Calgary's historic Eau Claire building set to become community hub

·2 min read
The building was moved in October 2021 from the Eau Claire Plaza. Plans are in the works to make it a community hub.   (Photo by Wade’s House Moving and Heavy Hauling Ltd. - image credit)
The building was moved in October 2021 from the Eau Claire Plaza. Plans are in the works to make it a community hub. (Photo by Wade’s House Moving and Heavy Hauling Ltd. - image credit)

There's new life on the horizon for the historic Eau Claire and Bow River Lumber Co. building.

It was moved from its original downtown location along Barclay Parade S.W. in October 2021 to make way for flood mitigation work in the area and has been sitting in a temporary location at a parking lot down the street.

Since the move, the city has been making sure the 119-year-old building is in good shape so it can stay standing for many years to come.

"It had a new foundation designed for the building at its temporary location, and all of those kind of structural elements were looked at and made safe," said Dennis Hoffart, project manager for the Eau Claire Plaza redesign.

"There was a little bit of carpentry work to reinforce the floor ... it was all brought up according [to] best practices for heritage preservation, and a lot of those character-defining elements were preserved and maintained."

Photo by Wade’s House Moving and Heavy Hauling Ltd.
Photo by Wade’s House Moving and Heavy Hauling Ltd.

The building was previously home to the 1886 Buffalo Cafe, which was forced to relocate so that construction in the area could happen and the building could be moved. However, the building will not remain closed off to the public for much longer.

"We're just in the final stages of negotiating a contract with one of our partners who will help us activate and program the building," Hoffart said.

"We're able to open the building up to support some of the community groups in the area, as well as provide a space for all Calgarians to enjoy some activity and programming."

There will be more information to come later in September, he added.

It was also important for the city to find a new purpose for the landmark.

"We know that when buildings are shuttered or mothballed, they tend to degrade pretty quickly. And so a goal for us was to keep it active and keep it conditioned," said Hoffart.

"A major program goal for the area for all the work we're completing in Eau Claire was to maintain that idea of vibrancy."

Glenbow Archives
Glenbow Archives

A newsletter posted in July by the Eau Claire Community Association included a call for organizations interested in establishing a neighbourhood hub, including plans for activities such as art installations, storytelling and markets.

The Eau Claire Community Association did not respond to CBC's request for comment.

Construction in the area is on track to finish in 2024, and at that time Hoffart said the building will be moved back to a permanent location near its original home.

"It would move back to Eau Claire Plaza in a location where it would provide prominence to the building and highlight its connection to the river and Prince's Island Park."