Historic Calgarywww.glenbow.org  

Originally known as "The CPR Subdivision" because the Canadian Pacific Railway owned the land, or as "American Hill" because of all of the American entrepreneurs who lived there, the community of Mount Royal is recognized today as one of the city's most prestigious residential districts.

The Eugene Coste residence is an example of the grand homes built in Mount Royal. NA-1735-1

In 1885 the Canadian Pacific Railway received patent to three-quarters of Section 9 which includes today's community. At the time, it was outside Calgary's municipal boundaries and, since immigration was slow and Calgary remained a small town, the land remained treeless prairie for 20 years.

In 1905 a plan was submitted for the development of the area. During this period, city planning in North America was dominated by the "city beautiful" movement, which emphasized large, treed residential lots, open space for parks, and graceful curved streets that followed natural contours. Since both the City of Calgary and the Canadian Pacific Railway were interested in making the community more attractive to prospective settlers - especially wealthy ones - these principles were incorporated into the design of the community. The concept proved successful and, as Calgary enjoyed a building boom, many large and beautiful homes were built by real estate agents, financial experts, lawyers and, of course, CPR officials. Possibly in an effort to emphasize the allegiance that this group felt to Canada and the British Empire, it was at this time that the district was formally named "Mount Royal," after the community in Montreal that was the home of CPR President William Van Horne.

This photograph showcases the city beautiful movement in Mount Royal. NA-1044-1

Just as the building boom ended in 1914, the oil industry emerged, and many of the homes were sold to presidents of small independent oil companies or financial brokers. This group felt the full effects of the Depression in the early 1930s and were forced to sell their homes. Many of the houses were taken over by groups and used for other purposes, such as apartments and medical facilities. After the discovery of oil at Leduc in 1947, the oil industry was revived and another well-to-do professional class emerged. Today, the district has regained its exclusive residential character.

Mount Royal residences in 1911. NA-2022-2      Mount Royal residences in 1996. P-4781-26
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