Historic Buildings & Streets

To see all that Fort Edmonton Park has to offer, please download our map by clicking the link at right or, see a full list of the site properties and a brief summary of their history below. We’re looking forward to seeing you at the park.

A fort built on fashion

In the 1800s, every respectable European gentleman sported a shiny felt top hat. These hats were a status symbol, the height of fashion, and luckily for Edmonton, made from beaver pelts. It was this demand for beaver pelts that prompted the Hudson’s Bay Company to establish a trading post called Edmonton House in 1795. The sole purpose of the post was to trade European goods to the local Cree, Blackfoot and other Indigenous people in exchange for valuable beaver pelts.


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By 1846, Fort Edmonton was the most important Hudson’s Bay Company post west of the Red River Settlement at Fort Garry (near modern Winnipeg). The Fort not only traded furs, but produced goods and supplied other smaller posts. The population of Edmonton House varied according to the season, but generally visitors could find approximately 110 men, women and children taking residence.

Each spring, the men at the Fort would stock the York Boats with ninety-pound bales of pelts.

Joined by boats from other posts, the “brigades” would paddle through swift, freezing currents to Hudson Bay. There, they loaded the furs onto ships that sailed back to England. After a brief stay, the men would reload their boats with trade goods to replenish the post trade store and begin their long journey back to Edmonton.

 

