Tag Archives: Harry Hays

Calgary “Sex Deviates” Saved Library

{This week, we have a guest post from emerging historian Jason Brooks. Digging in the archives, he discovered that the storied Memorial Park Library was saved from redevelopment due to the shady company it kept! – Kevin}

In 1962, Calgary City Council was divided over the creation of a new central public library. While all sides agreed that the growing population required a new library, the location for such a building was contested. Mayor Harry Hays advocated for a location across from City Hall on the corner of 7th Ave and 2nd Street (later Macleod Trail) SE. However, opponents of this plan suggested the replacement of the then 50-year-old Memorial Park Library.

In response, Mayor Hays used a police report to argue that the site was dangerous to children since, โ€œmore homosexuals hang out there than anywhere else.โ€ Despite the Mayorโ€™s argument, the report concluded that no assaults had occurred to children under the age of 16 within the vicinity of Memorial Park.

After the debate, the new central library was built in 1964 at Mayor Hays’ preferred location. Memorial Park and its library continued to be a significant meeting point for Calgary’s queer community for the rest of the century, regardless of police scrutiny.

Memorial Park Library, photo courtesy #HistoricPlacesDays