Valentine's Day: Searching for a lonely prairie bachelor

City of Calgary Archives holds historical mystery of the heart

It’s a long way from mayor to matchmaker, but in 1921, that’s just what City of Calgary Mayor Samual Adams found himself tasked with doing.

The mayor’s mailbag was often filled with correspondence from various companies and citizens reaching out to Adams, who was mayor from 1921-1923. Some of this mail, currently resting in the City of Calgary Archives, highlights the odd duties that came along with the title of Mayor of Calgary.

On Aug. 26, 1921 Mayor Adams received a particular letter from a woman offering to help a lonely bachelor of Calgary.

The letter writer was a woman from Montreal. Her offer was clear: “Dear Sir… I heard the number of lonely bachelors in your part of the country quite exceeds the number of lonely woman. For this reason I am hoping you will do me the favour to refer this letter to some source whereby I can meet someone of these eligible westerners.”

The woman's view of Calgary as part of the isolated prairies was hardly the case, as by the early 1920s Calgary was already a growing city with a population over 63,000, street cars and growing demographic. The writer described herself as a 35-year-old business woman with many domestic skills and then she outlined her shopping list for the ideal lonely bachelor she was looking for: “My ideal man is one who fears nothing, is manly in all his dealings, I do not expect a saint… but I believe in absolute frankness and square-dealing in everything. I prefer a man of large stature… I do not look for wealth or social position, all I expect is a comfortable home… I am very fond of out-door life and would find my ideal in a man who is of similar tastes.”

Mayor Adams responded to the lady's inquiry by placing a public advertisement in The Daily Calgary Herald. In this article, some liberties regarding her wish list were taken… including the hope that Mr. Right would be a “good shot.”

Today, at the City of Calgary Archives, this love story rests in a file folder of correspondence regarding city business matters. Applications from a few hopeful bachelors exist alongside applications for sidewalks.

One applicant hailed from Rosedale, AB. The man's letter makes a compelling case for why the Montreal bachelorette should chose him: “I am single… running a business… and I can show some very good recommendations from different places… I want a person like myself lots of ambition… I am trying hard by some way or another, working my way in of catching criminals and thieves which are hard to get. I [would have] love[d]… to get in[to] the secret Police force at Calgary…. But I was unable to get in… my height failed me only being five feet.”

Was this the love connection that Mayor Adams had set out to make? The suitor's desire to be a secret police officer surely made him a “good shot,” who “feared nothing.”

In a letter of thanks to the Mayor for his support, the man says he received a reply from the Montreal woman which said “Correspondence denied with thanks.”

From the records at the City of Calgary Archives, it seems the woman was hesitant to communicate with any of the men. In a further letter she says “I would ask that my name be given discreetly. I have set a standard and expect a man to measure up… for I should be unhappy with less than my equal… I would not be interested in an illiterate or man of no recognized social standing.... Please give instructions regarding the giving of my name when the applicant measures up to my standard.”

The responses in the correspondence files stop abruptly and one is left to wonder what happened to the letter writer. The City of Calgary Archives is full of mysteries like this. Mysteries that showcase the evolving role of the Mayor. The question though remains: What happened to the woman and did she ever find her lonely prairie bachelor? This and more adventures are here to discover at the City of Calgary Archives.