Written by: Ron Kelland, Historic Places Research Officer
Back a few weeks ago, in the early days of COVID-19 pandemic response, I, like many Albertans, was closely watching news coverage. One news story that caught my attention was about the lines of traffic of returning Canadian travelers at the Coutts/Sweet Grass International Border Crossing. The story really jumped out at me because I had just read about novelist Charles Dickens’ involvement with the philanthropic work of Baroness Angela Burdett-Coutts. Being the geographical names guy, I was aware that the village of Coutts and the hamlet of Burdett were named for the Baroness Burdett-Coutts, so I started to think about how was it that these two communities ended up with names honouring and commemorating a Victorian-Age, aristocratic philanthropist and social reformer.
Angela Burdett-Coutts, the 1st Baroness Burdett-Coutts was born Angela Burdett in 1814, the daughter of radical reformist politician and anti-slavery advocate Sir Francis Burdett and Sophia Burdett (née Coutts). In 1837, upon the death of her step-grandmother, the actress Harriet Mellon, Angela inherited the entire Coutts estate of £1.8 million ($191 million in 2020 Canadian dollars) including a substantial interest in the Coutts Bank, making her the second-wealthiest woman in the United Kingdom after Queen Victoria. In accordance with the conditions of the will, Angela Burdett sought and received royal license to combine her ancestral names to become Angela Burdett-Coutts.
Editor’s note: This post was originally published in 2018. To recognize Black History Month, we here at RETROactive are pleased to share this important documentary with you again.
Winner of the 2018 Alberta Historical Resources Foundation 2018 Heritage Awareness award, We Are the Roots is a documentary that tells the stories of African American immigrants who settled in Alberta and Saskatchewan in the early 1900s.
In the film, you’ll hear stories from 19 descendants of original settlers, as they moved north to escape slavery, persecution and racism in America. Once in Canada, these families would then experience more discrimination, both in Edmonton and in rural communities they settled.
Well would you look at that, it’s Valentine’s Day! Whether you’re an adherent to the original feast honouring Valentinus, or just like getting flowers from a significant other, it’s the time of year to spend a greeting card-mandated night with your sweetheart.
In celebration of this special day, here are a few Alberta couples, young and old, showing their love for one another.
Written by: Michael Gourlie, Government Records Archivist, Provincial Archives of Alberta
Hey, remember a few weeks ago when the ENTIRE PROVINCE was under an extreme cold weather warning? Below 30, minus 40 weather for several days. Fun times, good stuff.
It was probably no surprise that folks wanted to hunker down and hibernate until temperatures become more seasonable (like a balmy -15C). But there are better options than hibernating! For example, visiting the Provincial Archives of Alberta’s new exhibit, BRReathtaking Images of a Winter City.
Featuring the work of award-winning Edmonton photographer Nick Ochotta, the exhibit highlights the beauty, fun and drudgery of living in a winter city. As largest, northernmost metropolis in the world, it is better to accept that snow, ice and chilly temperatures are a seasonable and inevitable part of Alberta’s winter wonderland. At least you can be warm inside looking at images of winters past. If they made it through, so can you!
The exhibit is on display until March 31, 2020, by which point the province may have thawed out. Maybe.
Editor’s note: The image above is of the famous Roxy Theatre on 124 St. Opened in 1938, the theatre was destroyed by a fire in 2015. The theatre is currently being rebuilt. The image is courtesy of the Edmonton Historical Board.
Written by: Jared Majeski, Historic Resources Management Branch
Continuing along in our series spotlighting Municipal Historic Resources (MHRs) around the province, we move along to the historic Westmount neighbourhood in west-central Edmonton.
Thought to have been named after a suburb in Montréal, Westmount is known for many Craftsman-inspired single family detached houses along tree-lined boulevards between 123 St. to 127 St. and 107 Ave. to 111 Ave. You get the feeling of being transported back in time when you’re walking or riding your bike down one of these streets. And since the City of Edmonton officially recognized the historic significance of this, the Westmount Architectural Heritage Area (WAHA), the heritage value of this important Edmonton neighbourhood will hopefully be supported for decades to come.
Let’s take a look at a few properties in the area that make this neighbourhood unique.
Marshall Hopkins Residence
Built in 1912, the Marshall Hopkins Residence on 126 Street is significant as an early example of wood-framed, Foursquare construction. This architectural design was popular at the time for its simple design and efficient floor plans.
The two-storey residence is significant for its association with Marshall W. Hopkins, Chief Land Surveyor for the Alberta Land Titles Office, who was the first occupant of the residence from c. 1913 to 1914. In addition, the Marshall Hopkins Residence is also significant for its association with the Canadian National Railway as it was home to a number of occupants who were employed by the company after the Canadian National Railway arrived in Edmonton in 1905.
The residence was officially designated an MHR in May 2019.
