Once it was the center piece of a rapidly growing downtown Calgary as the dreamers proclaimed the boom town on the Bow was “going to be the next Chicago”.
Calgary’s population was 4,000 in 1911 when a newspaper ad appeared boasting the new hotel’s luxuries.
“A comfortable cozy dining room so decorated as to be soothing to the eye and restful,” read the ad. “The cuisine and service is the best obtainable and the day has yet to come when the rooms are not in such a demand to such an extent to make housing late-comers a puzzle to management.”
The Cecil had its own orchestra in 1914 but over the century, many sour notes were hit as the city grew and the Cecil became synonymous with crime, so much so that city police asked that the Cecil be deemed a threat to public safety in 2008 after police made 1700 visits there in ’07.
A blight say many who ever had to wander by the block it was on at night. Still, every time we bulldoze one of Calgary’s few hundred year old buildings, we lose a little of ourselves, regardless of how notorious a part of history it may have been.