St. Mary’s Parish Hall/CNR Station named Calgary’s 100th Municipal Historic Resource
Today, Council approved the designation of St. Mary’s Parish Hall/CNR Station as Calgary’s 100th Municipal Historic Resource. This designation conserves the site for future generations of Calgarians to enjoy and learn about Calgary’s history.
“The St. Mary’s Parish Hall/CNR Station is an example of how we’ve successfully adapted the reuse of a heritage structure,” says Kimberly Haskell, a Planner with The City of Calgary. “It shows how a building can have many phases through its life, and how it can be changed based on how it’s used.” Since it was built, the St. Mary’s Parish Hall/CNR Station’s purpose has changed, while always supporting the community. It started as a parish hall for the community of Rouleauville, then served as a CNR station for 60 years, before becoming the home of Alberta Ballet in 1982.
As a vibrant part of the community, the building began its life in 1905 as a parish hall for the French settlers of Rouleauville, through its association with the Oblates of Mary Immaculate. For six years, St. Mary’s Parish Hall was the centre of the social and cultural life of the community. It hosted recitals, plays and recreational activities. Rouleauville was annexed to Calgary in 1907 and is now known as the community of Mission.
In 1911, St. Mary’s Parish Hall was purchased by the Canadian Northern Railway and transformed into a passenger rail station, moving travelers to and from various destinations in Alberta, from 1914 to 1971. On any given day you could hear the chatter of travelers waiting for their trains, or family and friends eagerly waiting for the next train to arrive at the station with their loved one.
From 1971 to 1982 the building fell silent and was not occupied again until 1982 when Calgary City Ballet moved into the building and brought life back to the once popular community hub. Although there was a fire in the Parish Hall in 1985, the building was refurbished and restored within two years. When the building reopened in the spring of 1987, it was transformed with full-sized professional ballet rehearsal and recital studios. Once again, the sounds of laughter, music and dancing filled the building.
In 1990, Calgary City Ballet and Alberta Ballet merged with Calgary City Ballet and St Mary’s Parish Hall became the Alberta Ballet Company’s studios.
Says Artistic Director Jean Grand-Maitre, “This building has always been a space of intense emotions: the elation of performances, and then happy reunions or long good-bye’s on a station platform. Now it’s a home for a ballet company, and St. Mary’s history is part of the heartbeat of our creations. The Alberta Ballet productions that Calgarians have come to love - like The Nutcracker, Elton John’s Love Lies Bleeding or Joni Mitchell’s The Fiddle and the Drum – all of them owe something to the inspiration in this building’s history. It’s indeed a perfect environment to create dance.”
Today, it continues to be a vibrant part of the community, providing a home to one of Canada’s prestigious dance companies. Says Grand-Maitre, “When I accepted the role of Artistic Director in 2002, I felt blessed to create in such an inspiring building. There never has been a day when I didn’t feel inspired by its historic gravitas.”
“Designating the St. Mary’s Parish Hall/CNR Station as a Municipal Historic Resource enables us to protect a unique building that showcases different elements of Calgary’s past,” says Josh Traptow, Executive Director of Heritage Calgary. “The policy and financial incentives that The City offers helps support and encourage conservation of sites like this.”
Along with existing heritage conservation grants, The City is implementing new policy tools that were approved on July 28. We also continue to develop additional financial incentives that will encourage and support the designation and conservation of heritage sites in Calgary. To learn more about heritage designation or conservation please visit Calgary.ca/heritage.
If you’re interested in seeing the St. Mary’s Parish Hall/CNR Station, you’ll find it in the Mission-Cliff Bungalow walking tour created by Heritage Calgary.