Alberta Legislature Building, art exhibits, City of Edmonton Historian Laureate, Edmonton Alberta, Garneau Theatre, Hangar 11, Marlena Wyman, Molson Brewery, Nurses' Home, Royal Alberta Museum, Sketching History, Sprucewood Library, Trynicky/Georgia Apartments, Urban Sketchers Edmonton, Walterdale Bridge
Twelve members of Urban Sketchers Edmonton contributed more than 100 drawings to the exhibit Sketching History: Rediscovering Edmonton’s Architectural Heritage through Urban Sketching.
I am writing a series of posts featuring the artists and a selection of their work from the exhibit.
A bit of background first: Urban Sketchers Edmonton was formed in 2011 by Yvonne Rezek, Karen Wall and me, following the example of Urban Sketchers, an organization that started in 2007 under the motto “See the world one drawing at a time”. There are now hundreds of Urban Sketchers chapters around the world.
We are a casual group that welcomes sketchers of all ages, backgrounds and levels of ability. Anyone may join us at any time for our monthly sketch-outs around Edmonton on the first Saturday of each month. We sketch from 11am to 1pm and then meet for lunch and sharing of sketches, techniques, and tips. We post the locations of the sketch-outs on our Facebook page and our blog.
For some of the artists, this is their first exhibit, while others have been professional exhibiting artists for years. Urban Sketchers Edmonton is a great mix of sketchers, with tips and techniques being exchanged after each sketch-out, and we all learn from each other.
Yvonne Rezek is an urban sketcher, portraitist and collage maker. She is also a clay artist focusing on functional objects for the home. She exhibits and sells her work at the annual Edmonton Potters’ Guild Show and Sale and at the Carrot Community Arts Coffeehouse. Yvonne retired from a fulfilling career in academic librarianship at MacEwan University in 2014 and is thrilled to participate in this, her first visual art exhibition. Yvonne arrived in Canada at a young age and was raised in Edmonton.
Molson Brewery, 10449 – 121 St, Oliver neighbourhood. Sketch by Yvonne Rezek
Businessman and former Mayor of the City of Strathcona, William Henry Sheppard, hired Chicago architect Bernard Barthel to design the 5 story German castle style brewery for his Edmonton Brewing and Malting Company. It was built in 1913 by Peter Rule Construction Company using local brick, steel and reinforced concrete, and features a variety of stone detailing above the arched windows, with torches that top corner turrets.
The first beer to be produced from the brewery included Yellowhead Beer, Edmonton Family Lager and Imperial Stout. The brewery survived prohibition by selling “Temperance Beer”, a low-alcohol beer available by prescription. In 1924, Sheppard commissioned architect Ralph H. Trouth to design an Edwardian-style red-brick office building beside the brewery.
Sheppard sold the company to Lethbridge brewer Fritz Sick in 1927, and in 1958 the brewery was purchased by Montreal-based Molson. In 1960, a giant revolving Molson “M” sign was installed, almost as iconic a landmark as the building itself. Molson closed the brewery in 2007.
The building is now a part of the Edmonton Brewery District development. The building was designated a Municipal Historic Resource in 2015.
Sprucewood Library, 11555 – 95 Street, Alberta Avenue neighbourhood. Sketch by Yvonne Rezek
The Sprucewood Branch of the Edmonton Public Library was opened in 1953, the first branch after the Central Library to be built north of the river. The Branch continues to be an active, well used and vibrant community centre. It underwent a major renovation in 2004 adding a much needed programming room that could be used by the public outside of branch hours. Today Sprucewood is one of 22 branch locations operated by the Edmonton Public Library.
The Edmonton Public Library system had its humble beginnings in 1913 above a meat market and liquor store in the Chisholm Block downtown. In 1923, after moving to several other temporary spaces, local architects H.A. Magoon and G.H. MacDonald were hired to design the elegant Central Library on Macdonald Drive. In 1967, the Centennial Library, later named the Stanley A. Milner Library, opened a few blocks away and the Central Library was demolished in 1968. The renewed Stanley A. Milner Library will open in 2020.
