Sidewalk stamps and their fans

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Sidewalk stamps and their fans

Postby newsposter » Thu Aug 30, 2007 11:27 am

Thread formerly named - "1907 sidewalk typo offends pedestrian"
Renamed and moved to General Heritage Talk June 28, 2010.

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Point of information: The oldest remaining sidewalks in Calgary (we believe) are stamped 1907 - 100 years old this year. CHI believes that when these old sidewalks are replaced that the 'stamped' portions should be salvaged and re-used in the new sidewalks as charming historical reminders... But here is another point of view:

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City fails the sidewalk spelling test

Calgary Herald

Thursday, August 30, 2007


Engraving - If I were to grade the City of Calgary on correct spelling, the city would be given an "F."

And somebody can use that "F" to correctly spell "Twelfth" at 12th Avenue and 6th Street S.W., where the avenue's name has been carved into the concrete sidewalk and misspelled "Twelth Avenue."

The spelling error is on the sidewalk of the northwest corner of the intersection and might go unnoticed by the many Calgarians who walk over this engraving daily. I have lived in Calgary for 22 years and only noticed it last week.

The sidewalk is old and worn out, therefore, instead of ever being corrected, this grammatical abomination will only be repaved and forgotten.

Until its destruction or correction, "Twelth Avenue" will sit there on the ground, carved in stone, misleading young children and immigrants who are learning to read and write in English.

It is hard to tell how many people have fallen victim to this literary crime.

This subtle error is a testament to the shoot-first-ask-questions-later philosophy that has been adopted by so many city planners in Calgary. Let's hope that all of this major construction going on downtown will have a more positive impact on our lives.

Colin Bradley,

Calgary
Last edited by newsposter on Sun Jun 27, 2010 8:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby newsposter » Sun Sep 02, 2007 10:54 am

2 responses to the above letter ^

Save the misspelled words
Calgary Herald
Published: Sunday, September 02, 2007
Sidewalks - Re: "City fails the sidewalk spelling test," Letter, Aug. 30.

If Colin Bradley were to walk some of Calgary's older neighbourhoods, he would discover many other similar sidewalk misspellings. I have seen several in the Marda Loop area where I live and they make me smile.

These older sidewalks were constructed during the early part of the 20th century by immigrants who could barely speak or even write English. These misspellings are a small part of Calgary's history and should be appreciated as a part of our heritage.

John Vickers, Calgary


Just like JFK
Calgary Herald
Published: Sunday, September 02, 2007

Spelling - I walked to elementary school every day in the early '60s and had to step over Thirty Fouth Avenue at 31st Street S.W. It was a good lesson in the importance of education. If I didn't get it, I too might be pouring cement for the city.

Maybe John F. Kennedy got his start here -- he couldn't spell very well at all, but he read 425 words per minute.

Gayle Fields, Calgary
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Postby zakman » Mon May 04, 2009 5:32 pm

I don't know if anyone else saw this, but today the Herald reprinted a 1909 editorial complaining about similar misspellings.
Unfortunately, every year there are fewer and fewer sidewalk stamps- incorrect or not- for anyone so inclined to complain about.
Here's a link to the Herald article:
www.calgaryherald.com/Calgary+spell/1560776/story.html
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Postby newsposter » Mon May 25, 2009 3:43 pm

For general chat on this fun subject:

http://www.calgaryheritage.org/CHIForum/vi ... =1599#1599
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Postby zakman » Tue May 25, 2010 8:22 pm

