“Cornerstones” were articles that appeared in the Sunday edition of the Calgary Herald between 1997 and 2000. The following article appeared February 1, 1998.
Patrick Burns (Manor House)
• 510 13th Avenue S.W.
• Built: 1900 - 1903
• Demolished: 1956
• Architect: Francis M. Rattenbury of Victoria, British Columbia. Rattenbury, Pat's friend and business associate, also designed cold storage warehouses and other buildings for Burns' expanding meat packing and ranching business.
• Contractor: Thomas Underwood (three time city alderman and mayor of Calgary 1902-1903)
• Original cost: $32,000 - $40,000. Additional costs included lavish furnishings, land and landscaping.
• Original owner: Patrick Burns. Burns was born in Ontario in 1855 and homesteaded in Manitoba in 1878 where he began purchasing cattle and supplying beef to railway construction crews. After moving to Calgary in 1890, he became a successful rancher and owner of the Burns Meat Packing Company. He was one of the original "Big Four" who organized the first Calgary Stampede and in 1931 was appointed to the Senate. Between 1890 and 1928 Burns built one of the largest packing and provisioning businesses in the world. Patrick died in February 1937. His 1901 marriage to Eileen Ellis produced one son Patrick Michael who died in September 1936, five months before his father. For a good part of their married life, Eileen did not live in Calgary with Patrick. She died in Vancouver in 1923 at the age of fifty.
• Construction materials: Sandstone from the Shaganappi Quarry was cut on location. Lumber milled at Colonel Walker's sawmill. Sash and solid oak doors were supplied by W.H.Cushing mills.
• Architectural style: Neo-Gothic style with both Arts and Crafts and Chateau motifs. It was once described as "a mixture of French Chateau and Irish castle." Symmetrical in design, it had steeply pitched gables, ornate sandstone carvings of gargoyles and coats of arms. Three storey tower.
• Original interior details: Eighteen rooms including ten bedrooms, four bathrooms and a conservatory. Extensive use of fine eastern hardwood. Oak used for doors, panelling, cornices, floors and fireplace mantles. Rooms finished in quarter-cut oak. Furnishings were imported from England.
• Construction began on the twenty lot site in July 1900. Rattenbury wrote his mother from the Alberta Hotel in Calgary on July 26, "we are laying out the lines of his [Burns] new house." By October the stone foundation was completed.
• The 45 year old Patrick Burns and his 27 year old bride, Eileen Ellis were married September 4, 1901 in London, England. On their return to Calgary in August they took up residence in the Alberta Hotel where they remained until the house was completed, considerably behind schedule, in January 1903.
• The extensively landscaped property, surrounded by a low stone wall, resembled an English country garden.
• Head Gardener, William Reader and his wife lived in the coach house on the property until he left Burns' employ and in 1912 became Calgary's Superintendent of Parks. William Mayhew was the resident gardener from 1917 to 1937.
• When Alberta became a province in 1905, a reception was held at Burns Manor for Sir Wilfrid and Lady Laurier. Over the years the Burns' entertained members of the royal family, aristocrats, authors and politicians.
• At the height of the boom in 1911 the mansion and property were valued at $150,000.
• Following Patrick Burns death in February 1937 the house stood empty for two years.
• In 1939 it was leased to Mrs. L. Barber to house " 20 bachelor boarders." During the war years the Department of Veterans Affairs took over the house and used it as a convalescent home.
• July 30, 1941 the Department of Pensions and Health was authorized to purchase land in Calgary owned by the late Senator Patrick Burns, and construction of a new hospital began a year later. Burns' large sandstone residence was included in the purchase and used as part of the new hospital facilities.
• In May 1955 Mrs. A. H. Turney, President of the Colonel Belcher Hospital Women's Auxiliary led an unsuccessful attempt tp save the "historical landmark" from demolition lobbying the Department of Veterans Affairs and the City of Calgary. The Auxiliary wanted to use the residence as a club and canteen for the DVA patients.
• In May 1956 the mansion was demolished by Bill Wearmouth to " allow access to the new entrance of the Colonel Belcher Hospital." A sign on the lawn indicated "Salvage for Sale." Calgarians hauled away oak mantles, staircases, panelling, sandstone and tiles.
• City workers moved sandstone from the demolished mansion to the hillside at the north end of Riley Park and in June 1956 construction began on the Senator Patrick Burns Memorial Gardens.
• Portions of the original fence surrounding the Burns property (now Colonel Belcher Hospital) are the only remaining evidence of the estate's former grandeur.
“Then & Now” columns appeared weekly in the Calgary Herald between 2002 and 2005. The following article appeared November 12, 2002.
THEN: Patrick Burns Manor House
• In 1901, Patrick Burns, rancher and owner of Burns Meat Packing Co., commissioned the famous British Columbia architect Francis Rattenbury to design his Calgary home. The 18-room sandstone mansion featured ornate carvings of gargoyles, coats of arms and a distinctive three-storey tower. When Alberta became a province in 1905, the manor and surrounding gardens were the site of an elegant reception for Prime Minister Sir Wilfrid Laurier and Lady Laurier. Following Burn's death in 1937, the stately home became a boarding house but was sold four years later to the federal government. The Department of Pensions and Health began construction on the Colonel Belcher Hospital in 1942, incorporating the mansion into the new facility. Attempts to save the historic home ultimately failed and it was demolished in 1956. Oak mantles, staircases and panelling purchased from Wearmouth's salvage company were incorporated into other Calgary homes. Some of the sandstone was used to develop the Senator Patrick Burns Memorial gardens at the north end of Riley Park.
NOW: Colonel Belcher Hospital
• Named for Lt.-Col. Robert Belcher, cavalry officer and charter member of the Northwest Mounted Police, the Belcher Hospital was built as a treatment and convalescent facility for returning Second World War veterans. Five months after the new 250-bed hospital opened in December 1943, an expansion program began that continued into the late 1950s. In 1979, ownership was transferred to the province and, in 1991, the hospital was designated as a long-term care facility for veterans of the First World War, Second World War and the Korean War. The facility is scheduled for closure as a veteran's centre in 2003, when residents relocate to the new Carewest Colonel Belcher Centre currently under construction in northwest Calgary.