219 17 Avenue SW

Photo courtesy of City of Calgary.
Photo courtesy of City of Calgary.

Mission-Cliff Bungalow Francophone Century Homes

The area currently known as Mission, was first settled by the Oblate missionaries who were also the first non-natives to live permanently in Calgary. It was the vision of Father Lacombe to create a permanent French-Canadian settlement, complete with church, school, convent, community hall and hospital “surrounded by the homes of the French speaking faithful” (his description of the residential subdivision). Some families moved from Québec, and “Cheminots”, railway labourers from Québec, came west in 1883-84 to work on the westward construction of the C.P.R. line. Most of the French-speaking immigrants settled here, in what was later to become Rouleauville, and is now known as Mission.

Many of the residents who settled in the community founded, fostered or lobbied for francophone cultural and economic services for the citizens of Southern Alberta. In 1884, almost immediately after Father Lacombe obtained their land grant, the Oblate fathers had their land surveyed into residential streets and lots, and sold the lots for $60, $100 for corner lots. They began recruiting colonists in 1887, often from Quebec. The street names depicted the French and Catholic origins of the area (Notre Dame, Doucet, Rouleau, St. Joseph, etc.). A small residential community developed along Seventeenth and Eighteenth Avenues by the 1890s and a few blocks of land which were acquired by speculators.

Costigan House                  219 17th Ave. SW   1893

The Costigan residence was built in 1893 by the Costigan family, devoted Catholics who built their home as close as possible to the mission while remaining in a fashionable area within Calgary’s town limits. John Ryan Costigan was one of the city’s earliest crown prosecutors. Costigan, together with another Catholic Anglophone, Mr. Reilly, took the side of the Francophones during a heated public meeting in Calgary in 1890. The home was moved across the street in 1928 to make way for an early Calgary gas station. Sam Steele also lived in this home.