Wednesday 1 March 2023

Old City Maps & Aerial Photos

In Calgary, where I was born, there is a website where you can look at air photos of the city from 1924 to 2022. That date range covers a great deal of the expansion of the city and certainly my own family’s lifetime residences there.

With the mapping tool you can set up side-by-side views from different years to see how the locations of your old house changed. Or look at individual maps for almost every year there were aerial photos taken. The maps are all georeferenced so the views are exactly the same as you flick through the years without changing the screen view.

Our first house on Hunterburn Crescent NW from 1970 to 1980

We designed and built our first house in northwest Calgary in a brand-new subdivision. The montage above shows the bare lands in 1969 before roads were graded, in 1972 when the home was finished and we had moved in, and today with planted trees now mature. The 14th street extension was not begun until 1976.

Our house on Superior Avenue SW from 1980 to 1990

Our house on Superior Avenue was built in 1929 for the William Thomas and Anna Esdale family. He was a local druggist. Anna was involved in the Calgary Women’s Musical Club which was founded in 1906. The living room of their custom home featured a raised stage at one end which we believe was used for choral presentations and rehearsals.

The house was greatly in need of renovation when we bought it and I spent hundreds of hours doing the work to bring it back to its original state, with some modern improvements of course. As can be seen on the montage, the location was still a vacant lot in 1926, as was most of the area.

Anyway, the point of this post is that old maps and especially old aerial photos are great ways to source information about past family residences and businesses. I found the site for Calgary aerial photos with a simple Google search for “Calgary 1920 map” when I was looking for information about our old neighbourhood. Two blog posts came up: Daily Hive and Everyday Tourist. They led me to the Calgary Imagery webpages.

Try a search for your own location and see what comes up. You may be pleasantly surprised.

I am certainly going to have more fun with this website in looking at all our family homes and businesses over the years.


Websites for Calgary: blog:

Imagery website