by Joel Schulz – Publisher
Sadly, after a brief illness, The House Coffee Sanctuary in Kensington passed away peacefully, at the age of 13, on Sunday November 30, 2014 at 9:00 PM MST with all its friends and family at its side. Its last moments were a wonderful celebration the amazing impact it had upon the lives of almost everybody who walked through its doors.
Unique among coffee houses, in addition to serving what many critics believed to be among the finest coffee available in the city, it was a haven for seniors seeking a solution to the problem of being shut-ins, a refuge for youth and homeless people looking for relief from pounding the pavement, a gallery for artists looking for walls to hang their heartfelt creations, a venue for musicians who were given an opportunity to play their first public gig, a screening room for local filmmakers, a workplace for marginalized youth, and a sanctuary for those needing to stay connected with the world they live in. This amazing diversity was only matched by its incredible successes at achieving what it set out to accomplish. Everyone who walked through its doors was welcome be they street people, the mentally ill, the physically challenged, or upscale high income earners. Every Friday night it was home to an Alcoholics Anonymous chapter. To the credit of the House and its staff is that this motley mix existed in an atmosphere of extra-ordinary harmony.
Back at the beginning of the summer, The House Coffee Sanctuary came down with what proved to be a fatal case of new landlord disease with complications from a pandemic of gentrification attacking Calgary. It was only a matter of time before it would succumb to this illness that is affecting many local businesses, most recently the Kensington Art Store. Many attempts were made to administer medical treatment with the permission new landlord, but in the end the efforts proved fruitless.
When an iconic citizen, such as The House, passes away an upheaval in the great work that it did usually ensues. Seniors, youth, street people, musicians, artists, the physically challenged, filmmakers, and competition grade coffee lovers now have nowhere to go, or at least it seems that way. A great void now appears to exist in Kensington. This is truly a tragedy.
This month the new building owners, upscale Kensington based restauranteurs, move in and change the business model from being not-for-profit to that of for-profit. Does Kensington need another for-profit coffee house? There are already six such coffee houses within mere blocks of the location where The House once lived at 126 10 Street NW. Perhaps this is just wishful thinking, but maybe the new business and landlords will continue with this outreach as a way of giving back to the community what the community gave it at its highly successful restaurant. That remains to be seen.
The House Coffee Sanctuary, I will miss you deeply, you actually filled a void in my life too. Being the only surviving member of my family, you stepped up to the plate and gave me a new family to love and be loved by. Thank you Derrick Mitchell, Jenessa McAuley, Josh Albers, Josh McAuley, Kimberly Giebler, Beth Klingenberg, Naomi Millard, Fatima Dhesi, Simeon Kinsey, Jordan Maier, Taylor Derkson, and Shannon Drobot, to name a few, for being such great friends and becoming my new family. You were truly a blessing to the whole community.