The Brotherhood of Mankind Sculptures &

Northwest Travelers Building

A point of interest on the Discover Downtown Calgary GPS-guided audio walking tour.

Press play & listen to the tour audio!

Audio Transcript

Welcome to your new family! Just kidding, these quirky characters on your right are collectively called the Brotherhood of Mankind, or Armengol Sculptures. They’re also sometimes referred to as the Family of Man. They've been here since 1968 and since then have become something of a minor tourist attraction.

The way you see them now, standing in a friendly circle, isn’t how they were originally designed though. They were created by Spanish artist Mario Armengol as part of the British Pavilion for the Montreal Expo in 1967, but were bought by a businessman who donated them to Calgary for tax reasons.

 

When they arrived here from Montreal, there weren’t any instructions on how to put the group together, so they were arranged as you see them now.

In their original arrangement, the figures reflected the dominance of mankind, and stood next to what the British determined were their gifts to the modern world, things like language, governmental systems, law, and traditions.

And now, on to our final point of interest on the tour. If you take a look to the west, on the opposite side of the street from the sculptures beside the fire hall, you'll see a red-brick building named

the Northwest Travelers Building!

 

You see, back in 1883, Calgary was this region’s primary centre for distributing manufactured goods due to how close it was to the transcontinental rail line. This meant that business agents would often travel through here to display their products and take orders from retailers.

Due to this frequency of travel, the Northwest Commercial Travelers Association of Canada decided to build this building in order to house their branch in Alberta. Inside there were a number of different spaces to cater to the needs of its patrons, including a space for displaying product samples, and various rooms for socializing.

Later in its life, the building would house a number of other things like the Calgary Public Museum, a Y.W.C.A branch, and a hostel for the Salvation Army!

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Calgary, AB    Discover Calgary

This POI is featured on the Downtown Calgary Audio Walking Tour, part of the Tripvia Tours mobile app available for Android & Apple.

All audio walking tours are self-guided and include fully narrated commentary.

Trivia Challenge

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The trivia questions are separate from the commentary and completely optional.

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