Strathearn Community History

“Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning.”

Benjamin Franklin

A continual work in progress, take a look into the past and read about our exciting new future. Strathearn has seen an amazing amount of change and is about to experience its next evolution over the next decade.

Please let us know if you are aware of, or have some interesting stories or pictures you would like to share. Contact us at communications@strathearncommunityleague.org.

 

1850-1899

1882 – The Hudson’s Bay trading post, Fort Edmonton, had already relocated to the area that would become known as Rossdale but there was, as yet, little settlement beyond its walls; and South Edmonton, located on the opposite banks of the North Saskatchewan River, was still a scattered collection of farms and coalmines. However, when speculation arose that the Canadian Pacific Railway might take the Yellowhead route through Edmonton and on across the Rockies, the Dominion Government sent out a team of surveyors to prepare for an economic boom. The CPR eventually went through Calgary instead, but it was upon this particular survey that future land sales were based. River lots 21 and 23 were later to form the present day community of Strathearn. Originally these lots fronted the river and extended inland for a distance of one mile. George Donnell held the first title to Lot 21 and Donnell Road in the northwest corner of the neighbourhood pays tribute to this early homesteader. The north half of Lot 23 was purchased by James McKernan, Edmonton’s first telegraph operator, while A.W. Bird owned the south half. William Bird set up a flourmill on the creek just east of where the Low Level Bridge is now. Although the mill was situated there for only one season, this creek is still known as Mill Creek.

1899 – The Clover Bar Trail, an established Aboriginal fur trade route, followed the south bank of the North Saskatchewan River to the mouth of Mill Creek, up Scona Hill and over to Whyte Avenue. Towards the end of the 19th Century, the Zero Coal Company mined on the riverbank in the northeast corner of Lot 23 by Dowler’s Creek. Primarily, though, this area was agricultural and would remain so until the construction boom following World War II.

 

1900-1949

1900 – The original lot 23 was eventually subdivided into smaller acreages and market gardens and communities with names like Earnscliff and Silver Heights sprang up. (Silver Heights Park takes its name from one of these early hamlets.)

1907 – The Town of Strathcona became incorporated as a City and extended its boundaries far enough east that this area of lot 21 & 23 was annexed. It remained isoloated, though, until a bridge across Mill Creek was built at Whyte Avenue. In fact, even Premier Rutherford, who owned property in Bonnie Doon and had planned to build his official residence there, subdivided his land, instead, and purchased another acreage in Garneau.

1912 – Strathcona amalgamated with Edmonton.

1914 –  The name Strathearn, which is Scottish Gaelic for “the valley of the river Earn”, or “the valley of the Irish”, has been used in official records in Edmonton since 1914 and is likely a reference to the Governor General of the day, Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught and Strathearn.

1921 – Posted by Dawn Saunders-Dahl

Prominent Edmonton physician James Frederick Brander (1879 – 1963) came to Edmonton from Nova Scotia in 1921 and, along with his father George, soon established a peony garden in the Bonnie Doon area on an empty plot of land that George couldn’t stand to see go to waste. The Silver Heights Peony Garden, located at 93 Avenue and 85 Street in Bonnie Doon, was a major tourist attraction and the source of most of the peonies in Alberta from 1923 until the 1940s. Father and son proved that the soil and climate conditions in the area were ideal for the peony—which had previously been regarded as exotic and too delicate for the frigid north.

The first planting was small, but in later years as many as 5000 roots arrived from Holland in a single shipment. Altogether, 200 named varieties were grown and, in full flowering time, an estimated quarter of a million blooms could be seen. When George Brander died in 1933, his family continued the Peony Gardens until the Second World War made such large-scale flower operations impractical. The plants were dug up, divided into 50,000 roots and sold to gardening aficionados around Edmonton.

In 2002, Fort Edmonton Park completed a recreation of the peony garden, which included 26 varieties of peonies.

Located south Edmonton, Brander Gardens elementary school is named after Dr. James Brander.”

1944 –  Below, is a photograph of a block of homes built in Strathearn. Prudham’s Hardware built all the homes on the west side of 91 St and east side of 92 St north of 95 Ave. This block of homes is largely intact today.

 

1950-1999

1952 – The community in which we live today became a true residential neighbourhood when Strathearn Public School was constructed.

1953 – Just when the post-war building boom created a brand new neighbourhood almost overnight, residents established the Strathearn Community League in an effort to increase recreational options. Here’s a look at our neighbourhood through the 1953 Henderson’s Greater Edmonton Directory, a street by avenue guide of businesses, homeowners and more.

President of Strathearn Community League:  R. K. Bowlen

Businesses:

  • Strathearn Service Station (8704 95 Ave.)
  • Along 87 Street at 95 Avenue
    Melton L.T. Real Estate Ltd., Marjorie Hodson’s Beauty Salon, Thompson’s Food Markets Strathearn, Tamblyn (Alta) Ltd. Drug Store, Maguire’s Hardware and Electrical, and Brightmur Cleaners
  • Along 91 Street at 94 Avenue
    Quists Meat Pies, Strathearn Beauty Parlor and Barber Shop, Needham’s Groceries and Meats, Diemonite Sales, Strathearn Dry Goods, Strathearn Coffee Shop, and Johnston Groceries and Meats
  • Along 95 Avenue at 92 Street
    Hart’s Drug Store and Lee Food Market
  • Connors Service Station (9335 Connors Rd.)

Apartments:
Strathearn Heights Apartments was among the city’s more than 1,000 apartments and blocks.

Churches:
Strathearn United Church and The Church of Our Lady of the Assumption were among the city’s 140 churches.

School:
Strathearn School was among the city’s 81 schools.