Chinook Country Historical Society (CCHS)
“Every time we come together I learn something new”
History Lives! Ever wonder who that building, street or school was named after or what went on in a particular place? Have you heard stories of the past that whet your appetite to know more? Do you know why certain places have been given a historic designation? After learning about a particular historic place or event, have you said “I did not know that”! All these are questions that can be answered through the study of history. These are the questions that challenge us to learn more, to seek out the stories and perspectives that help us to understand and address questions and dilemmas, at the same time we feel the need to make history fun and learning enjoyable. As human beings we seek to make sense of our environment and meaningful connections to each other.
Knowledge of our past is essential for an understanding of the present and as a foundation for the future. Hearing the voices of the ancestors gives us all a perspective on the world we find ourselves in today, through a lens of what has come before. The mission of CCHS is to provide opportunities for community members to engage with our rich history through a diverse offering of programs and events. We serve as an educational platform, working to expand understanding and foster an appreciation for history and its integral role in shaping our obligations now and in the future. We believe that local history needs to be a vital part of the public imagination and discourse to ensure an inspired, well informed, literate and engaged citizenry. Our contribution in creating a sense of place is important to us.
Imagine a city without historical buildings, libraries, parks and the performing arts! The work of CCHS is designed to enrich the cultural fabric of our area and spark interest and pride in our past and in all those who have come before us. CCHS envisions an inclusive, united community that values and is engaged with our shared history. We strive to be the central hub of historical programming, collaborating to preserve and bring oral, written and physical history to life for current and future generations.
We are the local chapter of the Historical Society of Alberta (HSA), our service area stretches from Olds to Nanton, from the British Columbia to the Saskatchewan border. We believe history should be found, preserved, shared and celebrated. The HSA was established in 1907 as one of the first acts of the then newly formed Province and Legislature in Alberta. CCHS has historically been one of the larger chapters of HSA and has made long standing contributions to heritage education, awareness and advocacy.
We take inspiration from the driving forces that have lived on these lands from the first peoples who inhabited this area for millennia, to those who have arrived more recently and all that continue to make this area their home. These efforts have been recognized as the Society has received the Heritage Calgary Lion Award and HSA Awards, our members have been recognized with the Calgary Award for Heritage just to name a few.
We strive to make our history relevant to today and inform actions that will be undertaken in the future. Our work represents the stories of inspiring citizens, both those who are important and to the lesser known, who have all contributed to the fabric of our society. Their indomitable spirit, willingness to take risks and personal drive have made our area a desirable place to live, work and play.
“I feel our audiences are enriched by our work”
Chinook Country Historical Society is an organization dedicated to fostering an appreciation for and promoting an understanding of Albertan and Canadian history, especially viewed through the lens of local history. CCHS was incorporated in 1993 but existed in prior iterations for many decades. Early achievements included hosting film nights, presenting lectures, summer programs and panel discussions. Annual Christmas dinners in historic sites were also featured. The organization advocated for the preservation of historic sites, for example Ft. Calgary and Lougheed House. They facilitated the publication of books, pamphlets etc. Under their stewardship City Makers was published in 1987 and Remembering Chinook Country in 2005 to celebrate the century of the Province. Publication of two volumes of children’s history books, In the Footsteps of Giants occurred in 2015/16 to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of Historic Calgary Week. These books focus on the people and events that made Calgary and area what it is today and they have been enjoyed by people from 8 to 80!
We want to see the general public be involved and informed to create a shared perspective.
Major activities undertaken by the Society include:
Historic Calgary Week (HCW)
This 11 day festival has been offered for more than 3 decades. It is scheduled for the last week of July leading into the Heritage Day Holiday. In collaboration with partner organizations and relevant individuals, dozens of walks, talk and presentations are offered in locations in and around Calgary and area. In the pandemic times, virtual as well as in-person activities have been mounted. A Historic Crossword Puzzle is published with the assistance of the Calgary Herald and a “History Quiz/Activity “is often provided.
