers from throughout Canada, the United States and Britain.  Pupils attended four months of teacher training, during which they observed and taught in classroom settings at the Calgary Practice School.  In 1922, the Normal School moved to the Provincial Institute of Technology and Art campus in Calgary.  The Calgary Public School Board took over the building and renamed it McDougall School, in honour of Reverend George McDougall and his son John.  These methodist missionaries from Morley helped to prepare the way for settlement in Alberta. The Board operated the building as a junior high school and later an elementary school until 1981.

With high-rise office buildings replacing families in Calgary's central core, the fate of McDougall School was in doubt.  Then in 1982, the old school was declared an historic site.  The Alberta government re-purchased the building and restored it to its former magnificence.  The Honourable Helen Hunley, Lieutenant Governor of Alberta officially reopened the building on September 8, 1987.  Since then, McDougall Centre has hosted numerous conferences and international dignitaries and has served as the Alberta government's southern headquarters.

  

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