Reminders of the Past Enhance the Present
Anita Jenkins sent me a link to the article she wrote on the history of the Edmonton Downtown Farmers Market in the August issue, for which she had used me as a source. Of course, this alerted me to the existence of the Boyle McCauley News. I took the opportunity to browse the site and was very impressed. It is accessible and packed full of the kind of information that both reflects a community and helps to create a strong community sense.
I moved to Edmonton shortly after the downtown market was moved to 97th Street from its original location in the block now occupied by the Milner Library. On Saturday mornings, when I arrived early to shop, I parked my car a few blocks away so I could walk by the Chinese barbecue shops. I thought of the area as slightly run down but exotic. And, before his death in 2006, Ewen Nelson – Boyle Street resident, keen market shopper, and friend to many – worked hard in the community and was a big booster for Boyle Street.
More recently, when I was doing research for my book on the social and cultural history of gardening in Edmonton, I discovered that Thomas Henderson, Edmonton’s first beekeeper, lived on Fraser Avenue (98th Street) in the 1880s before he moved to Rabbit Hill. His wife Peggy’s roses were often commented on in the Edmonton Bulletin. The Hendersons and their friend/neighbour, J. Knowles, market gardened on Fraser Avenue. Here is an advertisement from the Bulletin on August 21, 1888: “All kinds of vegetables and herbs for sale at the Fraser Avenue Gardens. Orders left with Mrs. T. Henderson or J. Knowles will be promptly filled and delivered.”
These little reminders of the past make the present so much more interesting than it would otherwise be.