Calgary Then and Now: 17th Avenue S.W. in 1957

Find out which intersection was the site of a deadly streetcar crash.



 

When Calgary was incorporated as a town in 1884, the intersection of 17th Avenue and 14th Street formed its southwestern boundary. The city has since expanded well beyond that, and the stretch of 17th between Stampede Park in the east and 14 Street in the west is now a hotspot for shopping, restaurants and nightlife. It infamously earned the nickname “the Red Mile” during the Calgary Flames’ 2004 playoff run, when exuberant hockey fans would pack the streets by the tens of thousands after each victory.

For the first half of the 20th century, Calgary’s public transit system was based on streetcars, and one of the routes went down 17th Avenue. The intersection made headlines on December 15, 1919, when a streetcar heading north down the 14th Street hill came off the icy tracks and slammed into Crook’s Drugstore on its northeast corner. The crash killed passenger Robert Dougherty McWilliams, a letter carrier who had recently returned from service in the First World War, and seriously injured 13 others.

This shot in front of what is now Long’s Chinese Food, just west of 14th Street, also shows off some of the classic cars of the 1950s, like the two 1957 Pontiacs on the far right and left sides of the picture, and the 1957 Mercury driving away.

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