In the summer of 1973 the Queen visited Calgary. On a whirlwind goodwill tour of Canada, this stop was one of many on the trip. In addition to celebrating the 300th anniversary of Kingston Ontario, she presided over the the RCMP’s 100th jubilee in Saskatchewan and officially opened the Calgary Stampede. The latter is of interest as a reader of this blog has supplied us with a picture that’s connected to that event. For the first photo in this then and now report, we see people gathered awaiting her motorcade to pass. In the now picture, we’ll check out how things look today at this same location.
In the old image, photographed by the father of the person who contributed it to us, the Queen has not yet showed. I am certain that even at this time however, the level of excitement and anticipation was high amongst those gathered alongside the road. After all, how many times do you got to see what is arguably one of the most famous people in the entire world?
A cop car is seen patrolling the road, keeping an eye on things. Security is always needed when you are dealing with a pubic figure of this calibre.
The location here is where 16th Ave N crosses Centre Street, just north of downtown. Both streets, then as today are busy – in fact 16th Ave carries traffic passing through Calgary on the Trans-Canada Highway. Seen in behind in the old image is Douglass Drugs No #1, which operated here from at least the 1970s to sometime recently. I believe it only closed a few years back. Today the building is a dental office.
The other buildings seen in behind the drugstore still stand as you can see. A Safeway sign can be seen in the distance in both images too, another constant. Overall, the location, from this angle, has changed little in the forty plus years since the first image was captured. If we were to turn in any other direction however, nothing would be the same as it was back then. The other three corners are home to relatively new buildings, while one in 2014 is an empty lot. That’s the old Brick furniture store location.
To the left of the photographer in the original image and out of frame was the notorious Beacon Hotel. A den of trouble, there was not a weekend when it wasn’t in the news. If you liked strippers, or bar fights or drug deals, this was the place for you. The hotel was closed down in the 1990s, I believe, and today is home to an Asian supermarket.
Of interest to car buffs, in the old picture, is the 1973 Plymouth Satellite cop cruiser. Chrysler products, in the 1970s, it seems, were poplar with law enforcement agencies. The purple and white paint scheme seen was adopted by the police only a few years earlier, I believe. They have recently switched back to the more traditional black and white colours.
The other car seen in the old picture, facing the camera from across the intersection, appears to be a 1971 Ford LTD. I don’t have enough of a view to ID the red car that is partially obscured on the right.
A car of note in our “now” image is the bright orange 1967 Ford Mustang Fastback. I like the car more then the colour.
Notice the trolley bus wires in the old picture. Calgary’s network lasted from 1947-75. These wires, plus the cable suspended traffic lights and that huge billboard, did make for a rather cluttered view. Things, in respects to that, are much more open now.
If any of our readers remember this event, we’d love to hear from you. We also invite the Queen herself to chime in. I am pretty sure she reads this blog.
In addition to her 1973 visit, Queen Elizabeth also came to Calgary in 1990. On the first trip she was accompanied by Prince Philip.
Thanks to James Tworow for allowing us to use his old picture – we had a blast shooting the now version. If you have an old photo showing a street scene and would like us to visit that spot to see what things look like today, by all means send it to us. Photos must yours or be in the public domain, and can either be scans or paper originals (which can be returned). Contact information can be found below.
For these now shots our images are not manipulated in post production, outside some very minor keystone adjustments and scaling. The results for this series turned out pretty good.
If you wish more information on what you’ve seen here, by all means contact us!
Date of adventure: June 1973 and July 2014.
Location: Calgary, AB.