International Archives Week – June 8-14, 2020
People are, by nature, curious. We all reflect on the past at times to try and better understand the present.
While The City of Calgary Archives is not currently open to the public due to COVID-19, The City has fast-tracked the launch of a new interactive site to bring you a virtual look at the many historical treasures that comprise our collections. Old photographs, maps and documents are just some of the items that help us to understand where we are today and enable us to make informed decisions moving forward.
As an example, recent users have examined past records relating to both the 1918 Influenza pandemic, as well as the SARS epidemic in 2003. The lessons learned from the past provide us with context for our current environment.
As a civic institution, The City of Calgary Archives represents The City’s corporate memory and preserving authentic and reliable records that document the structure, functions, activities, and history of The City. Here, one can retrace the origins and development of the city through the people, events and decisions that have contributed to its progress and influenced how it continues to evolve today.
Most of our civic archival records are primary sources and include Council minutes, Assessment and Collector’s (Tax) Roll, voters’ lists, cemetery registers, early business licence registers, building permit registers and departmental histories, as well as private records that are related to City of Calgary business and activities.
So, who uses these archival records? Really, anyone who wants to discover, prove or demonstrate something concerning the city. Users range from curious members of the public, both young and old, scholars and City of Calgary staff who use the Archives to research a variety of topics, most commonly, building and land use history, City facilities and assets, and City initiatives and decisions (e.g. fluoridation, municipal government reform, Daylight Savings Time, Proportional Representation, Olympic games, civic elections and more).
Our archival records are preserved not just for posterity’s sake, but so that people can learn from them as well. The City of Calgary Archives is not simply a storage area for old documents, but a hub for learning and discovery. Here it is possible to examine and reflect on records such as Council minutes which document past decisions made by City Council, or bylaws that provide documentary evidence of the way Calgarians have felt the City should be run and the laws that should govern behaviour in Calgary, and much more.
By ensuring that these and other historically valuable records are made available for anyone to review, the archives contribute to the learning experience of its users and Archivists help ensure users are knowledgeable about finding, evaluating and communicating information found in The City of Calgary Archives. After all, better decisions result when we are well informed.
Celebrate International Archives Week, from June 8-14, by learning more about The City’s very own archives and its role in ‘Empowering Knowledge Societies’. Check out our current online exhibits, one featuring the delivery of water services in Calgary – Clean and Cool Running Water, and one featuring the XV Calgary Olympics – Remembering 16 Days of Glory and a historic timeline featuring some highlights from Calgary’s Municipal Government History.
Woman and child at Bow Bend Shack, 1895. This photograph of a woman holding a baby shows the north side of the Pearce residence and the Bow Bend Shack in the background. The woman stands beside an irrigation ditch leading to a reservoir in the background. The barn and the ice house (extreme left) are also shown. Ice for the ice house was hauled many miles from west of Calgary, where R.C. Thomas cut from Bow River and contracted to supply C.P.R. with ice for their dining and sleeping cars.
Centre Street Bridge, 1916. This photograph of the 1916 Centre Street Bridge was taken near the end of its construction. Three woman are in the foreground at the rivers' edge. Portions of the bridge that was washed away in the 1915 flood are visible behind them. The sign on the old bridge reads, Warning: The public are warned that they use this bridge at their own risk. The City will not be responsible for accidents which may occur to persons or horses on the bridge or around the work.