Barrister’s Office in the Wild West is a photograph by fine art photographer Edward M. Fielding, taken just outside of Calgary. It features an historic barrister’s office in the traditional false front style from the frontier.
According to Robbin McClain in EHow:
This architectural style…could be found in the Northeastern, Southern and Western parts of the United States from 1860 to 1905. Most false-front buildings were made of wood and housed commercial businesses. They gave newly formed boom towns a sense of permanence and helped settlers acclimate to new surroundings.
Basically the false front dressed up a simple building. Taking style clues from the brick storefronts in the cities back east, the wooden false front of the frontier business was a bit of set design. Since the boom towns of the west could not be counted on for permanence, few merchants and businesses were ready to invest in a quality building. Besides the false front wooden buildings were a big improvement over the tents they replaced.
The historic building in the photograph now resides at the Heritage Park Historical Village in Calgary, Canada. This impressive park features an array of historic buildings as well as vintage steam trains, paddle wheel boat rides and actors in vintage dress demonstrating how things used to be done.
The Historical Village is open from May long weekend to October. Gasoline Alley Museum is open year-round. The park is located on 127 acres (51 ha) of parkland on the banks of the Glenmore Reservoir, along the city’s southwestern edge. As Canada’s largest living history museum, it is one of the city’s most visited tourist attractions. Exhibits span Western Canadian history from the 1860s to the 1950s.
The history of the little law office is interesting:
The economic and population boom experienced in Southern Alberta between the arrival of the Canadian Pacific Railway and the First World War lured many adventurous young lawyers west from Manitoba and Ontario.
They could do very well for themselves in towns still relatively free from competition by seeing to the legal needs of the new settlers and businesses, and assisting the railway with its legal affairs. Cases involving property law occupied much of these lawyers’ time. Alexander McCorquodale, a native of Manitoba, was the second lawyer to occupy this law office in High River, arriving in 1908 and setting up shop in 1909 for about 40 years. The Calgary Bar Association donated the building in 1967, after using it for a display at the Calgary Stampede. The law office was restored between 1993 and 1996.
For more photographs and artwork please visit my gallery at www.edwardfielding.com