Calgary’s Historic Deane House Gets a New Life
Meanwhile, the menu by Chef Jamie Harling takes inspiration from the building’s storied past.
The confluence of the Bow and Elbow rivers, at the heart of Blackfoot territory and known as Moh’Kinsstis, was significant to Indigenous peoples who came to hunt, camp and cross the river. It was also the site where the North West Mounted Police built their fort in 1875, creating the foundation of the city of Calgary.
Captain Richard Burton Deane, Fort Calgary’s last serving NWMP Superintendent, had a house built there for his wife in 1906; it was later purchased by the Grand Trunk Railway to serve as the office and station master’s house, then moved across the river to its current location facing 9th Avenue—such a major undertaking at the time, the project was featured in a 1930 issue of Popular Mechanics. Since then it has been a boarding house, art gallery and restaurant (owned by the city); it’s been closed since 2012, awaiting its next chapter. Surprisingly, the Deane house was spared any damage in the floods of 2013, but flooding at the historic River Café on Prince’s Island slowed the project down for proprietor Sal Howell, who had been in conversation with Fort Calgary about transforming the Deane House, a place with historical significance that fit with her dedication to local, regional and Indigenous cuisine.
Last summer, the Deane House and its surrounding gardens were completed and revealed to Calgarians eager to see it revitalized. Chef Jamie Harling, previously the executive chef at Rouge restaurant, who now occupies the 1891 Cross House a few blocks down the river, took over the kitchen, coming up with a seasonally-inspired menu influenced by the history of the site, with local produce, fish, game and fowl. The new post-flood retaining wall running between the house and bike path doubles as a garden bed, and with the help of horticulturalists and volunteers from Fort Calgary, is planted with edible Indigenous plant material and fruit-bearing shrubs and trees including juniper, saskatoons, gooseberries and cherries. Because the Deane House is an extension of the fort, these ingredients will be used as educational tools as well as to supplement menu items.
Inside, walls have stayed intact, the rooms have been refinished with their original wood, frames and hardware, and local artists have utilized reclaimed materials to create new works to help tell the story of the house’s history. At the front of the house, the sunny garden room is big enough for one round table overlooking the front and side garden Captain Deane loved to tend; the dining room at the back of the house is decked out with period artwork, and the enclosed wraparound porch allows views of downtown and the river and is open to the Tenement Bar in the middle of the house, which is already known for its creative cocktails and late-night weekend menu. The pantry, stocked with jarred preserves and Jamie’s rustic red fife sourdough loaves, is laden with pastries during weekend brunch. Upstairs, a stunning library acts as a staging area for bridal parties and hosts private events.
What you’ll find on the menu depends on the day and season; you might try ember roasted winter squash with seared potato gnocchi, pea shoots and brown butter vinaigrette ($15), roasted Driview Farms rabbit saddle with wild rice, Pennybun’s mushrooms and pickled mustard seeds ($42) or 7k Ranch longhorn beef with ember roasted cabbage, smoked fingerling potatoes and pickled pearl onions ($42). But chef Harling is best known for his tasting menu—an exploration of regional Canadian cuisine celebrating peak ingredients of the season ($100, participation of the entire table is required). For thousands of years, the confluence of the Bow and Elbow was known as a gathering place—the Deane house, at the confluence of the past and present, continues to bring people together in Inglewood for an extraordinary experience.
The Deane House
806 9th Ave SE