Edworthy Park – Photo by Aduro Photography
Each month our Member of Parliament for Calgary Signal Hill, Ron Liepert, sends in a newsletter to our community association. This month they sent a brilliantly written history of one of our beloved Calgary parks. I asked for permission to post this story on our blog because, not only is it a great read, but it also highlights the fact that the history of places is just as interesting and important as the history of a person.
Posted with permission from author, Patty Wickstrom, edited by Ron Liepert.
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 to constituents.
Most of us drive by Edworthy Park on a regular basis while others walk the trails often with their trusted four legged friends. We all enjoy the views but few realize the history of the park.
The area was initially one of the nomadic settlements of the Plains Indians who followed the migration of buffalo. The variety of berries and wildlife, such as rabbits and deer, made it sustainable for life. The cliffs and ravines were considered ideal sites for buffalo jumps, from which the Indians used virtually every part of the buffalo for food, shelter, clothing and tools. Evidence remains of the stones from tipi circles on the escarpment and several buffalo bones were uncovered after heavy rains in 1940.
In the 1870’s European settlers began arriving. Among them was Thomas Edworthy, who at the age of 16 arrived in Calgary in 1883 from Devonshire, England. He became a squatter on part of the Cochrane Ranche lease. He used the land to establish a profitable garden market that supplied fresh fruit and vegetables to homesteaders and crews building the railway. There were abundant springs for Edworthy to use for irrigation but because the water was too cold, he built a reservoir out of sandstone to warm the water. The grass that had supported the buffalo was now used for cattle grazing so the Edworthy homestead was built as a ranch and market named Shaganappi Ranch.
In later years, after discovering sandstone on his property, he operated sandstone quarries for the construction of many buildings in Calgary. After a devastating fire destroyed several significant buildings, the city passed an ordinance requiring buildings to be built out of a more permanent material, which lead to Calgary being known as ‘Sandstone City’. Edworthy’s ‘Bow Bank Quarries’ supplied the sandstone for many of the buildings in Calgary that are still standing today such as Fire Hall #2, Central, Balmoral and Victoria Park Schools, and Knox United Church, just to name a few.
In 1894, Tom married Mary Ross, widow of Alexander Ross who was 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 the age of 48 from typhoid leaving his wife and two sons to operate the businesses and ranch.
In the 1950’s, 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.
So 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.
Isn’t it time you told YOUR story?