When it comes to celebrating and honouring its history, Calgary often gets a bad rap. However, one thing Calgary does well is recognize its military history and the many contributions veterans have made to our society. Several areas throughout the city have become important places where those contributions are highlighted.
Recently, the first Homes for Heroes Foundation tiny home village, a housing initiative for homeless Canadian Forces veterans, was launched in Calgary. 908 ATCO Village in Forest Lawn features 15 tiny homes, plus a resource centre, counsellor’s office, family suite and community gardens.
“Our history in Calgary is still quite young. In many ways, I think we’re still making our history,” said Richard White, who writes about the urban landscape in his regular blog The Everyday Tourist.
“It is amazing to me, with the Military Museums and Currie, that area has its own sort of history, and I think you want to celebrate local history as much as you can. I think one of the differentiators for any city is to have a sense of its own place . . . There’s a lot of criticism that all our suburbs are beige, and they all look the same.”
“Calgary gets a bad name for not preserving its history, but in fact, if you look in more detail, Calgary has celebrated a lot of history in various ways.” – Richard White, The Everyday Tourist
The redeveloped Currie community in southwest Calgary – built on former Canadian Forces Base Calgary lands – will eventually have 12,000 residents. The development is recognizing its past through a few key features, such as its Valour Park and Victoria Cross Boulevard.
Valour Park features small, engineered bridges reminiscent of the ones Canadian veterans would have used to cross bodies of water during ground warfare.
Meanwhile, the Victoria Cross Boulevard park space is lined with plaques commemorating members of the Armed Forces who received a Victoria Cross.
Of course, one of Calgary’s most striking sites of military remembrance is Memorial Drive – the tree-lined major roadway that serves as a living testament to the many soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice during wartime.
That year-round commemoration is complemented by the annual Field of Crosses memorial during the period around Remembrance Day. The display features more than 3,600 white crosses, each representing a fallen soldier from southern Alberta.
“Calgary gets a bad name for not preserving its history, but in fact, if you look in more detail, Calgary has celebrated a lot of history in various ways,” said White.
“War has probably one of the lasting impacts on a community . . . The military is front and centre. I don’t think that most Canadians would ever think of Calgary as a centre for military excellence or a centre for military training. But you look at all the projects that are out there . . . Calgary does seem to be very proud of the role it’s played in remembering the importance of the wars that were fought so that we could have our freedom.”