Feb 102015
St Martin's Cemetery

The then and now photos in this series were shot at Calgary’s Heritage Park. Captured in 1969 and 2014 respectively, they show a cemetery in the foreground and in back, a police barracks. Since nothing is supposed to change here, remember it’s a museum after all, naturally things today are much as they were back when the old photo was shot. Or are they? And on closer look, a good number of things differ and it’s not just the the size of the trees.

The location of these photos is on the grounds of St Martin’s Church, just off frame to the right. That building was constructed in the 1890s and came to the park from Lundbreck Alberta in the 60s. They still hold services here and the building is popular as a (small) wedding venue.

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The wood grave markers are real although no one is actually buried here. When some old memorials at the North-West Mounted Police (NWMP) cemetery in Fort MacLeod, were replaced with new ones, these were sent to the park. Also shown in the now photo is a depiction of the grave of Sam Livingston, the stone marker on right, who was an early pioneer in Calgary.

The police barracks date from the 1880s and come from the town of Banff in mountains west of Calgary. From the 1910s until it was donated to Heritage Park in the 1960s, it was used as a residence,
Inside there is a simple office, living quarters for a couple men and a small jail (or gaol as some people referred to them back then).

The North-West Mounted Police are today called the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the RCMP or “Mounties”, who famously “always get their man” (actually a movie stereotype). Founded in the 1870s, they changed their name to the current one, in the early part of the twentieth century.

A comparison of changes between the then and now photos are few…or so it appears. The trees, as you can see, have a grown a great deal, the grave markers that lost their whitewash, plus there is a new grave stone and a totally new building (new to Heritage Park that is) that has sprung up beside the barracks across the street. The site is much as it was. Sort of.

Heritage Park, a living history museum, was founded in the 1960s. It’s home to a huge collection of historical structures and artifacts that represent the storied history of Southern Alberta. One can spend a day there, but two is better if you want to soak it all in. There is a lot to see.

The old image is courtesy of and copyright Weston Langford and is used with permission. Sadly, Weston, passed away last year. He is a well known train photographer, but shot other things too and before he left this world he gave us free run to use his photos in these then and now series as we saw fit. Thanks Weston, we’ll miss talking with you.

If you have an old photo like the one used in this report, that is your copyright or in the public domain that shows a street scene or something of historical interest and would like us to use it as fodder for one of our trademark “then and now” posts, by all means send it to us. We’ll visit the location seen, will document how it looks today and will post it here for everyone to see. Either real photos or scans are acceptable.

Our “now” picture was shot free-hand and lined up in camera using a special propriety grid formula we’ve developed over the years. Results using our method are usually pretty satisfactory. Outside some very minor tweaking, what you see here is as it came out of the camera. We’re purist and it’s the only way we can do it.

To see other then and now series that used Weston’s photos, go here…
West Canadian Collieries #1 – then and now.
Calgary then and now – Family of Man.

Check out these Heritage Park attractions we’ve documented…
Coal mine locomotives.
CPR Selkirk locomotive #5931.

If you wish more information on what you’ve seen here, by all means contact us!

Date: September, 2014.
Location: Calgary, AB.
All the places seen in this report are publicly accessible (when the park is open).

NWMP Barracks

A scene at Heritage Park Calgary, from 1969. Photo by Weston Langford.

St Martin's Cemetery

The same spot in 2014.


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2 Comments on "Calgary then and now – Heritage Park cemetery and NWMP barracks"

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Your work is amazing! Your composition is almost exactly that of the old photo. Weston Langford was a school mate. I heard he passed and found your site during a search on him.