Academic journal article Alberta History

Newcomer's View of Calgary

Academic journal article Alberta History

Newcomer's View of Calgary

Article excerpt

When I bade my friends goodbye at Montreal in 1910 and boarded the train for Calgary, almost the last words said to me were: "Well, you are a brave girl to go away out to that western city all alone." I, myself, was not conscious of any bravery, for I had heard much of Calgary, which is situated within sight of the mighty Rockies. I have mentioned the above remarks simply to show there is yet in the minds of some easterners that Calgary is still a crude prairie city, lacking many advantages of social, literary, and artistic culture, and where the woman of the home is deprived of many accustomed conveniences and luxuries.

It is to correct these errors and show Calgary as it really is, that is the purpose for which this open letter is written.

To a person who has been born and bred in a city where conditions have apparently always existed as at the present time, it is perhaps natural to the conservative mind to attribute crudeness to a new city. They cannot understand the exhilaration and spirit of expectancy of better things to come that exists in a rapidly growing place. One literally sees, with one's own eyes, the city growing hour by hour and day by day, not generation by generation. Particularly is this so of Calgary, whose population in the last four years has increased at the rate of nine thousand per year. Houses and schools cannot be erected quickly enough to accommodate the vast influx of people who pour daily into the city. As a consequence of the demand being greater than the supply, rent and produce is higher than in a city of slower growth.

Towards the close of the fourth day of my journey, we reached Calgary, and bidding goodbye to my fellow passengers, I walked through the CPR station. I had expected to hear the usual babble of voices of "Cab! Cab! This way, ladies!" and the various hotels called out, but such was not the case. All was quietness, though at the entrance of the front door at their proper stand stood some hacks and over at the left were arranged the transfer trucks. I handed my checks to the truckman and walked for the first time upon the streets of Calgary. It was a beautiful day in September, with the bright Alberta sun shining on streets, buildings, and hills. We walked along the paved sidewalk for one block in order to catch the street car on 8th Avenue, the principal thoroughfare. While I stood waiting for the "Blue" line car, which my friend told me I was to take, my eyes were busy viewing the fine stone buildings, stores, paved streets, the passing automobiles and pedestrians. The people did not seem to hurry and rush as in American cities, yet all seemed intent upon some business.

When the street car appeared and I took my place at the window and passed along the busy street, and then through the residential part of the city, I gained some clearer impressions of the activity and general character of the city. It seemed a long way to my destination on 12th Avenue but now I know, I took the "Blue Belt Line" going east, instead of west, and thus almost completed a circle before reaching The Wigwams, where I had arranged beforehand to stay. However, this precaution was unnecessary, for Calgary has good hotel service in the Alberta, Yale, Queen's, Grand Union, and Imperial, and in such semi-private residences as Braemar Lodge and The Wigwam. The proprietors of these houses are efficient hosts and aid their patrons all they can.

Then there is the YWCA, a new and finely equipped building situated only four blocks from the CPR station. The brick building is well furnished with single and double rooms, large dining hall, gymnasium, swimming tank, lecture and reception rooms. Under the management of Miss Bradshaw, who acts as superintendent and house-mother, the group of eager, responsive and well meaning young women are well looked after.

This institution is maintained wholly by voluntary subscriptions; its formal opening has just taken place. …

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