How to Research Building History

Links to other like minded organizations, websites and also heritage related articles

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How to Research Building History

Postby Bob van Wegen » Fri Dec 23, 2005 10:34 am

A brochure from the City of Calgary on researching historic buildings: ... istory.pdf

Go to the link below for a more detailed treatment of the same subject from the Alberta government, including
- How to Research and Evaluate Government and Commercial Building
- How to Research Historic Houses ... /index.asp

Below are tips and resources from the Calgary Public Library's Community Heritage and Family History Collection. For more Local History Room links and resources, go here: ... ly-history ... ?p=283#283

This Old Calgary House -
Resources for Researching the History of your House

The Community Heritage and Family History's Local History room is on the 4th floor of Calgary Public Library’s Central Library branch has a variety of resources to help you find out about the history of your house and to assist you with preservation, restoration and conservation information.

City Directories

Henderson’s city directories for Calgary for 1906 to 1991 are held either in paper or microfiche format. City directories give the name and occupation of the head of the household and sometimes the spouse at a given address. These directories usually include a listing by address. The Local History collection also includes Calgary telephone directories from 1903 to the present.

Historical Photographs

The Community Heritage and Family History Digital Library has a collection of photographs of historic buildings taken in the mid-1960s as well as a collection of postcards from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Most of the photographs are of historic buildings and notable homes. The postcards are mainly of commercial buildings and hotels but do include grand homes as well as some street views.

Historical Maps

There are a number of historical street maps in the Community Heritage and Family History's Local History room, 4th floor Central Library. Some of the maps show the names of the original landowners. Maps can be used to pinpoint the location of a house and check on the original orientation of streets.

Local Newspapers

Newspapers are useful for finding information about buildings under construction, especially accounts of public buildings as well as notable private residences. Calgary Public Library has a collection of Calgary newspapers on microfilm, including a complete run of the Calgary Herald. Access to the Calgary Herald from 1988 onwards is available online through Canadian Newsstand, a subscription database accessible with a Calgary Public Library card, through the E-Library on our website ( Older issues of Calgary newspapers have been scanned by the Alberta Heritage Digitization Project and can be viewed at their website -

Tips for Locating Library Resources

Information on the history of Calgary and its built environment can be accessed through the library’s catalogue. Subject headings to search include:

Architecture – Alberta – History
Architecture – Canada – History
Architecture – Conservation and restoration
Architecture – Domestic – Alberta
Architecture – Domestic – Designs and plans - Catalogs
Calgary (Alta) – Buildings, Structures, etc
Dwellings – Alberta – History
Dwellings – Historiography
Farm dwellings - Canada
Historic buildings -- Alberta – Calgary
Historic buildings – Alberta – Calgary – Pictorial works
Historic buildings – Alberta – Calgary – Conservation and restoration
Housing – Alberta - History
Also see the names of particular buildings e.g. Patrick Burns House

The Local History room also keeps clippings from newspapers and magazines. Of interest to researchers of historic buildings are the biography files, the buildings files and the files on Calgary districts.

Other Local Resources

The City of Calgary Heritage Authority evaluates potential heritage sites and maintains an “Inventory of Potential Heritage Sites” on their website, as well as reviewing all planning permit applications that may affect designated and potential heritage buildings.

The Glenbow Museum Library and Archives is an important resource for any research on the history of Calgary. Their holdings include Henderson’s and other city directories, an extensive photograph collection, much of which has been digitized, historic street maps, fire insurance maps as well as clippings files.

Glenbow Museum Library and Archives

130 9th Avenue SE
Calgary Alberta T2G 0P3
(403) 268-4197 – Library
(403) 268-4204 – Archives

The City of Calgary , Corporate Records, Archives is another important resources for the house history researcher. The Archives has a limited number of Henderson’s directories and a collection of fire insurance maps, as well as other resources. ... hives.aspx

City of Calgary , Corporate Records, Archives
313 7th Avenue SE
Main Floor

(403) 268-8180
Mailing Address: Mail Code #8007, P.O. Box 2100, Station M, Calgary, Alberta T2P 2M5

The University of Calgary has a collection of air photos dating back to 1924. Some of these have been digitized. They also have a collection of about 200,000 map sheets.

Select Bibliography

Architecture - Canada

Ennals, Peter. Homeplace : the making of the Canadian dwelling over three centuries. Toronto : University of Toronto Press, 1998. Call number 728.0971 ENN

Gowans, Alan. The comfortable house: North American suburban architecture, 1890-1930. Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press, 1986. Call number 728.37 GOW

Gowans, Alan. Looking at architecture in Canada. Toronto: Oxford UP, 1958. Call number 720.971 GOW

Kalman, Harold. A concise history of Canadian architecture. Don Mills : Oxford UP, 2000. Call number 720.971 KAL 2000

Kalman, Harold. A history of Canadian architecture, [volumes 1 and 2] Toronto: Oxford UP, 1994. Call number 720.971 KAL v. 1 and 720.971 KAL v. 2

Livesay, Graham. Twelve modern houses, 1945-1985 : from the collections of the Canadian Architectural Archives. Calgary : Aris Press, 1995. Call number 728.0971 LIV

Maitland, Leslie. The Queen Anne revival style in Canadian architecture. Ottawa : National Historic Parks and Sites, Parks Service, Environment Canada, 1990. Call number 720.971 MAI

Ricketts, Shannon. A guide to Canadian architectural styles. Peterborough, Ont.: Broadview Press, 2003. Call number 720.971 RIC 2004

Architecture – Calgary

Boddy, Trevor. Modern architecture in Alberta. Edmonton : Alberta Culture and Multiculturalism; Canadian Plains Research Centre, 1987. Call number 720.97123 BOD

