June 2017 - Lougheed House

Let’s Try Not Setting Our Houses on Fire From Now On

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On the chronological list of Things People Learned How to Do, heating their homes (well, caves) came in at number three, right after bipedal motion and hunting with tools. That’s pretty crazy if you think about it; we went straight from tying sharp rocks onto the ends of sticks to taming one of nature’s most destructive phenomena. Depending on who you ask, that happened anywhere from 300, 000 to 1.6 million years ago, and until relatively recently, we didn’t change much. Even by the end of the 17th century, homes were heated by setting a fire somewhere inside and letting the heat move around the house through channels in the construction. The Romans did it by leaving space under their floors and letting the warm air and smoke of a fire percolate there before escaping up a flue. The ancient Koreans did the same thing, only they used their cooking fire as the heat source, thereby saving resources. Despite the constant risk of housefires, this was the most efficient method. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

In the middle of the 19th century, people decided it was broke, so they fixed it.

By the time Beaulieu was built in 1891, a much safer (and some would say more elegant) solution to the heating problem had been developed: radiators. You’ll notice radiators in almost every room on the first and second floors of the Lougheed House. Far from the hulking, cumbersome machines you might expect, these cast-iron radiators blend seamlessly with the décor of the house. The dull-gold “hot boxes” (an archaic term used by Franz San Galli, one of the pioneers of radiator technology) are inlaid with ornamental patterns. They remain in the house today because they are still in operation — the house is heated using the same radiators first used by the Lougheeds in 1891!

Back then, and still to this day, the heating system was powered by the house’s boiler, which ran first on coal, and then on natural gas once the pipes were laid in Calgary in the 1910s. All the radiators in the house were constructed by the E. & C. Gurney Co. Stove Works, a company based out of Toronto. Gurney supplied all sorts of heating implements to homes throughout Canada. Amazingly (and bizarrely), they refused to ship their machinery via train, even after the CPR was completed. This means that every single one of the Lougheeds’ radiators was driven from Toronto to Calgary in a wagon, a trip that would have taken weeks. The same is true for the stove they had in their family cottage in Banff; it would’ve been pulled up into the mountains by horse!

Though every radiator in the house is built by Gurney, they are not all alike. Radiators had to roughly reflect the size and shape of the space they were to heat, so you’ll see ones that are short, tall, long, or thick depending on the room you’re in.  Despite their different dimensions, they all run on steam from the boiler. In the summer, they’re rarely on, but be careful in the winter; they can become too hot to touch!

-Jake, Summer Student

Dueling Pianos

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It’s rare to find a person who doesn’t listen to music these days. Radio, vinyl, cassettes, CDs, and MP3s give us all sorts of ways to appreciate music. It’s with us everywhere, too; at home, in the car, at the mall, or even just on a walk. I’m listening to music right now, as I write. This explosion of access may be rather young, but the pure enjoyment of music is, obviously, much older. So, what did people used to do to get their music fix? Well, they could’ve gone to catch a show, assuming they were in the right place, at the right time, with the right amount of money. Usually, however, they played their own music. And in the 19th century, nothing said “fancy family” quite like owning your own piano.

The piano, as we know it today, was invented around 1700. By the time the Lougheeds built Beaulieu in 1891, pianos were firmly entrenched among socialites. Of course, being the sophisticated, genteel woman she was, Isabella Lougheed made sure that her new home had one of the finest pianos you could buy at the time: a Gerhard Heintzman.

Heintzman & Co. was incorporated in Toronto in 1866 by Theodor August Heintzman, who was born in Berlin in 1817 and had emigrated to Canada in 1860. Theodor had a nephew, Gerhard, who also made pianos. Even though Gerhard worked independently from his uncle, both Heintzmans’ pianos were renowned for their quality (the two family branches would merge in 1926 after Gerhard’s death). In fact, Canadian piano manufacturing in general was highly regarded, to the point where only a handful of foreign-made pianos were imported to Canada once the industry had established itself.

