Accelerating Culture

“The Last Houses in Downtown Calgary”: Kelsy Norman’s Magnified Look at Downtown Calgary


Since its incorporation as a town in 1884, Calgary’s downtown has changed considerably – so much so that it is nearly unrecognizable when comparing photos from the past and present day. As commercial high-rises and condominiums appear all around the city center filling nearly every vacant space, the number of historical buildings – especially the residential units – are dwindling. The few, long-established homes still left in the downtown limits, bare a stark contrast among the modernity of most of the buildings in downtown. Yet despite this incongruity, these intriguing homes quite often go unnoticed.

Kelsy Norman, a Calgarian videographer, produced a YouTube video documenting what he refers to as “the last houses” in downtown Calgary. Norman artfully presents each structure and provides information on each home’s construction and history using Canada and Alberta census statistics and Calgary fire insurance plan maps.

The video features nine modest houses built between the late 1800’s and 1913. Although some homes have been refurbished to accommodate their new-found uses as retail spaces – mostly as jewelry stores – all houses featured in Norman’s video are similar in their minuscule size compared to the superior buildings surrounding them.

A well-crafted and enlightening piece of video journalism, Kelsy Norman opens the eyes of viewers to these often-missed pieces of downtown Calgary’s past, and highlights the immense changes and evolution of our downtown.




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