1340 16A Street Northwest, Calgary

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The Riley/Adams House

A building permit was issued for a brick residence valued at $4000.00 to be built at this location on June 10, 1912. The first resident was Edmund John Riley, the youngest son and 8th child of Thomas and Georgiana Jane Hounsfield Riley. Edmund came west with the Riley family about 1887. He married Amy Muriel Finch and they had two daughters. He was the treasurer and manager of Riley’s Ltd. Real Estate, Financial & Insurance Brokers.

About 1915 the family of Samuel Adams took up residence in this house. Sam Adams was born near Dundas, Ontario in 1878 and moved to Calgary in 1906. He articled in law and was called to the bar in 1909 working in the firm of Jones, Pescod and Adams. In 1910 he married Margaret Ross from Manitoba and they had four daughters.

He was elected an Alderman on Dec. 6, 1915 and served 5 consecutive terms on city council. During discussions for the building of the Centre St. bridge he suggested an underslung level crossing which would double the capacity of the bridge and allow easier access to Sunnyside. This idea was incorporated in the finished bridge.

Sam and CJ Ford pushed the proportional voting system or the single transferrable vote which was accepted and first used in the city election of 1917.

His record as an alderman was so distinguished that he was asked to run for mayor. He resigned as alderman Dec. 31, 1920 to run for mayor, won the election and took office in January of 1921. During his term as the 21st mayor (1912 – 23) Adams officially opened the Capitol and Palace theatres and gave the inaugural speech in Calgary’s first radio station, CHCB.

When the minister of the interior, Sir James Lougheed, found the original records of the naming of Calgary in the department records, he negotiated with Sam to keep photocopies in Ottawa and send the originals to Calgary.

In 1922, Adams planted the first of many trees along Memorial Drive in memory of the fallen soldiers of WW1. Also in 1922 he was part of another major event in Calgary – the agreement with the Imperial Oil Company to build a new refinery in the city.

During an unemployment crisis when Adams took a harsh attitude towards unemployed men he received a bomb threat. A week later Calgary Herald reporter Chief Buffalo Child Long Lance entered the mayor’s crowded office in disguise with a convincing phony bomb. The incident became national news and effectively ended Long Lance’s journalistic career.

Adams retired from city politics at the end of 1922 on the advice of his doctor and returned to his law practise.

He died Dec. 10, 1975 at the age of 97 and is buried in Union Cemetery.