Edmonton Historic buildings No. 1
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  Posted April 1st, 2012 by Zdenko  in Edmonton | No comments yet.

Edmonton heritage


From C2E forum
Edmonton is a newborn in terms of most European or Asian Cities. As you may notice from the following photos, the building material of choice in those days was plain red brick.

Historic Building Tour - Part 1.

Edmonton is but a newborn in terms of most European or Asian Cities. Even compared to eastern North American cities it is relatively young. Fort Edmonton, or Edmonton house was built near the present day Legislature Building in 1830, and in 1871 the first log house was built outside the fort’s walls. 1875 and 1876 saw the first hospital and hotel. In 1891 the first railway reached Strathcona, then a separate town, now a trendy Edmonton neighborhood. On January 9, 1892 Edmonton was given birth and incorporated as a town, a scant 12 years later it became a city.

 The majority of surviving heritage structures were born at about the same time as Edmonton itself. This means that most have just reached, or are about to reach their centenary soon. As you may notice from the following photos, the building material of choice in those days was plain red brick; however, there are a few structures which incorporate larger masonry blocks in whole or in part.

 One thing you should note is fort Edmonton actually started in 1795 as a Fur Trading post.

 The Boyle Street (Jasper East) area has some great potential with the Quarters, especially being so close to the core. Many people don’t actually know this, but the Boyle area was the original downtown core of Edmonton. It was where the town grew up, and when the Hudson’s Bay Reserve Lands (on current downtown, Oliver, and parts of Rossdale) was subdivided and sold in portions to the City of Edmonton in the late 1900s (1900-1910 – so the decade, meaning 1907-1910ish) and the area where current Churchill Square and TELUS Plaza are were booming like crazy and this is also where the city adopted a formal grid network with streets N-S and avenues E-W contradicting Boyle until later. The current downtown soon became the centre and was called the downtown, ditching Boyle.

 I intend to continue adding pictures to this blog as I make my way to photograph other parts of the city, but for today, we will start with Jasper Ave East, and the downtown core.

All names, dates, and history were researched from three sources:
1. ‘Historic Walks of Edmonton’, by Kathryn Ivany
2. ‘Naming Edmonton’, credited writer City of Edmonton
3. Placards fixed to the buildings themselves by the Edmonton Historic Society, I have included pictures of these where they exist.

Hecla Block
Address: 10141 95th St.
Year: 1914

Built by an Icelandic immigrant, the Hecla Block was named after an Icelandic volcano. In 1994 the building was severely damaged by fire. The building and facade were completely redone, and now the building holds 14 suites.

Personal note: My brother lived in this building for about a year prior to the fire. I recall attending a ‘block party’ whereby almost all the residents opened their doors for all to come and go. Good times!




North-West Mounted Police Barracks
Address: 9530 101A Ave.
Year: 1913

The Mounties moved to Edmonton from Ft. Saskatchewan in 1909. You can see from the photos that various additions were incorporated as the size of the force grew. There used to be small houses on the grounds for married officers, these have long since been demolished.








Gibson Block
Address: 9608 Jasper Ave.
Year: 1914

William Gibson bought this lot in 1913 for the sum of one dollar, as it was believed the odd, pie-shaped lot was all but unusable. The building was originally to be 3 floors, another was added after construction had already begun. The building originally held offices on the upper floors, but were later converted to apartments. There was a Turkish bath in the basement in operation from 1914 till the mid-eighties. The Gibson Block received a three-million dollar restoration in 1994.







flatiron view




Ernest Brown Block and Pendennis Hotel
Address: 9660/9630 Jasper Ave.
Year: 1912/1904

This building was constructed for Ernest Brown’s photographic studio, office, workshop, and retail store. In 1924, after the post WWI bust, creditors seized the building and renamed it the “Brighton Block”. Brown fled to Vegreville for a short time, and became involved with publishing a pro-labor ‘radical’ newsletter. He later returned to Edmonton, and in 1947 he sold his collection of over 150000 negatives to the Alberta Government. The negatives are filed at the provincial archives to this day.

The Pendennis Hotel was completed in 1904, and was known as one of the finer hotels in Edmonton, and its restaurant had a reputation for fine cuisine. Prohibition ended the hotel’s profitability, and eventually it was foreclosed. In 1945 it was converted to a boarding house, the “Kenmo Lodge”. This was later shortened to The Lodge Hotel. The building is currently undergoing restoration.


Ernest Brown Block
Pendennis Hotel on right, undergoing facade restoration


Gem Theatre
Address: 9682 Jasper Ave.
Year: 1914

The Gem Theatre was one of three motion picture theatres in this area, once known as ‘Theatre Row’. It operated for 70 years until it closed. Since then it has existed in two incarnations, a live music venue, and another round as a movie house. The building is currently empty, and in need of rehabilitation. Hopefully this will occur along with the city’s plans for an area redevelopment, “The Quarters”.



Jasper House Hotel
Address: 9692 Jasper Ave.
Year: 1882

Originally a hangout for hunters and trappers, the Jasper House Hotel was the Edmonton terminus of the Calgary-Edmonton stagecoach. The five day journey (in good weather) cost $25 one-way. The name was changed to the Empress Hotel in 1920, and changed again to the Hub Hotel in 1940. Today it is home to a convenience store and a seedy drinking hole.



Goodridge Block
Address: 9696 Jasper Ave.
Year: 1912

Named after Leonard Goodridge, who also developed the Gem Theatre and other properties. The building’s best known tenant was W.W. Arcade (formerly W.W. Sales) which for a very long time was Edmonton’s largest hardware store. As a homage to the past, the today’s tenant is the ‘Hardware Grill’, and upscale restaurant.









Imperial Bank of Canada
Address: 9990 Jasper Ave.
Year: 1952

OK, so this one isn’t that old, but it is still a cool building. The Imperial Bank had occupied this spot since 1891, and in 1961 was merged with the Canadian Bank of Commerce, to become the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce. The branch remained open until 2000 when it was combined into the original Bank of Commerce site two blocks west (featured later). Today the building is branded as the World Trade Centre Edmonton, and contains offices for the Edmonton Economic Development Corporation, The Edmonton Airport Authority, Edmonton Tourism, and an upscale steakhouse.

3477715530South elevation

3477721830West elevation

3477712214Facade detail



Downtown Core Pt II tomorrow. Sneak-peak of photos here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/badcomp…7617357434242/

To be continued…



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