Storied City: Early Calgary through the Eyes of Writers
January 30 – October 18, 2020 – EXTENDED
“(Calgary) was three times as complex, interesting and alive as I could portray it on paper.” – author Isabel Paterson
This exhibit imagines a fictitious 1923 dinner party in which 12 real writers (Maxwell Bates, Elaine Catley, Bob Edwards, Chief Buffalo Child Long Lance, Nellie McClung, P.K. Page, Isabel Paterson, Winnifred Eaton Reeve, Laura Goodman Salverson, Robert J.C. Stead, Arthur Stringer and Flos Jewell Williams) gather at Lougheed House, a home where Calgary culture was often celebrated and fostered via parties, performances and salons hosted by James and Isabella Lougheed who built this House in 1891.
“Stories are powerful stuff. When we look at our city through writers’ eyes, we see details that are both familiar and surprising. These 12 writers of early Calgary not only bring the past alive, they invite us to think about the city’s identity and deepen our connection to this complex and storied place.” – Shaun Hunter
Through the imagined party, visitors to Lougheed House explore our city’s enchanting but largely unknown literary heritage via this group of colourful writers who mined Calgary as our post-WWI community faced an uncertain future. The writers’ fiction, poems and essays revealed the hidden intimacies of the city they helped create and chronicle.
The exhibit includes literary works, photographs, biographies, literary excerpts, National Film Board videos, an annotated literary map of 1920’s Calgary, artifacts (including a framed broadsheet of E. Pauline Johnson’s poem Calgary of the Plains), ephemera about writing and the writing life (including a 1920’s typewriter), and an interactive soundscape of contemporary Calgary authors and storytellers reading historic writers’ works. The contemporary readers whose voices you will hear on the audio excerpts are: Juleta Severson-Baker, Will Ferguson, Rosemary Griebel, Karen Gummo, Lori Hahnel, Aritha van Herk, Betty Hersberger, Barb Howard, Dale Lee Kwong, Taylor Lambert, Kirk Miles and Fred Stenson.
An excerpt from our Storied City soundscape. Winnifred Eaton Reeve’s novel Cattle (1922) read by Dale Lee Kwong.