One of the few brands of piano that Canadians bothered to import were those built by Steinway and Sons. The company was founded in New York in 1853 by Henry E. Steinway, who had been building pianos in Germany since the 1920s under his real name, Heinrich Englehard Steinweg. Heinrich’s pianos were top-notch, as were his marketing skills; according to Donald W. Fostle, who wrote a history of the company,


“the genius of Steinways … ultimately lay in their ability to persuade millions of persons across decades and continents that in this realm of supreme subjectivity, individual variation, incertitude, and ever-changing conditions, there was an absolute best. The assertion, repeated often enough, took on the coloration of fact.”


If that’s true, then why didn’t the Lougheeds get a Steinway instead of a Heintzman? They certainly had the money to import one over the border. James grew up in a blue-collar neighborhood in Toronto (named Cabbagetown, no less; it doesn’t get any more working-class than that). Perhaps he wanted to support a burgeoning Canadian industry rather than an international one.

The Heintzman was built in 1891 and shipped to Calgary on the new Canadian Pacific Railway. The Lougheeds put it in the Mission Room, where it would have provided many hours of entertainment for the whole family. If you visit the Lougheed House today, you can still find that same piano down in the library. If you look up in the mission room, you’ll find an 1885 Steinway (pictured above), acquired for the house in 2007 and dominating the spot where the Lougheeds’ Heintzman used to sit. Apparently, Steinway’s marketing game is still as strong as ever.

-Jake, Summer Student

Supply and Command

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Hello there! I’m Jake, a history student working at Lougheed House over the summer. I haven’t been here long, but I’ve already learned about so many fascinating things that I’ve just gotta share with somebody, so here goes!

Clarence Hardisty Lougheed, eldest son of James and Isabella, signed up to go to war barely a month after his thirtieth birthday. He wasn’t destined for the front lines, though. Having already served five years with the 15th Light Horse and another year with the Canadian Army Service Corps, Clarence was enlisted as a captain. From 1915 to 1919, Clarence once again served in the CASC. Before his promotion to major, his men gifted him this gold wristwatch (#20).

The CASC was created in 1901. Until its deactivation in 1968, the CASC was the lifeblood of Canadian fighting forces around the world. Along with other support corps, like the Canadian Ordnance Corps, the Canadian Veterinary Corps, and the Canadian Postal Corps, CASC troops were relied upon to ensure that frontline soldiers received the supplies, materiel, and support necessary to keep them operating smoothly.

When war broke out in 1914, the CASC counted around three thousand men among its ranks. By the time the war ended, that number had leapt to seventeen thousand. Operating mainly in Britain and France during the First World War, the CASC was responsible for virtually every facet of logistical support. If a frontline soldier needed bread, bullets, or bandages, chances are it was the CASC who delivered it to him.

Clarence was first deployed with No. 1 Railhead Supply Detachment, which he commanded from January to July 1916. This is an excerpt from the unit’s War Diary, a day-by-day report recorded in Clarence’s tidy, looping hand. Note the signature on the bottom-right.

Service troops oversaw the entirety of the Canadian Expeditionary Force’s supply lines, which they divided into three parts: The first line of supply saw materiel transported from railheads to supply dumps via trucks or light rail; the second line of supply consisted of horse-drawn carts carrying the supplies from the dumps to the rear zones of frontline units; the third line of supply required combat troops to return to the rear of the unit under cover of darkness and carry their new supplies back in their arms. This, of course, was incredibly dangerous. Not only did they leave the relative safety of the trenches to make these supply runs, but their absence also weakened the whole front line. Eventually, an officer from Montreal introduced the use of tumplines — backpacks secured with a strap across the forehead, first used by the First Nations of Canada — which meant fewer men could carry more supplies to the front.

The CASC also provided transportation for combat troops, the evacuation and transportation of wounded soldiers, equipment repair, and mail delivery services. They were even responsible for the salvage of enemy assets abandoned on the field. The corps was rarely involved in direct combat, but it wasn’t unusual for service members to encounter enemy artillery or gas attacks. Over the course of the war, three hundred sixty-three CASC troops were wounded, including Clarence himself, and one hundred and four were killed.

-Jake, Summer Student

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