Biblia Sacra Dei Familiaeque

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Family Bibles are designed to endure substantial use over successive generations, just like the scripture contained within. The Lougheeds’ is no exception. This particular Bible is called The People’s Standard Edition Holy Bible: Containing the Old and New Testaments and the Apocryphal Writings; it weighs a ton, and it is not playing around. The heavy leather cover and thick pages protect the book well, and it’s still in excellent condition almost 150 years later. Because of their resilience, family Bibles tended to serve double duty as both a conduit to God and a secure location to store important documentation. Many such Bibles are discovered with loose papers tucked between their pages. Unfortunately, nothing of the sort was found with this book, but its contents make up for that.

Like all family Bibles, the Lougheeds’ contained a section dedicated to the family’s history. A marriage certificate immediately follows the Old Testament, and is signed by the minister who officiated Sir James’s and Lady Isabella’s wedding. The certificate is wonderfully illuminated, and is accompanied by several pages detailing the births, marriages, deaths, and other significant events (mostly christenings) of James and Isabella’s children. Those records are written in many hands, and cover roughly fifty years of events. In fact, this book was still being used by the Lougheeds after this home was repossessed by the government in 1938!

This Bible, unlike many other family tomes, isn’t limited to scripture. Fittingly enough for a family of intellectuals, the book also contains several sections which fill in the details surrounding the holy stories, including an eighty-page preface that explores the literature, history, and inspiration of the Bible itself. That preface is filled with sketches of holy sites both extant and lost, analyses of ancient Egyptian and Assyrian culture and custom, alphabets of dead languages, and thorough historical examinations of each of the books of the Bible. It even explores the Greek roots of the word “Bible” (from biblos, meaning “the book”). The appendices include a dictionary of Bible terms, a pronunciation guide, and space for some (sadly empty) family portraits. Essentially, this massive book was meant to be the final word on the Holy Word.

The book was published in the United States in 1876, and was available through subscription. Unlike a lot of the furniture in the house, which was auctioned off in the 1930s and has found its way back to us over the years, the Lougheed Bible never left the family. It’s tough to appreciate the beauty of this book if it just sits in storage, so it’s taking centre stage up here instead!

-Jake, Summer Student

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

How many fireplaces?

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As you tour Beaulieu you will notice that most rooms have a fireplace (#18). In fact, there are 11 of them! They may have been used to provide additional heating to the rooms, but with the very efficient central heating system I think it is more likely it was primarily for aesthetic reasons and perhaps as a back-up should the main boiler in the basement fail.

Many of the fireplace mantles are different and made out of materials that suit the décor of the particular room. The mantle in the entry hall is rich red mahogany to match the rich mahogany wood.

Notice what appears to be fine marble on the fireplace in the Drawing room. Upon closer inspection, you will notice in a few spots where a fire screen likely rubbed the “marble” that it is actually a “faux” finish of painted slate.

My favourite fireplace is in Lady Isabella’s bedroom. The mantle is of oak and along with the other oak woodwork add a richness and elegance to the room.

If the tour group I am leading has children I ask them to count the fireplaces. On a recent tour one girl counted 10 and a boy 12.

All of the fireplaces would have originally been coal but were converted along with the boiler (#19) when natural gas was pipelined to Calgary. The first natural gas supply to Calgary came from wells drilled by A.W. Dingman on the Colonel James Walker Estate. In 1910 Dingman formed the Canadian Natural Gas Company and pipelined gas to the Calgary Brewery and Malting Company. To supply the growing demand in the booming Calgary for natural gas, another source was needed. Natural gas had been discovered near Bow Island by the C.P.R. while drilling for water for their steam engines in the early 1880’s as the transcontinental railway construction proceeded. A 280-km pipeline was constructed by the Canadian Western Natural Gas Company to supply both Lethbridge and Calgary. The C.P.R. would also discover natural gas near Medicine Hat while drilling a coal exploration well and Medicine was actually the first community to be gasified in 1904.

