'Iconic' Calgary building carefully moved to make way for Eau Claire revamp

·2 min read
The building was moved early Thursday morning from the Eau Claire Plaza over to 381 Second Ave. S.W.    (Wade’s House Moving and Heavy Hauling Ltd. - image credit)
The building was moved early Thursday morning from the Eau Claire Plaza over to 381 Second Ave. S.W. (Wade’s House Moving and Heavy Hauling Ltd. - image credit)

A building that dates back to Calgary's early history has been temporarily moved from its original location to make way for a major revamp of the Eau Claire Plaza in the city's core.

The Eau Claire and Bow River Lumber Company building, constructed in 1903, was hoisted from its foundation, placed on five beams and moved early Thursday morning from 187 Barclay Parade S.W. to a temporary location close by at 381 Second Ave. S.W.

The city plans to move it to a new, more prominent spot on the plaza as the redevelopment nears completion.

The Eau Claire Plaza redesign includes site regrading to improve flood resiliency, a new Jaipur Bridge over the lagoon to Prince's Island Park as well as flood barrier construction and improvements to the river promenade.

"The move strengthens the building's heritage factor as it moves it closer to the central operational area of the Eau Claire and Bow River Lumber Co. The building's heritage will be tied more tightly to Eau Claire's history while making it more prominent and accessible to visitors," said Josh Traptow, executive director of Heritage Calgary, in a release.

A six-person crew from Wade's House Moving and Heavy Hauling Ltd. was contracted to move the 36-tonne structure.

"As the lumber mill is such an iconic part of Calgary's history, they were extra cautious to help maintain the historic integrity of the building," said company spokesperson Jaylene LaRose in an email.

The building was the second office constructed by the Eau Claire and Bow River Lumber Co., a firm founded in 1886 by lumber entrepreneurs from the town of Eau Claire in Wisconsin.

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

The company's mill operated for many years along the Bow River between Third and Fourth streets as the firm grew to be the biggest supplier of lumber in what was then the Northwest Territories, the city said in a release.

"The building has undergone some changes — the original flat roof has been raised to a cross-gable roof with dormers, and a full concrete basement has been developed — but the building retains its character as a small, wood-frame, commercial building of the beginning of the century," the release said.

The sawmill closed in 1945, and the lumber company gave up the building in 1951.

The 1886 Buffalo Cafe operated out of the building for about 40 years until its lease ended earlier this year.

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