Episode 24: Back to Ritchie

Sam Billings and Nicole Anderson look at the aerial photograph of their house in Ritchie

We’re back in the Ritchie neighbourhood for a second set of locals’ questions and a live history walk exploring their answers. Karen Wall wanted to know how one neighbourhood could support two independent cobblers. Nicole Anderson wanted to know the history of her home in Ritchie. And Scott Harris wanted to know what the story was behind the quonset-hut type rounded-roof buildings with the squared off fronting in the industrial area of West Ritchie.

Listen first, then scroll below for details and pictures.

spoilers below

Karen Wall holds a shoe last
Karen Wall (left) holds a shoe last
The shop appears as a tiny object through the holes in a bubbly abstract shape in the foreground
A peek at the shop from a bike rack on the street

Karen Wall gave us our first question: how can there be two independent cobblers operating practically right next door – Leckie Shoe Repair in Hazeldean, and Wallace Shoe Making in Ritchie?

Mike Wallace opens the door to Wallace Shoe Making

We stopped in at Mike Wallace’s shop, Wallace Shoe Making, to learn more.

Mike Wallace wears a bright yellow and green Jamaica hat and shows off a last inside his shop
Mike Wallace shows off a last inside his shop
A flat rectangular building overlooks an empty residential street
Highlands Shoe Repair in Parkallen before Mike bought the business and moved it to Ritchie [City of Edmonton Archives, EA-207-153]
An article about the Batman story hangs on Mike's wall
An article about the Batman story hangs on Mike’s wall (photo by Chris Chang-Yen Phillips)

Next, Nicole Anderson and her partner Sam Billings wanted to know the history of their home at 9613 – 79 Ave NW.

Nicole Anderson speaks to Chris and Oumar outside of her house as the tour group waits to enter
Nicole Anderson speaks to Chris and Oumar outside of her house as the tour group waits to enter

They had already poked around the Henderson’s directories for that time, and learned that the house was built around 1924, and that a family named Dame used to live there. Our tour group went inside to talk about further research our team was able to do.

We were able to learn a lot more about the Dame family, and we found out the house has been around since at least 1917.

An aerial photo of Ritchie from 1924 shows their house already on 79 Ave NW.
An aerial photo of Ritchie from 1924 shows their house already on 79 Ave NW.
Meribeth Plenert poses with the Edmonton Journal book from March 1953. It's sitting on a table propped up, and it's almost chest-high on Meribeth.
Meribeth Plenert poses with the Edmonton Journal book from March 1953 (photo by Chris Chang-Yen Phillips)
Pierre Genius (George) Dame's obituary, from the March 21, 1953 edition of the Edmonton Journal
Pierre Genius (George) Dame’s obituary, from the March 21, 1953 edition of the Edmonton Journal

Two of the Dame brothers – George Dame and Aurelia Napoleon “Bunny” Dame – became renowned athletes. Bunny played in the NHL for the Montreal Canadiens in the 1940s.

An article about one of the house's former residents, George Dame Jr. The headline reads: Sports Hall of Fame takes aim at a hawk-eyed shooter.
An article about one of the house’s former residents, George Dame [Edmonton Journal, March 19, 1982]
Last, we headed down to the Ritchie Community League to explore Scott Harris’ question. He wanted to know what the story was behind the quonset-hut type rounded-roof buildings with the squared off fronting in the industrial area of West Ritchie. Specifically, he was thinking of buildings like Narayanni’s (aka the Arndt’s Machine Shop building), Southern Auto Body, the Clayworks building, and the Minchau blacksmith shop.

Southern Auto Body is one the businesses in West Ritchie built in the 1940's boom period.
Southern Auto Body is one the businesses in West Ritchie with the quonset hut roof and flat front (photo by Chris Chang-Yen Phillips).

We learned that most of those buildings were built during a boom in the 1940s, except for the Minchau blacksmith shop. That building was erected in 1925, in a period of relatively hard times for the area.

The Minchau blacksmith shop in 1980, just after it had closed. [City of Edmonton Archives, EA-289-81]
The Minchau blacksmith shop in 1980, just after it had closed. [City of Edmonton Archives, EA-289-81]
The Minchau family’s stories are well-documented. The blacksmith shop has been threatened with demolition, but local groups are organizing to save the building, and the provincial government has halted the process until a heritage assessment can be completed.

All photos on this page are by Finn Phillips, unless otherwise credited.

In this episode we mention the Alberta Podcast Network listener survey, which is open til the end of June 2018.

We also mentioned the Well Endowed Podcast, whose latest episode features interviews with super-powered athletes Brian McKeever and Jen Kish.

Further Reading:

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.