This thread is for news on Fort Calgary and associated Deane House and Hunt Cabin. Thread last updated October 2012
Herald Editorial on Hunt Cabin
Planning ahead to save our past
City taking a renewed interest in historic Hunt House
Published: Monday, August 14, 2006
http://www.canada.com/calgaryherald/new ... d4b311f14a
Log cabin hints at city's beginnings
Crumbling Hunt House to be restored
Suzanne Wilton, Calgary Herald
Published: Sunday, August 13, 2006
http://www.canada.com/calgaryherald/new ... 7a&k=80861
Calgary's oldest link to the past is a fading storage shed
Last Updated: Friday, August 11, 2006 | 3:46 PM MT
http://www.cbc.ca/canada/calgary/story/ ... house.html
A recently uncovered photo has proven that a rundown shed tucked among the bushes in an Inglewood backyard is Calgary's oldest building.
Hunt House is behind Fort Calgary's Deane House restaurant on 9 Avenue.
A photo has confirmed suspicions that the cabin was part of the Hudson's Bay fur trading post, sitting exactly where it was built back in 1876.
"It was pretty exciting when we saw this picture," said Sara Gruetzner, head of Fort Calgary, on Thursday.
"The Hunt House, as far as we know, is the oldest building in Calgary, in its original location."
Hunt House in 1968 with owner William Hunt.
An employee of Fort Calgary heard about the photo and tracked it down to an amateur historian in the community of Monarch about a year ago.
Now that the connection between the Hudson's Bay company and Hunt House has been established, Fort Calgary has begun to concentrate on preserving the Calgary landmark.
Hunt House in 1910.
As part of a $15-million plan to pump new life into the Fort Calgary lands, Hunt House will be restored and given a protective cover.
"I think most people in the rest of Canada see Calgary as all new, and with no heart or soul, no past. I think projects like this help to dispel that myth," said Gruetzner.
The boards, paint and wallpaper all have a story to tell, one that dates back to Calgary's origins, said Lorne Simpson, a conservation architect.
Built on the east side of the Elbow River around the same time as Fort Calgary, the cabin was home to a Hudson's Bay Company official.
William Hunt lived in the house until the mid-1970s when he willed the property to the city. It has sat, untouched, as a storage shed for the last 30 years.
Fort Calgary staff suspected its origins dated back to the Hudson's Bay Company, but couldn't confirm it until finding the photo.
Reviving a Calgary artifact
Neglected cabin is oldest known house in the city
http://www.canada.com/nationalpost/news ... =33324&p=2
* * * * Brian Hutchinson, National Post
Published: Thursday, August 10, 2006
CALGARY - It's just a faded, wooden cabin. I stumbled upon it this week, purely by chance, while trying to escape this city's noisy construction and demolition boom.
Calgary becomes less familiar by the month. I grew up here in the 1970s, when the population was less than half its present level over one million. I still like exploring the city's oldest neighbourhoods, especially the historic, slightly mysterious sections just east of the downtown core. But nothing remains the same.
Most of the brick and wood-frame houses are gone, or going soon, to be replaced by condo towers, casinos, parking lots.
The existence of the faded, wooden cabin took me by surprise. I'd never noticed it before. It's hidden among some poplar trees, across the Elbow River from Fort Calgary, a historical interpretive centre.
The place is made of logs, invisible from the exterior thanks to the warped and peeling shingles that cover the entire structure. The cabin seems to tilt; indeed, it is sinking into the earth. An ugly slab of plywood serves as a front door. Windows are boarded up. It looks derelict and has obviously sat empty for decades.
Nailed to one shabby exterior wall is a plaque. The cabin, I discover, is called Hunt House. It was built in 1876, just one year after the original Fort Calgary was established by the North-West Mounted Police.
For this city, 1876 is ancient.
There's no mention on the plaque of how Hunt House acquired its name, or what purpose it had served. For all I could tell, it might have been a garden shed. But there is a phone number. I place a call.
Soon I'm speaking with Sara Gruetzner, Fort Calgary's President and CEO. "Hunt House is a real gem, but no one knows it's there," she says. "It just sits there."
This forlorn shack is actually the oldest known residence in Calgary, she says. As such, it's among the city's most significant buildings.
Hunt House has survived everything imaginable: the Great Fire of 1886, which wiped out most of young Calgary's emerging business district; several population and construction booms; droughts and floods; vandalism. Demolition. The fact it still exists is something of a miracle, the reason obscured by time and neglect.
Its origin was long misunderstood. A dozen years ago, the Calgary Herald referred to Hunt House as one of many "Metis shanties" that appeared when the NWMP's first brigade of greenhorn volunteers ended their great western trek, at the point where the Bow and Elbow rivers meet.
The Metis angle was conjecture. There was no archival material to explain the building's provenance. Most historians believed it had served as part of Calgary's original Hudson's Bay Company trading post, since it sat on land the company had first occupied. The theory seemed solid, but could not be proven.
All that changed a year ago, when employees at Fort Calgary learned of a photograph, taken in 1879 by British photographer William Henry Hook and promptly forgotten. A collector in Southern Alberta had acquired the negative; it showed the cabin, then three years old, sitting amongst other HBC dwellings on what was then bald prairie.
The HBC moved to a new location before the end of the 19th century. Eventually, every company dwelling on the original site was demolished. Every one, but Hunt House. Somehow, it was spared.
Ms. Gruetzner fills me in with whatever detail she has at her disposal. There's not much. The cabin originally belonged to one Angus Fraser, an HBC interpreter. The only other person known to have inhabited the place is William J. Hunt, a railway employee. He lived alone in the cabin from 1947 to his death in 1975, the year Calgary celebrated its centennial.
Mr. Hunt willed the cabin to the city, which then named it after him. There were no plans to restore the place, or even recognize it in any way. Hence its obscurity. "Some historical purists said it would be best to just let it sort of disintegrate," Ms. Gruetzner says.
Hunt House now belongs to Fort Calgary. Interest in the cabin has suddenly surged, thanks in large part to the discovery of William Hook's old photograph. Soon, a fundraising campaign will get underway; proceeds will be used to restore the cabin.
It's a grand cause, for what might seem an impoverished pile of logs and lumber. But Hunt House is important, an authentic artifact from another, more difficult era. It should be preserved and not ignored.