The Early U of A Years - The 1960's

From the 1930's to the early 1960's, The Garneau was a middle to upper class residential area with a pleasant mixture of family homes and rental properties for students, creating a somewhat bohemian atmosphere. In the early 1960's however, long term development plans proposed by the University of Alberta and supported by both the City and the Province, sought the acquisition and destruction of the western section of North Garneau to allow for further development of the University of Alberta. The background and impacts of these events was well chronicled by Ms Frances Cruden, a long-time resident of The Garneau, in the Spring 2002 issue of Legacy magazine. Following are excerpts from Ms Cruden's " Deja Vu, All Over Again " article.

"In late 1961 the university, anticipating a 1980 enrolment of 30,000 students [this target was achieved in 2000] and the need for 18 additional faculty buildings, made expansion plans that included the acquisition of privately owned land, ' by expropriation [See Section 20 of University's Act] if necessary ', in the western part of North Garneau. The university intended to buy the property as it became available and laid aside a few hundred thousand dollars each year to do so. Eager to help, City Council, led by Mayor Roper, immediately passed a bylaw freezing development in the area. By mid 1962 Garneau property owners were complaining of difficulty in selling their homes and pressing for a system to determine a fair price. By August 1966 only one-third of required North Garneau property had been bought. The provincial government had become involved and deadlines [May 1967,1969, 1971] had been set for the university to acquire the homes and evict the residents.

"Meanwhile all around them, the university was bulldozing or moving some of the most impressive and historic homes in Edmonton, and the city parks department was removing the trees that lined the streets. Stately Rutherford House , now a provincial historic site, only escaped destruction at the very last moment through the efforts of the Society for the Preservation of Historic Homes and the University's Women's Club.

By 1972 the university had acquired all the property up to 110th Street. The five blocks between 112th Street and 111th Street north of 87th Avenue had been razed. The Law and Humanities buildings had been erected and the Students Union was allowed to build Hub Mall over 112th Street. Two full blocks were paved over for parking. Then, due to a downturn in enrolment and lack of finances, development essentially stopped

Saving the Best of the Past for the Future
email: doug.gorman at preservegarneau dot org