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January 01, 2018

Condoscapes - Mission is Marvellous

New Mission residential developments by Grosvenor

Richard White

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I have always thought Mission would be a marvellous place to live. It has a grocery store, two drug stores, banks, restaurants, galleries, fitness and medical services galore. It has charming old homes, as well as low, mid and high rise condos (new and old). It even has its own elementary, junior and high school — not many City Centre communities in North America can boast that. There is a community garden and lovely pathways along the Elbow River too. Who could ask for anything more?


Fourth Street S.W., Mission’s Main Street, extends from 26th Avenue to 17th Avenue S.W. and even beyond. It has a lovely diversity of pedestrian-oriented businesses — independent cafes like Purple Perk and Phil & Sebastian Coffee Roasters, upscale restaurants like Wurst and Mercato, neighbourhood pubs like Ducky’s and Joyce on 4th and one of Calgary’s oldest commercial art galleries — Masters Gallery.

The Walk Score website gives Mission a Walk Score of 84, making it the 11th most walkable neighbourhood in Calgary. The only reason the score isn’t higher is because there is no LRT stop in the community otherwise, everything is within walking distance — downtown, Stampede Park, Memorial Park Library, 17th Avenue shops and Repsol Sport Centre.

Architecture & History

Mission is home to St. Mary’s Cathedral looks like it has been there forever but in reality only since 1956. The original St. Mary’s Church was a massive sandstone building with twin-domed towers built in 1889 and consecrated as a cathedral in 1913. The architect for the new cathedral, a modernist interpretation of Gothic architecture dominated by its 40-metre bell tower, was Maxwell Bates, best known as a highly respected painter whose art can be seen at Masters Gallery.

Not many Calgarians are aware that tucked away at 141 – 18th Street S.W. sits St. Mary’s Parish Hall, built in 1905 and sold to the Canadian Northern Railway in 1911, who converted the building into a train station which operated until 1971. It is now home of Alberta Ballet and its dance studio.

Mission was also home to Calgary’s first major hospital — the Holy Cross, built in 1892 and expanded in 1928 and 1950. Though none of the original hospital remains, the NcNabb wing, with its distinctive pillars built in 1947, still exists right on 2nd Street S.W.

In an ironic twist, while Mission’s history is dominated by the Roman Catholic Church, Calgary’s Jewish community in 1930 acquired a site on Centre Street at 18th Avenue S.W. to build the House of Israel. However, it wasn’t until 1949 that the Art Deco building was finally completed and became the centre of Jewish life in Calgary. In 1960, the Tzedec Synagogue was built next door, but the “flight to the suburbs” in the late 20th century resulted in a new Jewish Centre in the community of Palliser in 1979. After sitting vacant for several years the Mission buildings were sold and transformed into condominiums in 1998.

Last Word

Mission is indeed marvellous and is an example of a Jane Jacob’s (late 20th century advocate for the importance of diversity and human scale development in creating vibrant inner-city communities) village in Calgary with its mix of old and new, affordable, modest and luxury homes along with shops that meet residents’ everyday needs.

Watch for new Mission residential developments by Grosvenor on 4th Street at 17th Avenue S.W. and In Developments on the old Peking Dragon Site on 4th Street and 19th Avenue S.W.

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