In various forms, Nature Calgary has been an organized group since 1955. As our goals and membership evolved, one thing remained the same: all Calgarians are invited to join us and appreciate, learn and enjoy nature.
From a club to a society
A handful of keen birders formed the Calgary Bird Club in December 1955. During the 1960s, interest grew for other aspects of natural history beyond birding. The Calgary Bird Club evolved and became the Calgary Field Naturalists’ Society.
Preserving Calgary’s natural areas
Nature Calgary has been contributing to the preservation of natural areas within the city that Calgarians enjoy today. Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, the Society advocated for the ongoing protection of parks and areas with letters and engagement with city officials. The Inglewood Bird Sanctuary, Edworthy Park and Nose Hill were all preserved by the City of Calgary with the help of dedicated volunteers from Nature Calgary. Advocacy for the preservation of natural areas remains our priority today.
Nature Calgary today
Nature Calgary is still registered as a charity under Calgary Field Naturalists’ Society. As we continue to evolve and grow, our mission remains the same: to encourage the appreciation, observation, study, conservation and protection of all components of the natural world.
The early days – before the Calgary Bird Club
Nature Calgary has deep roots in the community. The Calgary Naturalists’ Club was started in the late 1940s by Miss Mary Barclay. She placed an advertisement in the Calgary Herald and the group organized plant, bird and star study groups and weekly outings. Due to the diverse interests of the groups, the group remained small and most members left for the Calgary Bird Club when that was formed in 1955. After sevens years, the Calgary Naturalists’ Club was discontinued in 1956.
Here is a detailed account of the early history from Don Stiles:
“The Calgary Naturalists’ Club started with the placing of an advertisement in the Calgary Herald by Miss Mary Barclay, according to Margaret Cope (Calgary Field Naturalist 8:199, 1977). This was in 1949 (1946 according to Margaret Cope). Its activities included plant, bird and star study groups. Weekly outings were held when the weather was suitable, and a real effort was made to encourage junior members. Meetings were held at Central United Church, and later at a room made available by the Calgary Branch of the University of Alberta at S.A.I.T. As early as 1953, the Calgary Naturalists’ Club recognized the need for Natural History Parks, and this idea was carried at their display booth during the Recreation Unlimited Show in the Calgary Corral that year. In 1954 Julie Hrapko, now Botany Curator at the Provincial Museum, was President. Unfortunately, the society was small and the members had diverse interests. The result was that after the Calgary Bird Club was formed in 1955 and many of the members had transferred their membership to it, the Calgary Naturalists’ Club was discontinued in June 1956 due to lack of support. It had served a useful role for nearly seven years.”
Nature Calgary Library
Nature Calgary has been publishing books, newsletters and reports since we were founded. The former Nature Calgary library was dispersed in 2015 – please contact Mike Rogers at 403-251-9438 if you are looking for specific materials. For other questions, send us a message and our volunteers will help you out.
The Calgary Field Naturalist (1969 – 1979) – The monthly newsletter for the Calgary Field Naturalists’ Society.
PICA – The magazine of the Calgary Field Naturalists’ Society (1979 – 2004) – Paper copies archived by Library and Archives Canada
Nature News (2003 – present) – Online and print copies of our newsletter are available from Library and Archives Canada and at the Glenbow Museum and Archives.
President’s Report (2017) – From the 2017 Annual General Meeting by John McFaul, president of the board of directors.