Ranchmen's Club



710 13 Avenue SW 




Calgary's oldest and most prestigious social club has been the retreat of men of law, letters, and commerce since 1891. The present building, designed by Calgary architect R.E. McDonnell, was opened in 1914, extended in 1925, and rehabilitated in 1982. Countless events of historical significance have occurred here. Club members held a white tie dinner here in 1919 in honour of the visit of Edward, Prince of Wales. R.B. Bennett's ascendancy to the leadership of the Conservative Party was celebrated by a dinner in 1926. The three-storey, Renaissance Revival structure is brick clad with terra cotta string coursing, cornice, and window surrounds. It has excellent ornamental detail, most notably terra cotta relief panels depicting Western themes. The main facade features two protruding bays; similar bays are found on the south wall. The use of Renaissance sources appears to have been inspired by eastern clubs of the period and those in turn were derived from English models. The interior is suitably decorated with highly detailed woodwork. The club is highly visible for several blocks, and it forms a part of Calgary's most important historical groupings which includes the Lougheed House. In 1980, City Council approved an application to erect a 26-storey condominium tower next door to the club. (1982)


(Calgary Heritage Authority, Building Summary 05-122)


Calgary’s exclusive gentlemen’s club, with rules patterned after those of Montreal’s St. James Club, was established in 1892. The golden age of ranching in southern Alberta was then at its height, and prohibition had finally been repealed in the NWT. After a few years in rented quarters on Stephen Avenue, members built a wooden clubhouse on McIntyre Avenue (now 7th Avenue) in 1896 on the future site of the Bay Parkade (later renamed the Bow Parkade). During the pre-World War I boom, the club sold its downtown headquarters and, in 1914, built a lavish new clubhouse across 13th Avenue from the Lougheed mansion. Designed in Renaissance Revival style, the clubhouse boasted stained glass, oak paneling and western motifs carved in exterior terra cotta panels. Membership spanned the cream of male Calgary society, but excluded women as full members until 1993.

During a second round of prohibition, from 1916-24, the club could not provide alcohol but set aside a room for members to store their own bottles. A bed was placed in the room, in “compliance” with provincial rules that allowed consumption only in a room with a bed. Everyone knew that this was “Mr. Smith’s bedroom.”

In 1980, the Ranchmen’s Club was incorporated into an adjacent new condominium tower, and the club’s interior was gutted and reconstructed.


(Historic Walks of Calgary, Harry Sanders, 2005, Red Deer: Red Deer Press, pp.255-257)




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