Once again, my habit of staying up late in search of distinctive historical buildings in Calgary has produce, yet another noteworthy gem, the St. Mary’s Parish Hall / CNR Train Station.
This search directed me to the trendy neighbourhood of Mission located just south of the downtown core. The foundation of this neighbourhood is deeply rooted in the Roman Catholic life of Southern Alberta when Our Lady of Peace was established in this area. Upon the announcement that the transcontinental railway would be thundering through the neighbourhood, missionary Albert Lacombe travelled to Ottawa in 1884 with hopes of securing land to help sustain the French Catholic culture that was beginning to envelope the surrounding area. Incorporated in 1889, this small parcel of land was known as Rouleauville, where streets were named after missionaries and the St. Mary’s Cathedral stood guard.
To help unify their culture and beliefs, the community decided to build the St. Mary’s Parish Hall in 1905, which is located at 141 18 Avenue SW. The building was large enough to hold approximately 500 individuals during concerts and theatre productions, in addition to housing the St. Mary’s Boy’s School in the basement. Unfortunately, performances were short lived in this sandstone building; upon the annexation of Rouleauville to Calgary in 1907, the building was soon sold to Canadian Northern Railway in 1911 and adapted into a railway station in 1913. Due to the financial restraints during the war, the company decided to modify the existing structure versus constructing a new station. With the modification came the new addition to the rear of the building and the creation of a wooden canopy in 1916. Passenger service continued with the Canadian Northern Railway until 1971 when it was terminated. Calgary acquired the land and buildings in 1978 and although a fire destroyed most of the interior in 1984, the building was lovingly restored in 1985 and the Alberta Ballet became the proud new occupants.
Categories: Calgary History