Walterdale Theatre


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The heritage value of Strathcona Fire Hall No. 1 lies in its status as the oldest major fire hall in Alberta and one of the earliest extant public buildings in the Strathcona district. It also possesses heritage value as an excellent example of early twentieth-century fire hall construction and design.

In 1891, the Edmonton and Calgary Railway line arrived on the south bank of the North Saskatchewan River and subdivided the township of South Edmonton. Situated at the end of the railway line, the new township grew rapidly. The Klondike Gold Rush further swelled the community’s population and in 1899 the settlement was incorporated as the Town of Strathcona. The town’s burgeoning population and the large number of woodframe structures in the community necessitated the creation of fire-fighting facilities. In 1901, Strathcona built its first fire hall, a two-door, wood-frame structure manned by the Strathcona Volunteer Fire Brigade. Continued growth led to the incorporation of the City of Strathcona in 1907 and the need for a larger and better appointed fire hall.

Construction on Strathcona Fire Hall No. 1 was initiated in 1909 and completed the following year. With the amalgamation of Strathcona and Edmonton in 1912, the station was renamed the Edmonton Fire Hall No. 6. It continued to function as a fire-fighting facility until 1954, when a new fire hall was constructed. For the next two decades, the fire hall was used as a storage facility. In 1974, the building became the home of the Walterdale Theatre Group. It has since served as an integral part of the lively theatre scene in Edmonton’s Old Strathcona district – a hub for performing arts in western Canada.

Designed by local architectural firm Wilson and Herrald and built by contractor J. M. Eaton, Strathcona Fire Hall No. 1 is typical of fire hall facilities of the period. The building features three vehicle doors surrounded by quoined round arches, a classical cornice, and a prominent bell tower. At the time of its construction, the fire hall accommodated nine horses in its rear stable and three fire wagons. Its upper level featured a chief’s office, general hall, bedrooms, band room, and a bathroom with a shower. Two fire poles connected the second storey to the ground floor. The fire hall is a stellar example of early twentieth-century fire hall construction and design and the oldest extant fire hall in Edmonton and Calgary. It is also a local landmark and a vital contributor to the historic ambience of Edmonton’s justly renowned Old Strathcona area.

Walterdale Playhouse has occupied the building since the early 1970s. Over the ensuing years, this group has undertaken several stages of restoration and adaptive reuse. In 2012, the Theatre completed its final phase of making the building universally accessible with barrier-free washroom renovations. In 2011 the Theatre applied to the City of Edmonton to have the building designated as a Municipal Historic Resource. Extensive exterior restoration has now been completed.

In 2012, the main floor washrooms were completely renovated to provide barrier-free facilities for patrons. The theatre is now fully accessible.

Team Members

Client: Walterdale Playhouse – Eric Rice, Richard Hatfield, John Henoch

Contractor: Delnor Construction, Chad Haug, project manager

Architect: David Murray Architect

Mechanical and Electrical Engineer: SCL Engineering Ltd.

Structural Engineer: E.B. Jacobsen and Associates Ltd.

Window and Door Restoration: Eileen Fraser

Masonry Restoration: Scorpio Masonry Ltd.