Seniors' Week in Alberta

Written by Debbie Olson


June 2 to June 8, is Senior’s Week in Alberta. It is a time to celebrate the contributions our seniors have made to our communities, our city, our country and our lives. They are past and current leaders. They helped to shape the technologies we use and rely on today. They have impacted the lives of family, friends, neighbours and strangers over the years by providing support when and where they can, staying active when possible and volunteering time to help others.

Contributions from the over 1,800 seniors currently living in our community and those who came before and have passed on, have invested time, effort, imagination and supports over the decades to make our community what it is today. Their legacy has provided us with a wealth of history and the foundation on which we build moving forward.

Many of our seniors have faced challenges we can only imagine. If we have been lucky enough to interact with our senior relatives over the years, and if we have truly listened, we have gained personal insights not only to our personal family history, but we have also learned how much the world has changed, in their lifetime. If we take the time to reflect on our own histories, we see the changes that have occurred for us over the years. I often wonder, if I am lucky enough to still be around when I am the age of some of the oldest seniors in our community, what changes are still to come and how much will our future lives and the lives of those who are following us, be impacted by the things we are creating, the technologies we are expanding on and the decisions we have made and will continue to make over the next years.

Too often we don’t acknowledge the contributions of seniors to our lives. Our world is not perfect, but neither are we. We learn, grow, adapt, change and try to make things better in the same way many of our seniors have. We forget that the advances we have today in technology, medicine, business etc. are based on work, creativity, perseverance and the skills of those seniors who came before us. Just as they built a foundation which gave us the advances we take for granted now, we are hopefully doing positive things to create advances and improve things for those who come after us.

We all can have very different views of seniors. Positive views are a result of good interactions and connections. Negative views could be influenced by past adverse experiences or having no experience at all with seniors in the past. This is no different then other interactions we have had, some will be good and some not so much, but I hope we do not “paint” all new interactions with the same brush, or lump all seniors into the same category, based on negative past experiences. We need to give ourselves the opportunity to connect and experience new relationships that may surprise us, despite past negatives.

As with any other stage of life, growing older can have its challenges, joys, downfalls, heartaches, successes, and wonders. Getting older can be an achievement and cause for celebration, looking forward to the possibilities of having the time to travel, enjoying things there hasn’t been time for or crossing items off a bucket list. Challenges faced can be the result of changes in health or circumstances and can be made worse when a support system is lost or was never available.


I am proud of our seniors and enjoy the stories and experiences they are willing to share with me about their lives. I sometimes learn knew things or gain an understanding of the difficulties they have faced and overcome over the years and that creates a whole new learning curve. I look forward every day to connecting and finding ways to help when needed, making connections for support and building a network in the community.

We have all heard time and again that the senior population is growing. Those who were born between 1946 and 1965 are referred to as “baby boomers”. This twenty-year span saw more than 8.2 million babies being born in Canada alone (stats Canada). That’s a lot of babies and while the first of the baby boomers turned 65 in 2011 there are still a lot of seniors to come. Those of you reading this, if you are lucky, will one day have the privilege of becoming seniors and I hope that will make you proud. For some that will be a good experience, but for some there will be challenges. Hopefully there will be a support network of family, friends or neighbours in place to help you when needed.

The next time you see a senior, trying saying hello and giving them a smile. Strike up a conversation or ask how they are doing. You never know how much of an impact having someone acknowledge you, can have on a person’s day and you never know what you might unintentionally learn. Remember our seniors in June and in the months to come. Remember that if you are lucky, someday you will be a senior and I hope you will be Senior Proud.

Memories of a 70 Year Old Community Association

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.

2. Memories of HSCA Photo.jpg

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:planning@hsca.ca

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

HSCA Turns 70!

The community of Hillhurst Sunnyside has a history that spans over 100 years. The first home in Hillhurst was built by Ezra H. Riley in 1882. In 1904, Riley sold Hillhurst to the City of Calgary. Land was being surveyed and sold in two neighbourhood sub divisions in 1906. Those were Sunnyside (originally named New Edinborough) and Hillhurst. The community was incorporated into Calgary in 1907. More information on the history of Hillhurst Sunnyside is available online in the document Hillhurst Sunnyside Remembers (which celebrates its 40th anniversary this year!)

In 1912, changing cabins were built on Hillhurst Athletic Park at the corner of 14th Street and 5th Avenue. The cabins doubled as meetings space until a small community hall (HSCA) was built in 1953-54.

In 1948, HSCA was incorporated as a non-profit society by the Government of Alberta.

1978, a new community centre was built in the Hillhurst Athletic Park incorporating the 1953 Community Hall and for the last 40 years staff, volunteers and residents have strived to maintain a healthy and vibrant quality of life for the residents of Hillhurst Sunnyside.

We would like to recognize the milestones throughout this community's incredible history. We wish to celebrate our 70th anniversary of incorporation as a non-profit society with all the residents and neighbours of Hillhurst Sunnyside, past and present. We hope you can join us for a day of community.

HSCA's 70th Anniversary copy.jpg

On Saturday August 25th, 2:00pm-8:00pm in the Hillhurst Sunnyside Community Association fields and parking lot, we hope you and your friends, family and neighbours will join us for a community party.

Please review the event schedule below so that you do not miss out on the fun!

2:00-8:00pm Event Time

2:00-5:00pm Family games, facepainting, ballon animals, giveaways, Hillhurst VS Sunnyside competition (ongoing)

2:00-6:00pm HSCA member partner businesses on site with giveaways and demos. Confirmed so far: Sunnyside Natural Market, MYo Lab, Flippn Burgers, Oranj Fitness, Framed on Fifth, Dignity Memorial

4:00-5:00pm Bike Show and Shine Parade and category judging

4:00-8:00pm Food Trucks, Beer Gardens, Live music (with headliners Sadlier-Brown Band)

4:45-5:00pm The Great Tug of War between Hillhurst & Sunnyside

5:00pm Announcements and Award presentations for Show and Shine and the H vs S competition

8:00pm Wrap up

Show and Shine HSCA's 70th Anniversary.jpg

If you are interested in entering your bike in the Show and Shine you can do so day of, or contact Heather for details. All ages welcome. Free to enter! Email: heather.r@hsca.ca 587*700-9387


If you are interested in performing on our stage please contact Kate. Email: kate.s@hsca.ca 403-283-0554 ext 248

If you are a business, group or organization in the community interested in sponsorship or presence at the event please contact Jessica. Email: jessica.c@hsca.ca 403-283-0554 ext 226

We hope to see you there!