A snapshot of Calgary from days past came into focus today with the removal of a 110-year-old time capsule from under the cornerstone of Historic City Hall.
The time capsule was put in place on Sept. 15, 1908 at a point during construction when the cornerstone had to be laid. It is now, while the building is being rehabilitated, that The City decided to open the time capsule.
Time capsules usually have a date for opening, says Cassie Brannagan, Communications Analyst with The City. “This one didn’t. We looked through all the council minutes from 1908 and any documents from that time and couldn’t find one. It was decided that we would remove it now so that any contents, that are over a hundred years old, could be saved from further deterioration.”
In a newspaper article from 1908 that covered the ceremony, Mayor Arthur L. Cameron is quoted as saying, “Enterprise has made Calgary a commercial capital. Our citizens are building beautiful homes, both private and public institutions are erecting buildings of which any city might proud of, and I think I am safe in saying that you will take pride in this new building.”
For the 12,000 residents of Calgary in 1908, their city was 14 years old and was still a country community. The First World War was six years away, women would be able to vote provincially in eight years and the stock market crash that ushered in the Great Depression wouldn’t strike for 21 years.
In the words of Mayor Cameron, a burning question for years was whether Calgary should have a municipal building. “On becoming a greater Calgary, and with a rapidly growing population and general prosperity, the council of 1907 found that it was absolutely necessary to have proper accommodation to carry on our municipal government to advantage.”
The time capsule, a copper box, includes the 1907 City financial report, bylaws, the 1907 voters list, reports of the general hospital and school board, 1908 stamps, coins, names of members of the police and fire departments, copies of newspapers and reports from churches in the city.
This morning, Mayor Naheed Nenshi pulled the time capsule out of the cornerstone where it sat behind a sandstone cover. A conservator will now remove each of the 27 items and allow them to acclimatize to the room’s humidity level for several hours before examining them further and developing with a plan to preserve them.
With a nod to the future, The City will engage citizens in 2019 about what the contents of a new time capsule that will be placed within Historic City Hall should contain.
Full list of the time capsule’s contents:
1. New Testament
2. By-laws, City of Calgary
3. Financial Report, City of Calgary, 1907
4. Voters’ List, 1907
5. Report of the Board of Trade (the future Calgary Chamber of Commerce), 1907
6. Album of the Dominion Exhibition, held in Calgary in 1908 (and an inspiration to Guy Weadick (1885–1953), who performed at the event, to return and mount the Calgary Stampede in 1912)
7. Report of Grand Lodge of Masons of Alberta, 1908
8. Report of Grand Lodge of Oddfellows of Alberta, 1908
9. General Hospital report, 1907
10. Calgary School Board report, 1907
11. Tercentenary stamps, Canada, 1908
12. Coins, 50¢, 25¢, 10¢, 5¢, Dominion of Canada
13. Copy of history of Roman Catholic Church, Calgary, 1907
14. Medal of chairman of Police Department
15. Medal of city comptroller
16. Members of the Calgary Fire Department
17. Report of Knox Church, Calgary
18. Members of the Police Department
19. Proceedings of synod of Church of England for western Canada
20. Minutes of Alberta conference of Methodist church
21. Yearbook of the Central Methodist Church (later renamed Central United Church)
22. Report of Baptist church
23. Copy of Daily Herald
24. Copy of Morning Albertan
25. Copy of special edition of Albertan
26. Copy of Daily News
27. Copy of Eye Opener
Find more info about the rehabilitation of Historic City Hall at calgary.ca/historiccityhall