Jan 102014
Scarboro United Church Calgary

In this then and now post we look at the Scarboro United Church in the Calgary neighbourhood of the same name. The first image is from the late 1920s/early 1930s (a guess – from an old postcard) and second shows how it appears today. In spite of the seventy plus year that have passed, you can see that little has changed in that time.

The postcard used for the “then” image was sourced by this author and is undated. We do however know that the building was constructed in 1929, so it’s quite possible the photo seen dates from around that time. Why not shoot the building when it’s fresh and new? That’s not to say that it could be from a later date, that is certainly possible – no later than 1933 though as that’s when the company who shot the postcard went out of business (more on them below).

Differences between the two images are few, save for of course the season. We shot on a cold winter day, while the original photographer was enjoying the glorious sun of summer. The exterior of the building is almost exactly as it was. Some trees and bushes have changed, but that’s about it. Even the houses and homes seen behind in the postcard are still there. Too bad that cool fence (foreground postcard) is gone today. I liked it.

Be sure to comment on this post (below pictures).

Directly behind the church is the clergy or parish house (sometimes called a rectory), a home for the Reverend and their family. Behind that is a row of homes and close examination shows all those clearly seen in the old postcard are still there. Some however are now blocked by large trees and are otherwise near impossible to photograph. The only “not sure” amongst then all is the dwelling between the church and the double-peaked house. It does not show in the old image, suggesting that it was built after that shot was taken. Where it sits must have been an empty lot at the time.

As mentioned, the building is from the late 1920s. The church as we know today had its origins is two earlier congregations, both from 1908, the Bankview Methodist Church and Bankview Presbyterian Church. These two merged just before the church was built.

The building was constructed for a cost of just over $40 000. A report on its 70th birthday (1999) listed eight people who had been attending services at the church since it opened. (WOW!). In addition to church work, the building is used for various community and social events. According to information found online, it has been added to and renovated many times, although outwardly it seems to have changed little.

It’s not clear how many people attend the church today, but a some data from the 1920s shows a congregation of well over three hundred souls, with over five hundred kids attending Sunday School (a lot!). I bet the congregation size has dropped considerably since then, as churches don’t seem to pack them in like they used to.

It appears that the motto of the church is “Scarboro United Church has been spreading the word of God since 1929”. That is repeated often on banners and signs seen on the outside of the building.

The United Church (not just this one but the entire organization) dates from the mid-1920s and was an amalgamation of several smaller religious groups. It is the second largest Christian association in Canada and there are well over 3000 congregations across the country, with over half a million parishioners attending services regularly. The United Church is considered quite progressive and forward thinking and has been both criticized and praised for this.

The Scarboro neighbourhood was established in 1910 and consists almost exclusively of single detached dwellings. Then as today, it’s a fairly wealthy district, home to many mansion-sized dwellings. I have a connection to the community and attended nearby Sunalta School in the 1970s, a building which will likely become the subject of a report on this blog.

This post card is tinted, meaning it’s a black and white image, hand painted after printing. This was common in the era, before full colour printing became economical and practical. Hand tinted card were produced from the early part of the twentieth century, into the 1940s.

The company that produced the postcard is listed as Valentine and Black Ltd of Toronto Ontario which were in business from 1922-1933. I guess the depression killed them off – not surprising – who then had money to spend for something so frivolous as a postcard? We sure are glad they took this picture and we had so much fun duplicating it.

If you like these Calgary then and now pictures, why not check these ones out…
Calgary then and now – Louise Block and Bell Block.
Calgary then and now – Devenish Apartments.
Calgary then and now – Family of Man.

If you’d like to know more about what you’ve seen here, by all means contact us!

Date: December, 2013.
Location: Calgary, AB.

Scarboro United Church

Scarboro United Church seen in an old postcard (late 1920s/early 1930s?).

Scarboro United Church Calgary

The same view today, and as you can see little has changed.


Scarboro Community Calgary

Most of the background buildings seen in the postcard still exist as well.


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8 Comments on "Calgary then and now – Scarboro United Church"

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Wow, you lined it up almost perfectly!

B Salmi
B Salmi

Good to see that they are still standing.

Judith K Miller
Judith K Miller

Both my Grandparents & some of their siblings, my dad included, used to attend services at this church.

James Heaton
James Heaton

Not that very different, even the houses down the street are pretty much the same.