Uncategorized Archives - Lougheed House

A party, a community, a history. Our Tribute to Club Carousel fundraiser.

Posted by | Uncategorized | No Comments

Support Lougheed House and Calgary Queer Arts Society’s joint friendraiser/fundraiser!

A Tribute to Club Carousel, Calgary’s first gay nightclub.

Lougheed House and our Beltline community have a unique and enduring connection to Calgary’s queer community, and through our partnership with Calgary Queer Arts Society and Calgary Pride, this fundraising party tells some of the rich history of that relationship, in connection with our current exhibit, OUTLIERS: Queer History in Calgary.

Proceeds from this event support the growth of our new community based outreach programs at Lougheed House. Calgary Queer Arts Society’s proceeds will support all of its programs (Youth Queer Media, OutReels Diversity Education, The Coming Out Monologues and The Fairy Tales Film Fest) that seek to amplify queer voices and work for an inclusive future for all people.

Why Club Carousel?

Created in the 1960s, Club Carousel was Calgary’s first gay bar, our first gay-owned space, and an important milestone in our queer community’s history. It was just two blocks from Lougheed House, and was where Calgary’s queer community collectively declared independence for the first time from our culture of homophobia, repression and intimidation. Club Carousel was a spark, a galvanizer, a gathering place and a place where community was created and nurtured. Everything that our queer community has achieved in the past 50 years is due to Club Carousel and the brave Calgarians who risked so much to open it and run it.

One of these brave Calgarians was Lois Szabo, who in Calgary is the last surviving co-founder of Club Carousel. It was not easy to be a co-founder of the first official chartered private membership club for the LGTB community in Western Canada. It was the late ’60s into the ’70s and during this period, discrimination from society and from police was very common. Lois was know for building bridges however, and in her time with the club she kept it running by developing trust and repore with local police. This meant that instead of raiding the club, they would help support it by keeping the peace outside of its doors.

Throughout her life and career, Lois has been an avid supporter of the Queer Community. Today, well into her ’80s, Lois still actively volunteers with various organizations, including a Seniors Lesbian group at the Kerby Centre. She has always found ways to survive and thrive throughout her life time and has always given back. On May 17th we would like to honour her for her amazing legacy in our city and for her ongoing positive impact on Calgary’s queer community.

If you are queer, an ally, or if you simply value diversity, inclusion and nurturing loving, connected communities in Calgary, we invite you to support this wonderful party/celebration event.

Tickets for the friendraiser/fundraiser are only $20.00 and all funds raised will support the continuation and expansion of all programs at Lougheed House and at Calgary Queer Arts Society.

For even more historical insight, courtesy of James Demers from Calgary Queer Arts Society, click here to watch our Tribute to Club Carousel promo video.

Click here to purchase your tickets.

Dress is 1970s “disco” theme, or come as you are.

6:00 pm – Doors Open. Dance to DJ MollyFi; have fun at our Disco Dressup Photobooth; Peruse & bid at our Silent Auction; visit our Bar for ’70s-themed drinks (first one is complimentary) and visit The Shop downstairs for sustainable, locally made artisan wares

6:00 – 7:00 Tapas-style appetizers (complimentary)

6:30 pm to 7:30 pm – Cheer on our Drag King vs. Drag Queen Croquet Competition, on the lawn.

6:45 pm – 7:30 pm – Mason Jenkins (below) plays live music in the Drawing Room

Mason Jenkins

7:30 pm – 8:30 pm – Be enthralled and entertained as Mark Bellamy and Lara Schmitz (below) give a live reading of compelling excepts from the original 1970s Carousel Capers newsletter. The Carousel Capers was the clubs ongoing newsletter and by hearing it read out loud you will get a glimpse behind the scenes of this ground breaking organization, and the prevalent and often sassy opinions of its monthly contributors.

8:00 pm – 8:30 pm – A tribute and thank you to community icon Lois Szabo, and the cutting of a Club Carousel cake – Baked and designed by Jordan May.

8:30 pm – DJ MollyFi (below) in the Ballroom

DJ MollyFi

9:00 pm – 9:45 pm – Live performance by alternative dream rockers, Lashes the Band (below) in the Drawing Room

Lashes the Band

9:45 pm – Announcement of the final sold items at Silent Auction

9:45 pm – 11:00 pm – DJ MollyFi spins for our closing dance party in the Drawing Room.

Click here for info and tickets!

ROAR explores our House’s connections to women’s roles and queer history

Posted by | Uncategorized | No Comments

Kirstin Evenden, Executive Director

ROAR consists of 2 exhibitions and a host of exciting programs. Nine Lives: Changing Notions of Femininity Through Time (until April 28) connects to the house’s history as a space for women. After the Lougheed family lived here (Lady Isabella Lougheed raised six children here and was a significant Calgary community builder), the house was occupied by the Dominion Youth Training Program, which trained young women for domestic work; it served as a barracks for the Canadian Women’s Army Corps during World War Two; and was the headquarters for the Red Cross in Calgary for many years, an organization that was primarily staffed by women at the time.  We were interested in exploring how women’s roles have shifted from the Victorian era, over the last century. The exhibit, developed in partnership with the Big Kitty Crew, an all-female urban art collective, explores this shift.

Outliers: Exploring Queer History in Calgary, (May 9 – June 9) explores Calgary’s queer history. Before Lougheed House was restored and opened as a Historic Site, the park surrounding the house was used as a gay prostitution stroll known as the ‘Fruit Loop’. Many residents of the neighbourhood were concerned for the safety of people using the park, and this was partially the impetus for the cleanup and restoration of the site. We thought it would be interesting to explore this history from the perspective of the queer community so we have partnered with the Queer Arts Society and Pride Calgary to present this exhibit featuring unique private collections that tell the rich history of this community and its impact on Calgary.

