Discover the Historic Officers’ Mess Hall & Garden
October 23, 2019
Part of the very first structures and landscapes built in Currie way back in 1936, the Officers’ Mess Hall and Garden represent the height of Canadian military elegance and sophistication. Step back in time to see how the senior military officers of Currie Barracks lived, worked and played in a building that showcases military tradition and style.
From Great Depression to Second World War
The name Currie comes from General Sir Arthur William Currie, a proud Canadian Armed Forces commander from World War One. During the Great War, General Currie served on the Western Front in Europe, earning himself a reputation as one of Canada’s greatest military commanders.
Currie Barracks came to life thanks in part to the largest public works program in Canadian History, providing much-needed relief during the Great Depression of the 1930s. Veterans of the First World War and many Calgarians found work constructing the various structures within Currie Barracks. The establishment of a permanent military base in Western Canada represented a significant step forward for the Canadian Armed Forces, solidifying their presence in the west.
Formal and Distinguished Style
As was common for military bases, buildings reserved for officers were often segregated from the rest of the structures and members in order to firmly establish the separation of rank. Connected via Trasimene Crescent to the other buildings in the Officers Precinct (Brad House and Ramshead House), the Officers’ Mess Hall stands out with symmetrical wings visible from the circular front driveway, a façade showcasing classic design elements and a cottage-style roof.
Inside is where the details of this building highlight the elegance and importance of the hall. From the barrel vault ceiling that greets you in the front entrance to the impressive ballrooms with large interior windows, ornate finishings and fine craftsmanship can be found throughout. On the floor of each ballroom the insignia VP is inscribed, paying lasting homage to Victoria Patricia and Princess Patrica’s Canadian Light Infantry. Two wood-panelled fireplaces flank the grand ballrooms, adding to the refined style found everywhere in the building.
The second floor is where visiting dignitaries and Currie’s single officers were housed in private rooms. Firmly establishing the privileges of rank and the comforts it affords, a rear veranda looks out onto the manicured formal garden exclusively available to those of higher rank.
Host to Grand Moments and Elite Guests
The Officers’ Mess wasn’t just a place for Currie’s leaders to congregate for everyday meals and downtime, this was the space reserved for grand celebrations. The most important of which was the mess dinner, a chance to celebrate the achievements of the regiment and its fallen soldiers alongside dignitaries and invited guests. Events like this offered the opportunity to showcase Canada’s military tradition.
The Officers’ Mess welcomed many important figures over its lifetime, including the royal family, prime ministers, and military leaders from across Canada. Today, Canada Lands Company has restored the Officers’ Mess Garden for all Canadians to enjoy.
Below you can see historical videos of Currie Barracks as it once was.
*Used by permission of The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada Regimental Museum and Archive
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