Last week we had the opportunity to sit down with Cromdale residents Melanie Moore, Jim Gendron, and Bill McGowan. We were interested in learning more about the stories behind Parkdale and Cromdale neighbourhoods. We learned that this community is full of history and treasures that are unique to Edmonton. With that in mind, we wanted to share the experiences and knowledge of these community members and expand our appreciation for the neighborhood we are involved in.
Moore has recently researched the history of the neighbourhood.The land Parkdale Cromdale was founded on includes 3 river lots. In the 1870s the river lots were owned by James Kirkness, Frederick Rowland (son of the famous William Rowland), and James McDonald. Frederick Rowland owned the land on which Parkdale was built, while James Macdonald founded Cromdale, which included parts of his and James Kirkness’ riverlots. In taking a look at where Cromdale and Parkdale’s names originated, Moore had found that “Cromdale got its name from the word Crooked Valley.” While speculation remains involving Parkdale’s name, Moore suspects that it’s due to the fact that many major cities in Canada have a neighborhood called Parkdale. In the early 20th century Cromdale and Parkdale were sought-after neighbourhoods. McGowan revealed that “the business elite moved into Viewpoint” including doctors, politicians, and, of course, Sheriff Robertson, a prominent City official for which a park has been named. There are several original homes in the neighbourhoods adding to its charm and appeal. “A lot of the hidden treasures are linked to the history of the area,” Moore commented
As the conversation turned towards the topic of the beautiful Kinnaird Ravine, Moore explained that its original name was Rat Creek Ravine, due to the presence of muskrats, which were harvested for furs. In Stutchbury Park, “there’s a commemorative sign that notes the Northwest Mounted Police, including Sam Steele, camped at the mouth of the the Rat Creek Ravine in 1874 before turning to Fort Edmonton,” Gendron pointed out. “They were marching west to bring law and order to the Northwest Territories. Sam (the second in command) and Jarvis (the commanding officer) stopped their group and went ahead to Fort Edmonton for permission to proceed..”
Although the history has captured the hearts of these three community members, there was plenty to say about the natural setting around the neighborhood. “Nature! When you get into the trail, this close to downtown, you don’t even hear the traffic. You don’t realize you’re in the heart of a metropolitan area and we’re trying to keep it that way,” McGowan noted. He went on later to express that he loves “walking the ravine after a snowfall when the only prints on the ground are the rabbits, coyotes, and squirrels. Windstorms too, seeing where the trees have fallen and taking a look at the out shoots. It’s nice to get away from the noise of the city.” The others agreed wholeheartedly.Moore said that it’s something she misses when she is unable to walk the trail for a few days
With a variety of green spaces, trails, and parks, there is no denying that Parkdale and Cromdale allow residents to escape to nature, although it appears that this living space is often discovered through chance rather than purpose. “It was 1981 and we happened upon this area. We were looking for an older house and neighborhood. “with the wide baseboards, high ceilings, old style windows - it was just what we were looking for. That and the river valley trails. You can walk anywhere really, you have access to transportation, the health center, and grocery stores. For senior housing, it’s incredibly convenient,” said McGowan. Gendron continued on that thought, considering Parkdale Cromdale “one of the best spots in Edmonton for accessibility and history.”
Moore, Gendron, and McGowan have worked on ensuring that their community is well looked after. This is done in a variety of ways, including a yearly ravine clean up during the spring which started in 1981. Each year McGowan gathers people from the neighborhood and the group starts cleaning from the LRT to the River Valley. During this time, they pick up debris to allow everyone’s enjoyment of the trails and to foster the growth of the nature around it.
The other aspect that the group focuses on is safety and communication. “Bill has lead a lot of initiatives to keep the neighborhood safe” Moore emphasized.
The future looks bright for the Parkdale and Cromdale neighbourhoods. Developments underway include the Kinnaird Ravine-Dawson Park Master plan, Stadium Station Area Redevelopment Plan, Norwood Boulevard Plan and the Exhibition Lands Area Redevelopment Plan,” Moore listed. “It feels like we’re at this turning point in our neighborhood where there is an opportunity to make the most out of this beautiful environment and the history and make it a strong community by taking advantage of it’s best assets (the river valley and park space). We’ve been trying to help the City Councillors and planners see how important it is to do this right.”
There is more to Parkdale Cromdale than meets the eye and it’s residents enjoy the hidden gems and history of their neighborhood daily. We are grateful to Moore, Gendron, and McGowan for providing us with insight into this community and the opportunity we had to learn more about it. We are proud of the community in which our league is built and believe these moments of admiration for our neighborhood allow us to grow in our ability to aid it.