Architectural Style: Sandstone Homestead
Alfred S. McKay’s experiences in the west are a classic pioneer story. He came to the Calgary area from Ontario in 1880 as part of the C.P.R. survey team. He returned to Calgary in 1886 and lived in a log cabin as a squatter on land under lease to the Cochrane Ranch Company. McKay received clear title to his land in 1891.
McKay designed and built this structure as his home in 1905.
He quarried sandstone for his house himself and hauled it across the frozen Bow River to his building site. He donated fifty acres of his homestead to the city, which is now part of Shouldice Park. McKay’s sons retained possession of the house and land until 1953.
This pioneer house appears to have been built in several sections. The southern part began with a single story and a partial second floor. An addition to the north side was completed with a small second story. Later the main building was enlarged and a full second story completed. This growth pattern resulted in an interior sandstone wall approximately 16 inches thick. After being abandoned for several years and vandalized, it was restored in 1982.
McKay is remembered as a member of the original survey party that chartered the route of the C.P.R. across the prairies and Rocky Mountains, and as a ferry operator on the Bow River from 1882-87. Originally, McKay owned several quarter sections adjoining his homestead, including the property between 37 and 29 Streets N.W. that was subdivided as Parkdale Addition by Scott and Hartronft. McKay had planned to develop numerous houses in Parkdale Addition for speculative purposes yet only five houses were ever built, including the McKay Son’s Residence. McKay retained all of the houses until his death in 1940 despite his original intentions.