Calgary Malting and Brewing Co.
Calgary Brewing and Malting Co., 1891-15th Street SE, Calgary, Alta.—BREWING FOR A FIGHT
A demolition permit is being sought for four of the oldest buildings at the Calgary Brewing and Malting Co., Alberta’s first brewery. With the property deteriorating, no redevelopment plan in place, and the required provincial Historic Resource Impact Assessment nowhere to be seen, the outcome remains uncertain.
Why it matters
Operating as a brewery since 1893, the Calgary Brewing and Malting Co. has a deep connection to its Inglewood neighbourhood (formerly Brewery Flats), and to the people of Calgary and Alberta. Associations with the “Calgary Beer” brand and the legacy of the Cross family make this place an important industrial and cultural heritage site in Alberta.
Founded by A. E. Cross, a modern industrialist and one of Calgary’s most prominent early citizens, the enterprise grew quickly with the construction of new buildings and the acquisition of smaller breweries and hotels. In 1910 the complex became the first industrial user of natural gas in Western Canada. In order to stay in operation during Prohibition, the company introduced soft drinks and aerated water into its product line. The brewery operated until 1994. Today, it is only partly occupied.
Why it’s endangered
In May 2009, the current owner (an Alberta-based numbered company) applied for a demolition permit for a series of connected historic buildings at the heart of the Calgary Brewing and Malting Co. site, without the prior knowledge of the surrounding community of Inglewood or the city’s heritage authorities. The buildings in question, the 1892 Brew House and Ale Cellars, 1903 Storage Cellars, 1905 Brew House and 1905 Racking Room Storage are all vacant. Although several buildings on the site are maintained and used for other purposes, several have fallen into extreme disrepair. To date, there has been no move to rehabilitate the site to more active use, and no redevelopment plan made public.
Where things stand
Heritage organizations in Calgary—the Inglewood Community Association, the Calgary Heritage Authority, the Chinook County Historical Society, the Calgary Heritage Initiative Society and the Community Heritage Roundtable—have launched a campaign directed at municipal and provincial decision makers calling for the Calgary Brewing and Malting Co.’s designation as a Provincial Historic Resource, and the retention and integration of its heritage structures into any new development. Despite this initiative, the Historic Resource Impact Assessment (HRIA), ordered by the provincial government in June 2009, has only recently been assigned to a consultant. Neither the province nor the owner can move forward until the HRIA is completed at which time it will be up to the province to decide whether to designate all or part of the site. Meanwhile the buildings continue to deteriorate.
The Calgary Brewing and Malting Company was a significant piece of the economic and social fabric of the city. Retaining and integrating the historic buildings into new development would add economic value to the site. Supporters are encouraging the province to consider the group of buildings as a whole, not as individual structures. Tearing them down would end an important legacy left by one of the founders of Calgary.
The Calgary Brewing and Malting Company was nominated by the Calgary Heritage Initiative.
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