“Then & Now” columns appeared weekly in the Calgary Herald between 2002 and 2005. The following article appeared October 7, 2003.
Then: The Criterion/Merchants Bank of Canada
• The original single-storey sandstone building on this site was completed in 1889 and opened as the Criterion (English Club Rooms) Dining Hall. In 1903, the Merchants Bank of Canada bought the building for $8,750, added another storey, remodeled the facade and renovated the interior.
In 1911, the bank moved to larger quarters and rented the building to a succession of tenants, including the 82nd Canadian Battalion, the Canadian Patriotic Fund, the Dominion Government and the Bank of Canada, which bought it in 1936. The City of Calgary took ownership of the building in 1970, using the space for its Century Calgary headquarters (leading up to the 100th anniversary of Calgary's incorporation as a town in 1975) and the offices of the Calgary Parking Authority.
Now: Martin's on 8th/Vacant
• Shortly after the Parking Authority vacated the building in 1996, the city rented it to Michael Mont Redmond, who radically renovated the interior to create a sleek, tongue-in-cheek, retro-style restaurant called the Criterion. Alterations included the creation of a 900-square-foot, uni-sex bathroom, and the conversion of the main floor walk-in safe to a port, scotch and cognac room with 50 humidors available for rent at $65 per month. The Criterion's shelf- life was short and it soon closed. In the fall of 1999, Martin Brice returned to a historic decor when he opened an eatery called Martin's on 8th.
This business venture was also short-lived and the building that was designated a Municipal Historic Resource in 1993 is again vacant.