In 1914, Charles Daniels bought a pair of tickets to see King Learat Calgary’s Sherman Grand Theatre, but when he attempted to take his orchestra-level seat, he was told by ushers to move up to the balcony level, where other black patrons were seated.
Theatre staff told Daniels that his presence made the white patrons uncomfortable. Daniels protested – refused offers of a refund, and left.
“The fact that this happened in 1914, in Calgary, Alberta, blew my mind. It broke the whole narrative that these kind of things only happen in the United States,” said Bashir Mohamed, a civil servant who has been scouring the provincial archives in Edmonton for the last two years, and wrote about Daniels’s case in an essay for the Sprawl, a Calgary journalism site.