In 1913, a farmer and amateur geologist named Stewart Herron noticed gas bubbling up near Sheep Creek. He quietly bought up land and convinced prominent Calgarian James Lougheed, along with his law partner R.B. Bennett, and rancher A.E. Cross to form the Calgary Petroleum Products Company to finance the drilling of what became the famous Dingman No. 1 well. They hired A. W. Dingman as their driller. This set off the first oil boom in Calgary when it “blew-in” in May of 1914. James Lougheed also set up a stock brokerage firm, Lougheed and Taylor to take advantage of the demand for the formation of oil companies and the fervour of the new petroleum speculators. People lined up to buy stocks in these new companies. And soon there were more than 500 “paper” oil companies. Calgary’s economy was changing from land speculation and development to oil. The first oil boom ended soon after but the successful Dingman No. 1 marked Calgary as Canada’s oil and gas capital.

– Bill, Volunteer Historical Interpreter


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


The ‘Sir’ in Sir James

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As you tour the house you will notice in the Senator’s study the framed documents and medal which indicate the Senator’s prestigious award (#14).

Senator James Lougheed was made Chairman of the Military Hospitals Commission in 1915, which involved the care of the many returning injured Canadian soldiers from the battles of WW1. (This would later be called Veterans’ Affairs). For his service, he was awarded a knighthood, the Order of Saint Michael and Saint George by King George V, and thus was entitled to be called Sir James Lougheed and his wife Lady Isabella.

As an historic interpreter, I like to point out that he is the only Albertan so honoured to date. It is unlikely that there will be another such honour for any Canadian as the receipt of titles by Canadian citizens has been the subject of debate since 1917 when Conservative MP William Folger Nickle brought forward a motion in the House of Commons calling for an address to be made to King George V requesting that he no longer grand hereditary peerages and knighthoods to Canadians and that all such titles held by Canadians expire upon their deaths. It was passed by the House of Commons and came to be known as the Nickle Resolution. The rationale was that in a true democracy all citizens are equal. It was not forwarded to the Senate for ratification for fear of it being defeated so it never became law. It has, however, been followed by most Prime Ministers, with the exception of James Lougheed’s former law partner, the Honourable R. B. Bennett who in the early 1930s recommended a few individuals such as Frederick Banting, co-discoverer of insulin, be knighted. In 1938 Bennett moved to England and was awarded the title of Viscount, as was the British practice for former Prime Ministers – he remains the only Canadian PM to do this.

You may recall the more recent contention between Conrad Black and PM Jean Chrétien in the 1970s. Black held dual British and Canadian citizenship and the British wished to honour him with a life peerage. Chrétien, in line with the Nickle Resolution, wouldn’t allow it and the decision was upheld by the Ontario Court of Appeal. Black renounced his Canadian citizenship and became Sir Conrad Black. Following his conviction in 2007 in the US for fraud and obstruction of justice and subsequent jail sentence, it is unlikely he will ever again be a Canadian citizen as his application would undoubtedly be denied because of his criminal record. Despite his criminal record, he can still be called Baron Black of Coalharbour and take his seat in the House of Lords in London.

Canada has adopted the Order of Canada as a way of honouring citizens for exemplarly service and had this been the practice when Sir James was knighted, I am confident he would have been a recipient – as was his grandson, former premier Peter Lougheed. Peter was named a Companion of the Order of Canada in 1986 – the second-highest award granted to Canadian citizens. The highest is the Order of Merit, which is a personal gift of Canada’s monarch. The only Canadian to currently hold that honour is Jean Chrétien.

-Bill, Historical Interpreter


Inside the Toy Box

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My name is Charlotte and I work at Lougheed House assisting with educational programming and curatorial work. Our school programs give students the unique opportunity to interact with a wide assortment of historical objects such as Victorian household objects, fashion accessories, and children’s toys. I am always amazed by how popular the Victorian toys are among the students, which are quite simple in comparison to today’s high-tech electronic toys. They find toys like Jacob’s ladder, which creates a simple visual illusion, to be particularly mesmerizing and magical. I have chosen three antique children’s toys which are part of our collection. Sir James and Lady Isabella Lougheed had six children and they likely owned some of the most modern and innovative toys of the era.

