A Little Bit of Christmas at the City of Edmonton Archives

The City of Edmonton Archives’ online catalogue has a rotating exhibit where we highlight our archival photographs, usually the top 200 requested images. We also put together themed exhibits and sometimes we tie this blog into them, for example the royal visit in July 2011.

Right now we have a fun exhibit up called Holiday and Winter Fun in Edmonton. I thought I’d put a post together with some of my favourite Christmas images from the exhibit and then highlight some other Christmas related material we have at the Archives.

EA-160-754 “Dowdell House with Christmas Lights” – December, 1931. One of the first homes in Edmonton to display Christmas lights

EA-600-3521a “Carol Singers” – December 20, 1949

EB-28-1198 “Street Christmas Lighting” – Jasper Avenue in 1964

ET-11-356 “Edmonton During “Big Freeze” – Jasper Avenue in January 1969

We have quite a few Christmas cards in our private record collections and it was difficult to choose which cards to feature. In the end, I managed to narrow it down to two. I really like this simple card from 1937 with its message of peace on the front (a quote from Tennyson’s Ring Out, Wild Bells) and the wish for joy on the back.

1937 Christmas card from MS-29 Beatrice Gremm Dunn fonds

1937 Christmas card from MS-29 Beatrice Gremm Dunn fonds

1958 handmade Christmas card from MS-482 P. Sorenson collection

1958 handmade Christmas card from MS-482 P. Sorenson collection. It looks like handmade cards like this were sent to the family of every student of McKay Avenue School!

The thorny issue of Christmas shopping hours has caused all sorts of headaches for City administration in the past. A 1955 bylaw (No. 1716) on “the early closing of shops” had 19 amendments until it was repealed in 1967. There were petitions asking for exceptions for certain types of businesses and some of the amendments grant them. Other amendments were to clarify when businesses were allowed to stay open late. Five of the amendments dealt specifically with Christmas, specifying when stores would be allowed to stay open for Christmas shopping. Yet another bylaw (no. 1436, which was passed December 8, 1952) required businesses, with specified exceptions, to close on holidays.

Detail from cover of Holiday Bylaw No. 1336 – first passed by Council on December 8, 1952. Bylaws don’t usually come to the Archives with fancy covers like this, maybe someone was feeling whimsical?

Detail from first page of Holiday Bylaw No. 1336

Detail from second page of Holiday Bylaw No. 1336. The exceptions to the holiday closures; you could still gas up and go out on the town to some extent.

Do you have an idea on a theme for the rotating exhibit? Leave a comment if you do and we’ll see what we can do!

 

Sources:

EA-160 Hubert A. Hollingworth
EA-600 Edmonton Bulletin
EB-28 Edmonton Power
ET-11 Gateway Camera Club

MS-29 Beatrice Gremm Dunn fonds
MS-482 P. Sorenson collection

RG-8 City of Edmonton. City Clerk’s fonds

Wondering what a fonds is? We have a glossary of archival terms.

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About the Author
Elizabeth Walker
Elizabeth has a Masters of Archival Studies from UBC and she’s been the City’s digital archivist since September 2010. She’s passionate about outreach and increasing engagement between the Archives and the community.
8 Comments
  1. carole whelihan
    5 years ago

    Lovely collection and evocative. Thank you for this.

  2. JonnyB
    5 years ago

    I have to say first that I really enjoyed this post, as I do all of the lately increased online activity of the Heritage Council and City Archives, as well as this blog itself.

    Just a minor quibble though: The photo titled “ET-11-356 “Edmonton During “Big Freeze” – Jasper Avenue in January 1969″ is in fact 101 Street, looking North from the steps of McDougall United Church.

    The current Royal Bank Building and the CIBC building are both prominent on the left, and therefore West side of the Street, and the recently demolished BMO building is clear on the right, therefore East.

    I suppose it does look past Jasper Avenue, but the focus is on 101 Street.

    The photo titled “EB-28-1198 “Street Christmas Lighting” – Jasper Avenue in 1964″ however is bang-on, and that’s once again the Royal Bank Building, again on the Left, but this time on the South side of the Avenue.

  3. Elizabeth Walker
    5 years ago

    Thank you both for your kind comments, I’m glad you enjoyed the post.

    And thank you JonnyB for the correction! I’ll make sure to update the description in our catalogue.

  4. […] last post covered the holiday theme of our rotating exhibit, Winter and Holiday Fun in Edmonton. Now, in a […]

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