OG EDMONTONIANS DESERVE PROPS

Wanye
August 04 2011 04:51PM

On this sunny day, we aren't going to write an article about ice hockey. Instead we are going to talk a bit about one of our city's founders and his legacy which is in imminent danger. File this under the “Edmonton” part of “Edmonton Oilers Hockey Blog” if you will.

As an Edmontonian – and in particular as an Oilers fan – we often witness the cloud of inferiority that hangs over too many of our fellow citizens. Being one of the greatest dynasties in sports, only to turn into a small market team that acted as a feeder squad for larger markets in the NHL for 20 years will do that to a City.

Particularly if that hockey team is the main calling card for your home on the National stage, The City’s self image tends to trend in parallel to the fortunes of the hockey team.

In the absence of a juggernaut company being started in a tiny office downtown and later going public, or the next Prime Minister attending Edmonton schools his/her entire life and sweeping E-Town into the highest office in the land, or a band coming from Castledowns to win 11 Grammys - the Oilers are what we collectively get behind.

For now. And that’s great.

E-TOWN IS SWEET

We personally think Edmonton is the bees knees. Say what you want about “the big mall out in the West” “the potholes” or whatever axe you choose to grind, we are all fortunate to be sitting here in 2011, in a City of 1.1 million of (mostly) employed individuals.

We spend the bulk of our time working and staying warm and complaining about the lack of a forward who can win faceoffs, but in many instances we don’t consider how fortunate we are to live here. And we rarely ever wonder who put Edmonton on the map way back in the day and are responsible for where we are today.

Ask people in El Centro, California with an official unemployment rate of 27.0% if they would like to commute to a gainfully paying job in sub zero temperatures. Or go ask a resident of Fort Meyers, Florida – property prices have declined 59.1% since 2008 – if they would like our relatively stable real estate market. A great many folks would love to be here, cold weather and all. 

Yet it’s no secret that Edmonton is at a crossroads. The one path before us leads towards a slow decline towards obscurity, as a second tier City in Canada. The other path leads to becoming a City that can attract and retain the best and the brightest who will help Edmonton continue to thrive and expand and kick the hell out of some other hockey teams if the moons align.

We need to start by collectively holding our heads higher and that starts with showing respect to the OG Edmontonians who have put everything they had on the line - to build the foundation of the City that we enjoy today.

THIS GUY IS A CHAMP

This fellow right here is HME Evans – a founding Edmontonian who carried the City when it was needed the most. Unless you were around in the 1910s you probably don’t remember his tenure as the Mayor of Edmonton between 1917 and 1921. Robin Brownlee probably remembers the day he was elected and probably referred to him as a ‘whipper-snapper’ under his breath as he road down Jasper Avenue in his buggy.

Anyways, Evans was asked to run for Mayor by the business community in 1917. Described as ‘Edmonton’s only honest businessman’ they felt that the City was in such dire straits that only a man with Evans skills could turn things around. He had invested heavily in Northern Alberta’s fledgling coal industry only to see his British investors pull their funds in the 11th hour.

Instead of giving up and watching a large part of the Edmonton economy dry up, he found alternate funds and forged ahead keeping many employed and building a successful business in the process. And as our Mayor he straightened out the books and prevented the City from going bust.

And his house Sylvancroft was the center of it all. A focal point for business and politics of early Edmonton, they used to raise so much money for the British Red Cross here during WWI that they got a letter from the Royals commending them for their efforts. During the Great Depression it was an operating farm and food went to the food bank. Great people once lived here and did a great many things for the City of Edmonton that we take for granted 100 years later.

A century after it was constructed, the property is about to be knocked to the ground. The family owned company put the thing on the market several months back in the hope that someone would step forward and save it, restoring the house that once meant so much to efforts to improve our City.

No one stepped up and now it is on the block to be knocked down. You can read an excellent article about it in the Journal here. 

SO WHO CARES RIGHT?

We can hear you now: “But Wanye, what do I care if some old pile of bricks is going to get knocked down? Our goalie is in jail, I have bigger problems and so should you!”

Our concern isn’t that Edmonton would allow an old house to be knocked down. Instead we are more concerned with the fact that a grand residence like this could fall into disrepair and then be knocked to the ground without so much as an offer from the rich folks that parade around this City with their noses in the air. Think that cool old houses like this get knocked down in Vancouver, Calgary or Toronto? No way Ray.

Where is the next generation of great Edmontonians watching over the City to ensure we honor the past and hurtle towards a sweet future? Why isn't anyone willing to pick up where HME Evans left off in this grand old joint? Either they straight up don't care, they have left for warmer climates, or they are living out on 1st street and 1st avenue in a remote acreage, detached from the City and our fellow residents.

