1421 2 ½ Street NW
(also known as 2A Street NW)
This house was constructed in 1910 in the former Village of Crescent Heights. Calgary at the time was a small but rapidly expanding city on the other side of the river bank. A few years later when the Village of Crescent Heights was annexed by the City, Calgary counted only about 43,000 inhabitants.
The first occupants were the Jipps family who had arrived in about 1906 from Queensferry, Scottland. The patriarch, Charles Henry Jipps was a mason by trade and born April 3, 1872. His wife was named Ellen and born about 1871. His, teenaged son Alexander Black was born October 31, 1893 and a teamster by trade ( hose team driver ). Charles Henry most probably had been attracted by the rapidly-growing city that offered employment for a mason. He would have been involved in building some of the brick buildings that made up the downtown core and maybe some of the school and municipal buildings in this neighbourhood.
On December 31, 1914 Alexander Black enlisted in the 50th Royal Canadian Infantry Battalion. On January 7, 1915 his father Charles Henry enlisted in the Canadian overseas Expedition Force and joined the 38th Infantry Battalion. Both eventually fought during WWI in France. Sadly during their absence Ellen Jipps died in Calgary in 1917. Both men survived the war, but it is unknown if father and son returned to Canada or stayed behind in Scotland or England as some soldiers did. One thing is for sure, at the end of the war and after the death of Ellen the main occupant changed.
During the 1916 Federal Census, 5 other occupants were listed at this address beside the Jipps family: Alex Stewart (policeman, Irish, age 33), Ellen Beauchamp (nurse, English, age 34), A. Michalson (soldier, Scottish, age 25), Augustus Hulth (soldier, Irish, age 28) and Fred Ward (soldier, Irish, age 33). Since bot Henry and Alexander were actually at war but still listed as occupants, it is also possible that the three soldiers did not live here at the time but rather called this their permanent address. Ellen most likely took on boarders to help her income while the men of the family were at war.
Most probably the nurse and the policeman occupied each, one of the two separate basement suites that were in existence until a remodel in the late 1990s. The soldiers may have called the 3rd floor loft their home when or if they were in Calgary. The loft to this day has a private lockable door and water supply.