I Remember when…
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  Posted June 14th, 2016 by Zdenko  in Edmonton | 6 comments

Edmonton heritage

By Zdenko Kahlina

Fond memories of Edmonton’s past
Edmonton has been my home base or home city for a several decades now. I moved here from Croatia with my family in 1989. So, I do remember some of the old things mentioned here.

Edmonton… not that long ago 

But many older Edmontonians definitely remember a lot more than me and here is an extract of their memories:

Remember when gas was .35 cents a liter–and when it went up to .40 thinking it was time to park the car! This was in 1990!! I remember when a nice person would come out and pump from the bowser for you and ask if you wanted your oil checked. (I always did, because it was the only way it was ever checked.)

I remember when Manulife II had shops in it. Dania Down Quilts is one that springs to mind. There used to be the best place for baklava and Turkish pizza in the food court in ML II.

I remember coming from the south side up any hill and seeing cranes everywhere. (Oh wait this view is back, yeah!)

I remember when the Edmonton Bay building actually had a Hudsons Bay Store in it.

I remember when driving out to the International Airport seemed to take forever and the highlight was the grain elevator at Ellerslie with the quote John 3:16 “for God so loved the World that he gave his only begotten Son.” I miss that grain elevator.

I remember when the Rat Hole was a dark and wet way to traverse 109 Street—it was unique and a hoot to drive though.

Rat Hole 

The Rathole was the tunnel along 109 St which ran underneath the CN Lands. That tunnel was not removed until 2000, and quite a few large trucks end up getting stuck there. It also flooded rather easily during heavy rainstorms. Because the Rathole was built around WWI, or shortly thereafter, it obviously wasn’t designed to handle late 20th Century traffic.

I remember when travelling and mentioning that I was from Edmonton (…Alberta…Canada) drew blank stares and then the question how close to Toronto, Vancouver etc. inevitably followed. WEM helped change that and the World Games and the Masters and the Grand Prix…and the fact that Edmonton truly is the best city, in the best province in the best country in the world. WEM was a dream and a fight.

I remember when you used to say this and it rang hollow—no more. Edmonton truly is a first class city and I wonder what people will say twenty years from now—what will they remember…how will Edmonton circa 2020 be remembered as?

I remember living on the SE edge of Millwoods and not seeing any houses there. I remember when Millwoods town centre was still known as “the new mall”.

I remember when travelling to West Edmonton Mall there were traffic lights and trains to stop for because the Whitemud didn’t exist.

I remember when a ride on the ETS cost me $.80

Old City hall 

I remember when the Milner Library wasn’t known as the Milner Library and when there were just concrete steps there instead of a Second Cup.

Edmonton International Speedway with cars lined up on the grid

Edmonton 82nd Avenue

I also remember…

When Westmount Mall was “new” and the Misericordia hospital was in a field.

Going to a drive in movie at the St. Albert Drive in and seeing Roadrunner cartoons. Eating Klondike burgers too….before there was a Village tree mall.

Parkland drive in. Twin drive in and the movie Poltergiest.

Highway 16X was a gravel road, then the twinning. Now it is just 16.

The “new” LRT.

My days in the crew room and in the jump seat flying into YXD – and how PWA was a family then… including the hockey teams.

Centennial Mall and that copper fountain – I cut myself on it.

The intersection/overpass on 170th and SP road. Now we have the intersection from h3ll.

What’s a Wal Mart? Is that a Woolco?

High Level Bridge 

I remember when….
-         Television anchor people would dress up in Klondike garb during Klondike Days.

-         Bonnie Doon and Southgate (plus probably others) malls would set up a mini gold panning scene in the middle of the shopping centre so kids can win little prizes.

-         Drive-thru pick for groceries at Woodwards. 

-         The only thing open on Sundays was drugstores and mom-and-pop stores.  

-         Lining up for over 30 minutes to buy booze at ALCB liquor stores during Christmas. And paying over $20/case to buy off-sales beer at the Strat. 

Arial view of Clarke Stadium

Oh, the memories… 
-          When there was an RV campground at 51 Ave and 99 St.

-          When an oil derrick just south of 51 Ave welcomed motorists into the city.

-          When you entered St. Albert by reaching the bottom of the hill, travelling south on Hwy 2.

-          When Leons and that old drive-in theatre off 137 Ave was in the middle of nowhere.

-          When it took 45 minutes to drive down Jasper Ave on a Saturday night.

-          When the A & B Sound on 106 St downtown was an ALCB store.

-          When that same area of downtown was full of derelict warehouses and teeming with homeless people, drug dealers and hookers.

-          When the Allard Block on Jasper and 112 St was a gravel parking lot with some colorful trailer permanently parked at the far end (can’t remember what its purpose was).

-          When one could drive north on the High Level Bridge.

-          When the west side of 109 St downtown was a rail yard with just an A&W and a CPR building.

-          When the Princess Theatre on Whyte was a porn theatre (I could be wrong about this but that was the impression I had as a teenager).

-          When the crossroads of Hwys 2 and 16 was the intersections of Kingsway and 109 St, plus 109 St and 111 Ave.

-          When YEG was just a perfunctory bus stop for jets.

