Tuesday, February 28, 2006

This one's for you, Grandpa!

Right now at work I'm writing the Statement of Significance for the Calgary Fire Hall #1. Built in 1912, this is one of the best examples of early city fire halls in Alberta, and its historic features have been well-preserved in its present incarnation as a Budget Rent-a-Car facility. Here you can see 9 firemen standing on the high ladder, in this photo, probably from the late 1910s. This morning I went over to the Walterdale Theatre in Old Strathcona, which was originally built as a fire hall. It's all got me to thinking about my dad's dad, my grandfather, Glenn Orlo Francis. He died (I believe) in 1973 or '74, a few years before I was born. Grandpa Glenn was a career fireman in the Royal Canadian Air Force. I know him through old sepia photographs and his old war medals which I loved to look at when I was a kid, as well as my dad's stories about him. Apparently he was a master of games (pool, cards, chess) because in those days firemen did a lot of waiting around on nightwatches, etc. (Maybe they still do?) In any case, I'd like to imagine that maybe Grandpa Glenn stood on a ladder like this one time.


Blogger Krista said...

Those men on the ladder....What a great photo! So neat that out of your work, writing SOS', such a great memory of how growing up you heard such great stories of your grandfather. Neat to learn a bit more about your grandpa Glenn.

1:05 PM  
Blogger Matthew Francis said...

Yes... it is good to be reminded of this man who name I bear (my middle names are for both my Grandfathers - William Whitehead and Glenn Francis).

2:09 PM  
Blogger James said...

I think firemen do a lot of waiting, which is why you can go to a fire station and have your blood pressure checked, or why there was a local fireman who retired without ever fighting a fire.

In Massachusetts, Jess says they liked to barbecue a lot. In Calgary, maybe Duff Gibson will start a trend of firefighter skeleton on those slow days.

2:35 PM  
Blogger Matthew Francis said...

There is also a tradition of firemen having bands. Both the Calgary and Strathcona Fire Halls had band rooms where the guys would practice on their trombones and tubas.

2:39 PM  
Blogger Jessica said...

Yeah, the fireman in Swampscott, MA didn't have a lot of fires to put out - I lived down the street and I don't think I ever heard I siren. I sure smelled lots of BBQ, though!

The firehouse in the picture is one of my favorite buildings in Calgary. Calgary seems to like tearing down old buildings (and houses) and building new ugly ones in their places. It's nice to see an old building given a new use.

I miss Massachusetts.

11:28 AM  
Blogger Browler said...

Fire-fighting would be a great job.

Excellent pic, Matvei!

1:13 AM  
Blogger matthew christopher davidson said...

Hey Matthew,

Did you slide down the pole?

I think that half the merit of being a fire-fighter would be the rush of adrenaline you would get from doing just that.

Especially if in the middle of a heated poker game.

9:14 PM  

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