87th Avenue Freezeout

IMG_7444My friend Alex and I went to the University of Alberta tonight to snap some pictures of a street we both used to call home. The UofA has recently demolished or moved a number of houses in the North Garneau area, along 87th avenue and in-between 110th and 111 street. Only three houses still remain on the block, including the one Alex and I both used to live in. We call it the “Kap house,” as it has been the residence of the Kappa Alpha Literary Society and its members for almost twenty years. Others likely call it “the one with the key on the front,” or “that place with the dorks in suits playing chess and guitar,” but the point is that the house still remains. Many others do not. Their places and spaces will be filled with two Graduate Student residences by 2010.

As I walked around 87th avenue with Alex tonight, it dawned on me that, despite living in the Kap house for four years, and either going to school or working at the UofA for eleven more, I only ever set foot in one other house on that block. I never ever thought I’d feel regret over such a thing, but I do. The Kap house is one of the most important places in my life. It is the house where I spent time with many of my closest friends, including my best man, two groomsmen, two bridesmaids and my soon-to-be wife. It’s a special place for me and my friends, and after tonight I can’t help but wish I knew more about the special memories created by other students in those houses-of-no-more. What did the insides of the houses look like? What did they feel like? What crazy things happened inside them? Who fell in love? Who fell out of love? Who got drunk and passed out on the bedroom floor? Who read that book that changed their life? All these questions I now have, along with the realization that they’ll likely never be answered. So yes, regret is exactly what I feel.

I understand the University’s need for more housing space, but I still think it’s unfortunate that this row of houses had to be sacrificed. They were older houses, but they were also unique buildings, full of character and full of memories. Along with the trees that hang over 87th avenue, they provided a lovely, picturesque entranceway to the main UofA campus. In fact, it was one of the few remaining areas on campus where you could look and say, “yes, that’s exactly what a university campus is supposed to look like.” How does one replace such things?

In fairness, the mock-ups (see “street scene” 1-7) for the new buildings actually do look nice. They appear to be built-to-scale, and reflect the look and charm of the houses they are replacing. I don’t care much for the look and design of the buildings the University has recently constructed, but I am optimistic that the finished products along 87th avenue will indeed look as good as their mock-ups. Once that’s done, it shouldn’t take long for new, fantastic memories to be created within those residence walls.

More information on the University’s plans for the “East Campus Village” (a terrible name that we all still make fun of) can be found here. A slideshow of my pictures can be found on my Flickr page.


  1. Hey Andy,

    Just a couple of notes related on your post, which I enjoyed a great deal. The UofA did go to great lengths to ensure that the buildings which are being built fit into the neighbourhood. I’m glad you noted the mock-ups which give you a good idea as to what they will look like.

    Also, the houses that were destroyed were not all occupied by students, but all were impacted by the growth and culture changes at the U of A over the years. It marks a shift in the neighbourhood to a higher density, student-populated area, which I believe is a great step forward. By locating more students on or near campus the U is encouraging the growth of a more connected campus community. The benefits of these connections will certainly affect the long time members of KA and the current residents of the KA house.

    Lastly, I suspect that a formal name for the residence will be released in the coming months, if it hasn’t been already, that goes beyond the traditional ECV.


  2. Hey Andy,

    Happy to see you blogging again.

    I’ve never been to kap house, but know how you feel. I also spent many years studying and working on a campus and when things change, it’s strange. We had a student lounge back in the day where we all spent way too much time. We either debated the state of the world or talked about who hooked up with who. It didn’t matter, as long as we were all there to share and learn from each other. That’s where my wife and I started dating.

    Now, the space is someone’s office. Someone who has no clue who we are.

    To me, however, it was like the closing of Cheers.

  3. Local residents are encouraging the University to name one of the residence buildings for Dr. Geneva Misener.

    Frances Cruden wrote about Dr. Misener in a recent community newsletter:

    “Recently named one of the “100 Edmontonians of the Century” Misener was born May 20, 1877 in Wainfleet, Ontario. She was one of the earliest women graduates in Canada, obtaining a BA and later an MA in 1899 from Queen’s University, which, in recognition of her academic achievements, presented her with a Gold Medal for Latin and Greek.

    …[in] 1913, she joined the University of Alberta, as the first woman member of academic staff, first as an assistant professor of Classics (1913-19) and later as an associate professor of Classics (1919-46). She also served as advisor to women students from 1913-20 (a position now called Dean of Women) and as a member of the Senate (1926-28). A quick search of the internet shows that many of her scholarly publications are still being cited. She funded two scholarships at the University of Alberta and one at Queens University that are still awarded today.

    A member of Phi Beta Kappa, Misener was a founding member of the Canadian Federation of University Women and convener of the Education Committee for the National Council of Women of Canada. She developed and implemented plans for the adult education of women and had a great interest in girl’s athletics. She was responsible for the establishment of women’s hockey in Alberta and getting it recognized in the Alberta Amateur Hockey Association, of which she became the first woman vice president, and eventually honorary president.

    Dr Misener was outspoken in her views, unusual at the time, that higher education should be encouraged for women and that marriage, or the expectation of marriage, should not hamper a woman in her career. She herself never married, but became a single parent when she adopted the two young daughters of her brother Elson and raised them in her Garneau house…The modest house she built and lived in from 1926 to 1946 still stands at 11013 90 Avenue…”

    • Martin, I am interested in your apparant knowledge about Dr. Genever Misener. One of the “two young daughters” you refer to was my Mother.

      • Larry, I just stumbled upon your reply. You must be one of Yvonne’s sons. I am Blake Misener’s granddaughter, Blakely. We met years ago when we were children. It was Frances Cruden who wrote the article quoted by Martin above and I have been providing Frances with information about Aunt Geneva. There is soon to be a ceremony in Geneva’s honor at the Garneau home. Please contact me at http://www.facebook.com/blakely.pallock

        • Larry Sherman says:

          Hi Blakely. I responded to you via facebook but am not sure if you got the note or not. My wife and I are in Edmonton for a few more days and I was wondering if you have any more particulars regarding the ceremony at Aunt Geneva’s Garneau home. I attached a copy of the facebook msg that I sent in case you did not receive it earlier.

          Yours truly,

          Larry Sherman
          o Hello Blakely. I just received your email. Thank you for getting in touch. Yes, I am Yvonne’s youngest son. Mom passed away in 197I and my knowledge of Misener family history is fairly limited. I would very much like to learn more. I am particularly interested in the upcoming ceremony at the Garneau home. My step mother lives in Edmonton and in fact my wife and I will be visiting her in early September.
          Looking forward to hearing from you.
          Kind regards, Larry Sherman.
          p.s. I am very new to Facebook so please let me know if you received this note.

          • Blakely Pallock says:

            Larry, I did not receive your Facebook message or I would have immediately replied! Hi, cousin! They haven’t set a date yet for the ceremony but when the do I am hoping to go. I have lots of info on the Miseners. Let’s talk by email. Mine is blakelyann@verizon.net.


  1. […] again, both on his own site and on The Battle of Alberta. On the former he has a great story about changes at the University of Alberta, and on the latter he’s asking tough questions about the proposed new hockey arena in […]

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