2017-12-03 EBTC Highlands-Beverly Walking Tour

These are some notes from a December 3, 2017 historical walk I did for the Edmonton Bicycle and Touring Club.  This was a combination of a stroll, historical and social notes.  See my sources below if you want to read more.

Context: The Area pre-1914

  • The area was annexed by Edmonton in 1912, and “was named in a contest offering a 50-dollar Gold Bar.” [1]
  • The neighbourhood is bounded on the north by 118 (Alberta) Avenue, on the east by 50 Street, on the west by 67 Street, and on the south by the North Saskatchewan River valley. [2]
  • The community is represented by the Highlands Community League, established in 1921. [2]

The Walk

Points of interest and route

  • 01) Start: Highlands Community Centre, 6112-113 Avenue, Edmonton.
    • What was the area like at different epochs: 10,000 years ago, pre-Hudson Bay Company, HBC era and then in 1900.
  • 02) South to 112 Avenue; be careful crossing 112th street, look both ways for street cars… the last one ran in 1951 but they could start-up any time! [3]  The end of the line was at 112 Avenue x 61 Street [4].
    • The development of the area was predicated on a street trolley being built.
  • 03) Walk to 6229 111 Ave NW; the Carriage House; this is where they stored the carriages! [1, pp. 267-269].
  • 04) Walk to 6240 Ada Blvd; this is the mansion for Magrath, one of the two developers [1, pp. 257-259].
    • Lived with his wife Ada… notice a connection?
    • And their son Adrian.
  • 05) Walk to 6210 Ada Blvd NW, Holgate Mansion [1, pp. 259-260].
  • Walk along Ada Blvd East towards 50th Street.
  • 06) 50th Street, start of the Beverly Heights Neighbourhood.
    • Originally part of the Town of Beverly, amalgamated with Edmonton 1961. [5]
    • Edmonton assumed the town’s debt of $4.16 million debt ($34.0 million today).[6]
    • The neighbourhood is bounded on the south by the North Saskatchewan River valley, on the north by 118 Avenue, on the west by 50 Street, and on the east by 34 Street and 36 Street. [5]
    • Beverly incorporated as a village on March 22, 1913 and became the Town of Beverly on July 13, 1914. [6]
    • Beverly was a coal mining community that overlooked the North Saskatchewan River valley. During the first half of the twentieth century, more than 20 coal mines were active in and around the town. The larger mines provided much of the town’s employment. [6]
    • In 1907, construction began on the Clover Bar Bridge. The Grand Trunk Pacific Railway (GTPR) built its own bridge as it could not use the CPR High Level. [6]
    • The GTPR became the biggest shipper of coal in Alberta, with much of the coal mined in and around Beverly. [6]
    • The Great Depression hit Beverly particularly hard. In 1936, the town defaulted on its debt. [6]
    • A provincial administrator to manage the town from 1937 to 1948.
  • 07) Take Trail to the River
  • 08) Look downstream to the beautiful Rundle Park [7].
    • Named for an early Methodist missionary.
    • This was the site of the Beverly Dump.
    • As the community grew post amalgamation, there were calls to close the dump to reduce the smell, salvage men and the bears that inhabited the site.
    • Futuristic plans were drawn up… a more modest park was built-in its place in the mid-1970’s.
    • Rundle Park: With an area of 117.68 ha, the park was named for Rev. Robert Rundle. He was the first Protestant missionary to serve at Fort Edmonton and in fact the first permanent missionary of any church to settle west of Manitoba. In 1840 he came to Rupert’s Land at the request of the Hudson Bay. [12]
  • 09) The bridge to cross to the South Side of the river is named for Ainsworth Dyer, one of 4 Canadians killed in a friendly fire incident in Afghanistan [8].
  • 10) As you cross the bridge look for Gold Bar stream coming into the river.  Early miners panned for gold in the gravel bars here. [9. p.13]
  • 11) The Gold Bar Waste Water plant [10, p.6]
    • Open in 1956.
    • Waste water is sent to the refineries where it reduces their water needs.
  • 12) Take a moment to look north along 50th Street – yup no bridge yet. [6]
    • Promised a new bridge for vehicular traffic across the North Saskatchewan River at 50 Street, residents of Beverly cast ballots in a referendum regarding amalgamation with Edmonton in which 62% voted in favour. The 50th Street bridge has yet to materialize.
  • 13) Highlands Golf Course [1, pp.254-255] and [11]
    • Built in 1929  surrounding the Premier Coal Mine.
    • The original lease started in 1929 for a 21-year term with a 20-year option to renew (1970).
    • The current lease is for 50 years starting in 1989 with a 10 year extension.
    • occasional sink holes from the coal mine cause some trouble for the course.
    • The Capilano Freeway (now Wayne Gretzky Drive) impacted the golf course when it was constructed in 1969.

The Sources

  1. Historic Walks Of Edmonton, by Kathryn Ivany.
  2. Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Highlands,_Edmonton.
  3. City Museum of Edmonton https://citymuseumedmonton.ca/2015/05/19/when-trolleys-came-to-edmonton/
  4. Street Car lines circa 1944; http://www.tundria.com/trams/CAN/Edmonton-1944.shtml.
  5. Beverly Heights: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beverly_Heights,_Edmonton.
  6. Beverly, Alberta: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beverly,_Alberta.
  7. Edmonton: A World Class Dump, Part Three – Salvage Men, Coal Mines, and a Futuristic Weir; https://citymuseumedmonton.ca/2016/12/06/world-class-dump-3.
  8. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tarnak_Farm_incident
  9. Nature Walks and Sunday Drives ‘Round Edmonton Paperback – Nov 14 2003 by Harry Stelfox (Author),‎ Gary Ross (Illustrator)
  10. Comprehensive valuation report; City of Edmonton – Gold Bar Wastewater Treatment Plant: http://webdocs.edmonton.ca/occtopusdocs/Public/Complete/Reports/CC/CSAM/2009-01-20/2009PW2573%20-%20Attachment%202rev.pdf
  11. Highlands Golf Course: http://www.highlandsgolfclub.com/About-Us.
  12. Wakahegan Trail Guide, 7th Edition.

Other Resources

  1. 1). Edmonton and District Historical Society, www.historicedmonton.ca.
  2. Highlands Historical Society Society, facebook.com/highlandshistoricalsociety