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Out West

Map of Calgary, 1883

Map of Calgary, 1883. Surveyed by the Dominion Lands Office, Ottawa.

The population of Calgary was around 100 when Belle arrived in 1882. The next year, James Alexander Lougheed, a lawyer from Toronto, also moved to Calgary. Belle and James met at her aunt and uncle’s house at a Methodist Church social event in 1883. Belle played the organ during church services and James was the superintendent of the Sunday school.

Photo of James Lougheed as a young man

James Lougheed, late 1800s. Collection of LHCS 4-1.

Belle was close to her aunt and uncle, Eliza and Richard Charles. They hosted Belle and James’s wedding reception at their home in 1884. The marriage was of considerable benefit to James.

“James Lougheed’s rise to power and wealth in Calgary owed much to his wife, Belle Hardisty. Through his marriage into the Hardisty family, he instantly became well connected. His wife, so skilled socially and such a natural person, also helped to give the recent arrival from Eastern Canada a boost upward.”[1]


The original family home of Isabella and James Lougheed that had been located on 8th Avenue. They had the bay window added.

Original Lougheed residence, c.1970s. Collection of LHCS.

Belle and James’s first home was a small building on 8th Avenue that had previously been a tailor’s shop and a hardware store. Belle described its renovation years later in 1922.


“[B]eing chosen for our home it was rebuilt, one great embellishment being added—a bay window. This was the first bay window in Calgary, and during the building many were the spectators watching its progress.”[2]

1880s Photo of Stephen Avenue - the original Lougheed home is the second building on the left with the bay window.

Stephen Avenue, Calgary, 1880s. Original residence of James and Isabella second house on the left. Collection of LHCS.


A new residence was built for Belle and James in 1891, the mansion called Beaulieu. A majestic and elegant home, it was ideal for raising their family and hosting social and political events. The significance of its name is uncertain. It may have been a reference to Belle’s Métis heritage since François Beaulieu was a fur-trade associate of her father who was known as “an innovative, fearless trader, a trapper, a hunter, a feared Métis politician.” [3] Maybe the name signalled a gesture to the grandeur of Beaulieu Palace House in Hampshire, England, or to the Palace of Beaulieu in Essex.

Photo of Beaulieu under construction in 1891

Beaulieu under construction, 1891. Library and Archives Canada NL-018636.

Belle and James had six children: Clarence (b. 1885, d. 1933), Norman (b. 1889, d. 1963), Edgar (b. 1893, d. 1951), Dorothy (b. 1898, d. 1958), Douglas (b. 1901, d. 1931), and Marjorie (b. 1904, d. 1917). But they were to know heartache. Their daughter, Marjorie, who had often been sick, died at the age of twelve. A few years after James died in 1925, their youngest child, Douglas, “an avid sportsman and championship golfer,” died by suicide at the age of thirty and their eldest child, Clarence, “died in his sleep” at forty-eight.[4]

Photo of Isabella Lougheed with their eldest son, Clarence, at approximately 2 years old, c.1887.

Isabella Lougheed with son, Clarence, c.1887. Collection of LHCS.

James left his estate to his sons unaware of the challenges Belle and the family would face during the Depression. James’s wealth, based predominantly in real estate, was rapidly decimated and in 1934, the City of Calgary assumed title of Beaulieu for non-payment of taxes. Belle, along with Norman and his family, were allowed to stay on at the house out of respect for the Lougheeds. Belle died in 1936 and in 1938, an auction was held at Beaulieu to sell the family’s belongings in order to recover monies for debt repayment. The auction caused anguish and sadness for the remaining family members as they watched their heirlooms go to the highest bidders.

[1] Donald Smith, Calgary’s Grand Story, 2005, p. 22

[2] “Canadian Women in the Public Eye”, SATURDAY NIGHT – “The Paper Worth While,”Sept 16, 1922

[3] Rosemary Allerston, “Where the Beaulieus began” Up Here, January/February 1999, p. 49-50

[4] Alan Hustak, Peter Lougheed, McClelland and Stewart Ltd, Toronto, Canada, 1979, p. 25