Trynicky/Georgia Apartments 10110 96 Street and 9608 101 Ave, Boyle Street neighbourhood. Sketch by Yvonne Rezek
The Trynicky Apartments/Georgia Apartments, with their distinctive pink and blue colour scheme, were a recognizable feature for six decades, perched atop the river bank in the Boyle Street neighbourhood, one of the oldest in Edmonton. The property is non-grid aligned because it followed the traditional Metis river lots common to the city’s fort history, which were long and narrow plots perpendicular to the river.
This pair of two-and-a-half storey flat-topped apartment houses were constructed in 1958, south of and across the street from the Gibson Block. The blue building to the east had a stone-work façade on the first floor and faced the St. Barbara Russian Orthodox Cathedral. This building was known as the Trynicky Apartments or the 10110 Suites, with six apartments. The pink building with 20 suites, known as the Georgia Apartments, sat on the same site on the west side.
Unfortunately, these apartment buildings were neglected for many years. By 2010 the structures had fallen into disrepair and demolition took place between 2015 and 2017. The plot of land is currently empty.
Karen Wall researches and writes about culture and history in Edmonton and the province, and has worked in heritage organizations and institutions as well as at Athabasca University. Her family descends from settlers who homesteaded in Manitoba and near Stony Plain, on the traditional lands of the Metis and Cree and Nakoda people.
River Valley, old Walterdale Bridge and Rossdale Power Plant. Sketch by Karen Wall
Edmonton’s river valley and green spaces are an important element of our heritage and identity. As stated on the City’s webpage: As the largest urban park in Canada, with more than 160 kilometres of maintained pathways and 20 major parks, the River Valley is a natural wonder for all Edmontonians to be proud of.
Edmonton’s bridges are among our most familiar built heritage landmarks along the North Saskatchewan River Valley and in the city’s ravines. Indigenous peoples had long used the natural ford in the river where the 105 Street Bridge was built in 1914. The bridge replaced John Walter’s ferry operation, eventually bearing his name. The old Walterdale Bridge was demolished in 2017 and the new bridge opened in 2018.
Rossdale Power Plant was constructed between 1930 and 1958 on the north bank of the North Saskatchewan River. Maxwell Dewar, who later became Edmonton’s City Architect, was one of the designers of the plant, a curtain-wall brick and steel construction. The design reflected a contemporary shift away from traditional Victorian style architecture, instead taking inspiration from Albert Kahn’s innovative Ford Highland Park Plant in Detroit. Its style is unique in Edmonton.
Edmonton continued to control the plant until its closure in 1989. The Rossdale Power Plant was designated a Provincial Historic Resource in 2001. The City-owned buildings are familiar and significant landmarks in the city, but the fate of the decommissioned plant is still unknown.
Garneau Theatre, 8712 -109 Street. Sketch by Karen Wall
The Garneau Theatre was built in 1940 in the Art Deco Moderne style by architect William G. Blakey. The building is a series of rectangular boxes with long horizontal lines, flat roofs and two-tone geometric decorations. On the larger rear portion, the bricks form a series of horizontal lines that spell out “GARNEAU”. The distinctive marquee features art deco elements and neon signs.
The interior walls were painted in stripes of sea green and ultramarine, the doors and columns were gumwood, the theatre seats were blue leather with mohair backs, and included some “two’s company” seats, colored red in contrast to the single seats.
The Garneau Theatre was the second cinema built outside the downtown core in Edmonton. Beginning in 1941 it was leased to Famous Players until 1990, and then to Magic Lantern Theatres until 2011 when the local non-profit Metro Cinema Society took over operation. In 2009, it was designated a Municipal Historic Resource and underwent extensive restorations to return the theatre to its 1940s appearance.
