. eagle block

1908

1209 1 Street SW

This unassuming building sits tucked away on 1st street, now almost forgotten. But this location has long been regarded as a hotbed of culture in the Beltline. It began as the meeting hall of the Fraternal Order of Eagles, and eventually became the Night Gallery, one of Calgary’s premier independent live music venues.

Early Days: The Eagles Nest

The building was built in 1908 as the home of the Fraternal Order of Eagles. Pictures of the era show the Eagle motif atop the cornice, which designated this as an Eagles Hall.


The Fraternal Order of Eagles was founded in February 6th, 1898 by six theater owners sitting on a pile of lumber in Moran’s shipyard in Seattle Washington. As competitors in the theater industry, they met to discuss a musicians strike. After deciding what to do on that issue, they decided to bury the hatchet and form an organization dubbed the “Seattle Order of Good Things”. A month later they renamed the group and asked its members to “make human life more desirable by lessening its ills and promoting peace, prosperity, gladness, and hope.” They adopted the eagle as their inspiration and their motto became “If I cannot speak well of an Eagle, I will not speak ill of him.”

In its earliest days the F.O.E. was closely connected with the theatre and made up of many actors, stagehands, and playwrights. This allowed the FOE to travel far and wide and fast, as the performers travelled across North America. Within ten years the Eagles had 1,800 lodges scattered throughout the United States, Canada, and Mexico, boasting a membership roll that exceeded 350,000.  Members received free medical attention (as did the individual’s family), weekly payments in case of sickness, and a funeral benefit—all valuable services before the widespread availability of medical, disability, and life insurance.

Fraternal Order of Eagles stated mission was to unite fraternally for mutual benefit, protection, improvement, social enjoyment and association, all persons of good moral character who believe in a Supreme Being to inculcate the principles of liberty, truth, justice and equality. They became well known for their promotion of the adoption of advanced social legislation like workman’s compensation, mothers pensions, the 8 hour workday, old age pension, and the Social Security Act in the USA. They swore by the precept that"

Although the world may scoff and jest,
A life of Service is the best;
And happiness will always be
To him who serves humanity.

The fraternity is divided into chapters called “Aeries”. In 1927, Aerie 2098 was formed and still exists in Calgary today (it is currently located at 9303 5th St SE).

Like many fraternal societies of the time, they would often rent out the ground floor to businesses to raise funds. The buildings first business was the “Farmer Meat Market” downstairs, with the bakery of James A. Small in 1209A. In 1911, the bakery was replaced by Gaspard F. Olivier’s confection store. Olivier’s was then replaced by N. M. Trafton’s “Trafton’s Candy Mill” in 1913. By 1915 the building was the home of the J.A. Mason Dancing Academy.

 

 

The 1980's Punk Venue 

From 1975-1980 the building became home to a club called Clouds ’n’ Water. In the 1980’s it became the residence of a punk band called the “Golden Calgarians”. A member of the band, Dino, actually lived there and the building became a semi-private gig space known as the Off Centre Centre from 1980-87. During this time, the space was the centre for all things punk in the city.

 

 

In 1987 it became The New Gallery although, it was better known by its other name, the Night Gallery. has hosted over 1,000 local and international artists looking for a place to see and exhibit alternative practices and forms of art and performative activities.

While the upstairs was host to Calgary’s Punk and Indie music scene, the downstairs was the location of the poorly named B&E Grocery and Van Gogh’s Restaurant. The building is now home to Forbidden Clothing on the street level, and the Endeavor Art Space on the upper level.


 

 

References:

Aubrey McInnis (2000) FFWD Weekly: “Street Sounds”.

Alberta Community Development, Provincial Historical Resources Inventory Site Form

Calgary Heritage Initiative

“Fraternal Order of Eagles” Phoenix Masonry Masonic Museum.

John Potter, Aerie 2098 of the Fraternal Order of Eagles

“The History of Ten Foot Henry”, High Performance Rodeo Blog.

William J. Whalen, (1966) “Handbook of Secret Organizations”, Milwaukie: Bruce Publishing Company.

 

 

. to offer comments, corrections, or improvements to this article, email:  heritage@beltline.ca

10 Foot Henry Apart from it’s many eclectic decorations, the Night Gallery also became the home of “10 foot Henry”. 10-ft Henry was a 10 foot tall plywood reproduction of a 1930’s cartoon character who never spoke out loud. Blake Brooker created it so he could put out personal messages to passing cars from his home near the Stampede grounds, like 'Depressing, isn't it?' for all the passing commuters.In 1983, Henry was put into a punk rock club/poetry space/experimental theatre space called 10 ft Henry’s. When the club closed in 1986 Henry moved back to a private residence, and then into the Night Gallery in 1987 where his  thoughts continued to amuse Calgarians.

The legacy of 10 ft Henry continues with 10 foot Henry now posted outside the Big Secret Theatre.