Square Dancing through the Decades
The year was 1950 and the Palliser Hotel lobby became the activity center of the Calgary Stampede for visiting tourists and would give them a taste of what to expect.
Square dancing would be one of the entertaining activities which would grow into what it is today, a committee of the Downtown Attractions.
Mr. Phil Bourque's Calgarians and five piece orchestra with dance caller Mike Hussey put in a busy week whirling through their paces back in the 50's. Mrs. Harold Herron and Phil Bourque were the ones who would do the calling.
The Do-Si-Ettes, under the direction of Michale Hussey, formed the group and brought the dancers into the lobby of the Palliser Hotel along with Mr. A.E (Al) Silliker and the Jubilee Juniors in a combined group to perform.
Since that time, the square dancing has carried on its journey beyond the Palliser Hotel to areas such as 2nd St. & 8th Ave S.W which was formally Rope Square in front of the Royal Hotel
From there it moved to the 8th Ave mall in front of the Hudsons BayCo Department store.
Other locations used over time found its way to the front of city hall across from the now Stampede Rope Square but was conflicting with activities in rope square mainly the music which echoed off city hall but not the dancing. Then it was onto 8th Ave & 3rd St S.W. which would be its site in front of the Eaton's Department store.
As the dance stage truck moved up the mall playing western music, those on board would encourage you to follow.
Finding the square dance venue was to far up the mall on 8th. ave, the concept was loosing some interest and people wanted it closer to the action. So now it was back down the mall where it found a home.
Today square dancing is still on the 8th ave mall in front of the old Bank of Montreal at 1st. S.W where it continues to draw crowds but has to stop playing briefly to let bands, and the Indians move down the mall to attend Rope Square, then they are back at it.
As the years went by and those who have travelled this road to make it all happen have passed on, some of the remaining dancers still live in Calgary and surrounding area. Although I was the youngest of our group and tried to dance a little back then, I would find myself reuniting back to those days by later on in life becoming a volunteer on the Downtown Attractions Committee in 1978 and, that being the Square Dance committee.
I recognized some of the callers like Don Martin, Kitch Elton and Roy Warhurst. Don was happy to see one of us kids join up and carry on a tradition. So now it was my turn.
I can only tell you some of the names of the dancers who were Jubilee Jr. Square Dancers. They were John, Albert, Alberta, Madeleine, Evelyne & Franklin Silliker (the mascot) so to speak.
Keeping news paper articles, pictures of the square dancing and fond memories of the Stampede Stories has been just one of my continuing passions for Calgary's history. And when I look at the pictures from parades and square dancing it is a memory to behold.
As once said by Jacsonian Jewell Quote "People without a past have no future"
How do I know these things you ask?............. well!
My name is Franklin D Silliker, a native Calgarian.