If These Walls Could Talk…Century Homes Calgary Project Captures National Attention for Bringing Heritage to Life

November 29, 2012

Finding out your century-old house has a hidden past could lead to an unpleasant discovery like inferior workmanship, however, most Calgarians are uncovering a different kind of history in their turn-of-the-century homes.  Silvina Mema researched her colourful character abode and discovered that Thomas Presswood Frost, an eccentric alderman and a sergeant in the First World War, lived in her house nearly a century ago. 

Silvina joined 507 other Calgarians living in homes that are around 100 years old as part of the Century Homes Calgary project that celebrates houses built during the first building boom in 1912.  These resourceful households researched their homes history, proudly showcased Century Homes Calgary yard flags, and created and displayed home-made yard signs with historical information sharing their part of Calgary’s story.  Residents then shared their discoveries through a series of self-guided tours. 

The Calgary Heritage Initiative Society is now gathering all research and photographs for an online Legacy database to be housed at the Calgary Public Library.  For fostering community pride and enhancing civic memory, the Calgary Heritage Initiative Society for “Century Homes Calgary” is this year’s English recipient of the 2012 Governor General’s History Award for Excellence in Community Programming.

The French recipient is La Meute culturelle for le Musée vivant de Lafontaine from Tiny, Ontario.

Honourable mentions include:

The Toronto Dreams Projectis a series of historically themed postcards and stickers left in public places. The project adopts a street art approach to engage with the community in public places, augmenting the experience of visiting recognized historic sites while drawing attention to those without official demarcation. By using a combination of traditional and new media, the physical location is tied to online resources as well, encouraging discussion and further interaction on social media. 

The Avenue Oral History Projectbegan as a six-month effort to gather and preserve the stories of the people who grew up along 118th Ave in Edmonton, Alberta. It brought together actors, historians, journalists, a photographer and community organizers who went out to document and interpret the collective history of Alberta Avenue. These stories, combined with archival research, were the basis for an interpretive performance, publications in the Rat Creek Press newspaper and the genesis of a digital archive.

In May 2012, le Musée du ski des Laurentides (MSL) inaugurated, after thirty years of perseverance, the first permanent exhibit called L’histoire du ski dans les Laurentides; vivre en hiver, avec l’hiver et de l’hiver. To present this exhibit in the best museum space possible, MSL developers had to overcome many problems. With the help of the population, the financial support from various levels of government and support from the political, economic, social, cultural, educational and sporting support of the region, MLS materialized the dream of its founders, presenting, after converted fire station in a place that meets current standards of museology, the first real permanent exhibition.Le Musée du ski, following the closure of the exhibition hall of the Musée canadien du ski, became the only institution storefront, dedicated not only to the history of skiing, but also the role played by the winter for the development of a region, province and country.

Created by Canada’s History Society, the Governor General’s History Awards for Excellence in Community Programming celebrate programming developed by volunteer-led heritage, community and cultural organizations at the grassroots level.  Members of the Calgary Heritage Initiative Society for “Century Homes Calgary” and La Meute culturelle for le Musée vivant de Lafontaine will receive this prestigious award from His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada on Monday, December 10, 2012 in Ottawa at 10:30 a.m. at Rideau Hall.  In addition to the trip to Ottawa and the medal they receive, each recipient organization will also receive a cash prize of $2,500 thanks to the generous support of Spectra Energy.

“Spectra Energy is proud to partner with Canada’s History Society in support of the prestigious Governor General’s History Awards, “ said Greg Ebel, president and chief executive officer, Spectra Energy Corp.  “We applaud the volunteer efforts of this year’s recipients to keep Canada’s rich history alive.”

Announcements continue throughout the coming week and profiles of all the recipients will be available at: www.CanadasHistory.ca/GGAwards.

The Governor General’s History Awards bring together community and museum organizations, students, teachers, historians, writers and media producers to celebrate as well as learn from each other.  The day prior to the award ceremonies, recipients will participate in a public history forum at the Canadian War Museum.  This year’s forum, “How Should the Great War Be Remembered?” is open to the public to attend onsite or online by registering at www.CanadasHistory.ca/HistoryForum.

About Spectra Energy

Spectra Energy Corp (NYSE: SE), a FORTUNE 500 company, is one of North America's premier natural gas infrastructure companies serving three key links in the natural gas value chain: gathering and processing, transmission and storage, and distribution. For more than a century, Spectra Energy and its predecessor companies have developed critically important pipelines and related infrastructure connecting natural gas supply sources to premium markets.

Based in Houston, Texas, the company’s operations in the United States and Canada include more than 19,000 miles of transmission pipeline, approximately 305 billion cubic feet of storage, as well as natural gas gathering and processing, natural gas liquids and local distribution operations. The company also has a 50 percent ownership in DCP Midstream, one of the largest natural gas gatherers and processors in the United States. Spectra Energy is a member of the Dow Jones Sustainability World and North America Indexes and the Carbon Disclosure Project's Global 500 and S&P 500 Carbon Disclosure Leadership Indexes. For more information, visit www.spectraenergy.com.

About Canada’s History Society

Canada’s History Society is a national charitable organization devoted to popularizing Canadian history.  In addition to presenting the Governor General’s History Awards, the Society also publishes Canada’s History (formerly The Beaver) magazine, and Kayak: Canada’s History Magazine for Kids, as well as produces a number of educational and online programs to encourage more discovery, celebration, and understanding about our rich history and culture.  More details can be found at www.CanadasHistory.ca.

To arrange an interview, please contact:


Nicole Harris Maverick Media Solutions Cell: 204-470-4555 nharris@maverick-media.ca

Deborah Morrison Canada’s History Society  Office: 204-988-9300 ext. 222                        dmorrison@canadashistory.ca



Posted by: Canada's National History Society- Winnipeg on December 4, 2012.
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