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Royal Canadian Legion Calgary (Alberta No. 1) Branch

Calgary

Other Names:
Calgary Legion #1
Calgary Legion Hall #1

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place
The Royal Canadian Legion Calgary (Alberta No. 1) Branch is a two storey building situated on three lots in downtown Calgary. Opened in 1922, the Legion features a brick and concrete facade trimmed with sandstone, a central double arch, and a crowning frieze and parapet with the words "1914 GREAT WAR VETERANS CLUB" and "CANADIAN LEGION" set in relief.

Heritage Value
The heritage value of the Royal Canadian Legion Calgary (Alberta No. 1) Branch lies in its commemoration of the great sacrifices made by Canadian servicemen during World War One and its continuing association with the men and women of the Canadian military.

The Royal Canadian Legion Calgary (Alberta No. 1) Branch has its roots in the formation of veterans groups to provide support for returning servicemen during World War One. In 1916, a small community of soldiers who had returned to Calgary after fighting in Europe banded together to form a mutual aid society. A year later, this group formed the Calgary branch of the Great War Veterans' Association of Canada, an organization dedicated to helping returning servicemen to reintegrate into civilian life. It was this branch that was responsible for advancing the "Calgary Resolution" in 1919, a well-publicized - though ultimately unsuccessful - proposal for federal remuneration of soldiers' lost civilian wages during active service overseas. By 1919, the organization had grown dramatically - from 300 members in 1917 to 3200 only two years later - and its rented space in the Alberta Club was becoming inadequate. New facilities were required. In 1919, the Prince of Wales broke sod on land provided by the city for the construction of a Memorial Hall honouring the heroic contributions of Canada's servicemen during World War One. Financial problems delayed construction and the building was not ready for opening until 1922. Dedicated to the memory of those who served in the Great War, the Memorial Hall offered club rooms for veterans' gatherings as well as spaces for community events. In 1926, the branch voted to join the Canadian Legion of the British Empire Service League (later the Royal Canadian Legion); the following year, it received its charter - the second in Alberta. The Royal Canadian Legion Calgary (Alberta No. 1) Branch continues to serve as both a meeting place for veterans and as a community space. It stands as a powerful reminder of the heroic sacrifices of Canadian soldiers during World War One and their struggle to secure justice and social reintegration for the nation's war veterans.

Completed in 1922, the Royal Canadian Legion Calgary (Alberta No. 1) Branch features a restrained, dignified composition well-suited to its association with military service. The influence of the Georgian Revival architectural style is evident in the building's largely symmetrical facade divided into three bays of windows on either side of a prominent, double arched central entryway. Decorative sandstone detailing adds character to the building, while the frieze and parapet featuring the words "1914 GREAT WAR VETERANS CLUB 1919" and "CANADIAN LEGION" set in relief give expression to the building's history and purpose.

Source: Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch (File: Des. 970)


Character-Defining Elements
The character-defining elements of the Royal Canadian Legion Calgary (Alberta No. 1) Branch include such features as:
- mass, form, and style;
- brick and concrete facade with smooth local sandstone trim;
- central sandstone double arch and decorative features;
- semi-circular sandstone segments with brick borders, sandstone keystones and trim, and decorative elements;
- frieze with inscription "1914 GREAT WAR VETERANS CLUB 1919";
- parapet edged with sandstone and featuring the words "CANADIAN LEGION";
- window and door rough opening pattern and arch elements above windows;
- "ROYAL CANADIAN LEGION NO1 BRANCH" on rear of building;
- interior murals;
- metal roof truss system;
- artifacts, including shovel used by Prince of Wales to break sod and framed crests and photographs of historic value.


Location



Street Address: 116 - 7 Avenue SE
Community: Calgary
Boundaries: Lots 30 to 32, Block 42, Plan A
Contributing Resources: Buildings: 1

ATS Legal Description:
Mer Rge Twp Sec LSD
5
1
24
15
11 (ptn.)

PBL Legal Description (Cadastral Reference):
Plan Block Lot Parcel
A
A
A
42
42
42
32
31
30




Latitude/Longitude:
Latitude Longitude CDT Datum Type
51.046725 -114.061765 GPS NAD 83

UTM Reference:
Northing Easting Zone CDT Datum Type

Recognition

Recognition Authority: Province of Alberta
Designation Status: Provincial Historic Resource
Date of Designation: 1983/11/11

Historical Information

Built: 1919 to 1922
Significant Date(s)
Theme(s) Governing Canada : Military and Defence
Historic Function(s): Community : Social, Benevolent or Fraternal Club
Current Function(s): Community : Social, Benevolent or Fraternal Club
Architect:
Builder:
Context: HERITAGE SIGNIFICANCE

This building was built as a Memorial Hall dedicated to those who fought in the Great War. It served both as offices and clubrooms for the Calgary Branch of the Great War Veterans' Association of Canada and accommodation in the form of a large hall and committee rooms for community use. In 1916 a group of returned soldiers in Calgary banded together for mutual help and support and became the Calgary Branch of the Great War Veterans' Association of Canada when the formed in 1917. The branch grew rapidly and in 1919 and 1920 led the country in an unsuccessful bid for a bonus to help ex-soldiers re-establish themselves in civilian life. When most of the veterans in Canada unified into the Canadian Legion of the British Empire Service League, this became the Calgary (Alberta No. 1) Branch of that association.

Additional Information

Object Number: 4665-0555
Designation File: DES 0970
Related Listing(s):
Heritage Survey File: HS 16563
Website Link:
Data Source: Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch, Old St. Stephen's College, 8820 - 112 Street, Edmonton, AB T6G 2P8 (File: Des. 970)
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