From the Historian

As I’ve been working in the archives and reading about the history of CWLC, I’ve often wondered where our early club members obtained their books.  Did they have personal libraries?  Were they ordered by mail?  Were there bookstores in Calgary in 1906? 

I read (again) the minutes of the first meeting, 1906 February 9:   “The 1st Vice President [Mrs MacDonald] was instructed to make arrangements with Osborne Bros Booksellers for the procuring of books.” 

Later, in the minutes of the first meeting in 1909, October 9:   “The question of books for the club was brought up….It was decided that each one should get hers at DJ [or PJ] Young’s bookstore.”

Who would know more about bookstores in Calgary in 1906?  Shaun Hunter, of course.   In her essay entitled “Seeds of Calgary’s Early Literary Culture” on the Chinook Country Historical Society website, she writes:   

Bookstores on 8th Avenue like Linton’s, Mackie’s and Osborne’s vied to satisfy Calgarians’ thirst for newspapers, magazines, books and educational texts. Citizens had their own private libraries, perhaps the most impressive being James and Isabella Lougheed’s, a collection said to have included 10,000 books.

Newspapers like the Weekly Herald, the Morning Albertan and the Eye Opener would have noted the progress of the city’s new public library in the final stages of construction in Central Memorial Park. The project was spearheaded not by city politicians, but by a group of avid readers: members of the Calgary Literary Women’s Club established in 1906. When the library opened in January 1912, chief librarian Alexander Calhoun noted that ‘the cupboard was bare in a few days.’ Over the decades, this jewel of a library would become a mecca for aspiring and established writers.

S. Hunter, Seeds of Calgary’s Early Literature on Chinook Country Historical Society blog, 20/11/2018

Mackies Bookstore: Located on north side of Stephen Avenue in Thompson block (112A – 8th Avenue East). Shop also contained gunsmith business started in 1886 in partnership with Walter Grant Mackay. Bookstore begun in 1901; J. S Mackie was mayor of Calgary from 1901-1903. Image sourced from the Glenbow Archives.

Shaun Hunter spoke at our AGM (via Zoom) in 2021.  She is the author of Calgary Through the Eyes of Writers and generously donated a copy of her book as the draw prize. More about Ms. Hunter and her work on literature and history can be found at

Sandra E. (CWLC Historian)

Interested in a club that celebrates Calgary’s history and future? Click here for more information.

Writers of 1920’s Calgary: Join online, July 29

Shaun Hunter, Calgary Public Library’s Historian in Residence, is presenting a talk on July 29. You need only your Library Card to register.

Don’t miss reading Shaun’s article BY CLICKING HERE. Especially interesting is a literary map, where you can find photos and stories for each site.

May I suggest finding a comfortable lawn chair, a shady spot and something cool to sip, as you settle in?

Lady Lougheed’s Literary Luncheon

CLICK HERE for Bill Brooks’ enthusiastic article about this fundraising event for the Lougheed House in September. The keynote speech was by author Shaun Hunter, who highlighted three women authors in Calgary’s past.

Although we missed this luncheon, the Lougheed House, with Shaun Hunter (author of Calgary Through the Eyes of Writers,) will host a 2020 exhibition beginning January 23 called Literati: Calgary’s Early Writers.

Mark your new calendars!

Stephen Avenue Through the Eyes of Writers

Join a literary walk during Historic Calgary Week with author/reader, Shaun Hunter.

“Explore one of the city’s most storied streets, and meet a few of Calgary’s literary personalities — from the first chapters of the city’s literature through to the present.”

Stephen Avenue Through the Eyes of Writers
Wednesday, August 1st
7:00 – 8:30 pm
Meet at Olympic Plaza, beside the statues of the Famous Five (Women are Persons!)

Below, a teaser:

Reading Calgary: How 12 authors have captured our city’s character

Janet H

Click here for complete information on Historic Calgary Week



Marda Loop Fireside Chat Feb 8

Is this serendipity, or what?

Having just discovered Shaun Hunter’s blog on Calgary through writers’ eyes, Carol Blyth shared this event with local authors Sharon Butala, Brian Brennan and Ruth Scalp Lock, to be moderated by Shaun Hunter on February 8.

Full disclosure: I know Shaun and she is worth meeting in her own right! Janet Halls

To check out this opportunity, click here! Marda Loop Fireside Chat Feb 8