I doubt there are many cities that can lay claim to having an old livery stable barn within such close proximity to downtown. Surprise, Calgary does and just east of city centre and within sight of its many towering skyscrapers, we see a throwback to day’s past when the main form of transportation was horse and buggy. Our subject is located just off a main thoroughfare busy with traffic, but it’s doubtful many of the drivers passing by see it. It looks lonely, neglected and certainly out of place in today’s busy world, yet proudly it stands. Amazingly the barn we see here is not alone either and a few blocks west there is another, this one connected to the old National Hotel (link below).
Our structure is well over one hundred years now (I’ve been told it was built around 1909) and even in spite of sagging and leaning a bit it was clearly well constructed and appears solid and ready to face the coming decades. It’s located within the mixed retail/residential neighbourhood of Inglewood and is next to a small park.
In spite of its long history there is little information to be found on the barn. I actually hate reports like this as I always want to present a fuller more rounded article. With so little to be found, there are big holes in the time line and the data I’ve gleaned from others is lacking and likely full of assumptions, guesses and most certainly errors.
We know in the early days it was a commercial livery. Called the Stewart Stables or simply the Stewart Barn, so named after its owner, it was a place where visitors to Calgary could temporarily house their horses while they went about their business in town (you could also rent a horse). One can assume it served in this capacity for a time but certainly the coming of the automobile impacted on business, so much that by the 1920s or 30s it must have been put to other uses. I have found mention it was used as by a animal feed company and later as storage space for postal vans, but that’s about it and its not clear even when.
Fast forward to the 1950s and we know it’s under new ownership. Called the Cinnamon Barn, it was not named for the spice but rather the fellow who at the time who held the property. one Mr Cinnamon. What purpose it served by this date is not clear. Was it used for storage perhaps? By then the the barn would clearly be an anomaly, a strange and odd anachronism from a simpler time. In spite of the world zipping by, it stood fast.
On to today and not much has changed – the building stands and its purpose is still unclear.
This author has found no solid information on who owns it today although another report briefly mentions a group of lawyers. Odd since those is that occupation are not well known for their philanthropy and so it begs the questions why would lawyers want an old barn? Something to do with money perhaps, and maybe they hope to redevelop the site.
Which leads us to, what’s in store for the building? Is it safe from the wrecking ball? Is it an historical site? So far I don’t know, but of course I will always keep my ears open for additional information. Plus, readers of this blog are welcome to submit anything they know about this place.
Even though today Calgary is still known as Cowtown, there few remnants to hint at why it has such a name. If anything, this building helps remind people, the few that even pay attention to it, of Calgary’s agricultural based past. So it does serve somewhat of a purpose.
Just down from the barn is another Calgary landmark from the same era, the now closed Molson Brewery. Formerly called as the Calgary Brewery, and then later the Carling O’Keefe Brewery, it does not appear to be connected to the barn in anyway other then by close proximity. Except perhaps the chance that some of those who boarded their horses at the barn so long ago may have been in town to enjoy a beverage at one of Calgary’s drinking establishments which would have course served the the fine golden liquid produced here.
In the 1970s we lived within a block of this barn, just on the other side of the park. I guess my step father picked that location as he liked the idea of being close to church (the brewery). I don’t recall the barn from those days which is odd since I was always wandering and exploring, a trend that continues unabated to this day.
We had mentioned another barn in the same neighbourhood and it’s attached to and part of the redeveloped National Hotel complex. Its future seems assured and it’s currently home base from the TV show Canadian Pickers. To see it, go here…
The Nash aka the National Hotel.
Another nice barn can be seen in this report…
Doukhobors in Alberta – Anastasia Village
If you wish more information on this place, by all means contact us!
Date: February, 2013.
Location: Calgary, AB.