Members approve addition of 3 bridges and a factory

The Calgary Heritage Authority met Oct. 12 to discuss historical sites around the city.

The members voted unanimously to add several structures to the Inventory of Evaluated Historic Resources, including: John Hextall (Shouldice) Bridge, St. George’s Bridge, Canadian Northern Railway bridges (Bow River and Ogden Road) and Original Riverside Iron Works.

 The Inventory of Evaluated Historic Resources is a list of sites throughout the city which are recognized for being historically significant to Calgary. With the new additions, there are around 700 items on the list.

Who is the Calgary Heritage Authority?

The Calgary Heritage Authority is composed of 12 members of the public who are appointed by city council. They meet monthly to discuss potential historic structures in the city. They also identify sites that represent landmarks in Calgary’s history, such as the 1950s Eamon’s gas station located on Crowchild Trail.

Committee members work with property owners to help preserve the architecture and meaning of sites. This could include incorporating old materials into new building designs.

“If you want to keep things, you make them usable,” said Michelle Reid in the meeting. She is a project manager from the City of Calgary parks department.

Why these bridges?

The Hextall Bridge was added to the Inventory of Evaluated Historic Resources. It is considered a relic from the growth of the Bowness community.

Photo by Devon Jolie Heritage Authority member Jim Cullen, said in the meeting that the Evaluation and Review Committee recommended the John Hextall bridge for its symbolical value. The bridge is a relic from the growth of the Bowness community.

Cullen said it was also a part of the street-railway system, which allowed transportation within Calgary and contributed to its development. Currently, it is used for vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians.

Joining the John Hextall Bridge is the St. George’s Bridge. The bridge was instrumental in making St. George’s Island one of the most popular parks in Calgary, Cullen said. It’s also a main entrance to the Calgary Zoo.

The Canadian Northern Railway bridges located on the Bow River and Ogden Road were also approved. They contributed to Calgary’s economic boom right before the First World War, Cullen said. The bridges allowed the Canadian Northern Railway – now called the Canadian National Railway – to enter Calgary and position it as a major distribution centre, Cullen said.

The only non-bridge structure added today was the original Riverside Iron Works. The building is one of only two surviving metal factories from before the First World War in Calgary. It employed machinists, blacksmiths, founders, engineers and welders from neighbouring communities, Cullen said.

The Heritage Authority said it isn’t done adding bridges to its inventory. Member Lesley Beale suggested in the meeting that Calgary’s suspension bridges should also be added because the design is distinct to Calgary.

Protection isn’t guaranteed


The Original Riverside Iron Works is one of only two surviving metal factories in Calgary from before the First World War.

Photo by Devon JolieBeing on the Inventory of Evaluated Historic Resources list doesn’t guarantee protection from demolition, said Scott Jolliffe, chairman of the Heritage Authority.

The inventory is considered a watch list, said Jolliffe.

When the owner of an inventoried structure applies for a renovation or demolition permit the Calgary Heritage Authority is notified.

The members then work with the owner to consider the best way to preserve the history, he said. This could mean using parts of the old design in the new work or compiling photographs of the building before it’s bulldozed.

The only way a structure with historic significance can be protected from demolition is if it has been legally protected through a bylaw, said Jolliffe.

The Calgary Heritage Authority plans to meet again on Nov. 9, and is currently considering the addition of terracotta pieces from the old Calgary Herald building, weeds from the Reader Rock Garden, Eamon’s sign and building and the Centre Street Bridge lions. 

djolie@cjournal.ca
jfoster@cjournal.ca