If the walls of the No. 1 Legion could talk, they’d have thousands of stories to tell. Stories of our veterans, stories of the war, of triumph, hardship and survival; but also, stories of laughter, community and the history of our city. And now, a story of new beginnings.
The Legion is a building that means so much to so many, but over the years our city’s downtown has grown up around it. As the city changed, it remained the same. But in 2018, Calgary Stampede volunteers had an idea, an idea that would breathe new life into this once vibrant space.
“This was a project close to the hearts of many Stampede volunteers, who wanted to give back to the Legion,” said Todd Hawkwood, Chair, Community Projects & Development. “It’s an important space in our community and for many of our volunteers it’s home-base during the 10 days of Stampede.”
Stampede volunteers taking a break from working hard!
The project, which aimed at refreshing and updating the interior of the main floor, has been in the works for the past few years. Both Municipal and Provincial Government had to approve the project, due to the building’s historical designation.
“Both the Municipal and Provincial Government really saw this as a great opportunity for the Legion and were extremely supportive of the work the Stampede was proposing,” said Christine Leppard, Historical Specialist at the Calgary Stampede.
In December of 2018, volunteers from the Stampede’s Community Projects & Development (CPD), Downtown Attractions, Historical and Public Art committees rolled up their sleeves and removed all of the old carpet on the main floor of the building. Stampede employees from the Park & Facilities department also pitched in to help out, as well as local interior designer, Sheila Wappel-McLean who volunteered her expertise to the project.
“It was a big job, but it had to be done and it was great to see both volunteers and employees work together on such an important project,” said Brian Johnston, a member of the CPD committee and the Project Manager of the project.
From there, a Stampede partner – KBM Flooring–graciously donated new carpet and installed it.
“Without the support from KBM, Haugh Brothers’ Painting and Sherwin Williams we wouldn’t have been able to make such a big improvement for the Legion. Thanks to their support, we were able to make every dollar count and really help make it a more vibrant, welcoming space,” adds Hawkwood.
The fresh new bar at the No. 1 Legion.
Aside from new carpet, cleaning and painting, the Historical committee also took on the important task of helping the Legion tell its story.
“We wanted to take the significant artifacts they have and display them in a way that would help tell the story of the Legion and its members,” said Leppard. “We did this by decluttering, providing written context for some of the objects and selecting new, meaningful photographs to illuminate their important stories.”
One of the most meaningful artifacts was the shovel that the Prince of Wales used to break ground in 1919 when the Legion was built.
“It was kind of tucked away in a corner, so we reframed it behind archival glass, relocated it and displayed it to honour it in a way that reflects its significance,” adds Leppard.
This project was large in scale, but close to the hearts of many.
“It had a lot of moving parts and involved collaboration between our volunteer committees, Calgary Stampede employees, trades, partners and the Legion of course,” said Brian Johnston, member of the CPD committee and Project Manager of the Legion refresh. “The Pop Up Neighbours program is a CPD initiative that is all about giving back to our community on a year-round basis and this project was one of the ways we do that.”
In total the project took approximately 300 hours, 30 volunteers, 10 employees and several gallons of paint.
Learn more about the project in the video above.
“It was a lot of work, but it was also a labour of love and an opportunity to reintroduce this facility to the community as a place to host their events and appreciate it for all that it is,” said Hawkwood.
“Thank you to everyone who made this happen, it was a true act of community spirit and a way to give back to a pillar in our community,” said Johnston. “The legion is extremely happy with what we accomplished together and they can’t wait to show off their new, vibrant space to the community.”
The No. 1 Legion project is a powerful example of how we truly are Greatest Together, showcasing the Calgary Stampede’s commitment to the community.