Wallbridge Residence


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In 2008, the owner of this historic Edmonton home, in the Groat Estates area of the Westmount neighbourhood, contacted David Murray to start the process of designation as a Municipal Historic Resource, to be followed by extensive restoration. This residence became the family home of James Emberly Wallbridge (b. 1875) after 1919, a prominent lawyer in the period prior to WW1 and ending in 1942 with his death. His daughter, Jean Louise Wallbridge, graduated from the University of Alberta School of Architecture in 1939. After the death of her father, Jean worked with her mother Mable Louise to convert the house to a multiple-dwelling residence, in keeping with the need to provide more housing in Edmonton during and after WW2. The residence remained a multiple-dwelling residence until it was purchased by Dr. Knut Vik and Frank Calder in 1989. They then progressed to revert this historic building to its original single-family status. The exterior restoration was completed in 2009.


The first owner and occupant of the residence was Allan Campbell Fraser. He became owner on December 21, 1911, having purchased the property from Samuel Roswell who is listed as a “builder” on the title. The residence is first listed in Henderson’s Directory in 1913 with Allan Fraser as the occupant. Allan Fraser was born in Winnipeg on May 29, 1878 and began a banking career at the age of 12 when he joined the staff of the Merchant’s Bank of Canada. He moved to Edmonton in February 1898 as assistant manager of the first Alberta branch. He assumed management in 1902. He was President of the Board of Trade in 1908 and president of the Hospital (Royal Alexandra) in 1911.

The second owner of the residence was Frank E. Goode, listed in Henderson’s as the proprietor of the St. James Hotel. He purchased the property on September 3, 1913. Allan Campbell Fraser held the mortgage. On May 22, 1916, the mortgage was transferred to the Merchant’s Bank of Canada. Henderson’s indicates that Frank E. Goode was resident through 1917. Ownership of the residence was transferred to the Merchant’s Bank of Canada on September 20, 1918. Frank E. Goode and wife Jennie purchased the well-known Transit Hotel on the Fort Trail in 1927 and through the Transit Hotel Company owned the Hotel until 1949.

Ownership of the residence was transferred to Mable Wallbridge on August 3, 1920. James E. Wallbridge is listed in Henderson’s as the occupant, starting in 1919. Mable Louise Campbell was born on January 28, 1878 to Archibald and Eunice Campbell, a distinguished family living in Toronto. Archibald was Director of Canadian Millers’ Mutual Fire Insurance Company and the Sovereign Bank of Canada. He was appointed to the Canadian Federal Senate in 1907. Mable Louise Wallbridge remained the owner and an occupant of the residence until her death on April 20, 1969.

The residence is named for the most prominent of its occupants, James Emberly Wallbridge (1875-1942) who with his family occupied the house from 1919 until the death of his wife Mabel Louise (nee. Campbell) in 1969. James E. Wallbridge was a prominent Edmonton lawyer, born in Belleville Ontario on May 25, 1875. He was admitted to the NWT bar on June 28, 1902 and the Law Society of Alberta on September 16, 1907. Wallbridge was appointed King’s Council on March 19, 1913 and died on February 28, 1942. The law firm, Wallbridge, Henwood and Gibson was well-known for important legal cases.

On July 17, 1969, daughter Jean Louise Walbridge became the owner until her death on September 30, 1979. Her brother, James Douglas Wallbridge then became the owner on May 14, 1980 and retained ownership until April 2, 1987 when Robert Routs became the owner. Frank Calder and Dr. Knut Vik acquired title to the residence on August 9, 1989.

Architectural Significance

The 1912 Wallbridge Residence is an excellent example of the expanded Four-square Style, popular during the Edwardian era and typified by the use of symmetry as an ordering element with generous proportions and restrained classically-influenced detailing. The residence stands out for its grand proportions, with a total floor area of over 500 square meters. The main exterior materials, rustic stone-dash stucco and painted cedar siding are typical of this style and reflect the arts and crafts influence. The residence is also is also significant for its association with a major renovation in 1942, upon the death of James E. Wallbridge, when the house was converted to a multi-family dwelling called Kildonan Apartments. There were 4 apartments labeled A,B,C and D. Mable Wallbridge continued to live on the main floor of the house until her death in 1969. The second floor was converted into 2 apartments and the third floor housed 1 self-contained apartment. The main entrance was moved from facing 126 street to facing 104 Avenue with the address was changed to 12606 104 Avenue. A central entrance and stair were constructed in the middle of the broad south veranda to connect the 3 floors. Fire escape stairs were constructed at the rear. The modifications, coordinated and designed by Mable’s architect daughter Jean Wallbridge, were well-executed and relatively seamless. She did not alter the original Edwardian character of the building, while providing a new use that met the critical need of the city for war-time housing. The Wallbridge residence remained the Kildonan Apartments until 1987 under the ownership of James Douglas Wallbridge, Jean’s brother. After 1989, the residence was converted back to a single-family residence.

Jean Louise Wallbridge (1912-1979) and Mary Imrie (1918-1988)

“Jean Wallbridge and Mary Imrie were among the first women to graduate from schools of architecture in Canada prior to the Second World War. Imrie graduated from the University of Toronto in 1944, and Wallbridge from the University of Alberta in 1939, the third woman to graduate from the architectural program there. After a couple of years working in different offices, they established their own office in Edmonton in 1950, the first architectural partnership of women in the country. They were professional and life partners, and they soon designed and built their own modernist home and office in Edmonton, naming it “Six Acres.” Throughout their careers, Wallbridge and Imrie constructed many buildings, but a majority of their designs were residential, as was the case for many women architects in that period. Indeed, by the mid-twentieth century, architectural education and the profession in North America were still highly male-dominated. In the 1950s, only 37 out of 1011 architecture school graduates in Canada were women, and there were only 43 women registrants among 1783 in provincial architectural associations.”

“There is no doubt that when Jean Wallbridge and Mary Imrie found each other and formed a design firm, it gave them strength to build a life together as a couple and sustain an active practice for 29 years in what Imrie described to be “a grind in a cold, hard world. But … it was also satisfying and a lot of fun.” Over that period, they stamped drawings for 224 buildings. Most projects had a domestic component, as was true for many early women architects; these included 67 private residences, 50 apartment blocks, 3 senior citizen complexes, and tract housing for large companies such as Alldritt Construction. They also designed two schools, a youth correction center, several telecommunication buildings and 23 commercial projects. A design firm headed by two women was (and is) unusual. In fact, female architecture students were encouraged to partner up with a male architect and get married to secure a working relationship…”

Credit: SSAC Journal Volume 44, number, 2019, also Sarah Bonnemaison and Greg Whistance-Smith for W&I Exhibition

Photo Credits: Wallbridge Family
Consultant: David Murray Architect
Client: Dr. Knut Vik and Frank Calder
Construction Manager: MLW Contracting, Marvin L. Witiuk, Owner