9th Avenue SE, formally known as Atlantic Avenue and Whiskey Row, has been around since the early 1880’s; with the creation of this historic avenue came numerous industries, such as slaughter houses, sawmills, notorious hotels, saloons, and of course the Brewery. These establishments in addition to many others helped shaped the foundation for one of Calgary’s oldest, most interesting neighbourhoods named Inglewood. For the history lovers out there, I have included a few short, but interesting tidbits about this historic district.
“The Sundance Kid” and Whiskey Row: Who would have guessed that The Sundance Kid, even though brief, left a historic mark in Calgary’s history. Harry Longabaugh (Sundance) spent approximately 3 years in Southern Alberta, wrangling at the historic Bar U Ranch and the farming community of Blackie. Unhappy with his lifestyle, he and partner Frank Hamilton decided to open a Saloon in the Grand Central Hotel on 9th Avenue SE. After numerous disputes with his partner Frank, Sundance decided that it was time to leave Calgary. Jumping on his horse, he headed south where he joined forces with Butch Cassidy’s team, the Wild Bunch, and the rest is history. What’s really interesting is that after he left Calgary, both the Hotel and Saloon burnt to the ground.
National Hotel, 1042 10th Avenue SE: This three story building located in the commercial area of Inglewood was constructed in 1907. In keeping with the “Whiskey Row” heritage, this building functioned as a hotel in addition to a notorious neighbourhood saloon. In 1910 A.E. Cross purchased the hotel and used the establishment to help promote and sell his products from the Calgary Brewing and Malting Company located just down the street. During Prohibition in Alberta, only hotels were legally allowed to sell alcohol, and because of this, the National Hotel became a watering hole for many labourers and locals alike. In 1938, well after the end of the Prohibition, the hotel decided to open a Ladies and Escort bar to increase its clientele; this also allowed men and women to drink freely in the company of each other. Fast forward to 2013, while preserving the exterior, the interior of this building has now been converted into a commercial building for future use.
Nearby this hotel; actually, attached to this hotel is the East End Livery Barn and when served together gives us a rare glimpse of two old enterprises of Alberta’s past. One of the last combinations of its type in western Canada, this barn provided a needed shelter to the horses whose owners would occupy the hotel during their trip to Calgary. Fast forward to 2012, it is now the new home to Scott and Sheldon’s Double S antique building and the home base for their “Canadian Pickers” show broadcasted on the History Channel. Combined, these two buildings are a significant Provincial Historic Resource.
Atlantic Hotel, 420 9th Avenue SE: Believe to have been built in 1890 and long since demolished, this dingy little hotel provided some lasting memories. As soon as this hotel received it’s liquor license in 1896 it became known to many as the “Last Chance Saloon“, or the “First Chance Saloon“, depending on which side you approached it. Prior to the opening of the King Edward, this hotel had earned the title of “Bucket of Blood” due to a murder in 1902. Later that decade, it changed management in an attempt to revitalize itself in addition to charging a harmless $1.00 per day for a room.
King Edward Hotel: 438 9th Avenue SE: Built in 1906 to serve travelers from the neighbouring rail road, this hotel would later be known as the “King Eddy“, home of the blues. Thankfully, this nostalgic hotel is still standing and provides us with an example of early design and construction of Whiskey Row. This hotel has made headlines on more than one occasion; most notably for “surviving Prohibition“, if you would like to call it that, and being one of the first establishments to provide service to both white and black people in the same room. During the 1970 – 1980`s it became known as Calgary`s Blues bar headlining acts such as Muddy Watters and B.B. King. However, after gaining a slightly seedy reputation and the building falling into disrepair, the King Eddy finally closed its doors to the public in 2004. That said, it is coming back to life, with the revitalization project of East Village, we will once again hear the lively music that made it such a favourite hangout for many music lovers near and far.
Categories: Calgary History