I have lived in the Beltline for most of my adult life, which has also been central to Calgary’s queer community for more than 50 years. Additionally, most historians I know are voracious readers. Consequently, it is no surprise that my favourite Beltline store is Shelf Life Books.
Shelf Life has an interesting queer history itself as the site of the former Parkside Continental gay bar. There is an excellent mural on the backside of the store by Kyle Simmers, that subtly evokes this history with the inclusion of the bar’s now iconic logo.
The book store has been the largest seller of my book, Our Past Matters, and has hosted yycgayhistory special events for which I am very grateful. They also stock the books of queer friends and colleagues. Pick up any book by Suzette Mayr, Vivek Shraya, or Rae Spoon and you won’t be disappointed. Sharanpal Ruprai, whom I adore as a person, writes books of poetry that sing, charm, and sizzle. They also carry more comprehensive Canadian queer history readers such as the Valerie Korinek’s Prairie Fairies and The ArQuives‘ recently published OutNorth.
In fact, all independent book stores in Calgary need our custom. Furthermore think hyperlocal—support Calgary authors by buying their books. If you need inspiration, there is no greater source than Shaun Hunter’s Calgary Reading Lists. She virtually single-handedly has created a canon of local literature, as well as a useful reader in Calgary Through the Eyes of Writers.
I am wishing all Calgarians a safe, happy, and restful holiday season. Take care of yourselves and each other—find joy in unexpected places. — Kevin
Parkside Love was a great success last week. Thanks to Shelf Life Books, and all the Calgarians who came out to share memories of the former Parkside Continental bar. It was a special place for many and formative for Calgary’s LGBTQ2 community.
Kevin Allen standing in front of the original window/artifact from the Parkside Continental – 1302 4 St. SW.
Speaking of Everett, we are working with the New Central Library on an exhibition in May to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the decriminalization of homosexuality in Canada. If you have any thoughts on what should be included in that exhibition write to us at email@example.com.
I packed up my office at the New Central Library this weekend as my historian residency came to an end. It was both wonderful and an honour. Look for an upcoming queer history exhibition at the Library in May. Also, I am in conversation with Library staff about creating an ongoing series of “Tea with the Historian” gatherings – stay tuned.
Saying goodbye to the Historian in Residence office.
Bow Valley College is celebrating its first ever Pride Week, February 11-15, 2019. They have a full slate of activities and workshops planned. You are welcome to join me for our queer local history lecture this Wednesday at noon.
BVC’s Pride Week 2019
Then on Thursday evening at 7 PM, please brave the weather for a heartwarming reading of Our Past Matters at Parkside Love (Shelf Life Books – 1302 4th St SW). Not only will we be sharing memories of the former gay bar which existed there, but we also will present a surprising Parkside artifact that will be sure to delight. Light refreshments will be served.