Calgary : a decade of heritage. Calgary : Information Centre, Planning and Building Dept., 1988 Call number 720.288 CAL

Calgary modern 1947-1967 / edited by Geoffrey Simmins. Calgary: Nickle Arts Museum, 2000. Call number 720.9712338 CAL

Cuniffe, Richard. Calgary in sandstone. Calgary : Historical Society of Alberta, Calgary Branch, 1969. Call number 971.2338 CUN

Guimond, Pierre S. Calgary architecture : the boom years, 1972-1982. Calgary : Detselig Enterprises, 1984. Call number 720.971233 GUI

Judd, Hilda. House research : the architects, 1910-1922. Calgary : the author, 1995 Call number 720.9712338 JUD

McGinnis, Janice P. Dickin. Reports on selected buildings in Calgary, Alberta. Ottawa : Parks Canada, 1976. Call number 971.2338 MCG

Melnyk, Bryan Peter. Calgary builds : the emergence of an urban landscape, 1905-1914. Edmonton : Alberta Culture; Canadian Plains Research Centre, 1985. Call number 720.971233 MEL

Practice of architecture and construction in Calgary, 1900-1940 : a general compilation of research material to establish architects and designers…/ prepared by Lorne G. Simpson and Marianne L. Fedori. Calgary: Simpson and Fedori, 1995. Call number 720.9712338 PRA

Soby, Trudy. Be it ever so humble. Calgary: Century Calgary Publications, 1975. Call number 971.2338 SOB

Soby, Trudy. A walk through old Calgary. Calgary: Century Calgary Publications, 1975. Call number 971.2338 SOB

Stamp, Robert. Suburban modern: postwar dreams in Calgary. Calgary: Touchwood Editions, 2004. Call number 306.097123 STA.

Treacy, Robert M. Sandstone, brick and wood : a collection of Calgary pioneer homes and histories. [Calgary : Lawson Graphics) 1975. Call number 971.2338 TRE

Utas, Gregory P. Calgary architecture, 1875 –1915 [microfiche] Ottawa : National Library of Canada, 1984. Call number MICRO FICHE A 1400

Wetherell, Donald Grant. Homes in Alberta : buildings, trends and design 1870-1967. Edmonton : University of Alberta Press, 1991. Call number 728.097123 WET

White, Anthony G. Architecture of Calgary, Alberta, Canada : a selected bibliography. Monticello, Ill. : Vance Bibliographies, 1987. Call number PAM FILE 720.16 WHI (Local History) or R 720.16 WHI (Arts)

House research

Badone, Donalda. The complete house detective : an Ontario house and its history. Erin, Ont.: Boston Mills Press, 1988. Call number PAM FILE 728.097123 BAD

Carter, Margaret. Researching heritage buildings. Ottawa : Parks Canada, 1983. Call number 363.69 CAR

Houses and homes : exploring their history / Barbara J. Howe [et al.] Nashville : American Association for State and Local History, 1987. Call number 907.2 HOU

Light, Sally. House histories : a guide to tracing the genealogy of your home. Spencertown, NY : Golden Hill Press, 1989. Call number 728 LIG

Conservation and restoration

Building façade rehabilitation guidelines/ Medicine Hat DBRZ Revitalization Project, 1988. Call number 720.288 BUI

Dictionary of building preservation edited by Ward Bucher. New York: Preservation Press, 1996. Call number R 720.3 DIC

Fram, Mark. Well-preserved: the Ontario Heritage Foundation’s manual of principles and practice for architectural conservation, 3rd edition. Erin, Ont. : Boston Mills Press, 2003. Call number 720.288 FRA

Hearn, John. Restoring Canadian homes: a sourcebook of supplies and services. Markham, Ont.: Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 1986. Call number 728.3 HEA

Jukes, Mary. New life in old houses. Toronto: Longman’s, 1966. Call number 728.0288 JUN

Tyler, Norman. Historic preservation: an introduction to its history, principles and practice. New York: Norton, 2000. Call number 720.288 TYL

Plan books and catalogue houses

Book of homes and farm buildings. Lethbridge [?] Citizens Lumber, 191? Call number PAM FILE 728.37 BOO

Henry, J.L. Catalogue homes : Eaton’s and others. Saskatoon: Henry Perspectives, 2000. Call number 728.609712 HEN

Homes of comfort and other building suggestions/ Winnipeg: Western Retail Lumberman’s Association, 1935. Call number PAM FILE 728.37 HOM

T.Eaton Company. Plan book of ideal homes: homes designed for the West. Winnipeg: T.Eaton Co., Call number PAM FILE 728.37 TEA

Sears, Roebuck and Co. Sears, Roebuck home builder’s catalog: the complete illustrated 1910 edition. New York: Dover Publications, 1910, 1990. Call number 728.0973 SEA

Web resources

A guide to researching building history
A detailed guide to finding information about historical buildings from the City of Calgary Archives ... _FINAL.PDF

“The "Inventory of Potential Heritage Sites" is a list of sites that have been evaluated by the Calgary Heritage Authority according to the Council-approved Heritage Evaluation Procedure, on the basis of their historical, architectural, and contextual significance. Preservation of these sites is considered to be to the greater benefit of Calgarians.” ... lgary.aspx

Alberta Heritage Digitization Project
Digitized copies of local histories and newspapers

Canadian Architectural Archives
Collection of the work of twentieth-century Canadian architects at the University of Calgary
Bob van Wegen
Posts: 148
Joined: Sun Oct 09, 2005 12:02 pm

Postby newsposter » Fri Dec 23, 2011 6:24 pm

New information updated at this link, December 2011: ... =3054#3054
Posts: 1964
Joined: Sun Nov 06, 2005 11:13 am

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