Decades-old wagon wheels salvaged from Calgary bar help raise funds for hotel’s transformation

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WATCH: In the midst of a multi-million-dollar renovation, a non-profit organization uncovered some expensive treasures. The Victory Foundation is building an affordable housing complex in Calgary, and hopes this discovery helps it raise what it needs to make the project a reality. Jill Croteau reports – Jul 5, 2022

A non-profit organization uncovered some expensive treasures in the midst of a massive renovation. The Victory Foundation builds affordable housing for Calgarians.

Wagon wheels found in T&C. Jill Croteau/Global News

They are transforming a Forest Lawn landmark, the old Town and Country (T & C) hotel off 17th avenue southeast into a 48 unit complex for women, children and seniors.

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The Foundation’s founder, Don Delaney said during the demolition they salvaged 21 wagon wheels that used to hang from the ceiling of the old saloon.

“I loved them right away. Everybody else wanted to get rid of them and I said: ‘No I like them’. It wasn’t until we took them down we realized how big they are,” Delaney said.

Don Delaney sanding and staining old wagon wheels. Jill Croteau/Global News

The eight foot wagon wheels weigh over 200 pounds each. But Delaney said it is history worth saving. The relics of the past from the notorious bar and hotel are being sanded and spruced up.

“This can be a tool repurposed from the past. That’s the whole goal of this project, for people to repurpose their lives and so why not repurpose wagon wheels. We want to put them around the city for stampede displays,” Delaney said.

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In the spirit of stampede, they are offering them to businesses for a donation. Their team will deliver and set them up anywhere. They are hoping to get at least $500.

“As a base donation we would like to get $500 or $1000. To rent these wheels you’re looking at $75 to $100 a day,” Delaney said.

Read more: Plans revealed for notorious Calgary hotel to be transformed into affordable housing

A family-owned steel company was so moved by the initiative it donated thousands of dollars worth of work and materials to create stands for the massive wheels. Bill Thompson works for Sureway Metal Systems.

“Through design to prototype through manufacturing and modeling and welding and fabrication and painting we pulled it off in less than 3 weeks,” Thompson said. “It was quite a feat.”

The project will change lives. Ray Tallow has experienced that first-hand. The Victory Foundation helped support him with housing. He said he’s  determined to give back.

Ray Tallow working on T&C transformation project. Jill Croteau/Global News

Read more: ‘It’s been crazy:’ People gearing up for this year’s Calgary Stampede

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“I like helping people. When I was drinking, I was selfish and didn’t think about anything else except for drinking but now I’m doing something good,” Tallow said.

Money raised will go towards the $11 million project, they need $4.8 million to reach their goal.

It’s hoped they will open the housing complex in the next year.

“We will be offering a home, a meal program and 25% of the space will be for commercial which will offset rents to make them affordable,” Delaney said.

“Seeing price of rentals, Forest Lawn has a high ratio of single moms and seniors so providing more housing in the community where it’s needed is essential.”

Interest donors can contact Victory Foundation at 403-875-8050.

Wagon wheels will have Victory Foundation logo on them. Jill Croteau/Global News
Hotel units will be gutted and renovated for low-income women and seniors. Jill Croteau/Global News
Wagon wheels used to hang in the ceiling. Courtesy: Don Delaney
Artist rendering of finished affordable housing design. Courtesy: Don Delaney
Former T & C. Jill Croteau/Global News



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