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Calgary, CA
August 23, 2019

Stephen Avenue Then and Now

See how a century of development has led to modern day 8th Avenue.

 

Photo by Andrew Guilbert; Postcard courtesy of Calgary Public Library

An undated postcard, probably depicting the street in the 1940s or 50s, juxtaposed with modern day Stephen Avenue shows how much the street has changed.

Named after George Stephen, the first president of the Canadian Pacific Railway, Stephen Avenue is one of the few streets in the city that retains its pre-numericization name and enjoys a concentration of historic buildings like no other street in the city.

Stephen Avenue itself is designated a Canadian Historic Site and with good reason. The buildings are fine examples Victorian and Art-Deco architecture popular in the early days of Calgary’s development. From the late 1880s to the early 1930s, business owners raced to build on the street, which features prominently in the early history of Calgary as the major thoroughfare for anyone looking to set up shop, featuring companies like the Hudson’s Bay and Smithbilt Hats as well as several prominent banks.

While much of the block has made way for the future, notably the large eastern sections of the avenue where the Victoria block once stood which were transformed into the buildings like the Glenbow Museum, many structures from the early days still stand, like Thomson Block, the Doll Block and the Imperial Bank of Canada building.

Photo by Andrew Guilbert; Postcard courtesy of Calgary Public Library

The view of Stephen Avenue looking east from 2 Street S.W.

Photo by Andrew Guilbert; Postcard courtesy of Calgary Public Library

The view of Stephen Avenue looking west from 1 Street S.W. with a photograph of a parade from the early 1900s.

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