Historic artifacts uncovered at Calgary jobsite

0 864 Infrastructure

by Russell Hixson last update:Oct 8, 2014

Construction workers have unearthed pieces of Canadian history while building a substation in downtown Calgary.
Historic artifacts uncovered at Calgary jobsite
Photo: ENMAX

ENMAX workers alerted archaeologists after artifacts believed  to be connected to the construction and maintenance of the Canadian Pacific Railway were discovered under dirt and gravel.

ENMAX Power Corporation owns and operates transmission and distribution infrastructure in Calgary

According to ENMAX, the artifacts may be from the 19th or early 20th century and are being studied by experts.

Construction of the track began in 1882.

"Significant historical items can often be found in old areas of major cities," said Michelle Wickham, senior project archeologist and partner at Bison Historical Services Ltd.

"Unfortunately, when items are discovered, they are not always handled as they should be, leading to either damage or total loss altogether. We commend ENMAX for preserving Calgary's historical record in this way."

ENMAX stated that the recovered historic tools were likely related to day-to-day activities at the rail yard and were probably used for laying or replacing rails and railway tiles.

The items include pickaxe heads, rail spikes and other miscellaneous items.

A single brick was recovered with a shallow frog visible with the word 'Calgary' stamped into the frog.

Window glass and clinker, a waste matter separated from metals during smelting, were also recovered from the site.


Clinker may have been related to steam engines or coal-fired stoves.

ENMAX has been working on a major capacity upgrade to its substation.

It was initially built in the early 1960s.

The upgrades aim to maintain the integrity of the electrical system in the city's expanding downtown core.

The excavation work that unearthed the find was accomplished using special equipment and methodical procedures.

These steps took into consideration any other items that may have been underground at the over 50-year-old facility and while working around electrically energized equipment.

"We were surprised to find historically relevant items, and while we didn't fully understand their significance, we knew we needed to report the discovery," said Doris Kaufmann Woodcock, ENMAX spokesperson.

"Although it's believed that the most significant items have been recouped, this phase of the project is still ongoing, so we will have a professional archeologist on site for the duration."

last update:Oct 8, 2014

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