We think that both these projects have unique connections to the history of Lougheed House and that they represent a move to a more inclusive future for the Historic Site and Museum. Lougheed House has been a witness to over 128 years of Calgary history and we are excited to work with community to reveal the diverse regional histories of our rich shared past.  We invite you to check out our unique programs, events and openings happening this spring that celebrate community and our dynamic history in fun and immersive ways.

We at Lougheed House are excited to share in these community conversations and look forward to continuing the dialogue in the days, weeks, and months ahead.

Kirstin Evenden, Executive Director

Tickets for our Women at the Crossroads of Canada tour & talk

can be bought here.

Giving Tuesday: your righteous response to Black Friday

Posted by | Uncategorized | No Comments

What’s the fuss about “Giving Tuesday”? The simple answer, of course, is that it’s one day to signal the time of year that most charities receive the majority of their donations. But is there more to it than that?

Coming as it does on the heels of the Black Friday, U.S, Thanksgiving, Cyber Monday sandwich, it’s an opportunity for folks to take care of the causes that they care about. Right after they’ve taken care of their own needs and those of family and friends during the shop-and-save, give thanks, shop-and-save cycle described above.

Wikipedia says Giving Tuesday started in the US “as a response to commercialization and consumerism in the post-Thanksgiving season.”

There can be little doubt that overindulgence in the department store, at the turkey table, and in the Amazon checkout can leave one feeling remorseful, maybe even somewhat ashamed.

Psychology Today helpfully informs us that “shame impacts our feelings about who we are as people, it makes sense that it would create motivation to change those aspects of ourselves about which we feel negatively.”

What better way to assuage those feelings and to motivate us to change, than to give to a cause that we feel good about?

So here we are on Giving Tuesday, 170,000 charities around Canada, ready to help you feel good about yourself again!

My particular favourite, Lougheed House, is amongst 85,000 charities with a Charitable Registration number, able to give you a tax receipt to help you feel good not only right now but clear through to tax time in April and beyond.

During the busy Lougheed House Holiday Season we are raising funds for Youth and Family Programs which run all throughout the year. Won’t you help us put smiles on the faces of young people and their families as they learn about the past and experience history?

Please donate now, register your righteous response to commercialization and consumerism, and banish those feelings of overindulgence. You’ll feel glad you did.

Sean French, Lougheed House Development Manager

Sean French, Development Manager


The origins of Remembrance Day

Posted by | Uncategorized | No Comments

Armistice Day was inaugurated across the British Commonwealth by King George V in 1919, and formed the basis for today’s Remembrance Day observances. The date was selected to commemorate the ceasefire declared by representatives of Germany and the Entente, “at the 11th hour, on the 11th day, at the 11th month,” in 1918.

This WWI “trench art” is an artifact of the House, and was probably gifted to one of the Lougheeds by a soldier.

While today the June 28, 1919 signing of the Treaty of Versailles is more often recognized as the end of the Great War, it is important to bear in mind that for the average Canadian, the end of hostilities may have had greater personal value than any formal victory.

For Canadians, the day was first ratified in 1921, when the Canadian Parliament passed its Armistice Day bill, which solidified the date as a national holiday. For the majority of the 1920s, observances were performed by churches and other non-state organizations, and frequently incorporated into Thanksgiving services. In 1931, a group of veterans and other concerned Canadians successfully petitioned

Clarence Lougheed served oversees in WWI

Parliament to clearly separate the day from Thanksgiving, and to place greater emphasis on commemorating the sacrifice of those who served, as opposed to celebrating the Allied victory. That year, Armistice Day was revitalized under the new name, “Remembrance Day,” in keeping with similar name changes in other Commonwealth nations.

Though originally instituted to commemorate the First World War, Remembrance Day has since been expanded to recognize the service of those who participated in the Second World War, Korean War, and current veterans and servicepersons.


Where Did All the Corsets Go? Dress Reform in the Late 19th Century

Posted by | Uncategorized | No Comments

by Adam Sarjeant, Lougheed House Admissions Assistant

You may have noticed from our photos of the Lougheed family that they were a pretty fashionable bunch. Lady Lougheed retained a seamstress by the name of Sarah Crelda Dunn twice a year, in spring and fall, just to make sure the family was up to snuff with the latest fashions.

You may also have noticed how much the Lougheed’s dress changed over their time in the house. Photos from the 1890s show the lady of the house in full Victorian dress – bodices, bustles, corsets and all – but photos from the 1910s and 20s show Isabella and her eminently fashionable daughter Dorothy in loose, casual dresses, blouses and skirts. What happened?

Today, we explore the small group of cutting-edge English reformers who masterminded this change, and the Dress Reform movement they created.


From Le Figaro in 1891, showing reform undergarments (a liberty corset, union suit, bloomers, tights, and petticoats).

Establishing an exact timeline for the Dress Reform movement is difficult. As you might expect, reactions against restrictive European clothing have existed for as long as the trends themselves – since at least the 15th century. The beginning of the 19th century, for example, saw a brief revolutionary period in which European aristocratic society seemed to reject the corseted waistline. Napoleon’s first empress, Joséphine de Beauharnais, was an adherent of the more freeing Neoclassical “Empire” style, which became the norm in fashionable circles for several decades, at which time it was politically dangerous to display one’s wealth too openly. By the 1820s, however, the vogue for elaborate cinches, petticoats, corsets and stays had returned in full force as the stigma against ostentatious displays of wealth evaporated.[1] With this revival, the trend swung even more towards the extreme, precipitating a new, even more anti-naturalistic ideal body: “tightlacing” was the tradition of tying the corset as tightly as possible, in order to produce superhuman waist sizes. The new look also had the added effect of producing respiratory dysfunction, organ displacement, and chronic injury.