And as a result the last remaining legacy of a dude who put it all on the line several times for our City is forgotten to the mists of time.

But be damned certain were it not for people like HME Evans, there wouldn't be an Edmonton on the same scale it is today. There wouldn't be nearly the industry up here, nor nearly as many residents. Guaranteed we wouldn't have a NHL hockey team and we wouldn't be sitting around with our twitters and interwebs discussing whether or not to allow 100 million to be thrown at a new arena in the downtown core.

Were it not for the HME Evanses of the world, Edmonton would be much smaller and crappier today than it is and odds are most of the folks reading this would live somewhere else.

When the City was at it's lowest, a great man came to our collective rescue and 100 years later we continue to reap the rewards. His last remaining legacy should not be knocked down.

09049f03ecb006ab29372206f2a88f75
Blog so hard motherf**ckers try and find me. Email me at wanyegretz@gmail.com or tweet me @wanyegretz provided it is about Jordan Eberle or babes.
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#1 damn
August 04 2011, 04:52PM
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fist

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#3 mayorpoop
August 04 2011, 05:00PM
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Wanye for mayor! This was a very well written piece. I am poor but still want to save the place...oh yeah i don't even live in the city but i am inspired today!

Thank you HME Evans!

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#4 interesting
August 04 2011, 05:06PM
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You are a weirdo wayne but I love you. Good call, edmonton represent!

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#5 Kieso
August 04 2011, 05:09PM
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Wanye,

Love the article and am sure the HME Evans of the past would be proud. The real issue here is that unfortunately the current living family has brought this on themselves and likely nobody even wants to be associated with this current legacy.

This I think is the real issue why the current high rollers and Edmonton community leaders are not interested in the place as now; again unfortunately, the HME Evans name is not remotely associated with the "good man" in the picture.

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#6 a lg dubl dubl
August 04 2011, 05:18PM
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Great read mr Wanye PROPS TO YOU, I wish I had the bling to get that house it looks pretty cool as is and would love to see what it would look like after reno's. I wonder if the city has thought of buying it and turning it into a duplex kinda thing for low income families or a place for people that are just coming off the streets looking for a better life.

I for 1 am all for the new arena and Im getting kinda tired of hearing all the nay sayers giving reasons why it shouldnt be built, I bet you that its those same nay sayers that whine because the GREAT CITY THAT IS EDMONTON isnt doing enough as the CAPITAL OF ALBERTA to put itself on the map. Yes our taxes might go up a bit to get the arena built, but our taxes will go up every year weather we like it or not. I look at the arena not just as the new home for the Oilers, but as 2-3 yr job(just to bulid it) that will employ hundreds of people over that time, and thats not including what might get built around the arena PLUS the jobs that people will get when the arena and surrounding area are built. BUILD IT ALREADY

that is all, good day.

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#7 Lowetide
August 04 2011, 05:21PM
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Wanye: That's a beautiful piece of writing. Thanks for the very good read and the effort it took to write it.

Damn. Well done!

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#8 Mark-LW
August 04 2011, 05:27PM
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Great article.

Just another example Edmontonians not caring about their culture. Things like this, and the legendary Sidetrack Cafe being torn down for condo's are a microcosm of what's wrong with the city.

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#9 Ender
August 04 2011, 05:30PM
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Well written, Fearless Leader. The Journal link doesn't appear to be working; could you post the link manually?

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E-Town Respect

We should do a bottle drive

And save this old house.

* If the Nation can scrape together enough chingo to send Gregor to the NHL Draft, we should be able to make some calls, get some donations and save this place.

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#11 Max Powers - Team HME Evans
August 04 2011, 05:36PM
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About time HME Evans got his due...

Unfortunately not bling-blau enough to buy a house for fun but I do appreciate history a great deal and am saddened by this.

The Brownlee quip make me laugh too. Kudos.

Insanely awesome article Wanye. Edmonton surely is the bees knees.

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#12 Ender
August 04 2011, 05:41PM
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@Oilers G-that un-retired Haiku writing MotherF^%$er

We're talking about a lot of donations. The developer that just bought the place paid two-and-a-half million dollars for it. Even if someone just wanted to buy back the part with the house on it, we're not talking about pocket change.

It's too bad a piece of Edmonton heritage is endangered, but it's even more of a tragedy that the family that should have kickstarted this story several years ago never did. For the sake of the house, I hope it's not too late.

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#13 Quinn the Eskimo
August 04 2011, 05:43PM
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"the HME Evans name is not remotely associated with the "good man" in the picture."

what does this mean? has the family fallen upon scandal?

enquiring minds need to know.

