Friday, January 3, 2014

Fort Edmonton Park (#3) – Alberta Canada

In this segment about our visit to Fort Edmonton Park, we’ve entered the 1920’s…

This recreation of the Selkirk Hotel was built in 2003.  It has 30 guest rooms furnished in the 1920's style.  Originally it was a 40-room hotel.  It began life in February of 1903 as the Windsor Hotel.  Robert McDonald bought the Windsor in 1911.  He expanded and renovated the property to include 100 guest rooms, renamed it the Hotel Selkirk and reopened it on November 10, 1913.  For the next 50 years, the 3-story hotel was one of Edmonton’s most popular meeting places.

To check out the accommodations and book a room at the Selkirk Hotel, go to
The original well-loved landmark hotel in downtown Edmonton was severely damaged by fire on December 18, 1962.  It was demolished the following September to make way for the Royal Bank of Canada tower.

The Mahogany Room, a full-service bar, shares the first floor of the Selkirk Hotel with the Johnson’s Café.  For many years the Mahogany Room was known as Canada's longest bar.
Johnson’s Café serves breakfast, lunch and dinner.   The original café was started in 1920 by Constantinos Yeanitchous, a Greek immigrant who went by the name Con Johnson. It wasn't long before "meet me under the clock at Johnson's" became a popular phrase, and everyone in the city knew the spot.

Robert McDonald, the owner of the Selkirk Hotel as well as other hotels and businesses was of Scottish heritage.  He was born in Cape Breton Nova Scotia. (One of our favorite places) Apparently McDonald was quite a character.  He owned a Packard dealership and drove around town in his pink Packard.  He employed retired boxers in the Mahogany Room…as bartenders and bouncers.  One of them worked there for 33 years.   McDonald and his family managed the Selkirk until 1950…

Part of the ambience along the 1920’s main street at Fort Edmonton Park were great advertising signs relating to the period, like the one shown above.  These signs just made things seem more authentic…

FYI… J. S. Fry and Sons, Ltd. was a British chocolate company owned by Joseph Storrs Fry and his family.  The company had a long history…beginning in 1728.  By 1919 the company merged with Cadbury's chocolate and the joint company was named the British Cocoa and Chocolate Company.  After 1981 the Fry's name was no longer in use, but the factory was still a major producer of Cadbury's products.  Following the takeover of Cadbury by Kraft Foods, the plant was scheduled for closure in 2011…

 Another sunny summer day…and yet another bride and groom.  This time the groom was suited up as a Northwest Mounted Police Officer. 

This view across the trolley/streetcar track shows the Sun Drug Store and Bill’s Confectionary.  Both of these stores were built in 1922.  The confectionary didn’t do very well, but it 1926 William Kazakos bought it and opened the new Bill's Confectionary.  Kazakos emigrated from Turkey in 1910 and he’d learned the candy making business from relatives. 

In the early part of the 20th century, confectionaries were very popular...selling candy, ice cream, soda fountain drinks and sometimes light meals.  As a matter of fact, my father was working as a ‘soda jerk’ at a confectionary in order to put himself through Michigan State College when he met my mother…

The Sun Drug Store is a replica of the original business.  Sidney Millward built this building as well as the confectionary.  He’d emigrated from England in 1913 and he was part of the first graduating class of pharmacists from the University of Alberta in 1916.  Prior to about 1930, almost all medicines were compounded from raw materials by the pharmacist.
As you can see, almost all of the products sold by pharmacies in those days were displayed and stored under glass.  The Sun Drug Store and its successor operated until 1963.  The building housing the drug store and Bill’s Confectionary was demolished in 1967.

Pictured above is the Capitol Theatre at Fort Edmonton Park.  This eye-catching new building, which was completed in the summer of 2011, is a terrific looking re-creation of Edmonton’s original Capitol Theatre.  The original theatre had been built circa 1929.  This new theatre has 243 seats and it can be rented for events… The Capitol Theatre represents the first project completed under the Fort Edmonton Management Company’s extensive 5-year Master Plan for the Park.

To view current and upcoming attractions at the Capitol Theatre, just go to

This is the Silver Heights Peony Garden.  The original garden was established in Edmonton in 1921.  This garden, which is across the street next to the Sun Drug Store consists of a border of hyacinth, lilac, honeysuckle and rose shrubs, with the interior containing 26 varieties of peonies.

The Peony Garden at Fort Edmonton Park is a reconstruction of a nursery started by Dr. James Brander and his father George.  Dr. Brander was an obstetrician and an accomplished horticulturist.  This exhibit showcases many plants that were available from the Gardens in the 1920s and 1930s.

This replica building is typical of the small town or rural Alberta Government Telephone exchanges that were built across the province.  This brick cottage/bungalow office design was the big trend in the 1920s.  The original telephone exchange was built in 1929. 