An organized movement against the increasingly absurd state of 19th century dress reached its climax in the 1870s and 1880s. The medical profession, of course, played a significant role in providing a sound scientific basis for the movement. Though medical practice at the time was hardly as developed as it would become in the early 20th century (germ theory, for example, was still very much under debate), the deleterious effects of the more extreme fashion practices of the time were made readily obvious simply by casually observing of the changed bodies of chronically tightlaced women. However, Europe’s medical community was insular, and rarely communicated with the public. Popularizing the movement, and providing it with a voice in the culture at large, fell to a growing community of Women’s Interests advocates (often thought of as a precursor to the 20th century feminist movement).

Skeleton illustration from Ada Ballin’s 1885 book, The Science of Dress in Theory and Practice


In 1881, an alliance of women’s advocates in London formed the Rational Dress Society, the first organization designed purely to advocate for change in women’s (and to a lesser degree men’s) apparel. The leadership of the society contained its fair share of celebrities and public figures – including Constance Wilde, wife of Oscar Wilde – and was spearheaded by Mrs. E.M. King (honorary secretary) and Florence Wallace Pomeroy, the Viscountess Harberton (president). King was a controversial political figure; between 1870-75, she had organised public protests for the repeal of an English act regulating prostitution, established the Women’s International Peace Society, addressed several scientific societies about the growing need to share domestic work equally between genders, and had been accused by her detractors of contributing to the downfall of English family life and moral order. King was in fact so inflammatory that she was ejected from the Society in 1883, and went on to form the Rational Dress Association, a more radical and active competitor to the Society.[2]

The Association advocated for five specific principles of dress:

  1. Freedom of Movement
  2. Absence of any pressure over any part of the body
  3. Not more weight than is necessary for warmth, and both weight and warmth evenly distributed

4 Grace and beauty combined with comfort and convenience

  1. Not departing too conspicuously from the ordinary dress of the time[3]

One can gather from point #5 that despite their concern for women’s health, the movement was not focussed on altering fashion in an artistic or cultural sense. The Dress Reform movement mainly concerned itself with re-imagining women’s undergarments, and, by modern standards, only by degrees. Despite their concern for women overburdening and overheating their bodies, the Society settled on an acceptable total weight of seven

Rational Dress Society patterns from The Science of Dress in Theory and Practice

pounds for a woman’s outfit – weighty by modern standards, but not enough to include heavy lacing. Their recommended outfit for women still included no less than five separate undergarments for the waist and torso alone.[4] The Association’s greatest public achievement was a major 1883 exhibition, an enormous but scattershot display of clothing alternatives, mostly women’s undergarments, aiming to educate the public on healthy alternatives to their current mode of dress. The exhibition featured everything from corsetless underwear systems, to quilted bodices, to athletic wear.[5] Despite reaching a large audience, coverage in the entirely male-dominated and largely conservative newspapers was hostile.[6] Shortly after the exhibition, E.M. King departed England for North America with her (possibly romantic) companion Elizabeth “Nellie” Glen.[7]

Equally important to the spread of the Dress Reform movement were a number of popular books on the subject, the most successful of which was The Science of Dress in Theory and Practice by Ada S. Ballin. As a lecturer for the National Health Society, Ballin possessed the unique skills necessary to bridge the gulf between the medical community and the movement for women’s rights. In particular Ballin insisted that Dress Reform’s failure to gain traction with modern women was due to the fact that most of the material on the subject “…has been written by men for women.”[8] Far from condescending to her female readers, Ballin created a book which was highly

John Singer Sargent’s 1897 painting, “Mr. and Mrs. I.N. Phelps Stokes” in reform clothing.

literate in the medical discourse, including discussions of infant mortality rates, The Lancet’s assessment of reform undergarments, basics of internal anatomy and the effects of organ displacement, and numerous detailed illustrations demonstrating everything from arch support in footwear to the perspiratory and sebaceous glands of the skin.[9] Though in many ways the book followed the principles set out by the Society, it diverged in its defence of the sensible use of corsets, and even recommended the use of stays for women of a “corpuscular” build, operating under the mistaken belief that this could prevent weight gain.[10]

Though nowhere near as revolutionary in their attitudes as the avant-garde of the 20s would be, the Dress Reform movement formed an essential alliance between science and the equitable treatment of women. Dress Reformers proved that a woman did not have to flaunt decorum or fly in the face of tradition in order to achieve improved living conditions, democratizing and incorporating into the “mainstream” a way of thinking which had previously been considered too radical for polite society.

[1] Katell Bourhis. The Age of Napoleon: Costume from Revolution to Empire, 1789–1815. (NY: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1989).

[2] Ian Leader Elliott, “Mrs EM King – Campaigning for Women’s Rights Pt 1,” Women’s History Network, December 22, 2013, accessed September 21, 2018, https://womenshistorynetwork.org/mrs-em-king-campaining-for-womens-rights-pt-1/#more-3200.

[3] Christine Bayles Kortsch, Dress Culture in Late Victorian Women’s Fiction: Literacy, Textiles, and Activism (UK: Routledge, 2016).

[4] Patricia A. Cunningham, Reforming Women’s Fashion, 1850-1920: Politics, Health, and Art (US: Kent State UP, 2003), p. 93-4.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Elliot, ibid.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Cunningham, 94.

[9] Ada S. Ballin, The Science of Dress in Theory and Practice, orig. published January 01, 1885, accessed September 21, 2018, https://archive.org/details/b2476422x.