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#14 Ender
August 04 2011, 05:46PM
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@Quinn the Eskimo

Most of the details are found here .

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#15 David S
August 04 2011, 05:51PM
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I wonder if someone like "XcG-o12nye" will be writing something exactly like this about Wanye's house in a hundred years or so.

*wonders*

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#16 Quinn the Eskimo
August 04 2011, 06:06PM
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@Ender

ah. thenkyew. bad business. hmmm...

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#17 Jeff
August 04 2011, 06:18PM
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Is this a not so couched prod of a certain Mr. Katz? The arena is stuck on a 100-150(?) million shortfall. Isn't that an opportunity for Mr. Katz to jump in and show just how much he believes in Edmonton's future? He could then legitamately claim a right to the lions share of concert and event money as the majority owner of the building. I don't have the 100 mill, but we have been led to believe that he does.

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#18 Exbarstar
August 04 2011, 06:22PM
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Wanye your love for this great city never fails...much like your love for lil Wayne, it endures. I'm gonna write a letter to the editor at the journal regarding Sylvancroft, perhaps if people put pressure on the crappy developer he will run away never to be heard from again...? Well worth trying at least!

HME Evan's name is not tarnished to me...we all have one black sheep in the family, his sheep just happened to steal a lot of money.

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#19 BruinsLover69
August 04 2011, 06:28PM
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Hey Wanye, How's about me you, oilersninja and exbarstar (she can stay in my room) buy up this little shack and do it up right...party like it's 1911 all over again!

HME forever.

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#20 Kieso
August 04 2011, 06:35PM
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@ Ender and Quinn

The rest of the details are here and in the trustee asset reports on the same website.

http://www.pwc.com/ca/en/car/pfk-and-fmc/index.jhtml

Like I said great history but the current legacy would likely be why no other community leader stepped up to purchase the property.

Might not be fair or right to the past family name but just the sad truth.

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#21 The Towel Boy
August 04 2011, 06:55PM
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*initiates slowest clap ever..so slow there is an ovation between each clap*

Such a spiffy read. Very well done.

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#22 Chris.
August 04 2011, 07:03PM
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Sorry Wayne. The property is currently out of my budget. (I've spent too much money on expensive women, cheap wine*, and middling Oiler seasons tickets.)

*by cheap wine I mean draft beer*

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#23 LoDog
August 04 2011, 07:22PM
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I'm beginning to think that Wanye is not the evil overlord/serial killer he makes himself out to be.

Go figure.

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#24 RigPig
August 04 2011, 07:22PM
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nock it down and use the bricks to build a new arena.

DONT GET IN THE WAY OF PROGRESS - so sick of you damn LIBERALS gettin in the way of our oil sands and arena. WE AINT CALLED THE OILERS FOR NOTHIN!

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#25 Gnikkles
August 04 2011, 07:25PM
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Wait can the oilers play in sylvancroft? SC1????

And WTF why did it look like a mansion back in the day and why does it look like a makeshift rickshaw crap home now? It looks terrible.

The stable can house our zambonis.

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#26 Robin Brownlee
August 04 2011, 07:57PM
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@Max Powers - Team HME Evans

Wanye -- stop the presses -- is a slobbering imbecile. I wasn't even born until 1926. Donkey.

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#27 Zeus Hernandez
August 04 2011, 08:02PM
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Dude, long time stalker to the nation! The article inspired me to set up an account. I moved to the Cayman Islands from Edmonton in 2003 and when I left the island in 2007, I had the option to live in a warmer city in North America but I choose to move back to Edmonton for the reasons you wrote about. Aside from the mosquitos and the murders this year, Edmonton is a good place to live.

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#28 edmontoncritic - BRoadwAY
August 04 2011, 08:10PM
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Isnt this exactly what Fort Edmonton is for?? There have been numerous buildings around the city that have been transplanted to their new home at FE. Why the eff would this one be any different? Superman Mandel better come to the rescue on this one.

The original piece of land it sits on is cool and part of the heritage but at least we could save the building if those rterads are just going to smash it faster than Raffi Torres does an egiht blal

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#29 Quinn the Eskimo
August 04 2011, 08:21PM
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@RigPig

"DONT GET IN THE WAY OF PROGRESS"

Uh huh. Do you consider yourself a progressive?

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#30 Gerald R. Ford
August 04 2011, 08:32PM
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Shamed by Wanye! I need to reassess my life immediately.

