14 Street and 26 Avenue, S. W.
By: Frederick Hunter
Lingering vestiges of rural roots and agricultural origins remained everywhere in evidence in Bankview during the first decades of the 20th Century. For example the north side of 26 Avenue, hard by 14 Street, (the very furthermost south-easterly corner of the entire Community), was home to the Lincoln Dairy, operated by William Maclain just prior to the Great War, then by the Parsons Brothers during the years of conflict, but still later squeezed out of business at war’s end. The facilities sat vacant for more than a decade, languishing in disrepair and gradually falling forlornly into a state of run-down dilapidation during the Depression era, before being finally removed just in time for the second World War.
By this time the mercenary emphasis formerly felt to a greater extent further south of 26 Avenue was clearly shifting northward from South Calgary to Bankview. Actually the nucleus of this process had preceded and predated the first World War, when an enterprising Fred L. Payne had begun the South Calgary Grocery at 2623, 14 Street, (marginally north of 26 Avenue and therefore itself something of a misnomer, really not in South Calgary at all).
Within a scant few more years, Payne’s South Calgary Grocery on the outer fringes of Bankview was acquired by the team of Mario S. and William B. Venini, the two of whom first dwelt on the very westernmost edge of the old Lincoln Dairy grounds, then later slightly deeper inside Bankview at 2611, 15A Street, (formerly Benson Street). In due course at a still later date the Veninis themselves sold out as well to Albert T. Boyes and Son.
As the rest of the 2600 block on the perimeter of Bankview matured and filled in during the so-called “Roaring ’20s”, other merchants began assuming their places alongside this pioneer grocery operation.
Starting from 25 Avenue and proceeding southward along the northerly half of that block, these included E. Creighton Higginbotham’s pharmacy, popularly nicknamed “Higgy’s”, a social meeting-place in its own right with its modern soda fountain and other up-to-date innovations and amenities; a brand-new Jenkins’ Groceteria, part of Calgary’s first supermarket chain founded by Henry Marshall Jenkins, a Prince Edward Island potato picker, packer and bagger who, after one day surreptitiously hiding a note in a sack of spuds and unexpectedly receiving a surprise reply, had suddenly and spontaneously elected to follow his instincts and his produce westward; the tiny Prospect Grocery, tenuously but defiantly administered by See Mah within the very shadows of its mightier and more intimidating next-door neighbours; the Shamrock Meat Market belonging to cattle baron and future Senator Patrick Burns’ far-flung meat-packing empire; and a branch of the huge Piggly Wiggly discount chain managed locally by Ivor Crimp.
Closer to the 26 Avenue corner, of course, the venerable old South Calgary Grocery itself still tenaciously held forth as well for many years following. Much later a branch of the fondly-remembered Fairley’s Meat Market would also thrive here, specifically at the 2609 address, having displaced the previous occupant.
But even in Bankview, as elsewhere, whether at a greater or lesser pace, all things do eventually change, subject to the relentless march of time, and today, though the south-east corner of the Community remains a bustling commercial hub, very little evidence of its original occupants or former street-scape now remains. For many years now, and still, at the time of this writing, the extreme south-easternmost corner lot of the Bankview Community has been occupied by part of a filling station operation.
This is an excerpt from Frederick Hunter’s A STROLL THROUGH OLD BANKVIEW: SOME 70+ SIGNIFICANT SELECTED SITES. It’s a massive body of work and a highly detailed history of Bankview’s various important sites. Check it out for more great neighbourhood history.