[10] Cunningham, 96.

The First Ladies of Calgary at the Earl & Lady Grey Tea

Posted by | Uncategorized | No Comments

by Adam Sarjeant, Admissions Assistant, and Sean French, Development Manager

In 1909, Calgary received quite a visit – the 4th Earl Grey, Governor General of Canada, and his wife, Countess Alice Holford Grey! As soon as the Earl’s train arrived around noon, he was whisked away to a reception in the luncheon rooms of the Canadian Club by a detachment of the 15th Light Horse Cavalry, with the likes of R.B. Bennett, Patrick Burns, and our own Senator Lougheed.

Meanwhile, Calgary’s real movers and shakers, what you might call the “first women” of Calgary, attended a tea hosted at our very own Lougheed House with the Countess Grey and her daughters. Today, we’re joining the party! We’d like to introduce you to just a few of the fantastic women who gathered at the house that day…

Isabella Lougheed (1861-1936)

Courtesy Glenbow Archives

You’ve likely “met” our host before – wife of Calgary’s first Senator, Daughter to William Hardisty, Chief Factor of the Hudson’s Bay Company, and a woman very much at the center of Calgary’s aristocratic life – although as of 1909, not yet a “Lady” herself (that would happen in 1916). But what you might not know is that she was tough enough, and politically connected enough, to keep pace with her husband, and then some!

For “Belle,” life was no cakewalk. She spent most of her youth, when not attending Wesleyan Ladies’ College, in Fort Simpson, headquarters of the Mackenzie River Valley section of the HBC. The Hardistys endured food shortages and harsh winters, often surviving on no more than flour and locally-captured whitefish. Her mother, Mary Allen Hardisty, taught her to drive a train of dogs and keep rabbit snares.

She certainly didn’t go soft after settling down in Calgary, either: in 1897, she became the vice-president of the National Council of Women, one of Canada’s earliest advocacy groups, where she fought for the improvement of the treatment of women. In 1909, she was named the first president of the board of the Calgary Victorian Order of Nurses, and became vice-regent of the Independent Order of Daughters of the Empire, a pro-imperialist women’s political organization. Despite being kicked out of her own home in 1898 during a meeting of Conservatives hosted by her husband (for being a woman, and therefore a non-voter), Belle was nearly as socially active as her husband throughout her lifetime.

Countess Alice Holford Grey (1858-1944)

In 1909, the Countess Grey (born Alice Holford) was just as much of a celebrity as her husband. The Countess was a voice for temperance and a vocal supporter of the Salvation Army, regularly making private appearances for members in the various cities she visited. Among Canadians, however, she was most famous for her opulent, old-fashioned taste and fashion. The daughter of British businessman and MP Robert Staynor, Countess Grey was born into wealth and married into peerage. She was particularly well known on Canada’s High Streets and to Ottawa and Montreal’s tailors and milliners, and personally “employ[ed] a small army of needlewomen on her lingerie and lace.”


Lady Sybil Grey (1882-1966)

The second daughter of the Earl & Countess was a real firebrand – and a soon-to-be war hero! As an MP, the Earl was a vocal advocate of a more liberal, humane British Empire, which he believed could serve the people of the colonies rather than redirecting wealth to Britain. This sense of “noblesse oblige” rubbed off on Sybil, and when war broke out in 1914, not only did she sign up for the British Red Cross and Order of St John of Jerusalem’s Voluntary Aid Detachment (VAD), she even turned her own ancestral home, Howick Hall in Northumberland, from one of the country’s most lavish mansions, into a hospital for the war wounded. But one military hospital wasn’t enough for Sybil – after less than a year running Howick, she travelled to Russia to convert Dmitri Palace, which belonged to Nicholas II’s first cousin Dmitri Pavlovitch. In spite of the deteriorating political situation in Russia in 1916 (the October Revolution being less than a year away), Sybil and her Field Hospital team inched closer and closer to the front. Even after an incident in which Sybil received wounds to her face from hand grenade flak, she couldn’t be kept from her work saving lives at the heart of the conflict.

Lady Evelyn Grey

Lady Evelyn Grey, the first daughter of the Earl & Countess was crowned Canada’s Women’s Figure Skating Champion in the Ice Waltz category in 1910, one year after her visit to Calgary.

 In those days the Championship was a one-day event, with figures authorized by the International Skating Union in the morning and “free” figures, with half the point value, in the evening. A live orchestra accompanied the free-figures competitors as they skated, according to the rules, “any figures or combinations thereof desired.”

Lady Evelyn (pictured second from left) went on to write a syllabus of lectures for the education of young girls in Ottawa with the help none other than future Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King, who was a close friend of her father.[1]

Hon. Alice Jane Jukes Jamieson (1860-1949)

Courtesy Glenbow Archives

One of Lady Isabella’s personal friends, a fellow member of the Council of Women, was also one of Canada’s most important feminist figures. Raised in Chicago, Alice Jamieson didn’t arrive in Canada until she was 22 years, but would often say of her adopted country, “I chose to be Canadian.” After the death of her husband, Reuben R. Jamieson, the Superintendent of C.P.R.’s Western Division, she was instrumental in the Calgary Council of Women’s shift towards promoting Women’s Suffrage, and providing legal aid for women in need.

