Telephone Substation


1010 14 Avenue SW

This substation is one of many built to house automatic exchanges for the rapidly expanding telephone system.  Like its Inglewood twin at 1311 – 9 Ave SE. this building is constructed on the “Thermos Bottle” principle.  Inside the outer walls of brick is a second shell of brick and concrete to protect the delicate equipment from fire and dampness and to maintain a constant operating temperature.

The Alberta government Telephone (A.G.T.) Co. erected this substation in 1910 to relieve congestion at the central station caused by rapid west-end expansion. It was known as the “West End telephone substation”.

It was specially designed by the Alberta Department of Public Works Architectural Branch to house the sophisticated electrical equipment of a telephone switchboard.  Inside the outer, brick wall, and separated from it by an 18” air space, is an inner shell of brick and reinforced concrete.  The double wall construction protects the interior and its delicate equipment from temperature variations, dampness and fire - essentially working as a large thermos to protect the building.

The West End Substation was last used by Alberta Government Telephones in 1933. From1939-2002 the American Women’s Club used the building as their club house. The American Women’s Club was essentially a club for expat wives of American Oil men in Calgary. They would meet here to socialize and play cribbage. The Calgary Boy’s choir began meeting in the building here in 1982. The building is now primarily used as an office for a youth legal aid society.

The rectangular gable-roofed building exhibits very good simple classical details. The facade has a central recessed doorway surrounded by a round-headed arch, and flanked by two rectangular windows. Brickwork at the edge of the façade is articulated as to simulate quoins; while the brickwork at the sides simulates dentils.  The double wall construction is unique in the city, with an outer brick wall and an inner shell of brick and reinforced concrete.  

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Telephone Substation front

Telephone Substation front   Telephone Substation side


Telephone Substation back