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The McLeod Block

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Address: 10134 100th Street Architects: John K. Dow of Spokane, WA. Constructed: 1912-15
Kenneth Archibald McLeod had come to Edmonton in 1881. His trek was by way of Winnipeg. It wasn’t horse or train that had carried him there, however — McLeod walked. Spending ninety-three days largely alone in the sparsely inhabited North-West Territories, the twenty-three year old man made “the entire route at the side of a Red River cart on which his processions were loaded.” A rumour that the transcontinental railway would run through the area is what pushed him to make the trek. “When he reached the frontier village of 400 population [on November 3rd] he only had thirty-five cents.”
By 1912 McLeod was one of Edmonton’s most recognized names. The man had served as a two time town council member, was on Edmonton’s first city council, had built a “good contracting business,” and was well respected as a public school trustee. An active businessman, construction leader, and real-estate trader, it came …

Alberta Government Telephones Tower

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Address: 9718 107th Street Architects: Rule, Wynn & Rule Constructed: 1950-53/62-63
“It’s horrible… monstrous,” Co-operative Commonwealth Federation leader Elmer E. Roper passionately declared. “Surely, the government centre should be a thing of beauty? Perhaps a commission or a committee of some kind was needed. I am sure that had there been such a body, development in this area might have been different.” His comments came during a legislative session in mid-May, 1953. The topic of the day? A new government utilities tower under construction nearby.
Liberal leader James Harper Prowse Jr., head of Her Majesty’s Opposition, rose to chime in and support his C.C.F. compatriot. He eyed the artist’s rendering of the new structure. It depicted a “green concrete building with windows tinted blue. Pink clouds hovered overhead, and the sky was coloured maroon.” Rubbing his chin dumbfounded, the words tumbled out of Prowse's mouth: “I-is that the colour it is going to be?” Roper again rose…

The Adolf Minchau & Sons Blacksmithing Shop

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Address: 8108 101st Street Architects: Unknown Constructed: 1925 Demolished: 2020
Alberta became an “important destination for erstwhile Germans.” Like other ethnicities, they were lured by the promises of the “last best west.” Austria, Poland, Ukraine, and Russia were the places these German-speakers had once called home. Most arrived in the newly formed province through Calgary via the Canadian Pacific Railway. Often their destinations lay elsewhere. For many, Strathcona was their Mecca, a final stopping place before heading off to “Bruderheim and Josephburg to the north, [or] Fredericksheim and Hoffnungsau (Stoney Plain) to the south and west.”
Yet, seeing the opportunities that lay at the end of the Calgary & Edmonton Railway track caused some to reconsider their farming futures. Many stayed and by the Great War Germans formed the Edmonton-region’s third-largest ethnic group. Names like Tegler, Vogel, K√∂ermann, Krankenhagen, and Deggendorfer occupied prominent positions as business…

The Reed & Robinson Auction Rooms

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Address: 9535 Jasper Avenue Architects: Unknown Constructed: 1908 Demolished: 2017
The Reed & Robinson Auction Rooms* was all over the news several years back. A hundred year old building under threat of demolition. Artists and musicians forcibly evicted. A City-backed destruction overturned at the last minute. A desperate bid to save it. Looking at it, you wouldn’t have expected a whole lot of hoopla. It was a plain, cartoonishly boomtown building with chipping paint, rusting pressed-tin cladding, and boarded up windows, all which gave off a general air of decrepitness. But nevertheless, it captured headlines and made an impression. For as humble and seemingly unimportant as it was, the Reed & Robinson Auction Rooms’ demolition revealed that despite positive steps, Edmonton still had a long way to go in protecting not just its built history, but those who occupy its built history.
What made Reed & Robinson’s unique — outside of its rare class of architecture — was its usage. C…

The Milla Pub

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Address: 10593 101st Street Architects: Unknown Constructed: 1943
The Milla Pub. It’s a name most Edmontonians know. A humble Streamline Moderne building, it’s now abandoned, biding its days until its demolition and redevelopment comes along. Southwestern McCauley isn't the best of neighbourhoods — the Milla helped establish that reputation. Shootings, stabbings, drugs, homelessness, gang violence, the Milla privy to all of it. Most would like to see the building burned, removing a blight that’s long plagued an already stigmatized area. Yet, maybe there’s a case for the Milla to be saved.
The story of the Milla began in 1947. Back then it was known as Jimmy’s, a twenty-four hour “dine-and-dance establishment” run by father and son duo George and Jimmy Anton. George built the building back in 1943 on land he had long owned, operating it as a confectionary while his son served overseas — when the younger Anton returned he realized its potential. It was the post-war age. Big Band was at …

The First Scandinavian Lutheran Church

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Address: 10927 94th Street Architects: Unknown Constructed: 1913
With its eight month chill and thaw, snowy climate, and grey skies, is it any wonder that Edmonton became home to Norwegians, Danes, and Swedes? As historian Lawrence Herzog writes, “with the completion of the Canadian Pacific Railway in 1885, the federal government’s campaign to encourage Anglo-Saxon immigration into the West kicked into high gear. Norwegians were one of the favoured groups… Coming from a land of fjords and mountains, they were drawn by the opportunity to own relatively flat land — lots of it! — for affordable prices, and the Prairies held particular appeal.” While many settled around Camrose, Viking, and New Norway, others decided to try their luck in Edmonton.
What awaited them was a lack of services. Very few, if any, businesses or religious groups spoke their tongue, and those who did were other recent immigrants. Frustrated, five Norwegians gathered to practice their faith together in 1909. They were G…

Out of Town Distractions: The Holden Cenotaph

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Address: 50th (Main) Street & 50th Avenue, Holden Artist: Major Frank Norbury of Edmonton Constructed: 1923
Holden, Alberta. Three-hundred-and-fifty people call it home. It’s a sleepy village, located an hour Southeast of Edmonton along Highway 14. Incorporated in May 1909, Holden developed due to the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway’s westward expansion into the province. Like the railway’s other tiny spawn, time has not been kind. Its population is stagnant, its storefronts aging. Ignoring the odd new home or remodelled building, very little in the village has changed since the days steam trains pulled up along its long demolished elevator row. Holden is an unassuming place. Perhaps surprisingly then it’s home to one of Alberta’s best monuments.
Back then, as now, Holden was small. By the outbreak of the Great War it was only home to some five hundred citizens. Despite that, eighty Holdenites answered the call of duty to serve during the conflict. When the war came to its end in the cold…