Tag Archives: lgbtq

The Passing of Nick de Vos

Last week I attended the funeral of Nick de Vos, who was one of the first gay elders we talked to when the Calgary Gay History Project started in the Autumn of 2012. Born in Holland in 1932, he and his family immigrated to Canada in 1948 after the war.


Tom and Nick on holiday in 1960

He wrote to me once, “I have been gay since birth” and was lucky enough to find his life partner in 1959, Tom Deagon, who passed away in 2011 – a 51 year relationship! Nick was active in Calgary’s gay community when it was still largely underground, and talked often about fun times at the Palliser Hotel (the Kings Arms Tavern). He recalled:

Most of us had to enter through the front entrance and worked our way to the bar as the First Street bar entrance was too obvious – there was a danger of getting known and losing your job.

When the bar closed everyone placed a $1.00 on the table for someone to buy beer to keep the party going at someone’s apartment. There was always a volunteer host for those parties which went into the wee hours of the morning on weekends.

Nick valued his privacy and spent his lifetime being discrete where his sexual orientation was concerned; he operated on a don’t get asked – don’t explain principle with the world at large. Yet he was very out in the gay world, attending lots of gay events, including some he created. He was proud of the length of his relationship with Tom, and their 39th anniversary was featured in the June 1998 issue of Outlooks Magazine, a local gay publication.

A lifetime performer, Nick claimed the best gay bar Calgary ever had was Club Carousel, where he performed on stage numerous times, as well as created and managed numerous shows, including “It’s a Carousel World.”


Nick (right) with a friend at Club Carousel in 1972

Nick was a bon vivant, a firm hugger, a prolific emailer and an accomplished event photographer.  He liked being in the centre of a party; his eyes often twinkled. In collaboration with Third Street Theatre, we held a Club Carousel Cabaret at the 2014 High Performance Rodeo. Nick, invited as a special guest, was moved to tears which he called tears of joy.


Nick de Vos, Lois Szabo, and Kevin Allen at One Voice Chorus’ Club Carousel Concert  (2015)

We will miss you Nick.



Us on Alberta Primetime & Thank you!

We successfully concluded the Kickstarter Campaign on Monday, reaching our stretch goal, and ending with $20,051 of pledges from 163 backers.  We are extremely grateful at the generosity of this community and honoured by your faith in this project.  We have been contacted this week by some people who missed the Kickstarter deadline for donating.  If you are in the same boat and still would like to contribute, please contact us directly.

Monday night also, CTV’s Alberta Primetime featured the campaign in a televised interview.  You can watch host Shawna Randolph’s interview with Research Lead, Kevin Allen by clicking on the image below.

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Earlier in June, Alberta Primetime’s other host, Michael Higgins, interviewed Calgary Gay History Project Researcher, Tereasa Maillie, along with Edmonton’s Darrin Hagen in connection to Edmonton’s 2014 Pride Celebrations.  Take a look!

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Beautiful night for a walk and a kick, start…

We had over 100 participants on the Pride Week Calgary Gay History Walk last night – see photos below.  People learned about downtown sites of significance to the LGBTQ community and we had a live tweeting conversation between Mayor Nenshi and gay history walkers about the lack of a Pride Flag flying at City Hall (one of our stops).

Walkers also picked up hot-off-the-press Kickstarter postcards for the Writing Calgary’s Gay History Campaign (pledge, pledge, pledge, please).

Thanks go to the anonymous donor who slipped me cash on the walk as well as to Polish Queer Historian, Bart, who gave me his book QueerWarsaw – what a treat!  Finally, there was a lovely reception hosted by Calgary Outlink at the back patio of CommunityWise Resource Centre.

Come see us at the Calgary Gay History Festival Booth this Sunday at the Pride Festival from Noon – 6:00 PM.

Beginning of History Walk from the steps of the Memorial Park Library

Larger than a Calgary Pride Parade in the 90s perhaps?

Larger than a Calgary Pride Parade in the 90s perhaps?

Lois Szabo, a founder of Club Carousel, reflecting on its origins in 1968.

Lois Szabo, a founder of Club Carousel, reflecting on its origins in 1968.