27 July 2008

Calgary: Historic Week, Jewish roots

Calgary kicked off its Historic Calgary Week celebration on Friday, inviting residents to explore the city's past through walking tours, museum exhibits, lectures and genealogy sessions - some 50 events over 10 days.

A story in the Calgary Herald presents some program details on the city's early roots - its pioneers, homesteaders, entrepreneurs, ranchers and many others - and how it became a thriving center.

The overall theme is "explore and celebrate our roots," according to event chair Carrol Jacques. Events include historic neighborhood walks and personal accounts of early life.

The event began at the Southern Alberta Pioneers Memorial Building with a talk on the city's early Jewish roots given by Jack Switzer, a descendent of one of the earliest Jewish families, who presented "Calgary's Jewish Roots: Key Decades 1904-1924."

Alberta's first Jewish resident arrived in Calgary from Ontario in 1888. Jacob Diamond, originally from Russia, became involved in pawnbroking, and the hide and liquor trades. His brother William arrived in 1892 to open a tailoring shop. The two men founded the religious community around which later Jewish immigrants structured their lives.
For more on Calgary's Jewish community, click here.

In 1091, only 17 Jews lived in Alberta, growing to 1,505 in 1911. By 1921, the province counted 3,201 Jews, of whom 70% lived in Calgary and Edmonton. For more of Calgary and Alberta's Jewish history and relevant projects, see The Jewish Genealogical Society of Southern Alberta, which is associated with the Jewish Historical Society of Alberta. See JewishGen's section on the Calgary Jewish Cemetery here, with 2,013 burials in a searchable database.

Other programs will be on pioneers, frontier men and ranching - all presented by speakers with direct ties to early inhabitants.

The article presents some highlights, such as events on Calgary's French community, with an August 1 talk and an August 2 walking tour of the Cliff Bungalow-Mission area.

For the details and event program (most events are free), click ChinookCountry.org.

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