. calgary labour temple


1912

229 11 Avenue SE

Realizing the necessity of the need for a central meeting place, the trade unionists in Calgary organized the Calgary Labour Temple Company in 1912 to erect a suitable labour building.  With a capitalization of $75,000.00, the group erected what was hoped to be a temporary hall on Eleventh Avenue between First and Second Street East.  The hall became the centre of union activity in the City, and the home of the Calgary Trades and Labour Council, first formulated in 1905.

Initially a one storey building, it was not until 1954 that the form of the present day structure came into being.  Although expansion plans were considered as early as 1931, when architects Fordyce and Stevenson were commissioned to remodel the structure, attempts were repeatedly interrupted by economic downturns and the Second World War.  A simple rectangular building, the structure is distinguished by façade brickwork that gives the impression of arches over the entrance and first storey windows.  The 1954 second storey addition and 1959 rear addition, complement the original design elements of the temple.  Tradesmen gave their free time to construct the early building, as well as the additions.

The building has made a significant contribution to Calgary’s history.  The Calgary Trade and Labour Council was initially supported by forty trade unions.  By 1950, the organization grew to represent over sixty unions, and had a membership affiliation of 5000, making it the largest and most influential community organization in the City.  Throughout the years, the building was used for many labour negotiations and events.  These include the 1914 meeting of the Grand Union of Canada – Brotherhood of Locomotive engineers, the 12th Annual Convention of the Alberta Federation of Labour, and the 1946 convention of the Labour Council of Canada.  In 1932, the founding members of the C.C.F. met here to negotiate a merger of the farm, labour and socialist parties.  The building is associated with important labour personalities such as Sam Sligo, J.W. Burrows, Alex Ross and Harry Pryde.  The building was rehabilitated in the early 1980s, and now serves as office space for a variety of merchandisers.

 

(Calgary Heritage Authority, Building Summary 02-111)

 

 

In 1912, a group of trade unionists in Calgary formed the Calgary Labor Temple Company Ltd. to build and operate a union hall.  Initially built as a single-story “temporary” brick building, the Calgary Labor Temple suffered financial difficulties in its early years.  It served as the long-term home of the Calgary Trades and Labour Council, which eventually represented more than sixty unions.  The platform of the new Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (a federal party, later reorganized as the New Democratic Party) was developed in the Calgary Labor Temple in the summer of 1932.

The Great Depression and World War II delayed execution of an expansion plan designed in 1931 by architects Fordyce and Stevenson.  It was finally completed with a second-story addition in 1954 and a rear addition in 1958.  In the 1980s, the company was dissolved and the building sold for commercial use.  It was renamed the Calgary Merchandise Mart, later renamed the Flamingo Block after a longtime occupant, the Flamingo Palace Restaurant.

(Historic Walks of Calgary, Harry Sanders, 2005, Red Deer: Red Deer Press, pp.309-310)

 

Subtle renovation work done to this buidling over the years has allowed the Calgary Labour Temple building (now known as the Flamengo) to be functional historical resource.

 

 

The Calgary Labour Temple building before the latest round of renovations shows a very minimal brick facade.

 

 

 

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