“Cornerstones” were articles that appeared in the Sunday edition of the Calgary Herald between 1997 and 2000. The following article appeared July 11, 1999.
Big Four building
• Calgary Exhibition and Stampede Grounds
• Built: 1958-1959
• Architect: John Stevenson and Associates
• Contractor: Burns and Dutton Concrete and Construction Company Ltd.
• Original cost: $1,775,000
• Construction materials: Steel frame, masonry and steel paneled walls.
• Original interior details: Designed as a multi-purpose exhibits building and curling rink with 62,750 square feet of exhibition space on two floors. During the winter months the lower level was transformed into a 24-sheet curling rink. The Calgary Herald reported that "it is the first split-level exhibits building ever designed and built in Canada."
• In September 1958, two historic exhibit buildings named for Governors General of Canada were removed to clear the site for construction of the new building. The Bessborough, built in 1931, was moved to the southeast section of the grounds where it was renovated for use as a winter barn for racehorses. The Willingdon, constructed in 1929, was dismantled and rebuilt on land previously occupied by the Sunshine Auto Camp. For many years it served as the main storage building for Stampede property.
• In April 1959, the Stampede Board announced their decision to name the new exhibits building the Big Four in tribute to the four pioneer ranchers and businessmen who bankrolled the first Stampede in 1912: Senator Patrick Burns, A.E. Cross, George Lane and Archie McLean. In addition, interior sections of the building were named for the four ranchers and the brands they made famous:Cross Range A7, Burns Lease NL, Lane Ranch, Bar U and MacLean Homestead CY.
• On July 6th, the first day of the 1959 Stampede, then-premier E.C. Manning officially opened the new Big Four building, snipping the red ceremonial ribbon with a pair of gold-handled scissors. Then- mayor Don Mackay explained that the first letters of the big four names, CBLM, meant `Calgary Builds Large and Magnificent.'
• During Stampede Week, about 400,000 spectators toured the Big Four exhibits which included a 104-block igloo at the Meet the Arctic display of the Department of Northern Affairs and Natural Resources.
• In January 1967, a dining lounge with seating for 110 and a 2,000- square-foot cocktail lounge opened on the building's top floor. The $100,000 lounge operated from 11 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. six days a week.
• Around 1995, the Stampede Board expanded the summer casino held in the Big Four building to a year-round operation.
• During the Labatt Brier in March 1997, the Big Four accommodated the Brierpatch, well known in curling circles as the social focal point and meeting place for Brier spectators. Around 4,000 people were wined, dined and entertained daily during the nine-day event.
• During Stampede's annual ten-day blowout, the Big Four is home to arts and crafts exhibits, the international food fair and the casino.
“Then & Now” columns appeared weekly in the Calgary Herald between 2002 and 2005. The following article appeared May 21, 2002.
Victoria Park grounds, 1908-12
• The Industrial Building, designed by George Stanley Rees, was built in 1908 for Calgary's first Dominion Exhibition. It served as the main exhibit hall on the Victoria Park fairgrounds until May 1931, when it was destroyed by fire. A new pavilion, called the Bessborough after Canada's 14th governor general, was constructed on the site in time for the 1931 exhibition.
• The Big Four Building was completed in 1959 at a cost of $1.8 million. It was named in tribute to the four pioneer ranchers and businessmen who bankrolled the first Stampede in 1912: Patrick Burns, Alfred Ernest Cross, George Lane and Archie Maclean.
During Stampede's annual blowout, this building houses the arts and crafts exhibits, the international food fair and the casino.