Great, great article. Inferiority complexes and horrific weather for six months a year aside, this is still a fantastic place to live, and we need to acknowledge that more often. The past is there for us to learn from, and I think history shows that the most forward-thinking visionaries have always looked to those who came before them for inspiration. It's funny how a city that lives so much in the past, sports-wise, can completely ignore it, in more important areas.

p.s. "Our goalie is in jail." made me laugh and sob at the same time. Sort of a slough. I hope Khabi is watching the old 5-hole tonight. Better stack the pads. Be aggressive with the poke-check...

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#31 Walter Sobchak
August 04 2011, 08:37PM
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@edmontoncritic - BRoadwAY

I'm in total agreement! Why cant this be moved to FE park?

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#32 Archaeologuy
August 04 2011, 08:49PM
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Minus the city's murderous citizens, dirty streets, city government that cant figure out how to keep snow off residential roads, and piss poor public transport infrastructure, this is a great city to live in.

Losing historic buildings is a sad prospect. So much character and culture is lost when these things happen. Its like when they stopped having Klondike Days and brought in the lifeless carnie fest with mini doughnuts and drunken 13 year olds we call Capital Ex. Something is lost when modernization white washes history.

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#33 Rob...
August 04 2011, 10:31PM
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Wanye, until the end of your article I was positive that your bipolar personality had kicked in and the article would wind up with a M. Night Shyamalan worthy ending about Rexall Place, and how we were sloughing off a grand old dame of a building that represented the best of Edmonton's history yet was destined for demolition due to the pursuit of newer/better options.

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#34 John Chambers
August 04 2011, 10:45PM
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I'm going to buy my two-month old a Taylor Hall jersey. Go Edmonton!

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#35 Darrenski
August 04 2011, 11:04PM
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@David S

The author will be Robin Brownlee

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#36 shaun
August 04 2011, 11:05PM
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Im proud of Edmonton, we have a great city here. We just need to believe in it. If we look at the facts there shouldn't be too many better places in the world. Stable economy/educated workforce/lots of resources/stable government/awesome hockey team etc. I GET to live in Edmonton, I don't HAVE to. Thanks for a great article.

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#37 OilerLand
August 04 2011, 11:41PM
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wait a sec.... what??

After reading an ON article I feel.... smarter?

I'm not laughing and skipping but sombre and reflective?

Wanye wrote it? Wanye made me smarter?

Hurry.... faster...

you imbecile.

(slow clap)

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#38 StangBang
August 05 2011, 12:03AM
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As a long time reader, and first time poster I would agree with the complete lack of civic pride. Allowing all influence and head offices to move to Calgary is nothing short of disgraceful, and anyone who loves Edmonton and still votes Tory should give their head a shake. Klein killed Edmonton, and removed a lot of the associated pride.

A lot has been made about Northlands being a dump, and free agents not wanting to play in the North End, and a new arena will solve this problem to some degree. Unfortunately I feel that the damage has already been done to a large degree. The strip mall this is Edmonton "Common" followed by the light industrial estate until you hit Whyte avenue is the reason people feel Edmonton is ugly and cold. This should have NEVER been allowed to happen.

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#39 andrewmk20
August 05 2011, 01:59AM
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@Wanye

What's the asking price on the house? How come there's huge noise on a new arena and absolutely no noise for saving a historical landmark?

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#40 MJ
August 05 2011, 07:50AM
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There is no demolition permit for this property. Instead, there is a Edmontonian businessman willing to save this building and has filed an application to subdivide the property, not demolish it. It's not 100% it will be saved at this point, but the building is not at its 11th hour at all.

http://www.edmontonjournal.com/news/Rare+artifact+Edmonton+past+could+lost/5189906/story.html

Beljan, 36, has filed an application with the city to subdivide the 0.8 hectare site into eight to 10 lots, designed for low-rise, high-end, single-family condominium units.

He plans to tear down the carriage house, which was converted into a single-family home years ago, as well as another small house built in the 1950s. He wants to save the original Sylvancroft mansion and resell it, either as a single-family home, or perhaps divided into a couple of elegant flats.

“I think it would be kind of neat to have this 100-year-old house as part of the development. This city has such little history to begin with,” he says. “Sylvancroft is one of those little hidden jewels in the city, that people don’t even know is there.”

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#41 gongshow
August 05 2011, 08:13AM
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Wanye-

Good read, but I always find it hard to develop any real emotional attachment to a building simply because someone special lived there. It's just a building.

I agree that we should honor folks like HME, but why not just have a bronze statue made with a plaque telling his story. Put it downtown close to Grant Mac and Rexall 2 or somewhere down around the UofA and Whyte. Then people will have a chance to learn about someone who was a true leader.

