April 2017 - Lougheed House

The Carriage House

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While the Lougheed House now stands alone on the 2.8-acre property, it wasn’t always this way. There were several different outbuildings on the property over the years – one of which was the Carriage House (#17). Jim MacKenzie lived in the Carriage House, or Caretakers’ Quarters as a young boy from 1940 to 1950. He recalls that, “After the war started (WWII that is), the C.W.A.C. (Canadian Women’s Army Corps.) moved in after a construction crew, with lots of khaki trucks, erected 3 barrack buildings on the south side of the estate. My brother, age 4, and I, age 6, were highly insulted that we were not consulted. How rude! But we adjusted. Little did we realize that we were witnessing history […] The combination of a break in the pipe that undermined the foundation [of the Carriage House], unceremoniously jerking the greenhouse down with a truck and chain, and the bad aim of a Red Cross truck driver who missed the garage door and backed into the wall, the Carriage House was condemned in 1950”. It was demolished shortly after.

There’s plenty of other evidence that the house existed. This Fire Insurance Plan from 1911 shows where it would have been located on the property – at the far west edge. Different colours indicate different building materials – information the fire insurance companies were interested in as a wooden building would burn much more quickly than one built of sandstone. Blue indicates a stone building, red indicates brick, yellow or grey indicates wood. You can see that the Carriage House is blue, indicating it was built of stone. Lougheed House is also blue, but with yellow on the east end, which tells us that the 1907 additions had some wooden components.

Aerial photographs of Calgary from 1924 also shows the Carriage House still standing. These are some of the earliest aerial photographs of Calgary and the photographs were taken with a Vickers Viking Biplane from 7500 feet above ground. In total, 138 aerial photographs were taken of Calgary that year. See if you can find your house in them here!

 

Ironstone China

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These plates and platter (#15 and #16) were part of Lady Isabella Lougheed’s dinner service. They are ironstone china, or simply ironstone – a type of pottery made as cheaper, mass-produced substitute to porcelain. It was known by many names including semi-porcelain, opaque porcelain, English porcelain, stone china, and new stone. These plates were likely manufactured by G.L. Ashworth in Staffordshire, England in the late 19th century. The factory mark is visible, although not clearly, on the reverse of the plate.

Instructions for the first ironstone indicate a mixture of Cornwall clay, ironstone slag, flint and blue oxide of cobalt. But some historians believe that Charles Mason, the first producer of ironstone china, had provided a made-up recipe to fool his competitors. Samples of ironstone indicate that it has very little iron content. It seems that the name was likely created for marketing purposes – it combines the strength and durability of iron with the beauty and delicacy of china.

Transferware, or transfer-printed designs, were also popular as a cheaper alternative to Chinese porcelain. In this method, designs were first engraved on copper plates and then transferred to ironstone dishes before glazing and firing. Blue was a favourite colour. This particular service is a combination of transfer and hand-painted. There is a printed outline in blue, but some of the details are hand-painted.

The plates are painted with the Tree of Life pattern, a popular motif in many of the world’s mythologies. In Chinese mythology, the tree represents immortality. In Christianity, the Tree of Life represents one of the forbidden trees in the Garden of Eden and symbolizes the perfect state of humanity before the fall. Some interpretations equate it with the ‘Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil’, while some say it was a different tree, and was one that would grant immortality. It was a favourite of Lady Lougheed’s.

-Caroline Loewen, Curator

 

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