Alberta Legislature Building, 10800-97 Avenue. Sketches by Karen Wall
On March 15, 1906, Alberta’s Legislature opened its First Session. The ceremonies were held at Edmonton’s Thistle Rink, just north of Jasper Avenue, after which the Assembly moved to nearby McKay Avenue School.
The official Alberta Legislature was built between 1907 and 1913 by Provincial Architects Allan Merrick Jeffers and Richard P. Blakey. The symmetric design and layout are elements of the Classical Revival and Beaux Art styles, evident in the main entrance’s Corinthian columns and a dome rising above a spacious rotunda. Materials for the building’s lofty exterior include granite, sandstone and limestone.
The main entrance leads directly into the rotunda with its circular marble fountain, surrounded by marble columns. The Chamber has its own 110 foot high dome that features stained glass skylights. In 1932 palm seeds were planted in pots in the gallery around the interior dome; these are now large palm trees above the rotunda. To commemorate Canada’s centennial in 1967, a carillon was installed on the fifth floor.
The Legislature, overlooking the river valley, is among the most iconic buildings in Edmonton, with extensive grounds and a front fountain and reflecting pool welcoming the citizens of Alberta.
Marlena Wyman has been an exhibiting artist for three decades and is the City of Edmonton’s 5th Historian Laureate (April 2018 to April 2020). She is the curator of Sketching History. Marlena’s education, work and volunteer life has centered on the arts and heritage. She has exhibited across Canada and was the Audio/Visual Archivist at the Provincial Archives of Alberta for 28 years.
Marlena is a third generation prairie woman raised on her family farm near Rockyford, Alberta, and is a long time Edmontonian.
Hangar 11, Blatchford Field. Sketch by Marlena Wyman
Built in 1942 on the NE corner of Blatchford Field (later the Municipal Airport), Hangar 11 is one of only two remaining WWII-era hangars on the site. It is built entirely of wood, its massive Bowstring trusses providing an imposing curved roof, flanked by three-story office wings.
Hangar 11 was built in partnership with the US Air Force. It served a vital function in the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan during the war. This plan was called the “Aerodrome of Democracy” by Franklin Roosevelt, and trained thousands of aircrew and personnel during its time.
It was part of the Northwest Staging Route, a series of airports developed for the Lend-Lease program. The Edmonton airfield helped move American bombers, fighters and transport planes through to Alaska and the Soviet Union, in what became a crucial program in the Allied war effort.
The Airport was closed in 2013 for development of the future Blatchford community. Hangar 11, under threat of demolition, made the 2017 National Trust for Canada’s Top 10 Endangered Places List. In 2018, heritage advocates pleaded the case for its preservation to City Council, and the City agreed to examine options for repurpose.
University of Alberta Nurses’ Home, 8308 – 114 Street. Sketch by Marlena Wyman
The University of Alberta began training nurses to work in its hospital in 1923. Nursing students that were studying and working in the university hospital were provided with free room and board. Unfortunately, space was tight and many nurses lived in various cramped and inadequate accommodations on campus.
In 1947, architect George Heath Macdonald designed a purpose-built brick residence with carved sandstone arched windows and details. It was directly across the street from the hospital and included single bedrooms, laundry room, sewing room, lounges, and a kitchenette. The nurses’ matron, Mrs. Underwood, along with her strict rules for conduct, moved with the nursing students into their new residence.
In 1951, a new addition opened with two wings and an auditorium and in 1957 a further addition was completed which featured classrooms, a mezzanine, TV Lounge, dining area, and student kitchen.
The School of Nursing accepted its first male applicants in 1973 with a special apartment being created to accommodate them. In 1974 the school began charging room and board to residents and relaxed its policy forbidding living off-campus.
In 1981 the building was converted into offices for the School of Nursing, then renamed the Education and Development Centre, and most recently the Research Transition Facility. Unfortunately, a dominating pedway structure built in 2013 now obstructs the face of this heritage building.