Fort Entrance - Fort Edmonton Park 1. MAIN ENTRANCE
This gate, perhaps more appropriately referred to as the ‘trading gate’, would have opened south towards the North Saskatchewan River, with a path leading down to the river ford. The impressive entrance, flanked by two bastions, had a second set of gates that could be closed during trading to ensure the privacy of the non-commercial areas of the post, guiding Indigenous traders to the TRADE HOUSE.
West Gate - Fort Edmonton Park 2. WEST GATE
In the 1846 Fort’s original location, this gate would have opened East in the direction of what is now Rossdale. It’s proximity to the Gentlemen’s Horse Yard led it to being used as a departure point for horse-mounted expeditions, both for pleasure and business. This gate may have been more likely to be used by Company personnel and their families than the ‘main gate.’
Trade Post - Fort Edmonton Park 3. TRADE HOUSE
Trade took place here between the Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC) and Indigenous traders. This building includes a trade room, trade store, warehouse and a loft for fur storage.
Fort Courtyard - Fort Edmonton Park 4. COURTYARD & FUR PRESS IN COURTYARD
Often the scene of lively activity including welcome ceremonies for Indigenous traders, fur packing, food processing and loading of supplies. The Fur Press was said to pack dried pelts and hides for shipment to the Hudson Bay by York boats.
Rowand House - Fort Edmonton Park 5. ROWAND HOUSE
This impressive residence was built in 1842 for John Rowand, Chief Factor of the HBC’s Saskatchewan District.
Columbia house - Fort Edmonton Park 6. COLUMBIA HOUSE
Used as layover quarters by the HBC’s Columbia District brigade on their annual journey to and from York Factory. Currently used as washroom facilities.
Watchtower - Fort Edmonton Park 7. WATCHTOWER
From this tower, the men at the Fort could view surrounding vegetable gardens and crops, and watch for approaching Indigenous and mixed-blood traders, York boat brigades, hunting and work parties, and other occurrences in the vicinity.
Meat Store - Fort Edmonton Park 8. MEAT STORE
In addition to the preparation of salt meat, sausages and buffalo tongues, dried meat and grease were processed into pemmican, a fur trade staple. All were stored in the adjoining section and in other locations within the Fort.
Rundle House Chapel - Fort Edmonton Park 9. RUNDLE HOUSE AND CHAPEL
The Hudson’s Bay Company provided this dwelling and chapel to Robert Terrill Rundle, a Wesleyan Methodist missionary, in 1843, it became his home base for the next five years.
Clay Bake Over - Fort Edmonton Park 10. CLAY BAKE OVEN
Heated by building a fire in the cavity and subsequently scraping it out, the oven’s radiant heat baked excellent bread.
Clerks Quarters - Fort Edmonton Park 11. BACHELORS’ HALL OR CLERKS’ QUARTERS
So called because this building, during the 1840s, contained the sleeping quarters for the company’s clerks, gentlemen visitors, a gentlemen’s mess, a great hall, the Chief Trader’s office and quarters, a kitchen, and the cook’s quarters.
Ice House - Fort Edmonton Park 12. ICE HOUSE
With a sod roof and a deep pit filled with layers of river ice and straw, such structures preserved meat brought in by hunters or traded by Indigenous people, throughout the year.
Men's Quarter's - Fort Edmonton Park 13. MARRIED MEN’S QUARTERS
These units were shared by the working men of the post, as well as the families of those who had proven themselves and been allowed to enter into a ‘country marriage’ with either an Indigenous or mixed-blood woman.
Horse Stable - Fort Edmonton Park 14. GENTLEMEN’S STABLE AND HORSE YARD
The personal horses of Company gentlemen, and sick or foaling horses were kept secure in this area.
Boathouse - Fort Edmonton Park 15. BOAT SHED
8 to 10 York boats were built every year at Edmonton House as their service life was short due to the harsh conditions of river travel.
Tradesmen - Fort Edmonton Park 16. TRADESMEN’S QUARTERS
Tradesmen enjoyed a higher standard of living than the labour servant class, with salaries similar to those of clerks. They were afforded their own family dwellings, unlike lower-class labourers, who had to share their dwellings with 1 or 2 other families.
Blacksmith - Fort Edmonton Park 17. BLACKSMITH’S SHOP
Carpentry, boat building and ironwork were all essential trades in the daily regimen of the fur trade. Repairs to traps, guns and axes, making nails, hardware for buildings and boats, tools and garden implements all required the skills of the smith.
Native Camp - Fort Edmonton Park 18. PALISADES & NATIVE CAMP
High wooden walls and formidable bastions helped secure order during trading sessions when hundreds of Indigenous people could converge upon the fort. This Cree Camp represents a small Plains Cree group whose members, though involved with the fur trade, retain an independent existence and whose culture is a marked contrast to that of the European and mixed-blood fur traders.
York Boat - Fort Edmonton Park 19. YORK BOAT
These heavy but reliable freight boats were the backbone of the HBC’s transportation network, plying the waterways that connected forts all the way to York Factory at Hudson Bay.
Windmill - Fort Edmonton Park 20. WINDMILL
Built in 1847 in an attempt to aid farming efforts at the Fort, the windmill stood on the site of the present Legislature Building. The first miller was Métis William Bird, who processed crops of wheat, barley, and oats. Neither windmill nor farming efforts were very successful in this period, however. The Fort depended on its own hunters and fishermen, Indigenous nations, Métis Freemen and the Red River settlement for provisions.
 Trading Post - Fort Edmonton Park 22. TRADING POST
This structure is not based on any historical precedent, but serves as a retail opportunity and carries fur trade and indigenous related merchandise, as well as tickets for 1885 Street’s rides.

A Place of Faith in the Future

In 1885, Edmonton was a hardscrabble place, dusty or muddy depending on the season, and, in economic and social terms, quiet as the grave. And yet, there were signs that this wasn’t just any small town, and there was still a feeling that this place was destined to be the star of the new Canadian Northwest.

Despite being passed over by the Canadian Pacific railway as a destination and suffering through economic hard times, the settlement had three a lot going for it. It had three flourishing hotels, one of them the only brick building west of Winnipeg; a jewellery store, several blacksmiths, a drugstore as big as you would see in Montreal, and a hardware store with plaster walls. In 1885, it didn’t hurt to be a bit of a dreamer and, so, people here dreamed big. The rest, as they say, is history.