In 1916, Alice Jamieson was appointed Judge of Calgary’s Juvenile court, and later Magistrate of Calgary’s Women’s Court, making her the first female judge in the British Empire. For a woman in the early twentieth century, a career in law was a perpetual struggle for legitimacy and equality among her male peers. This battle reached its peak with her victory in 1917’s Cyr case, a pivotal legal battle in the enfranchisement of women. In the case, an attempt was made to appeal one of her rulings on the grounds that Hon. Jamieson should be declared “incompetent and incapable” due to her gender. Not only did the Supreme Court rule in her favour, but the case also threw shade on the constitutional assumption that women did not qualify as persons, paving the way for future legal victories for the women of Canada. In 2003, Calgary’s first all-girl’s school was named Alice Jamieson Girls’ Academy in her honour.

Mrs. Jean Ann Pinkham (née Drever) (1849-1940)

Cyprian William Pinkham was born November 11, 1844 at St. John’s, Newfoundland and died at Calgary July 18, 1928. He was married in 1868 to Jean Ann Drever who was born on May 6, 1850 and died February 1, 1940 at Calgary. They had a family of seven children. William was named the first Anglican Bishop of Calgary in 1888. The diocese covered an area of over 300,000 square miles. Mrs. Pinkham was disturbed because there was no hospital in Calgary in 1888 and many women were dying in childbirth, as well as laborers injured on the job and left unattended. She and other ladies of Calgary organized teas, dances, concerts, dinners and raised enough money to have the first hospital opened in a house on 7 Avenue S.W. Mrs. Pinkham was the President of the new hospital board. The hospital was eventually expanded with a new stone building on 12 Avenue East, which was later converted into an isolation hospital.

Eileen Louisa Francis Anna Burns (nee Ellis) (1873-1923)

Eileen was from a ranching family and grew up near Penticton BC. She and Patrick Burns were married in London in 1901 when she was 27 and he was 47. They had one son Patrick Thomas Michael who died at age 30. Their mansion, finished in 1903, stood near the Central Memorial Library was said to be the finest, and largest, in Calgary. It was demolished to make way for the Colonel Belcher Hospital (later renamed the Sheldon Chumir Medical Centre). Remnants of a sandstone fence from the mansion are visible today at the Southwest corner of the Medical Centre.

Mrs. Mary Jane Cushing (née Waters) (1852-1924)

William Cushing was born in 1852 in Wellington Co. Ontario and died at Calgary in 1934. In 1877 he was married to Elizabeth Rinn, who was also born in Wellington Co., but died in 1880. In 1883 He married Mary Jane Waters. There were two children. William took up building as an occupation and his first contract was building two churches in Calgary in 1883. He contributed much to public life, as an Alderman in 1910-1911, and in the Alberta Legislature in 1905 as Minister of Public Works. He was also a member of the hospital board. Mary Jane Waters was born 5 August 1849 in Ontario, and died 25 July 1924 in Calgary. She is buried in the Pioneer Section of Union Cemetery, as are all of her children.

Mrs. Mary Bernard (née Morton) (1840-1911)

Mr. Bernard was born in Dublin, Ireland in 1840 and died in Calgary in 1911. He married Mary Morton, who was born in Ireland in 1840 and died in Calgary, Alberta in 1929.

They had seven children, all born in Ireland. A descendent of a noted Irish family, William Bernard had been a brilliant lawyer in London, England. On arrival in Calgary in 1888 he set up a law office and also purchased the Daily Tribune from Thomas Braden, one of the founders of the Calgary Herald. He was later joined by his son Michael Charles, at which time the firm was renamed Bernard & Bernard.

Mrs. Margaret Pearce (née Meyer) (1853-1943)

William Pearce was born in Ontario, in 1848 and died in Calgary in 1930. He was married to Margaret Meyer in 1881, who was born in 1853 and died at Calgary in 1943. They had a family of seven children and came to Calgary in 1887. William was a Civil Engineer and held several positions in the Dominion Government. Before and after the Riel Rebellion he was in charge of the Metis Land Claims and was the official representative of the Department of the Interior. The Pearce family settled permanently in Calgary in 1887. Mr. and Mrs. Pearce were instrumental in the establishment of the General Hospital. In 1904 he left the Dominion Government and worked in administration of Irrigation and C.P.R. Lands. In 1916, he became a statistician for the C.P.R. Their children were; Frances, Adolphina, Seabury, William E. and John (Twins), William M. and Harry. William Pearce’s name was inscribed on Memory’s Roll of the SAPD with dates 1873-1883.

And finally… the Tea?

You might be wondering: what’s connection between the Greys and Earl Grey tea? The tea blend might not be named after the 4th Earl Albert Grey who visited Calgary in 1909, but it is named for his predecessor, the 2nd Earl Charles Grey, who as British Prime Minister oversaw the Reform Act of 1832, as well as the abolition of slavery in the commonwealth.

How Charles Grey became associated with the tea is unclear. There are stories of good deeds in China that resulted in the recipe for the tea coming to his ownership. Another version tells how the blend was created by accident when a gift of tea and bergamot oranges were shipped together from diplomats in China and the fruit flavour was absorbed by the tea during shipping. Yet another version of the story involves a Chinese Mandarin friend of the Earl blending this tea to offset the taste of minerals in the water at his home (Howick Hall, Northumberland, England). None of these stories are confirmed, but all speak to Grey’s association with trade and international affairs, and offer a general idea of why he may have come to be associated with this particular blend.

Jackson’s of Piccadilly say that they introduced the blend in 1836 “to meet the wishes of a former Earl Grey.” Researchers at the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) issued an appeal in 2012 to find the earliest evidence of Earl Grey referring to tea. The first reference to bergamot-flavoured tea was found in 1824. In contrast to later associations, it seems that at that time it was used unfavourably to enhance the taste of low-quality tea. This led the OED to conclude that it was “rather unlikely” that the Earl championed or recommended the tea.

