Then and now: What’s to become of Calgary’s Fire Station No. 6

Its history deeply entrenched, the old fire hall is looking for a new tenant to preserve its walls.

By Krista Sylvester | December 1, 2021 |12:35 am

The City of Calgary is looking for a tenant to take over the historic decommissioned Fire Hall No. 6 on Memorial Drive. Built in 1909, it’s been vacant since 2015 and recently underwent some restoration.

Photo: The City of Calgary

Once seen as a symbol of development and progress during the economic boom before World War One, Calgary’s now decommissioned Fire Station No. 6 is looking for a new tenant to bring its brick walls back to life. 

The need for Fire Hall No. 6 began in 1907, when our city’s expansion brought several areas north of the Bow River into the city’s boundary line — including the community of Hillhurst, according to the City of Calgary. 

In 1909, Calgary’s Fire Station No. 6 was built along Memorial Drive to accommodate this growth and at the time, it was regarded as an example of the progressiveness of the city fire department, says Calgary Heritage executive director Josh Traptow. 

“It was significant as a symbol of development and progress for the Calgary Fire Department, and it was around that time that they transitioned from a volunteer to a full-time, professional force,” Traptow explains. 

Calgary Fire Department Fire Hall No. 6 📷 The University of Calgary digital collection

A sign of the times 

That was when the department ordered its first motorized firefighting apparatus, Traptow says. 

Located next to the original Louise Street Bridge abutment, Firehall No. 6 was home to horses, which were an integral part of the firefighting teams in the early century. 

“It was a two-bay firehouse and where the two doors are right now, those likely would have been overhead doors that likely had teams of horses located in the interior,” Traptow says of the design. 

The 4,600 square foot building served as a fire station until 1964. Now a prominent heritage landmark, at the time it was one of three identical fire halls built across the city to address the growing city’s needs.

“This was during Calgary’s rapid expansion during that economic boom that the boundaries expanded, so they needed to offer fire protection across the river.”

The bricks made to build the structure were made locally at the Brickburn plant. Back then, it was common to see buildings made out of brick, which followed a period of sandstone being the popular choice. 

In 2013, the hall was included in the design of Poppy Plaza, which is a park that commemorates citizens who have served to protect our freedoms. 

What’s next for this historic space? 

It was most recently home to the CIty of Calgary Outdoor Council until 2015, and now the city has been restoring the space and is looking for a new tenant to take over, says Calgary Parks manager Nico Bernard. 

“The ideal tenant would add to the overall vibrancy of Poppy Plaza by offering services that are attractive to the community and regional pathway users like a quick snack or treat, bicycle repairs or equipment rentals, public education, retail or combination of above,” Bernard says. 

“Something that would increase Calgarians use of the area, make them stop and visit the historic fire hall and appreciate the site and its character.”

Bernard says the location is loaded with character and the city wants to preserve that vibrancy. 

“Historic buildings like this one are treasured reminders of our past to be maintained and shared with Calgarians.”

Traptow agrees. 

“I think it’s a great location, obviously high traffic right there along the riverbank, lots of pathways and people going in and out of downtown,” Traptow adds.

“I’m excited to see what future use will be for Fire Hall No. 6.” 

The city hopes to secure a tenant and open the building by summer 2022.

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Krista Sylvester

Managing Editor at Calgary Citizen

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