Monday, July 30, 2012

Century Homes Calgary: If These Walls Could Talk

As I mentioned, this week we are participating in the Century Homes Calgary celebration.

Via Century Homes

As part of Historic Calgary Week, July 27 to August 6, the Century Homes Calgary project celebrates the large number of homes built during Calgary's first building boom in 1912. Homeowners and residents were encouraged to unearth the stories behind their houses and display them on lawn signs. The participating homes are posted on the website to allow citizens to take self-guided walking tours of communities with century old homes.

Circa 1975

In honour of the celebration, I set out to uncover the history of our house. When we purchased the house in 2005, we received a photocopy of the original land title from 1910. We have always found it exciting to have a copy of the beautifully caligraphed land title so when I started my research, I figured it was a good place to start.

Land Title

The original land title from 1910 states that C. Montrose and Florence B. Wright purchased the lot from the Canadian Pacific Railway Company for $200, as well as the lot to the east. Although I have not been able to determine for certain if they actually lived in the house, they were definitely an intriguing couple.

Clare Montrose Wright studied divinity at Victoria College in Toronto.

Florence (Kinrade) Wright had been an aspiring vaudeville stage performer in Hamilton, ON until February 25, 1909 when her sister, Ethel Kinrade, was murdered in the family home. 

Ethel Kinrade via Hamilton Spec

Florence and Ethel had been the only ones home at the time and Florence claimed that a “tramp” had come to the door demanding money. When Florence went to get the money, the tramp shot Ethel. When Florence returned, she quickly handed him the money and fled out the back door. A man that met Florence’s vague description was never found and eventually suspicion landed on Florence herself. Florence stood trial, an event that made the news clear across North America, but there was insufficient evidence for a conviction.

Montreal Gazette, March 13, 1909

Niagara Falls Gazette, March 11, 1909 

Following in trail, the couple married on June 28, 1909 in New York and moved to Calgary. Montrose gave up his plans to pursue the ministry and ended up practicing law.

New York Times, June 30, 1909

Montrose died in 1918. After Montrose’s death, Florence returned to the stage, gaining moderate success, and eventually moved to California where she died in 1977.

The life and trial of Florence was immortalized in a book titled “Beautiful Lies” by Edward Byrne and a play in 2007 titled "Beautiful Lady, Tell Me..."written by Shirley Barrie. 

I captured the story on our lawn sign along with photographs of the house through out the years.

The next step in my research will be to get the rest of historical land title from the Registry Office. I am excited to uncover what other stories our house has to tell.



  1. You can save money and time by using spin 2, Alberta's online registry for $10. Just select historical title and enter your legal address and they email it to you in about 30 seconds.


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