Ottewell Homestead - Fort Edmonton Park 23. OTTEWELL HOMESTEAD
When Richard Ottewell homesteaded in 1881, he started to carve out a farm on land previously uninhabited by white people. Four years later he brought his family out from Ontario and all 8 settled into a little log house.
Bellerose School - Fort Edmonton Park 24. BELLEROSE SCHOOL
Most of this humble school’s students were French-speaking homesteader children, generally Métis, from outside of St. Albert. Bellerose served as a school until 1947.
Edmonton Bulletin Building - Fort Edmonton Park 25. BULLETIN BUILDING
The original building of Edmonton’s first newspaper. Initially the paper was tiny, but thanks to editor Frank Oliver, its voice was heard across the country.
McDougal Carpentry Shop - Fort Edmonton Park 26. JAMES MCDONALD’S CARPENTRY SHOP
James McDonald helped build Edmonton physically as a carpenter, and socially as a volunteer teacher and member of the Literary, Rifle, Skating and Curling Clubs.
Hutchingson and Riley - Fort Edmonton Park 27. KERNOHAN’S MILLINERY HUTCHINGS & RILEY’S HARNESS SHOP
The harness shop on the main floor did a lucrative business in pioneer Edmonton. The entrepreneurial spirit of Mrs. Kernohan, the milliner upstairs, proved to be a bit premature for the fledgling Edmonton settlement.
Raymer Jewellery - Fort Edmonton Park 28. RAYMER’S JEWELLERY STORE
A resident of this dusty frontier town could dream of finer things, and buy them at Raymer’s Jewellery Store.
Methodist Church - Fort Edmonton Park 29. MCDOUGALL METHODIST CHURCH
Edmonton’s oldest surviving building, the Methodist Church stood tall in 1873, overlooking an empty patch of land that is now downtown Edmonton.
Bynres Shoe Shop -Fort Edmonton Park 30. BYRNES’ SHOE SHOP
Byrnes’ tiny shoe shop reflects the small-town scale of early Edmonton. Twenty years later, its real estate was worth a small fortune.
Lauder's Bakery - Fort Edmonton Park 31. & 33. LAUDER’S BAKERY & RESIDENCE
James Lauder was lured from his homestead in 1885 into the bakery business with a contract to supply 100 loaves of bread a day to the N.W.M.P. at Fort Saskatchewan. Like most merchants in Edmonton back then, he took up living quarters in the same building that housed his shop.
Ross Brothers - Fort Edmonton Park 32. ROSS BROTHERS’ HARDWARE
Hardware was an important business in a frontier town. Ross Brothers’ grew to become the largest hardware business in western Canada.
 Secord Furs - Fort Edmonton Park 34. SECORD FUR STORE AND WAREHOUSE
The fur trade was no longer monopolized by the Hudson’s Bay Company in 1887 when Richard Secord opened his store to trappers.
Daly Drug Store - Fort Edmonton Park 35. DALY’S DRUGSTORE AND DR. WILSON’S OFFICE
As a young physician, Herbert Wilson brought the latest surgical technique and the first drug store to Edmonton in 1882. Philip Daly later purchased the drug interest and established a thriving business.
McDougal General Store - Fort Edmonton Park 36. J. A .MCDOUGALL’S GENERAL STORE
Mrs. Lovisa McDougall knew there was no regular dentist in Edmonton, so she had all her teeth pulled and replaced with dentures before leaving Ontario to join her merchant husband John here in 1879.
