Thursday, January 7, 2010

Calgary’s City Blog helps patch holes in The City of Calgary's history book

The City of Calgary’s history books have received a valuable new entry after a reader contacted us about his aldermanic grandfather who sat on council at the First World War’s end.
In October, Jim Kerner of Athens, Alabama, left a comment on a blog post stating that his grandfather was a City of Calgary alderman from 1918-19 and that he wanted to speak with someone about our archives.
“Calgary is special to me because it is a part of my family’s history,” said Mr. Kerner.
“I knew that my mother was born in Canada in 1914 as she spoke of this fact often during my younger years. She left there as a young child to America with the family.”
Mr. Kerner explained that while rummaging through boxes of family memorabilia, he discovered an old photo of a house with the words ‘Calgary, Alberta’ scribbled on the back.
“With this bit of knowledge, I began searching every reference made to Calgary and my grandfather, James Bernard Creagan,” said Kerner. Upon finding The City of Calgary’s Archives, he noticed his grandfather’s biography was sparse and lacking a photo.
“I began by browsing ( and eventually found your ( blog. I left a comment and within a day I was contacted by you,” he said.
We put Mr. Kerner in touch with Carol Stokes, A City archivist, who was elated to receive the photos and biographical information.
“It is wonderful as we do not have any photos or biographical information about this alderman,” said Ms. Stokes.
According to a 1918 newspaper clipping from the Glenbow Library, Creagan, an insurance broker and Alderman at the time, chaired The City's Industrial Committee and participated in the Victory Loan campaign during World War I, playing an integral role to the campaign’s success. Victory Loans were Canadian government appeals for money to finance the war effort in both WWI and WWII.
Mr. Kerner said that he and his family in the United States will continue scouring for information about his grandfather.
“I would like to know - and would like my children and grandkids to know - about the contribution that my grandfather made to Calgary. I really hope he did something significant and that this information is discoverable,” he said.
Ms. Stokes added that she is very pleased the public will soon be better able to access this sort of historical information online.
“Corporate Record, Archives, is very excited that a new process for posting updated biographies for the Mayors’ and Aldermanic Galleries will be implemented before the civic election in October of this year. This process will enable us to update our galleries in real time, providing immediate access to new information,” she said.
In the meantime, researchers can contact the Archives at 403-268-8180 or to determine if a biography posted in the gallery has been revised. Alternatively, the public can come in person to the Archives to review a file, which may contain additional information about elected officials.
We at The City of Calgary and would like to Thank Mr. Kerner. It’s because of your historical donation to The City’s archives that Calgarians too can learn a little bit more about your grandfather, James Bernard Creagan, and others who have served our city.
***Images of Alderman James Bernard Creagan (1918-19) courtesy of his grandson, Jim Kerner.

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