Lady Grey tea, on the other hand, was invented in the 1990s by Twinings, who were hoping to create a less bitter tea to market to Norwegian and British tastes. The name was intended to convey the tea’s milder taste, and doesn’t refer to any Lady Grey in particular.

Magic Aesthetic: meet YYC glass artist Michelle Atkinson

Posted by | Uncategorized | No Comments

Q & A with artist Michelle Atkinson of Jewelnotes Glassworks.

Michelle is a Calgary based artist whose beautiful, timeless and sustainable glass work we are proud to now sell at The Shop at Lougheed House.

Michelle Atkinson

Michelle was born and raised in Calgary, and has studied graphic design and glass making both locally and internationally. She has a love for all things nature and magic. Her work combines fused glass, crystals and copper to create one-of-a-kind statement jewelry and home décor pieces. The work has a rustic, worn and ancient feel mixed with a magical sparkle provided by the deep hues in the dichroic glass. The addition of crystals helps to propel the work to a more ethereal realm and connects us all back to the earth.

Saddlebowl by Michelle Atkinson

What inspires your work?

The majority of my work is inspired by the landscape of western Canada mixed with a Magic aesthetic. I remember summer vacations as a kid, traveling across the prairies, through the mountains and out to the ocean, completely transfixed with the nature around me. I collected rocks, shells and lots of little treasures along the way, dreaming of mermaids and fairies in the ocean and forests. I’m an Albertan born and raised, so I have a great love for the vast calming effect of the prairies. I aim to keep that little pice of childhood magic inside me alive all while highlighting our stunning landscape in my work. My jewelry uses a lot of Dichroic glass witch sparkles and shines just like a fairy wings and my line is moving toward copper electroformed pieces. Electroforming allows me to incorporate actual leaves and other organic elements and give the work a distinctly rustic and earthy feeling. I still have a few silver pieces, but eventually everything will be copper. My sculptural work focuses on impressing natural elements into the glass (grasses, leaves etc.).

How did you become an artist?

I’d say I’ve been an artist my entire life. I’ve tried it all, but glass has always called to me – I used to dig up bits of old pottery and glass in the garden as a kid.

I’ve been a graphic designer my entire adult career, or my ‘big girl’ job as I call it. I still work as a designer full time and do the glass art the rest of the time. I joke I have two full time jobs. In the day job I’m creative for other people and the glass job I’m creative for me.

As far as getting into glass, I always wanted to take glassblowing, but just never got to it. I ended up doing the graphic design thing and never went back to school for that glass part. I toyed with continuing education but never pressed the button until I found a short weekend class for fused glass. We just did really simple, layered glass pendants; the next day I bought my first kiln! I’ve been experimenting and learning ever since. I’ve travelled to Vegas for classes and done a lot of trail an error learning from books and the internet as well as a few online courses.My graphic design training has given me a lot go the fundamentals like colour terry and composition, so I really love getting to experiment with what the medium can do. My work always has many layers, both in meaning as well as process.

What do you want people to know about your work?

Humm… this is a tough one. Maybe that there is more to it than you think and the simple pieces are the most difficult. I’m always trying to simplify my pieces and process, they usually end up having more to say. And if you ever see me at a show (fine craft or fine art), please ask me questions about the work! I love to share the nuances of each piece. Every piece has a story and glass is more complex than people assume – the process itself is a story.

Visit Michelle’s website a www.jewelnotes.ca

Or on Instagram @jewelnotes.

An art-making workshop for new artists.

Posted by | Uncategorized | No Comments

Excavate Your Aesthetic: an art-making workshop with Rebecca Smyth on September 27th.

Inspired by the many artworks in our new Formed by Sand exhibit, you’ll create your own individual work of art with the guidance from Calgary educator, facilitator and contemporary art-maker Rebecca Smyth.

Rebecca Smyth

Rebecca Smyth

Imagine, with Rebecca’s professional guidance, making your own art – from observation and sketching to working and reworking materials – and gaining an appreciation for your unique aesthetic and how it guides you to see and understand the world around you.

We will provide all the art materials and, to get you warmed up, a complimentary drink from our Restaurant bar. Bring your friends and take home a work of art as unique as you. No experience is necessary, just a willingness to play and explore.

Time: Thursday September 27

6:30 doors

7:00 – 9:30 workshop

Price: $60 ($50 for Lougheed House members and seniors)

Below, workshop instructor Rebecca Smyth tells you what to expect on September 27.
T0 register for the workshop, click here.
Workshop Itinerary


The works in the exhibition all reference a sense of place and the history of materials, which are concepts we’ll also be drawing on as we work on our two artworks. The tour will give a deeper look at the exhibition concepts, give participants a chance to consider works that they find interesting or inspiring, and start thinking about how techniques and materials communicate certain ideas or emotions.


Drawing is the foundation of all art making. More than just a literal translation of an image onto paper, drawing is about expressive mark-making, using lines, shapes and gestures and a wide variety of tools.
We’ll begin with a warm-up where participants will do several line and texture studies without focussing on a finished product. This will be on-site throughout the house, to get a sense of place and use the architecture and the details of the house as inspiration. We’ll then return to the shared work area to combine these studies into a finished piece. Participants will select several of the smaller studies to layer into one finished abstract drawing that reflects their impressions of the house.
~Wine/cocktail/beer break~


Building on the concepts from the drawing exercises, participants will use mark making and surface building to modify a found object (provided by the workshop). Conceptually, we will consider literal and emotional histories and layers of objects, and how that translates into visual language.


We’ll be referencing techniques and concepts that can be found across the House’s current Formed by Sand exhibition, in order to build artistic literacy (looking at and understanding artworks), to test out techniques and mediums, and to build participants’ own visual vocabularies — what techniques/mediums/compositions they like and dislike when they make their own work.
Register here.