The first woman in Edmonton hired to operate the magneto switchboard system was 14-year old Jennie (Janet) Lauder, daughter of Glasgow Scotland born baker James Lauder.  (Lauder’s Bakery and Bake Shop are in the 1885 portion of the Park)

OK… I’ve been around a while but I didn’t know what a magneto switchboard was!  It is a manual switchboard using the magneto (hand-cranked generator) built in a telephone set to send signals to the telephone office. When the user at each telephone set turns the crank on the telephone set, the magneto in the telephone set generates currents to notify the operator at the switchboard of the user's call request. The operator then connects the call to the called number according to the code.
While I do remember seeing operating switchboards in the workplace and we had a party line when my family lived in the Michigan countryside, hand cranked phones preceded me by a few years! 

Many young people today have never seen one of these early public phone booths… These rural or small town telephone exchanges included a reception area where customers could pay their bill…and which featured a public phone like this one.  Another room contained the magneto switchboard and provided space for management and administration.  An equipment room was in the back…

This was our view of the inside of the rebuilt old-time trolley we rode on at the Park.  The trolley or streetcar system operates from near the entrance of the Park to the far end of the 1905 main street.  For more information about the trolley system at Fort Edmonton Park as well as the trolley’s themselves, just go to

This photo shows one of the Park’s steam locomotives chugging past the Blatchford Field Hanger…a replica of the original structure that was built based on the original blueprints. Blatchford Field, which opened in 1927, operated at the site of what is now called the Municipal Airport. The original hangar was built in 1929.  We didn’t visit the Hangar as it was set up for a big wedding during our visit.  The original hangar at the Municipal Airport was demolished in 1979.

The Motordrome Ltd. was built in 1919.  When it opened this operation offered a wide range of services, selling new and used cars, providing repairs, storage, a car wash and a gas pump.  This replica of the Motordrome is used as a display center for the Park’s antique vehicles as well as a restoration facility for the maintenance of the automobiles.

 This motorcycle in the Motordrome is a 1920 Harley-Davidson V-Twin with a sidecar.  I couldn’t find a Harley V-Twin for sale on the Internet…but I did find a nice looking ‘rare’ 1920 Harley Davidson Model W for only $14,500.
The first sidecar was designed by a French army officer.  He won a prize offered by a French newspaper in 1893 for the best method of carrying a passenger on a bicycle.  The sidecar wheel was mounted on the same lateral plane as the bicycle's rear and was supported by a triangulation of tubes from the bicycle. A sprung seat with back rest was mounted above the cross-member and a footboard hung below it.  

To learn about the history of sidecars, you can go to  For information about Harley-Davidson Motorcycles, go to, or go to

This is a 1920 Oldsmobile 30E Sedan inside the Motordrome.  This 6-cylinder 47 horsepower automobile is 110.5 inches long and it sold for $1,055.00.  This car featured the first 4-wheel braking system…and available options included such items as bumpers, a heater and a trunk!

The Park tells patrons not to forget to ask for a ride in the antique cars.  “Interpreters are always glad to oblige”…and we would have loved to go for a ride, but unfortunately there weren’t any interpreters around when we visited the Motordrome.

This is a 1925 Ford Model T Tudor.  It’s a 4-cylinder, 22.5 horsepower automobile that originally cost $595.00.  It was built in Canada and it still came with wooden wheels.  Wire wheels were an option from Ford Motor Company beginning in 1927.  Ford had introduced the electric starter in some vehicles beginning in 1919…but note the hand crank on this model!

FYI…the electric starter was invented by Charles Kettering…who held 186 patents in total!  He also invented 4-wheel brakes, leaded gasoline and Freon.  To learn more about Kettering, go to

We just liked this photo of the 1920s Midway and Exposition grounds looking across a plowed field.  It sure looked authentic and it fit the time and place…

This is the Fort Edmonton Train Station at the entrance/exit for the Park.  This is where you buy your tickets for the park and it houses the Park’s offices and a souvenir shop.  Visitors can board the train here and then ride to the Hudson Bay Trading Post/Fort to begin their tour through the different eras.  This is a great looking railroad depot!

This is a 75 foot, 4 inch A-1 Railway Car.  It was built in 1912 for the Grand Trunk Railroad.  It was converted into a Canadian National Railroad as a business car in 1919.  The Northern Alberta Railroad bought it from CNR in 1933 for $21,500.  After a number of mergers, the car came back to CNR.  It is now refitted at a 1920’s vintage salon/lounge and dining car.  It can be rented for dinner and small gatherings.

This ends our tour of Fort Edmonton Park itself… There will be a train related blog that I will send out in the near future.  We really enjoyed our experience at the Park and we would recommend it to anyone who enjoys experiencing the past and learning about history in general.  

For more information about Fort Edmonton Park and its attractions, go to  To view a plethora of photos of the buildings and attractions in the Park, go to

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave


  1. these are absolutely lovely pictures!!
    I love thge train!!!xx

  2. What a charming city. I love the photos you shared with us. Almost as good as being there ;-) Almost!!! Have a great day, Dave. Blessings...Mary

  3. Dear Dave, From your writing of Edomton Park it is evident that you and Laurie had a beautiful visit. The posts showed a glimpse through time and it was a pleasant visit for me to see. I know that I will not be seeing it myself so I do appreciate the education, photos and the time you took to walk your readers through.
    All the best to you and Laurie.
    Blessings, Catherine

  4. its just looking awesum. And the most awesum thing is vintage car I just loved it.