Royal Alberta Museum, Glenora location, 12845 – 102 Ave. Sketch by Marlena Wyman
The Royal Alberta Museum in Glenora was built in 1965 and opened to the public in 1967. Originally named the Provincial Museum and Archives, it was made possible through a partnership between the Confederation Memorial Centennial Program and the Government of Alberta. An Australian museum professional, Raymond O. Harrison, was hired in 1962 to build the museum, locate staffing, and develop the exhibits.
The exterior is faced with Tyndall stone that incorporates petroglyph designs from the Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park site. The interior walls are marble and the floors black granite; all Canadian stone.
The original museum also housed the archives, and the museum galleries featured Fur Trade, Native Peoples of Alberta, Agriculture, Pioneer Life, and Industry & Commerce. Starting in the 1960s, the museum’s popular habitat dioramas were added at the rate of one per year until 1979.
In 2003 the Provincial Archives of Alberta moved to a separate facility. In 2005 the museum was designated the Royal Alberta Museum by Queen Elizabeth II when she visited for Alberta’s 100th anniversary. The original building closed its doors in 2015 to focus on the construction and move to the new downtown location of the Royal Alberta Museum that opened in 2018. The provincial government is presently seeking ideas for the continued use of the Glenora building.
Please come and explore the exhibit!
Prince of Wales Armouries Heritage Centre and Edmonton City Archives
10440 – 108 Ave
Mondays to Fridays 8:30am to 4:30pm and Wednesdays til 8pm
Ring the buzzer on the outside door to be let into the building
Thanks to the City of Edmonton, the Edmonton Heritage Council, the Edmonton Historical Board and the City of Edmonton Archives for their support of this project.
Reference sources for background history:
Molson Brewery: Edmonton Heritage Council, Edmonton City as Museum: Lawrence Herzog’s article Oliver’s Beer Castle https://citymuseumedmonton.ca/2015/04/16/olivers-beer-castle/
Sprucewood Library: The Edmonton Public Library, Serving Edmontonians from 1913 to 2007 https://web.archive.org/web/20130310031401/http://www.epl.ca/sites/default/files/pdf/edmonton-history/EPL1913-2007.pdf
Trynicky/Georgia Apartments: Edmonton Historical Board, Edmonton’s Architectural Heritage https://www.edmontonsarchitecturalheritage.ca/index.cfm/neighbourhoods/boyle-street/ Henderson’s Edmonton Directories: 1955-58, 1960-61, 1973 City of Edmonton, River Valley Parks https://www.edmonton.ca/activities_parks_recreation/parks_rivervalley/river-valley-parks.aspx
Rossdale Power Plant: Alberta Register of Historic Places https://hermis.alberta.ca/ARHP/Details.aspx?DeptID=2&ObjectID=HS%2075869
Walterdale Bridge: Kathryn Ivany https://www.cbc.ca/player/play/1076948035974
Garneau Theatre: Edmonton Historical Board, Edmonton’s Architectural Heritage https://www.edmontonsarchitecturalheritage.ca/index.cfm/structures/garneau-theatre/ Alberta Register of Historic Places https://hermis.alberta.ca/ARHP/Details.aspx?DeptID=1&ObjectID=4664-0218
Alberta Legislature Building: Edmonton Historical Board, Edmonton’s Architectural Heritage https://www.edmontonsarchitecturalheritage.ca/index.cfm/structures/alberta-legislature/
Hangar 11: National Trust for Canada, Top 10 Endangered Places 2017 https://nationaltrustcanada.ca/nt-endangered-places/hangar-11
Nurses’ Home, U of A: Beyond the Bricks: Stories’ of the Nurses’ Residences of the University of Alberta, Compiled and Written by Scott Davies, University of Alberta Archives
Royal Alberta Museum: City of Edmonton Archives: RG-200, CA EDM MS-193-EA-596-271. Government of Alberta: Glenora Building – Former Royal Alberta Museum https://www.alberta.ca/glenora-building.aspx
Posted by Marlena Wyman