In 1887, Child & Wilson became Calgary’s First Architectural Firm

Posted by | Uncategorized | No Comments

Designing and constructing in sandstone is no easy feat – it requires expertise not just on the part of the craftspeople (read last our previous post for more on Calgary’s stoneworkers), but on the part of the architect as well. At the time of the 1886 fire, Calgary was equipped with plenty of stoneworkers, but not a single architect. Prior sandstone constructions had been designed either by commissioning architects from abroad, or in the case of smaller projects, by the firm in charge of the construction. The result was a city built in an eclectic combination of Victorian and Colonial styles, designed according to tastes of architects who, for the most part, had never even seen the city. It wasn’t until 1887, a year after the fire, that an opportunistic pair of designers, James Llewellyn Wilson and James Turner Child, established Calgary’s first (extremely lucrative) architectural firm.

Wilson and Child were an unlikely pair. Like most skilled workers at the time, both hailed from, and were educated in, England, but this was where their similarities ended. James Llewellyn Wilson was an architect to the bone: he had practised for several years in London before travelling to Canada for reasons that are unclear, leaving behind a promising career in one of the architectural capitols of the world.[1] James Turner Child, on the other hand, had never strictly been educated or practiced as an architect. He was an engineer by trade, and his specialty was about as far from traditional architecture as it could be: Child had made his name in land reclamation and drainage construction, working for the federal government in Manitoba. However the 1885 rebellion forced him to dissolve this firm and flee west, where he settled in Calgary.[2]

The South Ward (later Haultain) School in 1908.

How the two met is unclear, but it was fortuitous for both that they did. The combination of new construction bylaws instituted after the 1886 fire, and an enormous influx of short-lived foreign capital created an overwhelming demand for skilled designers who could conceive and oversee the execution of complex and difficult sandstone structures. By forming a partnership, Child & Wilson were able to virtually monopolize Calgary’s construction-design industry during the firm’s brief existence. Wilson fulfilled the vast majority of the architectural work. In the space of two years, Wilson’s designs practically overran downtown Calgary, including four massive multi-story structures on Stephen Ave. His weakness for Romanesque Revival architecture (complete with matching cylindrical “towers” on the Alexander Block and Imperial Bank buildings) became Calgary’s first distinctive architectural “look,” establishing a visual precedent which defined construction in the city centre well into the 20th century. Wilson imported various elements of Richardsonian architecture currently en vogue on America’s metropolitan East Coast, including the distinctive rough-hewn, concave sandstone blocks visible on most pre-1920s buildings in Calgary’s core. Meanwhile, Child took care of Calgary’s infrastructural concerns, overseeing the design and construction of Calgary’s first sewer system in 1893.[3]

Given that the firm had always been a “marriage of convenience,” it is unsurprising that Child dissolved the partnership in 1899, when he was offered a more advantageous position as Assistant Chief Engineer for the Northwest Government at Regina. Wilson, on the other hand, remained in Calgary and continued to help define its growth for several decades. Wilson participated in several partnerships, including one with Calgary’s other foremost sandstone architect, William Stanley Bates (whose home originally stood opposite Lougheed House).[4]

The Normal School, circa 1910, still stands today as McDougall Centre.

Few of the designs created by Child & Wilson’s firm remain standing. The Costigan Residence (now Mill St. Brewery) was moved in 1928, but still survives in its new location; Haultain School (originally South Ward School) is now preserved as part of Haultain Park; and Rundle Ruins, the remains of Calgary’s second general hospital, contains a cornerstone bearing the firm’s name.


[1] Robert G. Hill, “Wilson, James Llewellyn,” The Biographical Dictionary of Architects in Canada, accessed July 27, 2018, http://dictionaryofarchitectsincanada.org/node/402.

[2] Robert G. Hill, “Child, James Turner,” The Biographical Dictionary of Architects in Canada, accessed July 29, 2018, http://dictionaryofarchitectsincanada.org/node/915.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid, “Wilson.”

Calgary’s nascent labour movement: carving out a union in the era of sandstone construction.

Posted by | Uncategorized | No Comments

by Adam Sarjeant, Admissions Assistant

This Summer, Lougheed House presents Formed by Sand, an exhibition of artifacts and contemporary art exploring Calgary’s relationship to sandstone, oil, and its geological history. Calgary has been referred to as “The Sandstone City” for its many locally quarried sandstone buildings; but sandstone construction was, and still is, impossible without the skilled craftspeople who create it. That’s why this month, the Lougheed House Blog explores the relationship between sandstone and Calgary’s early labour movements.

  1. 1900-1: The CTLC and the Birth of the Calgary Labour Movement

Despite a significant – and growing – population of skilled tradespeople, it wasn’t until the beginning of the 19th century that Alberta’s labourers began to self-organize. The Sandstone industry in particular had been booming for well over a decade. This was in part the case due to drastic changes necessitated by the fire of 1886, after which fire-resistant materials such as sandstone were not simply in vogue, but in some cases legally required.[1] Stonemasons, stonecutters, carpenters, railworkers and other skilled craftspeople formed the brunt of Calgary’s economy. Why, then, did it take so long for Calgarians to unionize? Mobility may have been a factor. It was not uncommon for labourers to follow new prospects, such as cheap land or new railway development, rather than situating themselves in a location long enough to organize. Another may simply have been the political strength of business interests in Alberta. Calgary’s first union, Local 9787 of the Knights of Labour, was successfully “busted” in 1890 by a coalition of mining companies.[2] Regardless of the reasons for this delay, Calgary’s labour situation exploded overnight in the first years of the 20th century.

