Fort Edmonton History Revisited
Four Ways To Imagine Life In Edmonton
I was always told when I was growing up that I was born 100 years too late. Myself I think it was more like 95 years myself. I found this out by going to Fort Edmonton Park. This park is a living museum and it divided into 4 periods of history with each section on a different street. Meet the people that populate those streets and find out what it was like to live in that age.
The four eras are 1920s, 1905, 1885 and 1865. As Alberta became a province of Canada in 1907 the 1905 street is the most active street but I like the 1885 street. This more like the wild west era.
Follow me through this picture walk thr history in Alberta's Fort Edmonton Park and imagine where you would have thrived.
Walk Back In Time In Fort Edmonton Park
When you first walk through the gates at Fort Edmonton Park, you walk onto the platform of a railway station. If the steam train is not in , you see a great view of the Midway Park on the 1920s street. Curb you enthusiasm and wait for the train. It will take you on a circuit through the park all the way back to 1865 and deposit you at the gates to old Fort Edmonton a fur trading outpost.
You could run to the midway first and then walk your way back in time making your way back to 1865 and take the train back but the view on the return line is not very scenic because of the brush and trees blocking the views. It is a shorter trip as well. I know this as I missed the train and did the tour in reverse order. Take the train first, let it be your time machine.
Old Fur Trading Post
Being a Tradsmen In The Hudsons Bay Company
I love the old blacksmith shop or forge. It would be where I would imagine myself to be if I were back in this era. If not the smith I'd be the cooper. One works metal the other wood.
The forge is where all the metalwork takes place. Everything is hand made. Hinges, hooks, nails pins, tools and even weapons. This fort relied on the river boats as well so many of the boating fixtures were made as well. The York boats were the main method of transporting the furs back east towards Hudson's Bay where the trade ships would take it overseas. These boats were hand built and hand propelled and they were large enough to carry loads measuring in tons.
The cooper made the barrels,casks, bodkins, buckets and ladles and many other containers and implements used to contain or distribute products from nails to sugar and flour. Just the smell of the woodshop brings back days spent in my dad's wood working shop helping sand furniture and oiling or polishing many of the various projects he had going.
Hardware Made History
Waiting For Your House To Be Built
The Time MachineClick thumbnail to view full-size
Down The Road To The Wild West
Down this street is a one room school house, a tradesman's cottage, a forge, a print shop with a milliners shop above. There is also a bakery, a church a few shops and a hotel a saloon and a stable. The official buildings start with the NWMP Outpost with the jail out back as well as the Dominion Lands office. One of the original survey posts for the river lots is preserved as well.
Of course the Sanderson & Looby Blacksmith Shop is central not only on the street but to the people of this era as well. McDougall's General Store has many new items being brought in but you still needed the local blacksmith to repair things as well as build custom items. I can imagine working here very easily.
McDougall's General Store looks similar to the hardware store my grandfather worked with his partner in the town of Leduc, just south of Edmonton. Beside the hardware shop was my grandmothers florist shop. You can see the same thing walking down this street with tiny shops built next to each other sharing the central street and boardwalk.
Check out Daly's Drug Store, with a large array of handmade soap for sale. There is also a wide selection of hard candies for sale as well. The bakery used to sell daily made goods; cookies cakes and breads, but those are sold now over in the Jasper House Hotel.
Ottewell's homestead is at the far west of the street with livestock and a garden stocked each year. Check out the beautiful food burning stove. We always name the pigs, "Porkchop", "Hamhock" and "Bacon". It's fun to watch them grow over the season.
Things Are Moving Faster
On 1905 street we have a streetcar. Things are moving faster. Alberta is coming together as a province and the world is seeing what we have. Banff National and Jasper National Parks are being advertized to the world and people are coming here in droves. There are so many more people coming in that there are not enough houses for them and people are living in tents. The boom times are on.
I just like the street car that loops through the 1905 and 1920's streets.
Everything A Young Province Needs
What else do you need? A midway, a theater, a working hotel, a Mosque, a telephone switchboard and a gas station. There's more. A working farm, an aviation hanger, a drugs store and ice cream parlor inside Bill's Confectionery. There is even a Ukrainian cultural interest with Ukrainian Bookstore.
Blanchard's field is special in the fact that it was in central Edmonton and is where my Dad started his tour of duty with Canada's Air Force. The actual hanger my dad worked out of is still on location and is the home of Edmonton Aviation Museum.
The theater is a replica of the 1918 Capital Theater from downtown Edmonton but behind the scenes is very high tech. There is a free show that chronicles the Edmonton area down through time from the ice age on. The special effects are awesome and I don't want to spoil it for you but you'll be thrilled and chilled to see it. It's a must see.
The day I was there the theater was the showcase for a story telling event. T.A.L.E.S. has a special event every Labor Day Weekend filling the park with story tellers from around the world. It is well worth the time to go. The evening I went had four local tellers telling tales with a Canadian band, the Once, filling in with traditional music and stories. It was awesome.
Fort Edmonton Park Revisited
See the train up close...