Kelly Saloon - Fort Edmonton Park 37. KELLY’S SALOON
Thanks to the Northwest’s prohibition liquor laws in 1885, Luke Kelly had to find creative ways to supply his customers.
Sanderson & Looby - Fort Edmonton Park 38. SANDERSON & LOOBY, BLACKSMITH & WHEELRIGHT
One of five blacksmiths in Edmonton in the late 1880s, George Sanderson was also a locksmith. Later, he rolled with the times and began repairing bicycles.
McCauley Livery Stable - Fort Edmonton Park 39. MCCAULEY’S LIVERY STABLE
The livery was very crucial to a pre-railway town; it was the horse-powered equivalent of a taxi company or a car rental agency.
Jasper House Hotel - Fort Edmonton Park 40. JASPER HOUSE HOTEL
Part of the original Jasper House remains in business today, incorporated within the structure of its downtown successor, the Hub Hotel. Baked goods, sandwiches and hot coffee are found on the main floor.
Peter Erasmus House - Fort Edmonton Park 41. PETER ERASMUS HOUSE
Highly educated and fluent in Cree, French and English, Metis interpreter Peter Erasmus was present at the signing of Treaty 6.
Royal Mounted Police Jailhouse - Fort Edmonton Park 42. NORTHWEST MOUNTED JAILHOUSE
The Jail, or Guardhouse, was a converted HBC building located inside Fort Edmonton, which the NWMP occupied for a short time. Famous escapees “Cracker Box” Johnson and Constable Gallagher occupied it for an even shorter time.
Royal Mounted Police Gunnery - Fort Edmonton Park 43. NORTHWEST MOUNTED POLICE GUNNERY
While the Northwest Mounted Police had no use for a gatling gun, the Canadian Militia brought the gun West during the North-west Resistance of 1885 and later used it during key battles in the tragic and controversial campaign.
 RCMP Police Station - Fort Edmonton Park 44. NORTHWEST MOUNTED POLICE STATION AND GUARD HOUSE
Edmonton was too peaceful for a whole division of the Northwest mounted Police to be stationed here. For a few months in 1885-86 they tried it, but the lice-infested quarters at the old Fort and a lack of hay sent them packing back to Fort Saskatchewan.
Kenneth McDonald House - Fort Edmonton Park 45. KENNETH MCDONALD HOUSE
Scottish Kenneth McDonald and Métis Emma Rowland worked (officially or unofficially) for the Hudson’s Bay Company and stayed on in the area as homesteaders.
Dominion Land Office - Fort Edmonton Park 46. DOMINION LAND AGENCY
Even the most humble government office was prestigious for a frontier town. Edmontonians were prepared to guard the Dominion Land Agency with their lives if need be, and they almost got their chance.
Egg's Stopping House 47 & 48. EGGE’S STOPPING HOUSE
Originally Egge’s offered nightly lodging to travellers on the Athabasca Trail. Now Egge’s hosts children’s education programs and private rentals.
Metis Cabin - Fort Edmonton Park 49. METIS CABIN
This log cabin is a representation of a Métis family dwelling that may have been found on the outskirts of a settlement like St. Albert or Lac Ste. Anne. School groups use this space to learn about the Indigenous history of the Edmonton area.

