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The neighbourhood of West Jasper Place has undergone immense change and has been the anchor of the Edmonton West End for many decades. It has expanded from hamlet to village to town as newcomers were attracted to the area in the early 20th Century. These early communities were known as Jasper Place. During the early years, the region was seemingly a significant distance away from the developing city of Edmonton; however, a single street eventually came to separate them. The area would be eventually absorbed into the swells that have developed into Edmonton. During the early 1960s, the area was designated as the beginning of West Edmonton. It is currently considered as a central-west district and is close to the downtown Edmonton core.
Jasper Place, early in the 1900s, was where a few hundred farmers called home. The fertile land was ideal for animal and grain production alike. Families that wanted to take advantage of farming opportunities were among the first residents of the community.
Jasper Place was starting to experience significant population growth by the 1930s. Edmonton had been going through its own population inflow, and there was a need for additional infrastructure, which increased the imposed taxes on residents. Therefore, many families moved out from the rapidly growing Edmonton to settle in nearby Jasper Place. The community centre was situated at what is currently the intersection of Stony Plain Road and 149 Street. The employment opportunities provided by Jasper Place paled in comparison to Edmonton, and as such, much of the population commuted to the city. There was a westward extension of the trolley line to accommodate hamlet commuters in the 1940s.
After the Second World War, a population boom was experienced in Alberta, which coincided with the discovery of crude oil by Leduc County in 1947. Eventually, population growth resulted in Jasper Place becoming the largest Alberta hamlet. On March 15, 1950, Jasper place was incorporated as a village, with its population doubling to 8900 in only two years. On November 6, 1950, the area was incorporated as a town. Shortly after, a huge billboard sign graced the corner of 149 Street and Stony Plain Road, warmly welcoming visitors to ‘The Young Giant,’ Jasper Place. It heralded its amenities, which included residential and industrial developments and evening shopping.
By 1960, the population growth of Jasper Place highlighted the need for community facilities and schools. Therefore, the town council formulated a plan to start constructing the Jasper Place Composite High School; a recreation centre was also included in the project. On August 10, 1963, there was major fanfare as the Jasper Place Sports Centre was opened. It was viewed as a state-of-the-art facility at the time and included an arena, swimming pool, and outdoor recreational field. The new developments enhanced the stature of the town, but financial strain threatened the independence of the municipality. On August 17, 1964, Jasper Place was amalgamated by Edmonton.
The original land on which the town of Jasper Place was located included the neighbourhoods now referred to as Youngstown Industrial, Youngstown, Westlawn, West Jasper Place, West Sheffield Industrial, West Meadowlark Park, Stone Industrial, Sherwood, Lynnwood, Huff Bremner Estate Industrial, High Park Industrial, High Park, Glenwood, Elmwood, Canora and Britannia.
Currently, West Jasper Place is home to residential properties and commercial businesses located in the Jasper Gates Shopping Centre and along Stony Plain Road. Remarkably, the names of some buildings are not reflective of the neighbourhoods they are in. For example, Jasper Place Composite High School is not in the neighbourhood, but the Sherwood Elementary School is within its boundaries.
Roughly one-third of the homes lining the roads in this neighbourhood are of mid-century modern design. Over 50 percent of the households in the community were built between the decades of 1960 and 1980 and in the early 1990s, there was another spike in development. Over the years, low-rise condominiums and apartments have been included in the landscape, meeting the need for high-density developments that are close to downtown.
Arthur Elliot Park is located in the heart of West Jasper Place. A winding, well-lit pathway through mature trees invites residents to gather under an alluring canopy of leaves. Additionally, a trail is there for pedestrians and cyclists. Butler Memorial Park is another location enjoyed by residents. In 1958, a gunfight took the life of Richard D. Butler who was a town councilor, deputy fire chief and volunteer firefighter at the time of his death. The park is an established memorial.
Over the past few years, residential development has been carefully reviewed. The Edmonton city council and West Jasper Place residents have been brought together by the Neighbourhood Renewal Program to discuss various crucial development decisions. These include transit plans concerning LRT expansion, the future of the building formerly known as the MacEwan Centre for the Arts and residential lot redistribution. Commercial and residential property owners are encouraged to call 311 or contact their city councillor for updates.
Out And About
You can’t speak of the West End without talking about West Edmonton Mall. Known as the largest shopping mall in North America, there is nothing you can’t find here in regards to shopping, food, entertainment, and much more.
West Jasper Place is within minutes of the Edmonton Public Library, the Johnny Bright Sports Park, and two high schools. Stony Plain Road is lined with shops and businesses, the Jasper Gates Shopping Complex and there is an easy entrance into Meadowlark Shopping Centre. The majority of amenities are walking distance away. Neighbourhood streets leading to the downtown core give access to bike paths, the River Valley path system, and the west end.
Did You Know?
• In 1964, Jasper Place was the largest town in Canada with a population of 37,429 before its amalgamation by Edmonton.
• Water was trucked to Jasper Place residents in 1910 at a price of $1.25 for every 500 gallons.
• ‘Mud City’ was a popular name for Jasper Place because of its infamous unpaved streets. Nonetheless, the abundance of dirt was quite handy when the recreational field and the Jasper Place Sports Centre were being built. Toboggan hill was created with the remaining soil. In 2010, artificial turf was used to resurface the field.
• The Johnny Bright Sports Park is the new name for the Jasper Place Sports Centre. Bright was an inspiring sports figure who had an exceptional football career. In 1951 at Drake University, he was a quarterback/halfback. He was also a primary contender for the Heisman Trophy when a brutal attack was made on him during a game. The racially-motivated incident was captured by a sports photographer, and it became world news. In 1952, his CFL career started with the Calgary Stampeders, and from 1954 to 1964, Bright played running back for the Edmonton Eskimos. As an Eskimo, he won three Grey Cups, and in 1959, he was named the Most Outstanding Player in CFL. He stayed in Edmonton following the end of his playing career as a schoolteacher and principal. In 1970, he was inducted into the CFL Hall of Fame.