The Calgary Atlas Project seeks to recover crucial stories about Calgary’s past and present, stories that illuminate in surprising ways the character and diversity of the city. Forgotten or overlooked stories from Calgary’s history are mapped onto the city’s geography, highlighting significant sites, events, and people in Calgary’s past. Ultimately the project will produce eighteen to twenty maps, spanning the earliest moments of habitation and settlement to the latest re-developments in the East Village.
The first two maps produced showcased Calgary’s LGBTQ2S+ history and First Nations participation in the Calgary Stampede. Other maps explore the history of alternative art movements, labour activism, Calgary's lost cinemas and architectural heritage. Most recently, we have completed maps of the literary scene of the 1920s, the people and places of the Stampede Wrestling empire, and map of Calgary from the perspective of wild animals. Upcoming maps will illustrate immigration waves (as reflected in ethnic groceries and restaurants of International Avenue), Calgary’s Jewish history, alternative energies, and sports and diversity.
Each map has text written by local historians and images specially commissioned from Calgary artists, in most cases artists who have a relation to the history they are interpreting. The Atlas aims to bring a new vision of Calgary to Calgary; to show us how we got to where we are, and who we came to be.
The Calgary Atlas Project is an initiative of the Calgary Institute for the Humanities at the University of Calgary, and is generously supported by the Calgary Foundation. Individual maps are available from Calgary’s fine independent bookstores including Shelf Life Books, The Next Page, Pages Kensington, Owl’s Nest Books, as well as Map Town and Lougheed House. The project is steered by a group of five professors at the University of Calgary: George Colpitts (History), Jim Ellis (English; CIH), Nancy Janovicek (History), Graham Livesey (School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape), and Charles Tepperman (Communications, Media and Film).
In Summer 2020, the Atlas Project was the recipient of a Calgary Foundation Grant. We are enormously grateful for this grant as it has allowed us to hire a project manager to oversee the production of the forthcoming maps and to work on effective distribution schemes for the maps, making sure that they are read by the communities that would benefit from them the most.