Calgary·PODCAST

'Diamond Dolly' and the brothels of early Calgary

Heroes, Hustlers and Horsemen is a podcast series from CBC Calgary about real people who lived in southern Alberta around the time of confederation and a few decades beyond. These are the whisky-soaked, down and dusty, gun-slinging kinds of stories they leave out in school.

'Queen of the Fleshpots' was notorious in her day but elusive to history — we don't even know her real name

One of Calgary's red light districts in the early 20th century was found in the hills around Nose Creek. The prostitution business was booming in the 1910s and so, too, were the police busts. (Glenbow Archives)

It's the evening of July 26, 1910, and a red light district in the small prairie city of Calgary is coming to life.

The sound of music and drunken laughter drifts in the air around a notorious collection of houses on the edge of town.

The brothels here draw male customers from near and far.

Men make the trip from the rowdy saloons across the Bow River, from ranches in the foothills, and even from the police barracks.

One bordello is a particular favourite.

It's run by a madam notorious as the "Queen of the Fleshpots."

Around town, she's known as Diamond Dolly.

She's built a booming business but, on this night, the Mounties are about to end all that.

At least, that's their plan.

The story of a 'notorious' madam who ran brothels in early Calgary, when the prostitution business was booming. 23:07

This is Episode 2 of Heroes, Hustlers and Horsemen, a five-part podcast series from CBC Calgary about real people who lived in southern Alberta around the time of confederation and a few decades beyond. 

The stories aren't of the Heritage Minute variety. These are the whisky-soaked, down and dusty, gun-slinging kinds of stories they leave out in school.

We'll meet rogues and rebels, bold visionaries with big blind spots, the notorious and the opportunistic, the people who gave rein to their ambitions and passions and those who chose to buck the herd.

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