As we celebrate the 150th anniversary of confederation, it is important to reflect on our past. In the Calgary Signal Hill riding, there are several areas with historical significance that I intend to highlight in my monthly report.
Most of us drive by Edworthy Park regularly while others walk the trails, often with their four-legged friends. We all enjoy the views but few realize the park’s history.
The area was a nomadic settlement of the Plains Indians who followed the buffalo migration. The varied berries and wildlife made it sustainable for life. The cliffs and ravines were considered ideal sites for buffalo jumps. Evidence remains of the stones from tipi circles on the escarpment and several buffalo bones were uncovered after heavy rains in 1940.
In the 1870s European settlers arrived. Thomas Edworthy arrived among them in Calgary in 1883 from Devonshire, England. He became a squatter on part of the Cochrane Ranche lease and used the land to establish a garden market that supplied produce to homesteaders and railway building crews. There were springs for Edworthy to use for irrigation but the water was cold, so he built a reservoir to warm the water. The grass that supported the buffalo now supported cattle grazing, so the Edworthy homestead was built as both a ranch and market named Shaganappi Ranch.
In later years, he operated sandstone quarries for construction of buildings in Calgary. After a devastating fire, the city passed an ordinance requiring buildings to be built out of more permanent material, which led to Calgary being known as ‘Sandstone City’. Edworthy’s ‘Bow Bank Quarries’ supplied the sandstone for many buildings in Calgary that still stand today, such as Fire Hall #2, Central, Balmoral and Victoria Park Schools, and Knox United Church.
In 1894, Tom married Mary Ross, widow of Alexander Ross—Calgary’s first resident photographer. Ross photographed the building of the Canadian Pacific Railway as it headed west from Manitoba, and many historic scenes, including the signing of Treaty Number Seven. Mary and Tom Edworthy had two sons, Thomas Percival and George (Sr.). Thomas Edworthy died at 48 from typhoid leaving his wife and sons to operate the businesses and ranch.
In the 1950s, part of the Edworthy land was sold and became the community of Wildwood. The family sold the remaining land, 169 hectares, to the City of Calgary in 1962 for the development of the park which bears his name.
The next time you walk through the park look for remnants of the buffalo jump, the ranch and market or the quarry, all part of the history of this beautiful legacy in the middle of our riding.