Thrilling ups and downs

From 1891 to 1914, Edmonton grew from an isolated hamlet of a few hundred to a modern city of more than 72,000. What started as a backwater farm-town in the shadow of a Hudson’s Bay Fort suddenly became a bustling centre with paved streets, motorcars, electric lights, trains and streetcars. With the arrival of the Calgary and Edmonton Railway, people began pouring into Edmonton after 1900. Immigrants transformed Edmonton’s homey, placid skyline into a jumbled scrum of brick office blocks, homes large and small, solid churches, schools and factories.

In the face of such growth, there was great optimism and city boosters had visions of creating a Paris of the plains. Unfortunately it all came crashing down in 1913 with the great depression and the Great War in 1914.

Henderson Farm House - Fort Edmonton Park 50. & 51. HENDERSON FARM
The Henderson’s round barn, built in 1898 on their dairy farm near Rabbit Hill and moved to Fort Edmonton Park, is one of the few surviving round barns in Canada.
Tent City - Fort Edmonton Park 52. TENT CITY
Boom times in the early 20th century Edmonton caused a housing shortage that left many families living in tents.
St. Michaels Church - Fort Edmonton Park 53. ST. MICHAEL AND ALL ANGELS ANGLICAN CHURCH
An original structure built in 1910, St. Michael’s is still a favourite for weddings.
Rutherford House - Fort Edmonton Park 54. RUTHERFORD HOUSE
The original home of Alberta’s first premier is typically Victorian, with the décor to prove it.
Firkins House - Fort Edmonton Park 55. FIRKINS’ HOUSE
An original home built in 1911, the Firkins’ house was the last word in modernity.
Masonic Hall - Fort Edmonton Park 56. MASONIC HALL
Explore the Masonic Museum upstairs. The main floor features a food service outlet.
Penny Arcade - Fort Edmonton Park 57. PENNY ARCADE
Definitely a men’s hangout in 1912. The Penny Arcade now welcomes all comers to try its shooting gallery and amusement machines.
St.Anthony's Church - Fort Edmonton Park 58. ST. ANTHONY’S CHURCH AND SCHOOL
It was quite a commute for the nuns who taught at St. Anthony’s — they had to cross the river, probably by ferry, twice a day.
Gyro Park - Fort Edmonton Park 59. GYRO PARK
The Gyro Club was instrumental in building parks throughout Edmonton. This is a great place for the children to burn up some energy.
Post Office - Fort Edmonton Park 60. POST OFFICE
The Post Office Block also housed Edmonton’s Telephone Exchange on the second floor.
Reed's Bazaar - Fort Edmonton Park 61. REED’S BAZAAR
Mr. Reed specialized in fine china, gifts and teas. He also brought the first “Santa Man” to Edmonton to help promote his products. Come in and admire the beautiful antiques and buy a new, classic piece to take home.
Ernest Brown Photography - Fort Edmonton Park 62. ERNEST BROWN HISTORICAL PHOTOGRAPHY
Located on Fort Edmonton Park’s 1905 Street between Reed’s Bazaar and the Fire Hall, Ernest Brown Historical Photography was originally built in Edmonton in 1890.  In 1982, the building was then re-constructed at Fort Edmonton Park, and is a wonderful venue that displays various artifacts showing the art of photography as it was 100 years ago. Read more >>
Bank of Montreal - Fort Edmonton Park 63. BANK OF MONTREAL
The Bank of Montreal occupied its modest first digs in Edmonton until February 1905, when it relocated in a palatial stone building in the city’s financial district.
Fire Hall & Police Station - Fort Edmonton Park 64. FIRE HALL & TOWN HALL
Edmonton’s first firehall also housed its first town hall and police station in 1893.
Memorial Garden - Fort Edmonton Park 65. MEMORIAL GARDENS
The Royal Canadian Legion, which sponsored this fountain and garden, grew out of the Great War Veterans’ Association, formed in Edmonton in 1917. The fountain and benches provide the perfect opportunity to rest, relax and reflect.
Bandshell - Fort Edmonton Park 66. EAST END PARK BANDSHELL
So many people flocked to hear the bands play on a summer day in Edwardian Edmonton that extra streetcars had to run to East End (now Borden) Park.
Ramsay's Greenhouse Fort Edmonton Park 67. RAMSAY’S GREENHOUSE
Northern Alberta’s first greenhouse offered Edmontonians fresh flowers and tropical plants as a break from the long winter.

From tough times to modern times

By 1920, modern times had indeed arrived in Edmonton with electrifying changes. Women officially became persons under Canadian law and became active setting new precedents in sports, the workplace and the voter’s booth. Motorcars crowded the streets, radio went on the air, and by mid-decade, Edmonton started growing once more. Prohibition was lifted in 1923, and young people mixed like never before at dance halls and cafes.

Then, in 1927, Edmonton built the first municipal airfield in Canada, Blatchford Field. The site for this wondrous gateway to the skies was an empty farmer’s field pocked with gopher holes, at the northwest end of Portage Avenue – a road built with great promise that never materialized. However modestly, this road to nowhere had become the fastest road to a bold new world.

