Originally constructed in the 1930s to protect the Canadian military and offer elegance and comfort for officers, The Inn on Officers’ Garden is recognized as one of Calgary’s most prominent and important locations.
Not only is The Inn known for its vast array of event spaces and boutique hotel suites, but it has a fascinating and amazing history as part of the Currie Barracks.
A story steeped deep in military might, royal significance and community support; we have some of the major milestones of The Inn in Calgary below:
The History of The Inn
The Early Days
In the late 1800s, around 150 members of the North West Mounted Police (the name before it became the RCMP) established Fort Calgary before laying the groundwork for larger settlements, including the future land of the Currie Barracks.
By 1911, the land where the Currie Barracks was built was designated to the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) as training grounds for the soldiers in the lead-up to World War One. The land is near the Sarcee Indian Reserve.
The Barracks are Named After a Renowned General
The Currie Barracks is named after renowned General Sir Arthur William Currie, who was recognized for his rapid rise through the ranks, from a militia gunner to the first Canadian commander of the Canadian Corps. He was generally considered one of the most capable and finest commanders during World War One and Canadian military history.
Over time, the Currie Barracks became known for having the “largest establishment of the Canadian military in Alberta to date.”
Assisting During the Great Depression
As well as being central to Alberta’s Military, the Barracks proved significant during the Great Depression in the 1930s.
Under the Canadian government’s Public Works Construction Act in 1934, the Barracks provided relief to many out-of-place workers, alleviating the devastating effects of the Great Depression.
$1.2 million was set aside for the barracks and an aerodrome project, with an additional $400,000 being granted in 1935 to employ hundreds of out-of-work people while improving the military base.
Use in World War Two
The Barracks provided crucial support during the outbreak of World War Two.
In February 1941, the No. A-16 Advanced Canadian Infantry Training Centre opened at the barracks, becoming a hub for units mobilized in southern Alberta, including the Royal Canadian Infantry Corps, the Royal Canadian Army Service Corps, and the Royal Canadian Air Force.
Furthermore, an airstrip is constructed for two British Commonwealth Air Training Plan stations on the base. The airstrip was stopped in 1964 and removed several years later.
After The War
Following the Second War, the Currie Barracks became home to Lord Strathcona’s Horse (Royal Canadians) and the 1st Battalion, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry.
Due to Canada’s transition to expanding its force during the Korean War and the Cold War, the Barracks became a major military centre due to its convenient access to the Canadian Pacific Railway’s transcontinental mainline to Vancouver. Over the decades that followed, the Barracks would be home to several units, including the Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada, the 1st Fort Garry Horse and the 1 Signal Squadron.
In 1966, the formation of the Canadian Armed Forces (the combination of the Royal Canadian Navy, Canadian Army and Royal Canadian Air Force) resulted in the Currie Barracks becoming known as Canadian Forces Base Calgary (CFB Calgary).
At the same time, external changes lead to a decrease in the presence and force of the base.
In 1972, the Mount Royal College (now known as Mount Royal University) established a new permanent campus next to Currie Barracks, while the increasing growth of Calgary’s population (soaring to over 100,000) saw the need for housing and roadway expansion, including the Crowchild Trail growing to six lanes.
The Barracks remained a prominent spot for many famous visitors.
Calgary’s mayor, Don MacKay, “organized a Stampede Chuckwagon & Bucking Broncos event for the Royal visit in October 1951, and the pair returned to the Officers’ Mess that evening“. That is now the Romantic QE II Royal Suite’ at The Inn overlooking Officers’ Garden.
In 1990, Queen Elizabeth II and her husband H.R.H. The Duke of Edinburgh visited the Barracks, being presented to each officer at the Inn. It proved to be her last visit to the Barracks.
Downsize, Expansion & Today’s Amazing Location
In the mid-1990s, the reorganization and consolidation of the Canadian military resulted in many bases being downsized, merged or closed. On June 21st, 1997, it happened to the Currie Barracks, with the base being officially decommissioned and personnel being relocated to the CFB Edmonton.
That didn’t spend the end of the base, though.
In 1998, the Canada Lands Company purchased the land and buildings for future development. Over the next two decades, the land surrounding the barracks was used for homes, condominiums and a small shopping centre, with the area now known as Garrison Woods.
During this period, the original buildings of the Barracks remained the same, with slow re-developments turning them into a variety of commercial and residential uses that you now see, including The Inn, The Event Hall, Flanders Fine Foods, The Historic Living Room and The Snake Pit.
If you would like to know more about the history of The Inn in Calgary or the Currie Barracks, visit us or contact us for more information. We’re happy to shine a light on this amazing location.
Enjoy the modern inn experience at The Inn on Officers Garden. Our historical building blends the past with today’s modern workmanship, making us the perfect everyday social hub and ideal venue for weddings, corporate events, family reunions and weekends away. Our boutique hotel in Calgary offers numerous event spaces, and with the Inn Suites, you’ll get thirteen beautiful rooms for wedding days, nights and those looking for a getaway. Whether as a corporate event or for a small wedding venue in Calgary, The Inn at Officers’ Garden offers everything you need. Book your spot today by contacting us at (587) 885-1995 or at [email protected].