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City of Romance: The Literary World of 1920s Calgary


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A captivating and diverse cast of literary personalities called 1920s Calgary home, including a Chinese-Canadian novelist who made her name masquerading as Japanese, a mixed-race writer from North Carolina who fashioned a Blackfoot identity, and an Icelandic-Canadian bent on literary fame. Here lived a crusading feminist who wrote bestselling fiction, a car-crazy war correspondent, a policeman-novelist, and a posse of pioneering female journalists pursuing success. Many of these characters and other city writers were enjoying international acclaim.

In an era of city building after a world war and pandemic, the literary scene was booming. Writers and others saw Calgary as a “City of Romance”—a storied landscape rich with literary inspiration. Novelist Winnifred Reeve noted in 1923: “something more valuable than oil may spring from our wells.” In a small city of sixty-five thousand far from the country’s cultural centre, writers were making a literary world here. Their enterprise took effort, optimism and bravado. This map tells that forgotten story.



Eveline Kolijn, Artist

Shaun Hunter, Writer

Jim Ellis, Editor

Glenn Mielke, Graphic Designer