 

Ukrainian Bookstore - Fort Edmonton Park 68. UKRAINIAN BOOKSTORE
Whether they had come from the old country a generation before, or were born here, Ukrainian Canadians found a wealth of cultural material at the Ukrainian Bookstore.
Hotel Selkirk - Fort Edmonton Park 69. HOTEL SELKIRK
The original Hotel stood at 101 Street and Jasper Ave. from 1903 until fire consumed it in 1962. This recreation of Hotel Selkirk is an active, full-service hotel, with some added modern comforts.
Capitol Theatre - Fort Edmonton Park 70. CAPITOL THEATRE
A golden age ‘Temple of Silent Art’ which once graced Jasper Avenue, the Capitol first opened as the Allen Theatre in 1918. Renamed as the Capitol Theatre in 1923, it showed its first ‘talkie’ in 1929. Now we’ve taken it one step further, as we show Northern Light, a multi-sensory film experience.
Tom Thumbs Mini Golf - Fort Edmonton Park 71. TOM THUMB MINIATURE GOLF COURSE
Leisure was serious business in the 1920s. Tom Thumb Miniature Golf, patented in Tennessee in 1929, came to Edmonton soon after and started a craze.
Sun Drug Store & Bills - Fort Edmonton Park 72. THE SUN DRUGSTORE AND BILL’S CONFECTIONERY
The Sun Drugstore and Bill’s Confectionery was originally located on the corner of Jasper Ave. and 109 Street. Bill’s had ice cream then, and still does today!
Blatchford Hangar - Fort Edmonton Park 73. BLATCHFORD FIELD AIR HANGAR
The age of flight demanded its own unique structures. Our replica of Edmonton’s first municipal air harbour serves as a multi-purpose venue. The Blatchford Field Air Hangar Catering Kitchen has the capacity to serve up to 5,000 guests.
JB Little Brickyard - Fort Edmonton Park 74. J. B. LITTLE BRICKYARD
James Little used clay from the banks of the Riverdale district to transform Edmonton from a wooden to a red brick city in the early 20th century.
Peony Garden - Fort Edmonton Park 75. SILVER HEIGHTS PEONY GARDEN
In 1921, Dr. James Brander planted a peony garden that expanded over five acres, and eventually offered more than 200 varieties to choose from in addition to other flowers and shrubs.
AGT Telephone Building - Fort Edmonton Park 76. AGT TELEPHONE EXCHANGE
Alberta Government Telephones built bungalow style exchange buildings in small regional towns and villages to symbolize the average person of Alberta to whom AGT’s slogan was a “Silent Partner”.
Al Rashid Mosque - Fort Edmonton Park 77. AL RASHID MOSQUE
Edmonton’s Muslim community hired a Ukrainian contractor to construct the first purpose-built mosque in Canada in 1938.
Mellon Farm - Fort Edmonton Park 78. MELLON FARM
The land Fort Edmonton Park occupies was a remote farm corner in 1922, when the Mellon estate trust built this original farmhouse to rent out.
Motordrome - Fort Edmonton Park 79. MOTORDROME
Cars really took over the roads during the 1920s. You could buy one, have it repaired or store it over winter at the Motordrome.
The Midway - Fort Edmonton Park 80. 1920s MIDWAY & EXHIBITION
The arrival of the summer midway and exhibition was a time of great excitement in Edmonton. This midway is similar to the 1920s midway brought to Edmonton by Johnny J. Jones.
Exhibits Buildings - Fort Edmonton Park width= 81. EXHIBITS BUILDING
While candy, games and food concessions were familiar to the Edmonton Exhibition experience, exhibits on popular events & activities – horticulture, dairy industry and art by Edmonton students – were displayed inside the structures on the exhibition grounds. There were even displays outside on the grounds, such as the trench warfare re-enactment during the Great War.
Streetcar Barn - Fort Edmonton Park 82. STREETCAR BARN
This replica building functions much as the original, as the Edmonton Radial Railway Society restores and maintains the Park’s classic streetcars within.
Freight Shed - Fort Edmonton Park 83. FREIGHT SHED
This building, with the façade of a typical 1920s Freight Shed, is the today the home of the Edmonton Model Railway Association, which was formed in 1946. Their model train display has a large roundhouse, 220 feet of track and more than 20 turn-outs.