Within this thread, I thought I'd share some info I've accumulated in the past few years on early sidewalk contractors. Feedback would be appreciated as I'll be the first to admit that I haven't yet researched this topic fully.
Although the earliest sidewalk stamps I've come across are dated 1907, it's my belief that sidewalks were poured even earlier than that; however since most of the early such sites were most likely located in the present downtown core, almost all have since been replaced. It's also possible that Calgary sidewalk contractors didn't initially make use of stamps to advertise their trade. Primary contractors during the pre-WW 1 boom include:
1. Edwin J. McKibbin and his brother, who are said to have constructed the first sidewalks in Calgary. The firm's earliest stamps still in existence are dated 1910 and read "McK-Bros Contractors"; from 1911 through 1913 just "McKibbin" was used. Samples of their work can be found today in Crescent Heights, Bridgeland and Inglewood.
2. Bachelor, Marshall and Skairn were active in south Calgary; their firm's logo is "BM&S Contracting". Their stamps date back to 1907/1909 and can still be found in the Beltline with a few in Mount Royal.
3. F. Ferenbach constucted sidewalks in Calgary's southeast and their logo reads "FF&Co Contractors". I've only been able to locate samples of their work in the Ramsay area; most dated 1911 or 1912.
4. C.M. Payne, whose eponymous logo can be found in the Rideau/Roxboro and west Elbow Park areas, built sidewalks there in 1912. The same contractor was also active in the Bankview area; however in that district the numeral "2" in the stamp appears to have been altered to read as "3", presumably to save the cost of procuring a new stamping tool.
After 1912, the Calgary building boom had already begun to taper off and it would seem that very little in the way of sidewalk construction occurred until 1926. That year saw a private contractor G.B. Wood ("GB Wood Contractor") active in both north and south Calgary; sidewalks with the stamp "CMPD" (Calgary Municipal Paving Department?) also began to appear. CMPD stamps from 1925 through 1931 can today be found in many older districts all over Calgary. After 1931 another hiatus developed, extending to the late 1940's when sidewalks bearing the private contractor "Burns & Dutton" logo first appeared, with some CMPD activity seen as well. The former firm's stamp is very common in most of the Calgary neighborhoods developed during the Baby Boom era.
That's pretty much all I can relate on this subject. If anyone else is interested in pursuing this further, info on pre-1907 sidewalk construction can probably be found at Calgary Corporate Archives, most likely within the annual reports filed by the City's Chief Engineer at the time.
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Postby newsposter » Sun Jun 27, 2010 8:15 pm

Good info Zakman. I found the following on the website of the Southern Alberta Pioneers and Their Descendants:

McNeill, John C.

John was born at Kincardine, Ontario in 1866. He was married twice. His first wife was Minnie, the second Clara Sprague. He had two sons and one daughter. His son Leishman was secretary of the Southern Alberta Pioneers for many years and wrote 'Tales of the Old Town'. John was a carpenter and later a contractor. He is credited with building McDougall School and Knox United Church in Calgary. :arrow: He was the first pavement contractor in Calgary. The first avenues paved were 13th and 14th between 1st Street and 4th Street S.W. John McNeill died at Calgary in 1941.

http://www.pioneersalberta.org/

If this is correct, then the first sidewalks may have been 1907, since the few remaining stamps in that general vicinity bear that date.
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Postby newsposter » Sun Jun 27, 2010 8:24 pm

Updated - see above ^. I'm moving this thread to "General Heritage Talk" and re-naming.
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Postby zakman » Wed Nov 03, 2010 10:10 am

I have some new info to share on early sidewalk history, after taking the time to review Calgary city council meeting minutes dating from 1898 to 1905. The first mention of concrete sidewalks in the minutes appears in July 1900, when the City Engineer was instructed by the Public Works committee to put in a test section of "granolithic" concrete, a high-grade variant that has granite chips embedded in the surface instead of sand and pea gravel. In August of that year, city council was petitioned by landowners for a granolithic sidewalk on Stephen Avenue, but the Finance Committee recommended that work be deferred until the following year since this was "the first work of this kind to be undertaken by the city" and since it would be difficult to raise the requisite funds owing to the depressed state of the money market then. The matter was again deferred in June 1901, when Public Works declined to proceed until Stephen Avenue was properly graded. Late in 1902, council received a letter from W.R. Hull requesting that he be allowed to pour a section of concrete sidewalk on Stephen Avenue and First Street West in conjunction with construction of his building on that corner (probably the Alberta Block). The sidewalk was completed late in 1902; in early 1903, the City paid 50% of the $314.54 cost. The contractor wasn't named. In May 1903, city council discussed sidewalk specs for Centre Street, First Street East, First Street West, Atlantic (9th) and Stephen (8th) Avenues; by August the first such by-law (#513) was passed to facilitate the borrowing of $28,000 to cover the cost of having sidewalks on those streets completed. In the very early days, affected property owners voted on such bylaws as they were responsible for 50% of the cost; in September 1903 such approval was obtained. A local contactor by the name of George Irish was the successful tenderer for this work, which doesn't appear to have commenced until the spring of 1904. In May of that year, the Daily Herald reported that sidewalks in front of their office had been completed; the Herald later clarified that the sidewalks poured were of of regular concrete and were not granolithic. Late in 1904 it was reported that Irish's contract was complete, albeit with some deficiencies. Bylaws 549 (August 1904) and 601 (June 1905) were subsequently passed authorizing further concrete sidewalk work encompassing the area from 9th Avenue South to 4th Avenue South, and from 4th Street East to 4th Street West. The 1904 and 1905 work was completed by the Forest City Paving Company; the change in contractors was probably a result of the delay and deficiencies encountered with George Irish. Due to the central location of the initial locations, it's almost certain that any evidence of these early sidewalks has been destroyed. For anyone still awake at this point, in the next few days I'll post some images of local sidewalk stamps dating from 1907 to 1949, relating to one of my previous posts.
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Postby zakman » Thu Nov 17, 2011 2:34 pm