Ellen Elliot Residence
The Ellen Elliot Residence on 125 Street is unique in a number of ways, least of all due to the fact that the first resident and owner of the building was a woman. Mrs. Ellen Elliot, widow of Thomas Elliot (who may have been a builder), purchased the property which would have been rare and unusual at that time. She lived in the residence until 1932.
Design elements of the two-storey building include the original wood frame construction, with horizontal wood siding on the lower level and wood shingle siding in gable peaks, and a front gabled-roof addition and porch. Fire insurance maps of the area show the original structure with a veranda in 1913. However, city records indicate that the house was built in 1920. The 1920 date may have come from when the front porch was captured and brought into the house as an extension of the living room and the mudroom.
This property was designated an MHR in June 2019.
Walton L. Smith Residence
The 1914 two-storey Walton L. Smith Residence is a wood frame construction with strong Craftsman design influences. It has horizontal wood siding on the lower level, and wood shingles on the upper levels and façade. The roof is a slightly bellcast, medium pitch gable, with exposed rafters and decorative brackets on the front-facing gable. An offset closed porch with a slightly bellcast gable roof is on the right hand side of the façade.
As interesting as the design of this property is the story of its original building applicant, who ironically, never actually lived in the house at all.
This residence was constructed following application for a building permit at the site on May 14, 1914. Robert W. Hedley, the applicant, was prominent in Edmonton affairs. Born and educated in Ontario at the University of Toronto and Hamilton Normal College, he then taught until moving to Edmonton in 1912. Hedley was Art Supervisor for the Edmonton Public School Board from 1914 until 1929. He designed the art course for Alberta high schools in 1922. Hedley taught art at University of Alberta summer sessions, and was appointed to the Normal School staff in 1929, serving as a lecturer in art and math. Hedley retired in 1937, but remained active in the local art scene, becoming director of the Edmonton Museum of Arts from 1943 to 1951. Hedley organized the western Canadian art circuit, adult and children’s classes and a women’s society to support the Edmonton Museum of Arts. He received an Honourary LLD from the
University of Alberta in 1953, a citation from the College Art Association of America in 1955, and became the first Albertan to receive a Fellowship from the Royal Society of Arts. He was an arts critic for the Edmonton Journal for many years. Hedley died on November 16, 1965, having never lived in the house he originally applied to build in 1914.
This residence was designated an MHR in June 2019.
Built in 1922, Griffin Residence on 125 Street is significant for its Arts and Crafts influences, in particular, Craftsman style elements. This design style first appeared in the last years of the 19th century and remained popular until the 1930s.
The residence features a medium pitched gable roof, with projecting eaves, exposing original wood rafters, soffits, fascia, and brackets. It is clad with wood clapboard siding on the upper portion, and wood shingles on the lower portion of the residence, and in all the peaks of the gables. The enclosed front veranda has a hipped roof with an offset medium pitched gable over the entrance. Both the east and west elevations feature pitched gables, with bay windows. The residence is located on a residential street in the Westmount neighbourhood, one of Edmonton’s most mature neighbourhoods, where the majority of lots still maintain their original structures.
Griffin Residence was designated an MHR in August 2018.
Street Railway Substation No. 600
Constructed in 1938, Street Railway Substation No.600 is a one storey brick and concrete building designed in the Art Deco Style, located on a commercial portion of 124 Street in the neighbourhood of Westmount.
This substation is significant for its association with the development of the Westmount neighbourhood. Westmount is one of the oldest residential subdivisions in Edmonton. After 1911, residents of the neighbourhood could commute downtown on the electric streetcar that ran south from 110 Avenue along 124 Street before turning east along Jasper Avenue. As the neighbourhood grew and demand placed on the west end section of the street railway increased, it was necessary to build Street Railway Substation No. 600 to house equipment which reduced the loss of electricity from the lines, allowing the street railway to operate more efficiently.
The substation was designated an MHR in May 2017.
These recently designated Municipal Historic Resources join seven other Westmount neighbourhood resources previously designated by the City of Edmonton:
Currently at the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology is arguably the world’s most fascinating (and best-preserved) armoured dinosaur. The Borealopelta markmitchelli was discovered by a worker in the Suncor Millenium Mine in 2011 and, at 112-100 million years old, is the oldest known dinosaur ever found in Alberta.
To learn about how this one-of-a-kind discovery happened, and how scientists at the Tyrrell worked to preserve it, you can watch Dinosaur Cold Case on CBC’s The Nature of Things right now! If you’re in Canada, click here to unravel this made-in-Alberta mystery.
Written by: Suzanna Wagner, Program Coordinator, Historic Sites and Museums
If a highly contagious epidemic was spreading through your city, what would you do?
Well, if you were a merchant in Edmonton in 1918, you’d be making sure people are still buying things.
A virulent strain of influenza spread around the world in the fall of 1918, striking once again in fall 1919 and still another time in 1920. Alberta saw more than 31,000 cases of the flu over the fall of 1918 with 4,308 deaths before the flu subsided in May 1919. The illness was often referred to as the “Spanish Flu” because it was mistakenly believed to have originated in Spain.