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Conflicting Loyalties

Isabella Clark Hardisty Lougheed (b. 1861, d. 1936)

 Isabella Hardisty was a dauntless Métis girl from a fur-trading post in the North who grew up to become Lady Lougheed in one of the youngest and liveliest cities in Canada. She was a forward-thinking woman whose involvement in politics, the economy, the arts and in advancing humanitarian causes helped shape the culture of turn-of-the-century Calgary.

Belle was born in Deninu Kue, “moose island place,” a trading post on the south shore of Great Slave Lake also called Fort Resolution. She was the eldest child of William Lucas Hardisty, a Hudson’s Bay Company trader who became chief factor in the hamlet, and Mary Anne Allen of the Chinook people of the Pacific northwest. She was the niece of a senator, Richard Hardisty, and became the wife of a prominent lawyer and future senator, James Lougheed, in 1884. While her elevated social status in adulthood put her in the company of oil barons, transportation magnates, British royalty and the like, Belle was equally at ease with people from all ranks of society. When James was knighted in 1916 and became Sir Lougheed, the magnanimous Belle became Lady Lougheed.

As a mother of six, an influential wife, a resolute activist and a celebrated host, she was loved by many. But she remains something of an enigma as her life can only be known through the accounts of her admirers—Belle did not keep diaries or leave memoirs of her own. The exhibit, Conflicting Loyalties, is a compilation of the voices and views of those who knew her and her world.

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