St. Mary's Parish Hall

The Parish Hall of Rouleauville

Photo source: Photo: Glenbow Archives (NC-23-24, 1911); Voice: Marilyn Williams


From Parish Hall to the Railway Station

Photo source: Photo: Glenbow Archives (ND-8-307, 1913-1918); Voice: Kenneth LaPointe


An Architectural Transition

Photo: DCCLIC, North Facade of the Building, 2019.

The Great Fire of 1886

On November 7, 1886, a devastating fire destroyed several wooden buildings on Calgary`s main street.

Having learned a lesson from this catastrophe, Calgary residents decided to rebuild using sandstone; a more fire-resistant material abundantly available in the Paskapoo Formation in southwestern Alberta.

This was the beginning of the "sandstone era".

Photo: Glenbow Archives (NA-298-3, November 7, 1886) Big fire on 9th Avenue, Calgary, Alberta, between Centre Street and 1st Street SE. I.S. Freeze, J. Paterson, and Grand Central Hotel buildings in middleground. Contents of various buildings piled in foreground.

Calgary, City of Sandstone

For many years, some fifteen quarries around the city were mined for use everywhere, from Stephen Avenue to Rouleauville-Mission.

Several buildings were built, providing a historic character and important heritage for the city. Among them were the city hall constructed in 1911, St. Mary's Cathedral and, of course, St. Mary's Parish Hall. 

Southwestern Alberta sandstone is made up of sand grains eroded from the ancestral Rocky Mountains and carried eastward by rivers some 58 - 65 million years ago.

Over time, the sand was covered by hundreds of metres of sediment which hardened with mineral deposits from underground water. Erosion slowly resulted in the formation of the sandstone outcrops visible today along the river valleys.

Source: Canadian Geoscience Education Network; Photo: Glenbow Archives (NA-3267-53, 1912) Macleod Quarrying and Contracting Company, north-west of Monarch, Alberta. This sandstone block reported to weigh 10 tons. Known as Scotsman's Quarry. On north bank of Oldman River 6 miles north-west of Monarch. Operated 1910-1913 with 60 Scottish stone masons. Stone used for Lethbridge postal service, office, Banff Springs hotel and early Canadian Pacifc Railway buildings. 

Booming brick industry

The disastrous fire in 1886 also resulted in a booming brick industry in Calgary. Many residents began building non-combustible brick chimneys using a mixture of schist and sandstone.

By 1907, brick houses were sprouting up in Calgary, and brickyards experienced a time of glory and prosperity. Unfortunately, the beginning of the First World War in 1914 put an end to these two sectors of activity.

Workers were obliged to enlist in the armed forces and abandon their homeland and their families.

The use of brick reappears between the two wars and we still see several buildings from that period in Calgary.

Source: Canadian Geoscience Education Network; Photo: Glenbow Archives (NA-529-29, unknow date) Brickyard at Banff, Alberta. Owned by Little and partner.



Excerpt of
Rouleauville, the Calgary’s Historic Francophone District

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