At first glance, the southeast communities of Ramsay and Ogden may seem as though they have nothing in common. Ramsay is an up-and-coming, inner-city, hipster hangout, while Ogden conjures images of a more family-centric, suburban lifestyle. However, these communities are threaded together by a common denominator that weaves through the city’s landscape and is steeped in rich history – the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR).
Ramsay’s founder and developer, Wesley Fletcher Orr – Calgary’s first mayor and an editor of the Calgary Herald – initially bought land south and east of Fort Calgary in 1883, hedging bets based on the rumour that the CPR station would be at Fort Calgary. But when the railway arrived, the new station was built farther west, in the centre of what is now the downtown core. Ramsay’s development stalled and didn’t really ignite again until the next century, when it first gained the Ramsay moniker in the 1950s.
Nevertheless, Ramsay feels the CPR’s strong presence, as the tracks wind eastward across the river, carving through the southern edge of the community and drawing a zipper-like boundary from the area’s high-profile neighbour, Inglewood.
Meanwhile, several kilometres to the south and east, those same tracks meander across the Bow River and Deerfoot Trail, landing in the historic Ogden Shops in the community of Ogden. The massive site sits on 64 hectares of land and was built in 1912 as the western Canadian repair facility for the CPR, employing close to 1,400 men during its heyday. Those same shops are now the head office campus for the CPR, with renovations to the old structures and a 600-stall parking lot replacing the old locomotive shop.
In addition to their long histories with the CPR, these two communities also share fantastic views of the downtown skyline. Ramsay’s is up close and personal, with the Saddledome in the foreground (think Scotsman’s Hill), while Ogden’s is more impressionistic. At night, from the ridge in Ogden’s Lynnwood district, the lights from the city’s downtown skyline sparkle like colourful jewels in the distance.
“I love looking out my window and seeing that,” said Lynnwood resident Jackie Bernard. Her home sits on the ridge across from a park that descends to the river and is connected to the city’s bike pathway system.
Bernard enjoys the area’s quiet appeal, abundance of green space and easy access to major arteries. “I can be downtown in 20 minutes on the Deerfoot, and now, with the new Green line coming to Quarry Park, taking the train will be so easy,” she said.
The community is lined with mid-century and ’70s-type bungalows.
In Ramsay, homes from the turn of the 20th Century are being torn down and replaced with sleek, three-storey, contemporary designs with rooftop decks to capture the views. It’s a small community in transition, with almost half of its 2,100 residents renting their homes.
Janet Marvin has lived in the neighbourhood for a few years, attracted by its location near both downtown and Inglewood. “I can walk downtown. Plus, there are so many great places close by, like the Crossroads Market. It’s an awesome place to spend Saturday morning,” she said, adding that her favourite breakfast place is Red’s, the latest addition to Ramsay’s streetscape.