I have never taken my kids on a tour of historically significant houses in Edmonton. However, I have stopped at the bronze statues around town with my kids to talk about 99, Ezio Farone and the bravery of our firefighters.

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#42 Sox and Oil
August 05 2011, 10:11AM
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The family should have approached the city and province a long time ago. It could have been declared a Non profit / museum protecting the land and the house. Similar but different situation down here in Calgary with the Lougheed House.

www.lougheedhouse.com

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#43 D-Man
August 05 2011, 10:55AM
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gongshow wrote:

Wanye-

Good read, but I always find it hard to develop any real emotional attachment to a building simply because someone special lived there. It's just a building.

I agree that we should honor folks like HME, but why not just have a bronze statue made with a plaque telling his story. Put it downtown close to Grant Mac and Rexall 2 or somewhere down around the UofA and Whyte. Then people will have a chance to learn about someone who was a true leader.

I have never taken my kids on a tour of historically significant houses in Edmonton. However, I have stopped at the bronze statues around town with my kids to talk about 99, Ezio Farone and the bravery of our firefighters.

That's why Wanye wrote this article to begin with... Kudos to you for sharing some of our history with your kids - especially about Ezio Farone, but we need to have more people develop that emotional attachment you're lacking..

I've had the opportunity to travel to a variety of countries in Europe and where we tear down and rebuild - they enhance from within while leaving the old facade intact. We have a tendency as North Americans to think newer is better, forgetting about the history that got us here in the first place..

If you ever have the ability, go for a bus tour in London, England... There are a ton of buildings that still have flak marks from the Battle of Britian. Go to Dresden, Germany - where they rebuilt 13th century castles (to the exact design) within a 3 kilometer radius that were destroyed by the Allies in WWII. You'll gain a true appreciation for buildings of historic value.

I hope someone with alot of $$ can step up and save this house.

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#44 HME'S GRANDDAUGHTER
August 05 2011, 12:08PM
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Thanks for the great tribute Wayne....it was very well researched. HME was also an all round great guy to grow up with. His hockey skates are in the Royal Alberta Museum.

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#45 bingofuel
August 05 2011, 01:02PM
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Great post, Wanye, and a sentiment I share. Got to tour the grounds of the area before everything was locked off. I think the house can and should be saved and a lot of potential with mixed use residential commercial in the area.

I wrote about Sylvancroft earlier this week at the Unknown Studio. (Some of you Nationeers might recall TUS as my side project before I jumped ship from here.)

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#46 Bergky10
August 05 2011, 01:05PM
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I see how many people want to keep the house standing in terms of it's historical significance. But I also see how someone would say there are better ways to honour our forefathers than to associate theirs lives and contributions to what is essentially 'just a building'.

There has been some talk recently around the idea of Edmonton naming it's streets. This is something I would support as a way to build a sense of community and belonging in the streets of our city. And Evans avenue has a particularly nice ring to it doesn't it?

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#47 erixon
August 05 2011, 01:21PM
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Put the house on top of the new arena.

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#48 Team Hall
August 05 2011, 01:36PM
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Mayor Mandel has done more for this city during his tenure than the previous 10 mayors combined. It's called beautifying your city. You know, so that more than just rig pigs want to live here. Like maybe doctors, lawyers, who are interested in more than having the snow cleared and potholes filled? Too many "progressive" people want to tear everything down and build parking lots for their huge trucks with the balls on the back. Real cities keep their culture.

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#49 Christopher Spencer
August 05 2011, 02:53PM
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Really well done, Wanye. I feel like a nitpicking nit for offering this, but there are two bits of history that could be ammended.

Civic elections in the early days were an annual event, so HME's term expired in 1918. It was a hectic year, with the Armistice and influenza pandemic. The business community could not persuade Evans to seek reelection; he was replaced by the labourist candidate, Joe Clarke (of stadium fame.)

The work organizing bond drives was mainly during WWII, for which Evans received the Order of the British Empire. During this period, Sylvancroft was used as a refugee home for British children sent away to escape the Blitz.

Key question: would Evans have voted yay or nay on supporting a downtown arena? I think he would have been in favour, based on his participation in the group that revived the Eskimos in 1949. Sylvancroft traditionally had a skating rink, complete with rink boards, which in my younger years I helped flood. My brother participated in a fierce boot hockey game against Dave Bidini, after a Rheotastics concert, on Sylvancroft ice in the late 1990s.

Evansburg and Evansdale School were named in recognition of HME Evans.

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#50 Mike Wilson
August 05 2011, 03:20PM
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Wanye, you are an excellent wordsmith.

Props to you sir.

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