Bowling Green Puzzle

This game is called the “Bowling Green Puzzle” (#11), manufactured by R. Journet and Co. in London, England at the turn of the 19th century. I had a similar game growing up but it used a metal ball instead of this ‘silver fluid’. The fluid is mercury, which is a highly toxic liquid metal now banned in manufacturing. The ‘silver fluid’ is very mesmerizing in the way that it glides and divides, an effect which cannot be achieved by a solid metal ball.

The instructions of the game are outlined on the inner surface of the toy: “The object of this game is to get as many holes filled with the ‘Silver Fluid’ as possible without letting any glide into the Alley way. Each player is allowed three turns or ‘Rolls’ (a ‘Roll’ is finished as soon as any portion of the ‘Silver Fluid’ glides into the Alley way) the skill and ingenuity of the players will be shown by their ability to prevent this. The Holes filled are added together and the total will be the score of the player.”

It is very challenging to split the mercury into multiple holes and to keep it in there while completing additional rolls. It’s likely that the Lougheed children owned a toy like this which must have kept them entertained for hours!

Upside Down Clowns

This wooden toy is called “Upside Down Clowns” (#12). The wooden clown is held at the top of the ladder and as it swings down it catches onto each rung of the ladder. All parts of this toy would have to be perfectly measured for it to work correctly.

The Moving Puzzle

This toy served as a brilliant advertising initiative. The toy is called “The Moving Puzzle” (#13). It consists of nine wooden blocks labelled as different pieces of furniture placed in a cardboard box. The directions state: “Put the furniture in the room, as per diagram. The puzzle is to change the location of the piano from Corner A to Corner C without jumping, raising or turning any pieces. Just straight moves one at a time. It can be done; can you do it?”

Below these instructions is an advertisement for the Edmonton moving company McNeill’s Van & Storage reading “We can solve this puzzle, as well as your Moving Storage, Packing or Shipping problems.”

These games were distributed to potential customers by various moving companies across North America. The game is quite difficult and I’ll admit that I had to look up the solution on the internet to figure out how to get the piano from Corner A to Corner C!

-Charlotte, Educational and Curatorial Assistant

Sandstone City

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Hello, my name is Bill and I am one of the historical interpreters at Lougheed House. Leading tours gives me the opportunity to share information about the house, James and Belle Lougheed, and the early days of Calgary.

As you approach Beaulieu (meaning ‘beautiful place’, this was the Lougheeds name for their palatial 14,000 sq. ft. home), you immediately notice that it is built of sandstone (#10). There’s a good reason for that. After the railway arrived in Calgary in 1883, there was a building boom but nearly all the newly built structures were of wood frame construction. On Nov. 7, 1886, a fire started in the rear of the flour and feed store. It quickly spread and destroyed 14 buildings before the volunteer fire department could get it under control. Shortly after, the Town Council decreed that all major, downtown buildings should be made of non-combustible materials. Sandstone was readily available along the banks of the Bow and Elbow Rivers and numerous quarries were opened to supply Calgary’s building boom.

So many that by 1910 Calgary became known as the ‘Sandstone City’. Although many of the early sandstone buildings have been torn down to make way for steel, concrete and glass skyscrapers that shape the skyline of our downtown, a number still remain, including the old City Hall, the Grain Exchange, early schools, banks and churches such as Knox United.  Other examples can be found along Stephen Avenue including the Clarence and Norman Blocks built by James Lougheed, and of course the Palliser Hotel.

This is just one of the many interesting stories Lougheed House has to tell. Stop in for brunch on a weekend (specifically Sundays if you want to see me 😉) and after you enjoy some Eggs Benedict, I’ll lead you on a guided tour. Hope to see you soon!

-Bill, Volunteer Interpreter


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