Historic Eau Claire & Bow River Lumber Co. Building moving to temporary location

On Thursday, Oct. 14 the 1908 Eau Claire & Bow River Lumber Co. building will be relocated from its current location at 187 Barclay Parade S.W. to a temporary location at 381 2 Ave S.W. The move will be careful process handled by qualified contractors who specialize in building relocation. Moving crews will follow the Standards and Guidelines for the Conservation of Historic Places in Canada to preserve and protect the building, its historical charm, and character during the move.

“The move strengthens the building’s heritage factor as it moves it closer to the central operational area of the Eau Claire and Bow River Lumber Co. The building’s heritage will be tied more tightly to Eau Claire’s history while making it more prominent and accessible to visitors,” says Josh Traptow, executive director of Heritage Calgary.

The building is being moved temporarily as part of the Eau Claire Plaza redesign project. The building will be preserved and protected at its temporary location throughout the redevelopment of the Eau Claire Plaza. Work in the Plaza includes site re-grading to improve flood resiliency and integrate with the new Jaipur Bridge and Downtown Flood Barrier and Eau Claire Promenade projects.

“In addition to flood protection, the plaza is being re-designed to include a gathering space at the southern end of the plaza. The gathering space will be built partially on the lumber company building’s current location,” says Daniel England, landscape architect for Eau Claire Area Improvements projects and City Parks. “The need to move the building has presented the opportunity to place the building in a location that increases its visibility and historical presence in the area.”

Once moved, The City will be able to assess the needs of the building to ensure it is safe and suitable for public use while construction is underway.

“Having a small piece of the past in Eau Claire provides a window into how Calgary was founded and shows how downtown Calgary has always been a hub for innovation and our city’s economy; we hope to share that history with visitors to Eau Claire,” says Dennis Hoffart, program manager for the Eau Claire Area Improvements Program.

Temporary detours will be in place to ensure the public can safely access their destinations. The move will begin overnight on Oct. 13 and be complete the morning of Oct. 14. Disruption to the public will be minimal.

Historical significance

The Eau Claire & Bow River Lumber Co. was established in Calgary in 1886 by lumber interests from Eau Claire, Wisconsin interested in the potential value of southern Alberta timber. The Company soon grew to become the largest supplier of lumber in the North West Territories. The mill was located along the Bow River between 3 and 4 Streets W. It became the parent company of numerous other local industrial firms, including the Calgary Iron Works, the Calgary Milling Co., and the Calgary Water Power Co. Ltd.

The present building was the second office erected by the lumber company and served both that business, and the power company. It was built c.1903-04. The building has undergone some changes -- the original flat roof has been raised to a cross-gable roof with dormers, and a full concrete basement has been developed -- but the building retains its character as a small wood-frame commercial building of the beginning of the century. Its drop siding is well preserved, and the double-hung sash windows would appear to be original. The building has excellent historical significance for being the sole survivor of this important group of companies that involved prominent Calgary businessmen. The lumber company gave the name "Eau Claire" to this part of town. The sawmill closed in 1945, and the building ceased to serve the lumber company in 1951.

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