In this post we find ourselves at Parade Square in the old Currie Barracks base, officially Canadian Forces Base Calgary, in the southwest quadrant of the city. The first image takes us way back to 1971 and shows a military ceremony taking pace here. In our photo, captured in March of this year, it’s a much quieter scene – those sorts of events no longer happen at this location, and haven’t for a while, as the base was decommissioned some time ago.
Today, the square is used as a activity grounds of sorts for students attending a number of learning academies that exist in the old barracks buildings surrounding it. Where parades, revues and inspections took place, now hosts informal basketball and street hockey games.
There has been military activity at this location for over a hundred years, although the base and buildings as they appear today date from a later period (the 30s-50s I am told). When built the location here was far from town, but development has long since surrounded everything. It continued to see use as a military facility well into the 1990s, when due to budget issues it was closed. Even so, the forces still have a small presence here and one modest sized building remains in use by them, not seen, but not far from our shooting position.
Lots of redevelopment is taking place here, a process started a few years after everything shut down. Many of the old office and living quarters have been repurposed. For example, the long building seen in the back left in both photos is today home to a film services company. Most others that surround our position, recall, have become specialized schools.
Other parts of the old base, not seen in our photos, are now vast tracts of high density housing.
The original image comes from the John Bacon collection hosted at ArmyCadetHistory.com and many thanks to both for allowing us use of it. If you have an old photo (your copyright) showing a scene like this and would like us to do a similar then and now using it, by all means message us.
Information sent with the photo tells us we’re looking at Cadet Corp #2554, trainees for Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, and that this was their annual inspection..The PPCLI regiment dates back to the early months of World War One and for much of its history was stationed out of Currie Barracks/CFB Calgary. Today, they work out of Edmonton instead.
This author vaguely recalls attending an event at this very location in the 1970s, on a school trip.
A few people we spoke with while researching the article (so after we visited), all former cadets or personal who have ties with the base, mentioned something really interesting. They stated Parade Square was essentially sacred ground, and was not to walked upon unless you were a participant at an event taking place there. Failure to follow this rule would result in punishment. Oooops, I hope we didn’t disrespect it by walking across it as we did. Thankfully I guess for us, no drill sergeants were seen on our visit.
You’ll notice the building in the back left seems to “fall away” more in our photo. In fact it’s not not that far off level when compared to the other. Shooting free-hand, as we do, there are going to be some small “lining up” errors and these, for some reason, get exaggerated once the images are stacked. It’s almost an optical illusion in a way. We could compensate by rotating our image somewhat I guess.
Speaking of lining up the shots, we shoot using a special grid system in camera. No cropping or digital manipulation is done in post. We’re purists. As such however, while our results are good, they’ll never be perfect. Who cares anyway?
You’ll notice that we were even able to find the same crack in the pavement, near Connie’s feet and in the older photo, that of the fellow closest to the camera position. I find that particularly interesting for some strange reason. Not that the crack has never been repaired, but that we got so incredibly close to the same spot, that the difference between them when in comes to positioning is mere centimetres. Cool!
If you wish more information on what you’ve seen here, by all means contact us!
Date: March, 2015.
Location: Calgary, AB.
Article sources: former personal connected to the base.
Permission should be requested prior to visiting the places we’ve shown here.