1703 26 Avenue Southeast, Calgary

Year of Construction: 1912

1703 was built in 1912. The first owners were the Arthur E. Riley family. Mr. Riley was an engineer with CP Rail. There were a lot of people living in these houses in the early days, often 2 families per home! A Riley grandson told me that during the 1930’s there were 2 grandparents, 2 parents and at least 3 children living here. I found a bank book in the wall during renovations. In 1927 Mr. Riley had $27 dollars in the bank. By 1931 there was less than a $1. In spite of lack of space or money, it seems that good times could be had. Everyone knew each other on the street (the same as today!) and there was a lot of activities. The bowling green was behind the house and there was also a bakery back there as well. The Riley grandson told me that he and a friend saw the fully loaded bakery wagon unattended. They jumped on and took the horse and wagon for a wild ride. By the time they were stopped all the baked goods were flung about inside the wagon. I can only imagine the punishment 1930’s boys got for this lapse of judgement!

In 1945 Jack and Maizie Roach purchased the house. Maizie was soon on her own and lived in the house until the early 1990’s. She was unable to care for the house and sold, dying soon after. The house was purchased by myself, Paul Mankelow shortly after and while I was happy to own a house with such a long history, I was initially disturbed by some unusual activities. Just one example was the “grey lady” who I could see walking back in forth in the dining room! Another was a hand placed on the top of your head that would push you down when you tried to get up off a chair. Eventually these disturbances disapeared. I spoke of one of Maizie’s relatives and when I told him what I had experienced he said that Maizie didn’t want to leave the house but had no choice because of her age and lack of income. I came to the conclusion that Maizie stayed on a for couple of years until she was truly ready to go.

The first time I saw the house it had a for sale sign on front of it. I looked in the windows and even though I was happy in my current home I knew that I had to own it. I consider this house a special one and I have tried to paint and primp it to show it as the special lady it is. This house and indeed, this street, is very special and I am happy to be a part of its history.