From the 1870s on, Calgary and many other parts of southern Alberta experienced an influx of mostly prosperous Irish people who looked to make their life as ranchers. Unlike their countrymen who came to the east coast of Canada hundreds of years before, many of these people were well-resourced and some of them were even university graduates.
While they flocked to southern Alberta in droves, many of the Irish who settled here concentrated to the southeast of Calgary, many staying in the MacLeod District, after serving with the North West Mounted Police.
While some were attracted to railway, construction and mining jobs, Sam Livington had other ideas in mind. Born in Ireland in 1831, Livingston came to Canada after a failed endeavour with the California gold rush in 1849. He would settle first at Jumping Pound in 1873, opening a trading post in the area, but came to Calgary soon after, looking to establish his home at the confluence of the Bow and Elbow Rivers. The arrival of the North West Mounted Police and the establishment of Fort Calgary in 1875 forced Sam and his wife Jane Howse to move south, settling where the Glenmore Reservoir stands today.
Sam and Jane were important to Calgary’s history, giving the Glenmore Reservoir its name. They started a school on the land, calling it The Glenmore School, after a place in Ireland that was close to his birthplace in County Wicklow. When the Glenmore Dam was built and the area flooded, the Livingston Home and Barn was relocated to Heritage Park, where it sits to this day in the Settlement Area of the Village.
Sam Livingston died in 1897 shortly after the birth of his 14th child. His funeral procession was 40 carriages long.
Photo credit: “Sam Livingston’s house.”, [ca. 1932], (CU178615) by Unknown. Courtesy of Libraries and Cultural Resources Digital Collections, University of Calgary.