Circa 1913, Calgary stoneworker Hugh Macdonald at work. Photo courtesy of Glenbow Archives.

In 1900-1, the Calgary Trades and Labour Council (CTLC) was established by a coalition of unions associated with the newly constructed railway, allegedly for the purpose of organizing Labour Day celebrations – though this may have simply been a ploy to make the organization appear less threatening. The CTLC quickly began organizing local chapters of various trade unions, finding fertile ground in Calgary’s exploding construction industries. In 1900, total trade membership was reported at 300 persons; by 1905, it was 1500, or 12.5% of Calgary’s entire population. With the growth in unionization came a flurry of labour action: in 1903, unions struck six times, and between 1900 and 1914, the peak of Calgary’s Labour movement, 46 separate strike actions took place.[3]

  1. Skilled Labour and the “Sandstone City”

At its heart, construction – and sandstone construction in particular – is a labour-intensive industry. Taking a piece of stone from quarry to construction requires numerous tradespersons, all of them skilled specialists. For Calgary’s labour historians, the most important of these many trades were the stonecutters (skilled tradespeople cut stone into bricks) and stonemasons (or “bricklayers;” labourers who arranged and secured the cut bricks).

During the very same time (1900-15) when the unions were exploding, the market for skilled sandstone tradespeople was on a gradual decline. Mechanization of the stonecutting/masonry process was an early casualty of 20th industrial capitalism, and these two twin trades were quickly being replaced through the use of crude machinery. By 1915, the number of stoneworkers in the US had declined by half. The result in Calgary was a keen awareness among skilled stoneworkers of their shared vulnerability, but also of a desperate need to secure a competitive advantage. Two unions represented the two aforementioned professions: the JSU (Journeyman Stonecutters Union) for the stonecutters, and the BSMIU (Bricklayers and Stone Mason’s International Union) for the masons.

For both unions, their competitiveness, seemingly a natural adaptation to an inclement market, was their downfall. The line between mason and stonecutter was often muddy, and from the beginning the two unions contributed to this issue in the hopes of providing a competitive advantage to their own membership. The results were almost precisely opposite to their avowed purpose as unions: rather than securing labourers against the undercutting power of the market and their employers, the BSMIU and JSU created a hyper-competitive market of their own, each side engaging in desperate price-cutting to secure work for their own members. Eventually, it was the BSMIU which secured the decisive advantage in this conflict, by expanding its mandate to include “all cutting, and grinding of all kinds of brick, and all cutting, setting of… artificial stone.” The definition of “artificial stone” was key; in many cases, Calgary’s sandstone would have to be for fortified, and thus, the BSMIU claimed, its cutting fell under their jurisdiction. This left the JSU with no grounds on which it was not forced to compete. In 1912, both unions struck – essentially, against the poor conditions created by their own refusal to cooperate. The lengthy strike drained the now significantly smaller JSU’s resources to the breaking point. In 1914, the BSMIU formally absorbed the JSU, which would surely have been small reward for a deteriorating stonecutting industry.[4]

  1. Misconceptions about Early Labour History

The JSU and BSMIU’s interrelated history is a study in the forces which govern the often tenuous politics of labour. Specifically, they undermine two pernicious misconceptions about the history of labour politics: the first, that unions are entirely market-dependant, which is to say that union action is only possible in a booming market, and is essentially parasitic; and the second, that unionization is a fundamentally socialist or communist enterprise, representing an attempt to “seize the means of production” from a bourgeois business class. The first misconception runs contrary to Alberta’s labour history as a whole, as well as the stonecutters’ unions – it was precisely during a massive fall in the demand for labour (from 1900-15) caused by growing mechanization that Alberta’s labour movement first blossomed.

As for the other point, the history of the JSU and BSMIU demonstrates that the unions themselves were market participants, both in good times and bad – a lesson the stonecutters knew all too well. Labour negotiation is reliant on the preservation of demand, and in this way unions might be seen as the “opposite side of the coin” of capitalist enterprise. On the rare occasions that the Socialist Party of Calgary (SPC) and Worker’s Party of Calgary (WPC) did indeed engage with Calgary’s labour movement, their perspectives rarely aligned. This was in spite of the fact that from 1900-15, many Calgarians regarded the SPC as an ascendant power in Calgary’s politics; the typically Conservative paper The Eye Opener in 1908 ran a column which said of the party: “…it may be stated as a matter of fact that there is more true honesty of purpose within their ranks than there is in either of the two big parties. If not carried away by the extravagant exuberances of some of their leaders they may be the Big Party themselves one day.”[5] In spite of this, the CTLC often explicitly distanced itself from the party, denying it many forms of support it offered as a matter if course to other parties.[6]

[1] Facility Management, “The Great Fire of 1886 and Its Effect on Future Building,” The City of Calgary, December 20, 2016, accessed July 07, 2018, http://www.calgary.ca/CS/CPB/Pages/Projects-and-initiatives/Historic-City-Hall/TheGreatFireOf1886.aspx.

[2] David Bright, The Limits of Labour: Class Formation and the Labour Movement in Calgary, 1883-1929, pp. 76-9 (Vancouver: UBC Press, 2014).

[3] Ibid, pp. 80-1, 90-1.

[4] Ibid, pp. 87-9

[5] B. C. Edawrds, “It Is Time For A Change!” The Eye Opener (Calgary), October 3, 1908, 6th ed., sec. 33, accessed July 12, 2018, http://peel.library.ualberta.ca/newspapers/TEO/1908/10/03/1/Ar00103.html

[6] Bright, ibid, p. 105.

We have year round exhibits and free events.

Join our newsletter list to be the first to know!

Sign up for our e-newsetter.