For anyone interested, I've set up a Facebook identity with photos of older sidewalk stamps as well as some from modern times (since they'll be old some day too!). I'll be adding to the two photo albums from time to time as I realize they're incomplete. The Facebook I.D. is S.P.O.O.C.S. , which is an acronym for: the Society (for the) Preservation Of Old Concrete Stamps.
The society's current membership stands at one.
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Postby Chris E » Fri Nov 18, 2011 5:37 am

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*DEMOLITION ALERT* Sidewalk stamp at 13 St and 10 Ave SE

Postby zakman » Fri May 04, 2012 3:44 pm

I thought I'd bring anyone interested in this topic up to date on my efforts to conserve a bit of Calgary's past. Inglewood is up for sidewalk replacement this spring, which means that some of the oldest sidewalk stamps out there will be destroyed in the process. Of immediate concern is a 1909 "McKibbin" stamp, which is the oldest I've encountered by this particular contractor. I recently contacted Darryl Cariou, a senior heritage planner with the City, who introduced me to Ward 9 Councillor Carra's assistant Jenny. Jenny tells me that the Roads Department had already received instructions to save the sidewalk section in question, so I've asked if it's possible to save others in the area as I believe the cost to do so would be nominal. While we're waiting for a response from Roads on the larger issue, I'm thinking that it might not hurt to have other CHI members contact Jenny to let her know that we care. She can be reached by phone at 403 268 5330 or by email at [url]ward09@calgary.ca[/url]. Thanks!
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Postby 00fxd » Sun May 06, 2012 10:46 pm

I spent quite a bit of time some years ago riding around on my bicycle looking down at sidewalk stamps. I was very disappointed when the last one designating Kensington Rd as "Center ave" was removed to place a wheel chair access/ramp. This was located at the N.E. corner of Kensington Rd and 15th ave NW. When I first noticed this stamp it helped me in my quest to locate the home of private John George Pattison, the only Calgary recipient of the Victoria Cross in the first world war. In those years Kensington Rd separated NW from SW which as we know is currently separated by the Bow River. In those early day those 3-4 blocks between Memorial Dr and Kensington Rd were considered SW. So I was understandably confused until I noticed the [only] previously described "Center Ave" stamp. Incidently, I belive Pattisons home is the garage with #1622 that can be seen from Kensington Rd at 15th, south side.
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Postby 00fxd » Sun May 06, 2012 11:00 pm

I see that I am repeating myself ...
http://calgaryheritage.org/CHIForum/viewto ... ight=#1586

I am pleased to see that folks are paying attention to and working towards preserving the old sidewalk stamps ...
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Re: Sidewalk stamps and their fans

Postby newsposter » Sun Apr 12, 2015 7:53 am

There has been some talk about sidewalk stamps on Twitter. Thought I would move this back up to the top.

Also, here is a thread on old street names that has some relevant information:
viewtopic.php?f=10&t=748&hilit=sidewalk+stamps
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Re: Sidewalk stamps and their fans

Postby zakman » Thu Apr 16, 2015 1:10 pm

Just a quick update re ongoing efforts to preserve old sidewalk stamps. In the past few years, the City has been able to save a number of old stamped sections, most recently in Rosedale. While there's still no official policy in place, our Roads Department now will attempt to leave such sections in place so long as they're not too badly damaged and providing that the slope of the saved section is a match for the replacement.
This spring, some streets in Hillhurst and West Hillhurst are due for a refresh, and we'll be following as the sidewalks crew moves through the area. Of particular concern is a section on 12th Street NW, in front of St. Barnabas Church.
I'll provide an update after the work's complete.
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