History Project

Calling all Marda Loop history buffs!

We want to gather and share the history of our great neighbourhoods in and around Marda Loop and we need your help. Do you have old photographs? What do you remember about going to school, getting your first job, and playing sports here? Do you remember what it was like here in the 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s? Have you heard old stories? Do you know old-timers? We’d love to hear from you!

Top Image Credit: Residents of Somme Crescent circa 1960s. (Composite image courtesy of the “192 Somme Crescent Currie PMQ’s CFB Calgary 1961-69” Facebook page, retrieved November 2019.)

No.7 Streetcar

The No. 7 streetcar ran from 1913 until 1948, rattling from downtown and looping around the South Calgary neighbourhood. It travelled up 14th Street, west on 26th Avenue, south on 20th Street, then east on 34th Avenue, back to 14th Street. In this photo, it is turning by the Electric Power Substation at 34th Avenue and 14th Street SW.

Photo: W.C. Whittacker. Calgary’s Electric Transit, Colin K. Hatcher & Tom Schwarzkopf.

Business Revitalization Zones

Jon Lord, left, and Pat Mattern are proud of their neighborhood. 

South Calgary businesses formed one of Alberta’s first “Business Revitalization Zones” (BRZs) in 1984. The name “Marda Loop” was chosen in a contest – a combination of the old Marda Theatre and the old streetcar and trolley bus loops. The BRZ (now “BIA”) made public improvements including entryway signage and by 1987 has founded the Marda Gras Street Festival. Jon Lord of Casablanca Video was one of the key founders. The photo was taken around where Shopper’s Drug Mart is now. Note the Odeon (formerly Marda) Theatre in the background.

Lord photo: Calgary Herald, August 23, 1985

Sub Station No. 4

Substation No. 4 is a familiar sight at the corner of 14th Street and 34th Avenue. Built in 1930 by the City of Calgary Light and Power Department, it literally powered the growth of the community for several decades.

An example of “renaissance revival” design, its architect had also designed landmarks like the Lougheed Building and First Baptist Church. The modern addition dates to 1958 when development in Altadore was really booming.
Photos: City of Calgary Archives; Heritage Calgary

Kelly Family Home

Above: Babs the dog guards the gate. Looking south across 33rd Avenue to the open prairie. Photos courtesy of Dan Fallwell/the Kelly Family
A lot of people miss the house that was Kaffa Coffee and Salsa House and The Farmer’s House at 33rd Avenue and 21st Street. Starting in 1918, four generations of the Kelly family made a home there, at the western edge of town. Occasionally, visitors to Calgary from the Tsuut’ina Nation stayed overnight before returning to the reserve, and the Kelly daughter Meg would make them a meal.

King Edward School

King Edward School opened 1913 as one of Calgary’s 20 sandstone schools. It served generations of youngsters like these ones (ca. 1914) until it closed in 2001. Now it is the home of the arts and culture community of cSPACE King Edward.

Photo: Courtesy of Libraries and Cultural Resources Digital Collections, University of Calgary.

Marda Loop Signage

The Marda Loop Business Revitalization Area was founded in 1984 to support the prosperity of the business district. The BRZ (now BIA – Business Improvement Area) worked to brand the area, including by installing signage at the intersection of 33rd Avenue and 20th Street in 1989. Unfortunately, the sign was run over by a speeding car in July 2006! A salvaged portion of the sign was re-installed at the top of 33rd Avenue by Crowchild Trail.

Credits: Calgary Herald; Ken MacIver via Facebook

South Calgary Pool

The South Calgary Pool first opened in July 1955. It was largely funded by Stampede car raffles run by the Kinsmen Club of Calgary. The new pool made quite a splash with the local kids, and it still does!

Photo: July 1955 by Jack De Lorme. Courtesy of Libraries and Cultural Resources Digital Collections, University of Calgary.

Sub Division Plan

The subdivision plan for what became South Calgary and part of Knob Hill is from 1906.

It shows the area between today’s Crowchild Trail and 14th Street SW.

26th Avenue at the top was 1st Avenue in this plan, and 34th Avenue was “Werner Street”.

South of 34th Ave., the 1911 plan for “Leland Park” was roughly between 20th Street and where the Safeway is now. 36th Avenue was “Reuben Ave”, and 21st St. was “Findlay St.”

Who were Werner, Leland, Reuben and Findlay you ask? We’re curious to find out!

No. 5 Fire Station

Then and Now.

Southwest Calgary’s rapid growth in the early 50s produced some facilities that were later replaced as the area continued to grow.

The old No. 5 Fire Station, built 1952 in a slick modern style, was replaced in 2012 by the current fire station.

You can find the twin of the original in Inglewood where it has been converted into a house.

Credit: top photo, Calagry Firefighter’s Museum

Alexander Calhoun Library

Then and Now.

Southwest Calgary’s rapid growth in the early 50s produced some facilities that were later replaced as the area continued to grow.

The original Alexander Calhoun Library, built in 1954, was replaced in 1985.

A brick mural by artist Luke Lindoe from the original building stands in the parking lot. One of Lindoe’s best known works is the Virgin Mary  statue on the front of St. Mary’s Cathedral.

Credit: top photo, Calgary Public Library

No.7 Bus

Who remembers when buses were powered by overhead electric wires? Running from 1949 to 1975, the No. 7 bus replaced the earlier streetcar. The route initially ended in a loop just past the old Marda Theatre (Marda Loop, get it?). Later on, it went down 20th Street like it does today. In this picture from 1974, the bus is near the location of what is now “My Favorite Ice Cream Shoppe.”

Image: Tassiebaz Youtube channel

water tower

There used to be a water reservoir where Richmond Green is now, and you all know about Glenmore Dam. But did you know about the huge water tower on 30th Avenue SW near what is now Crowchild Trail? It was a sight for miles around until it was demolished in 1956.

Courtesy Larry Buchan

The above photo was taken from what is now the Glamorgan area, looking north-east. Young Larry Buchan in the photos, from June 1956.

Marda Theatre

The Marda Theatre opened in 1952 at the SW corner of 33rd Avenue and 20th Street SW, founded by local owners Marc and Mada Jenkins. In 1964 it was sold and became the Odeon Theatre. Upon its grand reopening “The Sound of Music” played for a record 72 weeks!

In 1975, the theater was twinned. The Odeon closed in 1988 and was demolished in 1989. The Marda was an instant landmark in a growing area: as far back as the 50s many local businesses had “Marda” in their name. 1952 image from the Theatre Catalog 1953-54.

1984 image from BradRobot via cinematreasures.org

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