Jane’s Walk 2015: Riverdale

…Then, after Packingtown, came Riverdale.

I journeyed across town to meet up with Allan Shute, the Riverdale Historian and my trusty and extremely knowledgeable co-lead. Allan is a walking encyclopedia about Edmonton’s, and especially Riverdale’s, history.

Meeting up with Allan to plan the walk each year is always an adventure. Inevitably, he knows everyone. Last year, we had a very interesting conversation with a dog-walker who had a documentary made about him. This year, we met at the Little Brick Café, but not before we ran into some neighbours and discussed local goings-on. The Little Brick Café played a starring role in this year’s tour – in previous years, we could only look at it from over the fence. This year, it has been transformed into an adorable café which I highly recommend everyone checks out.

Full disclosure: I am not from Riverdale. I am from northeast Edmonton. I spent some time in Riverdale in my teens, and know a lot of people from Riverdale. Early in my Jane’s Walk fanhood, I stumbled upon the Riverdale Jane’s Walk, and connected with Allan Shute, the Riverdale Historian. Now, I help him with the Riverdale walk each year.

I remember a family bike ride when I was… maybe ten years old, and stopping to rest in Riverdale. I remember a field of long grass with a path cutting through it. I remember my dad remarking that the area was going to change. Now that I know more about the area, it must have been the remains of the Dogpatch (sidenote: the entire Hidden Communities site is one of my favourites).

My dad was right. A few years later, it did change – the “Brickyard” condo development was constructed on that field of grass, and the neighbourhood boomed (and with much resistance and struggle against overambitious development).

2015 was my first year being promoted to “walk leader”, which means I mostly took photos but did a spiel about Jane Jacobs at the beginning of the walk. I also got a sweet, fancier version of the Jane’s Walk shirt. It has Jane’s face on the back! That is so great! The small things bring me joy.

There were a lot of people out this year. We checked out some houses, and then went to the Little Brick Café, in the former Little house of the Little Brickyard (which spawned the Dogpatch).

Here are some shots of our day in Riverdale:

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An original Little house.

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Helen and Julien looking at heritage things.

IMG_9179IMG_9206IMG_9155IMG_9210Two descendants of the Little family – Arlene (left, below) and Sarah (right, below) – were along for the tour. Arlene raised her kids in the Little Brick Café house, and spoke about her memories. It was very touching.

Arlene (left) and Sarah (right) Birmingham. A member of the Little family, Arlene raised her kids in the Little Brick Café house. She spoke about her memories. It was quite beautiful.

Arlene (left) and Sarah (right).

It is interesting to have a relationship with Jane’s Walk, and see the event expand each year. The Riverdale walk is always a bit different, and Allan and I already tossed around some ideas for next year.

Stay tuned for more as YEGuncovered (a summer 2015 project) gets up and rolling.

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