Jul 212014
Queens Parade Calgary

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.

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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.

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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.

To see some street scene then and now reports we posted, follow these links…
Calgary then and now – Stampede Parade.
Calgary then and now – Devenish Apartments.
Calgary then and now – Family of Man.

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.

Queens Parade Calgary

Waiting for the Queen’s motorcade (circa 1973).

16th Ave at Centre Street

The same view today.


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12 Comments on "Calgary then and now – waiting for the Queen"

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Another great comparison of then and now.
You can see in the back ground that the Safeway is still there today.
Love the old Cop car and the guy that gets out of his car right on 16 ave to see what’s going on.
I didn’t get to see the Queens motorcade in 73,
But I did get a quick glance at it in 85 when it went by 9 ave on its way to the Palliser Hotel one evening.

Matthew J.
Matthew J.

Awesome! I lived in this area in the ’90s, about 2 blocks away on 1st Street & 18th Avenue. I can confirm that Douglass Drugs was there until the mid-2000s; it was briefly a Shoppers Drug Mart before being turned into the dentist’s office it is today.

In the background the Safeway’s still there, but there was a strip mall beside it that was partially torn out in the late-90s when Safeway expanded, then almost completely demolished in 2011 for parking space, save the building on the corner which hasn’t been occupied since I still lived in the area.

Julian Hatch
Julian Hatch

I was there that day, about a hundred feet north of where this was taken, right in the middle of 16th Ave, in the crosswalk. There were a lot more people there by the time the Queen passed by, so this must have been taken 15 or 20 minutes beforehand.
The NW corner was occupied by Chesney’s Hardware, which moved a couple of miles north onto 40th Ave in the 80’s. The predecessor to The Brick was on the SW, Sidorsky’s Furniture, notable for cheesy TV ads.

Mike Oliver
Mike Oliver

I was the bar manager, head bouncer at the Beacon, Frankie and Johnnie’s, for years. It was rough. Lots of drugs sold there. The fights were common, but nobody got hurt often.