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The mix of modern and historical buildings in Calgary’s Stephen Avenue on Jan. 17, 2023. PHOTO: HAJAR AL KHOUZAII

A mosaic of history and modernity on Stephen Avenue takes me to a place of wonder and curiosity through its old buildings and humble architecture. The journey between Fourth Street southwest and First Street southeast gives me the perfect western urban experience.

I was born in the middle east and one of the aspects I miss, aside from family and friends, is the historical architecture of Damascus and Baghdad. Moving to Canada more than 20 years ago, I thought I would never experience that beauty in a fairly new city like Calgary. 

Damascus is the oldest capital in the world dating back to the third millennium B.C.,it’s a city I love and was born in. Baghdad, the city I’m from dates back to 762.

We all have them. Places in the city that bring us joy, big and small. In an era of chaos, Calgary Journal editors are taking time this year to reflect on the public spots that bring us happiness and peace.
You can read the whole series here.

Exploring Calgary, originally called Mohknistsis, on my own, I’ve learned more about the people who have called this city home many years before me. I also came across national historic sites and one of which happened to be in the heart of Calgary’s downtown area.

Stephen Avenue, a more than one 100-year-old streetscape, is lined up with retail buildings and restaurants on each side of the street. 

The street was named for the Canadian Pacific Railway’s first president, Lord George Mount Stephen.

The City of Calgary says Stephen Avenue was Calgary’s main busy street in the 1890s.It was home to: the Hudson’s Bay Company, the Alberta Hotel, the Glanville Clothing Company, and the Calgary Herald.

According to the City of Calgary, Stephen Avenue “is home to nine major shopping centers/ department stores, downtown’s two retro cinemas, dozens of electric restaurants, pubs, cafés and bars, and a mix of unique boutique and art galleries.”

As I walk around Stephen Avenue, I’m immediately mesmerized by the majestic, sandstone buildings. I take a moment to breathe in the history and heritage of this western urban significant cultural landscape, and can’t help but think who else stood here before me a hundred years ago, and what will others in the future see?

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Hajar Al KhouzaiiJournalist

Hajar Al Khouzaii is the Lead Editor of the Calgary Journal. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Calgary majoring in Political Science and minoring in Philosophy. Hajar is scheduled...