Historic Calgary: Bow River Pumphouse No. 2 (Pumphouse Theatre)

Bow River Pumphouse No. 2 (Pumphouse Theatre)

2140 Pumphouse Ave. S.W

If you’ve visited this interesting little theatre, it’s possible you’ve wondered about the name and sturdy structure.

Bow River Pumphouse No. 2 (Pumphouse Theatre)

Built in 1913, the Bow River Pumphouse No. 2 (Pumphouse Theatre) is an industrial, Vernacular style, red-brick building. It is located on the south bank of the Bow River west of downtown Calgary in the city’s Sunalta neighbourhood. Until 1967, Pumphouse No. 2 was an integral component in Calgary’s water supply and distribution system. From 1913 to 1933 the pumphouse was the main intake and pumping station to serve the city. During this period, it supplemented the city’s inadequate, gravity-fed, water distribution system with a steady, pressurized supply of water.

After the Glenmore Dam and reservoir and Water Treatment Plant became functional in 1933, and the gravity-fed water system was replaced, Pumphouse No. 2 became a booster station supplying water to the Bankview area and to a new 2,273,045-litre (500,000 gallon) tank near King George School in the North Hill area of north-west Calgary.

The pumphouse property retains much of its historic contextual integrity comprising landscaped grounds which constitute a park-like setting. Amidst this setting the pumphouse is located on high ground, well above flood level, framed by a broad lawn and connected to the street by an allee of mature and historic poplars. The trees, which continue along Ninth Avenue, were likely planted under the direction of William Reader, the prominent Superintendent of Parks for the City and may constitute part of his vision for Calgary as a city with beautiful tree-lined streets. Notably, the pumphouse retains, in place, one of the two large original pumps, and a section of the water intake line which contains the fluctuating water of the Bow River.

Article and photos provided courtesy of Discover Historic Calgary resources via calgary.ca.

., Sunalta

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