The 70th birthday of the Hillhurst Sunnyside Community Association gives me pause to think back on my 44 year relationship with the community. In 1982 I bought a reprint of a book from the HSCA called Hillhurst Sunnyside Remembers by Margaret Tanko. It was simply made with black and white photographs and stories told by members of the community, some who had lived here since the early part of the 20th Century. The book charmed me and became a treasured part of my library.
I have always loved Hillhurst Sunnyside because of its heritage houses, mature trees, vintage lilac bushes, layers of history, diversity of residents and small town feel. As time passes, the community continues to grow and change, but recently these changes have become alarmingly rapid changing the look and feel of the neighbourhood. Residents come and go. Old houses get demolished to make way for condos altering the heritage character. Businesses open and close on 10th Street, 14th Street and Kensington Road.
The land Calgary stands on is the traditional territory of the people of the Treaty 7 region in Southern Alberta. This includes the Blackfoot Confederacy (Siksika, Piikani, Kainai First Nations), the Tsuut’ina First Nation, and the Stoney Nakoda (Chiniki, Bearspaw, Wesley First Nations). The City of Calgary is also home to Métis Nation of Alberta, Region III. They have been the stewards of our land for thousands of years and continue to maintain a very positive relationship with it.
English and Scottish settlers arrived in this area, now known as Hillhurst and Sunnyside, as homesteaders in the late 1800s. New Edinborough was the name of the suburb created between 10th Street and Centre Street that eventually became Sunnyside. In 1914 it was incorporated into the City of Calgary. The Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) built workers’ cottages in Sunnyside on 25-foot lots and rented them to their employees. Many of these cottages still remain today, although they are quickly disappearing due to development spurred on by City Council priority of densification. In the early days Sunnyside residents took a ferry across the Bow River to get to work at the CPR or the Eau Claire lumber mill. Now we hop on an LRT.
Squatter Felix McHugh staked a claim to homestead on CPR land. The CPR contested it but he was successful in receiving one acre of land through the courts. He built a house at the corner of 9A Street and Memorial Drive, where the green space with a Community garden now exists and the LRT tracks go overhead. McHugh Bluff is named after him.
Ezra Hounsfield Riley was a pioneer rancher and politician who owned the property west of Sunnyside. He also purchased McHugh’s. Eventually Riley sold his property to the City of Calgary and it became Hillhurst, West Hillhurst, Sunnyside and Hounsfield Heights. He donated the land that is now Riley Park to the City of Calgary.
In 1948 the Hillhurst/Sunnyside Community Association was formed. FYI there is no community in Calgary called Kensington, only a shopping district. Under the Municipal Government Act, the City of Calgary developed several Business Revitalization Zones (BRZ) to encourage Calgarians to shop in areas of Calgary that weren’t thriving during the ’80’s. The shopping area at Tenth Street and Kensington Road was first named Louise Crossing, due to its proximity to the Louise (Tenth Street) Bridge, and eventually Kensington Village named after the street. When the BRZ legislation expired in 2016, these areas became Business Improvement Area (BIA) “a group of businesses in a defined geographical area that come together to improve and promote their businesses.” http://www.calgary.ca/CSPS/ABS/Pages/Partnership-programs/BRZs.aspx
I am including a photograph of Gleason family in front of my house on Memorial Drive in 1914 when Hillhurst was a new suburb. Michael and his brother James built two houses side by side on lots purchased for $650 each using materials from the Eau Claire lumber mill at a cost of $1,250 each. Taxes were $68.50 a year. The 10th Street steel and girder bridge is in the background. The City of Calgary’s saplings were newly planted and would stand for almost 100 years. The streetscape shows similar houses on small lots with picket fences lining “Westmount Boulevard” (as it was known then).
I peruse my little 24 page Hillhurst Sunnyside Remembers book with the stories and photographs so lovingly gathered and assembled by Margaret Tanko and wonder who she was and how the book came to be. When I moved into Sunnyside the HSCA had just fought the city to stop them from turning Memorial Drive into a freeway. Instead Bow Trail was built on the other side of the river. HSCA also slowed the construction of apartment blocks during the ’70’s by insisting that the community preferred homes with yards for families.
Is it time for more stories that document the 40 years since Hillhurst Sunnyside Remembers was published in 1978? Do you remember the protests about the LRT? Shoppers Drug Mart taking over Telstar Drugs? The Saturday School? Communicare? Art classes held at The Heart Studio in the home of Carol Bondaroff and Stan Phelps? Fighting to keep the schools open? The Fall Fair and Parade? Did you witness the fire that destroyed the Ross Kerr Block? Or St John’s Church? The Carpenters’ Hall all ages gigs? Gallery 510 in a Sunnyside garage? Wreck City? Ant Hill Fabrics? The blacksmith shop in the backyard of a Sunnyside resident?
Our community has a rich history with many stories to tell. Do you have stories or photos to share? If you do please contact Patti Dawkins or Lorna Cordeiro c/o Lisa Chong at mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information about the 70th Anniversary Celebration at the Community Hall on August 25th, follow this link https://www.hsca.ca/blog/2018/7/24/hsca-turns-70
Article written by Patti Dawkins
Credit for photo is:
The Gleason Family on "The Boulevard" 1914 Photo courtesy of Jennifer Hill