|Doesn't it look grand?|
There is a surprising amount of history here ... just within the Collins Family.
For the years that I worked downtown, Sunnyside was the neighbourhood across the river that our original Adobe/EyeWire office looked out on. I had grown to admire a particular old building I could see that faced right onto the Bow River. It looked so stately with its brick solidness, stained glass, wrought-iron gated gardens and shiny metal roof. When walking through the neighbourhood to friends' places in the dark of the evening, I would make a point of trodding the sidewalk past the building and see the lovely built-in cabinets and ornate light fittings shining warmly through wavy, old-fashioned multi-paned windows.
When, in 2009, I noticed that a suite had come up for sale in the building, I quickly arranged to do a walk-through with a realtor. The place I looked at, Suite 2, had been kept in "close to original" condition. It reminded me of other "character" homes and buildings I'd been in and was enthralled with the thought of owning such a property and someday living in it. I was fortunate enough to have enough cash for a downpayment. My plan was to rent the condo until Kate and I sent the kiddies on their way, then move into this right-sized apartment that had enough room for us and guests.
About this time, my Mom and Dad were renting a place in Calgary and their landlord was putting the rent up (because Calgary was booming and therefore he could). They had no idea how much higher the rent was going to go in the next few years and were looking to move to a more stable environment. So, Kate and I saw an opportunity to get our inheritance by the month.
They were very happy there and got on with the others in the Glenwood. When Dad's dementia started to advance, Mom just couldn't manage there with him. Dad went into memory care and Mom stayed for a while by herself at the condo but eventually moved out to Vancouver Island to live with her sisters.
As Mom was preparing to move, the last of our kids decided to fly the nest and head to the West Coast. That left us a huge, empty, four-bedroom house. So we rented out our big ol' house and moved into the Glenwood. Hooray!
I loved being at the Glenwood. Being so
small cosy, it was easy to keep tidy and organized. We got to know the neighbours, including Diana, the first violinist with the CPO (Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra) who often left her hallway door open in the afternoons while she practiced. I have many pleasant memories of siting on the sofa of our condo with the hallway door open (too) to have beautiful violin arias wafting down the stairs. We had the busy-ness of Memorial Drive quietly existing on the other side of the living room front window. Watching the lights of the Peace Bridge blink on, signalling the transition from evening to night was marvellous to behold. There always seemed to be activity on the other side of Memorial Drive - be it a group of students posing for graduation photos with the big, red bridge as a backdrop or just the hoi polloi of Calgary making their way along the foot- and bicycle paths. There was no yard for us to deal with so we could truly lock-and-leave when we wanted to travel. And travel we did.
|The Peace Bridge - right across Memorial Drive|
When we went on multi-month-long sojourns, we had friends, including another CPO musician, stay and enjoy our little condo. We returned to stay at the place just long enough to plan our next big adventure - our one year delivery of Popeye in Asia. We didn't think it prudent to leave our condo with just the occasional visitor, so we found a lovely man - Tom - to rent our home. As Tom was coming to Calgary to stay only during the week, he was pleased to be able to rent it furnished ... with all our antique furniture. He took wonderful care with our precious things (everything pictured below) and treated them as if they were his own. He did generous acts around the building too, including buying potted flowers for the planters out front in the summer and assisting with the boiler maintenance in the winter. Everyone in the building loved having him around as he was the quintessential Good Neighbour. We were sad when he bought his own place and moved out.
After renting the condo to a group of three international students (who didn't show nearly as much care for the condo or its contents), we recently did a big clean on the apartment and have readied it to rent unfurnished. Before we took the furniture out (and after we did a major, major deep clean), we decided to have some pictures professionally done to help us remember this magical little piece of Calgary where we were lucky enough to spend some time.
Here's our lovely little condo.
|Living Room, facing onto Memorial Drive and the Peace Bridge|
|The living room facing back to the dining room. Note the leaded glass in |
the built-in cabinets and the original gas fireplace
|The dining room, opening into the guest room and the kitchen|
|The kitchen breakfast nook. Check out |
the old Bakelite telephone on the wall. It works!
|A very functional kitchen with solid fir cabinets|
|The sunroom that empties into the back garden|
|The guest room|
|Bathroom with funky clawfoot tub and pedestal sink. The radiator is|
a great spot to put your towel for after the shower - it will be warm!
|Main bedroom, with a window onto the sunroom.|
|Calgary newspaper for the grand opening of the building in 1928. |
I take great pride in maintaining this tiny slice of Calgary history and get some comfort in knowing that the disproportionately large condo fees go to keeping this municipally and nationally heritage-listed property looking fabulous. As much as both Kate and I love our Calgary pied-à-terre, our Canmore pad - along with all our sport toys and trails and mountains right at the doorstep - is likely where we will reside for the foreseeable future.
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