-          When there were only 2 flights into the US.

-          When YXD had that ugly yellow interior to greet you as you got off the plane and into the baggage pickup.

-          When it was called Mayfair Park, not Hawrelak Park.

-          Edmonton police cars were colored light yellow and white which made them look like scrambled eggs.

-          Playgrounds had monkey bars and merry-go-rounds.

-          There was a Safeway every six blocks and a bank every seven blocks.

-          Us little kids telling dad to honk his horn whenever we drove through the rathole.

-          Watching Star Wars five times one summer at the Odeon Theatre, where the Likwid Lounge occupies today on Jasper ave.

-          The “robot lady” speaking gibberish on a downtown street corner with the old preacher guy standing near her.

Low level bridge and hotel Macdonald 

I remember when what is now the Globe was a funeral home that went through a long string of failed nightclubs, including a Club Malibu and a relocated Senor Frogs. And these days even the Globe is gone forever…

I remember other old and long-gone night-time haunts from the late 80′s and 1990s: Senor Frogs across from the Tin Palace, Goose Loonies, Denny Andrews’ American Bar, Chase, Thunderdome, Barry T’s, Cocktail Club, Bocas, Greenhouse. That was back in the days when clubs were scattered all over the city instead of concentrated in one area (Whyte, WEM, downtown).

I remember the VIA Rail train station when it was downtown.

I remember when CP Rail had their passenger terminal where the Iron Horse is now.

I remember YXD (aka the Municipal Airport and later, Edmonton City Centre Airport) and what it was like on the inside before it closed in the mid-1990s. I used to fly to GP out of there a lot, and I remember that the departure lounge post-security didn’t have any washrooms. And that there was this neat restaurant/bar with large windows to watch the planes from. (Wish YEG had something like that, too!!)

There was the Happy Pop and Pop Shoppe line of pops, which I loved when I was a kid.

Jasper Avenue looking east from 103 st., taken in the mid-Fifties.

Jasper Avenue looking west from 103 st.

I used to go to drive-ins with my foster family in my foster dad’s 70s-era blue GMC van once in a while. Can’t remember where the drive-ins were located, though – I was just a young kid at the time.

I remember how CN had those railroads running right through where Oliver Square and the GMCC Downtown Campus, and there was a flyover (105 St) there as well.

As a part of an urban planning course at NAIT, I was studying the land now occupied by Railtown, Save-On and the strip mall, etc. was a completely empty eyesore, as well as that train bridge which used to go over Jasper Avenue. At one point during the early ’90s, a strip mall was proposed but fell through and had me wondering if ANYTHING would ever go up there before the end of the century.

My foster mother used to work as a secretary in the old City Hall, which was built in 1957, and I was inside it several times.

I remember when there was a Woolworth and a restaurant across it often occupied to the hilt by seniors in the basement level of Edmonton Centre where the underground car parkade now sits. I also remember when there was an Eaton’s instead of the Bay in Eaton Centre (City Centre Mall West) and that downtown Edmonton actually had two Bay stores.

I remember how the Cecil Hotel, now the future site of Sobey’s, was surrounded by creeps, bums, drunks and the like and how cops frequently got called there. And the Warehouse district was also worse off than it is today.

I remember how CFRN TV had that cartoon of a stereotypical Native Canadian boy with feathers as a “mascot” (Mind you, this was before the Age of Political Correctness), and its logo. And there was ITV before it became Global TV.

CFRN was in the middle of nowhere.

The Journal had the Bub Slug comic series in its Saturday comics, with that burly construction guy with the fat nose and his family in Edmonton. I remember when Heritage Mall was alive and well before it died. It had an interesting mall interior – lots of those diagonal wood planks typical of the ’70s.

Winter – Jasper Ave. November 1891.

Jasper Avenue east circa 1900.

Jasper Avenue looking west circa 1900.

Jasper Avenue looking west circa 1900.

Source: C2E portal

Have a good and healthy season.

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6 comments to “I Remember when…”

  1. Comment by Lynn Bala:

    I admire your web page , it has of lot of information. You just got one perennial visitor of this site.

  2. Comment by Garret Swagerty:

    Hello there, You’ve done an excellent job. I will definitely digg it and personally recommend to my friends. I’m confident they’ll be benefited from this website. Cheers, Garret Swagerty

  3. Comment by Todd Spurrell:

    Hi, and thank you for the useful information. Keep me updated through email when you have new posts.

    Thank you
    Cheers from rainy Vancouver, Canada

  4. Comment by Mona:

    Hey, thanks for the memories! I just relived my childhood. Fun times!

    Born and raised Edmontonian.

  5. Comment by Sherry:

    Does anyone know the name of the café that was in the middle of the Centennial Mall in west Edmonton. Its not one in Woolco. It was a family owned little restaurant and I am sure it was in the middle of the mall by the fountain? Please email me if you know the answer. Big family discussion about the place but no one remembers the name lol

  6. Comment by Sherri Ingrey:

    Born and raised (mostly) in Edmonton. Thanks for these memories, I remember Saturdays 1966-69 when I was in JPCHS where downtown was ALL about tweens and teens….

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