Back in Calgary in 1913, a newly passed bylaw regulated what could happen on streets, sidewalks, and thoroughfares in the growing city, all in the name of preserving order.
Among the exhaustive list of rules under bylaw 1502? No running or racing on streets or sidewalks, and no crowding or jostling "other foot passengers so as to create discomfort, disturbance or confusion."
That same bylaw stated citizens must keep their animals—specifically horses, cows, and "any beast of burden”—off sidewalks. It forbade people to advertise the sale of merchandise, furniture or other articles by "the blowing of any horn, ringing of any bell, crying, halloing or creating any other disturbance or noise in any of the streets" in Calgary.
Bylaw 1502 even targeted snowball fights. Section 36 commanded: "No person shall cast, project or throw any stones, balls or balls of snow or ice or other missiles dangerous to the public, or use any bow and arrows in any of the streets or public places of this municipality."
Looking back, this bylaw and its 60 sections seem quirky and humorous. But such regulations are more common than you might think; the ordinance is documented in the book By-Laws of the City of Calgary From the Date of Its Incorporation in 1884 to 5th May, 1913, which is hundreds of pages long.
All those regulations, intended to keep order in the booming city, offer insight into common concerns of the time. No boxing or sparring contests were allowed if admission was charged, no vehicles, horses or animals could remain on certain streets for longer than 20 minutes between 6 a.m. and 7 p.m., and crossing a bridge with more than 10 horses, 10 cows, 50 sheep or 50 pigs was not allowed. (No mention of bears, such as the one in the postcard from the past pictured above.)
A seemingly endless list of rules governed Calgary in the early 20th century. A bylaw defined the duties of the pound-keeper, the charges at the crematory, and even the making and selling of bread.
Newspaper clippings over the years show the rule making didn’t stall as the city matured. The clippings offer a glimpse into a range of headline-garnering Calgary bylaws, some passed, some shelved.
That includes a 1932 bylaw to enforce the pasteurization of milk, a strict dog bylaw passed in 1957, new rules for illuminated signs that same year, a bid for a curfew on teenagers sought by a housewife in 1965, and a lengthy dispute in the late ‘80s over a bylaw restricting where vendors could sell hotdogs.
Many of Calgary’s more curious codes from the past have been removed in recent years, and new commands have been put into place. Today, the City of Calgary’s bylaws are listed online by topic, outlining rules for everything from appliances and refrigerators to littering, noise, and weeds.