Hugh Dempsey (1929-2022)

The Celebration of Life service was held this week at Fort Calgary for Alberta Historian Hugh Dempsey. His contribution to local history is inestimable but the Calgary Gay History Project would like to reflect on a personal connection.

Hugh Dempsey in 2016. PHOTO BY CHRISTINA RYAN /Calgary Herald

Thirty years ago this autumn, I {Kevin} took a University of Calgary class, from Professor Dempsey: Canadian Studies 311, Indians of the Canadian Plains: an interdisciplinary approach. In 1992, Dr. Dempsey was recently retired from the Glenbow Museum, and his reputation was impressive.

The class really stuck with me; in fact, it was the only history course I took in my degree program. My term paper was about homosexuality in Plains Indian culture. I remember being very nervous about working on the topic because of taboos at the time, but Dr. Dempsey was unfailingly polite and supportive. He gave great feedback too; it turned out he knew a lot about the subject.

In 2020, I wrote to him as editor of Alberta History magazine (which he edited for more than 60 years!) and sent him a copy of my book, Our Past Matters.

I explained, “It wasn’t until I was 40 that I discovered a deep interest in history—almost by accident—and it has become a significant part of my life. I was just one of your many students, but I wanted to let you know that it was your class which planted a seed and eventually culminated in this book.”

He then dutifully read my book, and reviewed it in the next issue of the magazine. I was so pleased.

One never fully knows the ripples we cause in other people’s lives. I am very thankful that Dr. Dempsey affected mine.

{KA}

Queer History takes a Village

We would like to thank everyone who contacts the Calgary Gay History Project with history tidbits and recollections.

Last week, Kristopher and the Edmonton Queer History Project shared this Calgary advertisement which they discovered in the May 1983 issue of Fine Print in Edmonton. David’s was a gay bathhouse that opened that summer in the building which now houses Commonwealth Bar and Stage. David’s was located in the basement and later became the Underground Pub as part of The Warehouse nightclub upstairs. Calgary had three bathhouses at the time. Anecdotally, Stampede was one of the busiest (and hottest, to borrow from their ad-copy) times of the year. Yahoo!

David’s opening announcement in 1983

{KA}

Calgary Pride ’22—choose your own queer history adventure!

This year, the Calgary Pride Festival is scheduled to run August 26th – September 5th. Typically the Calgary Gay History Project does two or three events to celebrate local queer history during the fest. We had the innovative idea—before we schedule anything—to ask YYCgayhistory readers and supporters what they would like to see. We’re crowdsourcing history programming!

Fill in this free and anonymous survey to nudge us into the programming that you want to experience, now that we can gather in person again. Let us know by July 21st—your input is valuable to us.

Kevin leading a Beltline Gay History Walk 2017
Ayanna and Kevin at the Calgary Pride Festival History Booth in 2016

{KA}