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  • Dan Duguay

Eau Claire Market: Was Once a Busking Mecca

Updated: May 8

Once a vibrant Calgary destination.
Eau Claire Market

Two things drew me to move to Calgary from Ottawa:

  • When I busked, the guitar case was fuller at the end of the day.

  • Eau Claire Market allowed me to work any day of the year except Christmas.

I have had countless conversations with people about Eau Claire Market. If you lived in Calgary in the 90's, Dan the One Man Band will forever be associated with that place.

The first 5 years of living in Calgary had me down at Eau Claire Market on Friday nights and Saturday and Sunday afternoons. It was Calgary's answer to Vancouver's Granville Island. A weekend destination with unique shops and stalls, loads of entertainment options (arcade, movie theatres and street performers in every corner) and great dining options.

From one bad decision to the next, the venue turned into a white elephant. I feel like 1999 was the last bountiful year. Here we are 25 years later and it's finally being demolished. Talk about a slow death!

People need places to go to be with other people, to shop, to experience culture. As long as society exists, there will always be that. Whether this phenomenon happens organically or by force will continue to be debated by urban planners. Eau Claire Market was all that until it wasn't. Most people would probably say "good riddance" to this building because they don't see the history. Some of us see this demolition as a symbol of a bygone era.

I suppose the Calgary Farmer's Market is what replaced it for many people. Their expansion to two locations is a good indication that it is thriving. I shifted over from Eau Claire to CFM when it was in Garrison Woods. It provided me with bountiful income until the enforcement of a "no percussion instrument" rule made me into a one-man BANNED band. (A simple rule that had a big implication in my life...but we'll save that for another story).

I haven't been to the Farmer's market in many years. It is still a place that welcomes the right kind of busker. It obviously has a better business strategy than Eau Claire Market ever did.

It is finally being torn down to make way for a C-Train station. I wonder if they'll allow buskers to work there?

My good pal James Jordan recently gave a eulogy for the place.

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