From September to May a program on a specific topic has been offered. These have been hosted in partnership with the Calgary Public Library. Two in-person events, Christmas Luncheon and the Annual General Meeting facilitate a social opportunity as well as feature a presentation.
CCHS is creating a mobile App that will feature stories, interviews, film and photos of sites of historical significance in Calgary. This App will be available on I-phone and through our website for use at a site or from the comfort of your home. We are very grateful for a Calgary Foundation grant that has generously supported this project.
Since the mid-nineties, the Elsie Corbet Scholarship has been awarded annually to a deserving History student studying at the University of Calgary. Elsie was born in 1926 in England and was evacuated to Edmonton in during WW2. She was a professional historian. She served as President of CCHS, HSA and was the Chairman of the City of Calgary Heritage Advisory Board, among other volunteer roles.
Communication and Social Media
CCHS has a robust Website, www.chinookhistory.ca. The site contains announcements, newsletters, articles, archives and serves as the main listing for event announcement and registration for monthly programs and the Historic Calgary Week program. During the past several years CCHS has grown their social Media presence and is very active on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
On the website there is a depository of Virtual Program videos on a wide variety of topics and partner resources that can be used for self guided tours, etc.
We are an entirely volunteer run organization many people are involved serving on the Board, the HCW Committee and program presentation and also Web and Newsletter publication. More than 150 people contribute to our success on an annual basis.
We regularly write letters of support for partners who are applying for grants and services. Also, we lend our voice to initiatives that seek to preserve historical buildings and sites.
Our programs are organized by two committees reporting to the Board of Directors and are comprised of a program committee for the monthly programs and a committee that organizes Historic Calgary Week.
As a volunteer-run, non-profit organization, CCHS relies on membership fees, grants and donations for the majority of its funding requirements. Active member and donor participation in bringing our programs to Albertans is vital to achieving our mission. We have two funds at the Calgary Foundation, one for general CCHS operations and the Historic Calgary Week Forever Fund. Receipts from these funds provide great assistance in facilitating operational and program delivery for us.
How can you participate and support us:
1. Attend a presentation: Join the hundreds of Albertans that come to understand and marvel at the efforts of the all those who built our province and country by participating in Historic Calgary Week or attending a monthly presentation.
2. Research a story: Are you intrigued by the story of a question? Perhaps someone in your family was part of our history. Why not find out more about him or her and write an article for Alberta History magazine, History Now or for the CCHS Newsletter. Many interesting and important stories are buried in the archives of Glenbow Western Research Centre, the Calgary Public Library, or your basement and are just waiting for an inquiring mind to bring them to light.
3. Make a presentation at one of our events.Volunteer Speakers came from a wide variety of sources; they are passionate about sharing their story and highlighting what they know for the benefit of all.
4. Become a Member: Our members are inspired by all aspects of our history: the perseverance and entrepreneurship of previous generations, our arts and cultural history and understanding how the lessons of the past can benefit our future. Being a member demonstrates to one and all the importance of our history.
We have negotiated privileges and discounts for members with our partners in history for our members. Early registration and member only events are also a benefit.
5. Become a Partner: Volunteer your time to promote a greater understanding of our history and help project the lessons of our rich heritage into the future. Become a member of the Board, the Historic Calgary Week Committee, or volunteer to complete a specific task. CCHS relies on the enthusiasm, energy and input from many dedicated volunteers in bringing our programs to the public. Making connections in the community, impacting others and experiencing the history of Calgary and region are just a few of the benefits of being a volunteer. Our volunteers are proud of our city and our province and look forward to sharing the history of our region with residents and visitors alike.
6. Buy a Book: Read about the fascinating lives of the people that built our province in more than 50 publications sponsored by the Historical Society of Alberta and CCHS.
7. Subscribe to our E Newsletter: sign up on our website at www.chinookhistory.ca
“It is always great to see old friends”
Questions? Contact Paul Mercer, 1St Vice President, at 403-261-4667, [email protected]