Gone But Not Forgotten
These pages remember some aspects of Edmonton that are gone but not forgotten.
Construction Workers Set the Standard
When I arrived in Edmonton in the mid-1970s, working in Construction meant working all of the Statutory Holidays from late Spring to early Fall:
- Victoria Day – late May
- Canada Day – July 1
- Labour Day – early September
- Thanksgiving – mid-October
The lack of holidays came from a time when Construction came to a halt for the entire Winter because of Edmonton’s cold weather. Beyond this, Construction meant long hours and some weekend work to get the most of the long daylight hours, and make up for any rainy days.
The Construction workday ran from 7:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., with a half hour for lunch.
Edmonton Office workers seemed to have been influenced by the Construction Industry, too. While Vancouver offices opened at 9:00 a.m., many Edmonton offices began at 8:00 a.m. Remembrance Day (November 11) and Easter Monday were regular workdays and there were no extra days around Christmas or New Years, other than Boxing Day. Holiday Mondays in February (Family Day) and August came later.
The 40 hour workweek was also the Norm.
The top floor of the TELUS South tower is still there, of course, and still offers a fabulous view. Unfortunately, it is just another floor of an office building, complete with security locks to keep out the casual observer.
Alberta Government Telephones (AGT) was a provincial Crown Corporation that always seemed to want to do something for the citizens of Edmonton. Just after World War II, AGT took over funding and management of CKUA Radio. In the early 1970s, the Province formed another Crown Corporation to take over CKUA and other educational media, and replaced one Good Work with another: Vista 33.
Vista 33 was the top floor of the AGT Tower, with all windows looking all directions, available for public viewing seven days a week at a very low cost. Located across the street from the river bank of the North Saskatchewan River, being 32 storeys above ground level gave spectacular views. Especially at 15 feet per storey added to the height of the river bank. On the West side of 100 Avenue, half a block South of Jasper Avenue.
The CHED Building
Downtown. On the West side of 107 Street, the second building North of 100 Avenue. A bit confusing since the building on the corner was later torn down and turned into a parking lot.
Health Care Transparency
At a time when Transparency was a word not even used in the context of knowing how much something cost, we once had it in Health Care, but still have not got it back. In the 1960s, when British Columbia and Alberta began universal health care, statements were mailed every six months, detailing the costs paid by the provincial governments for your family’s doctor and hospital visits. In the 1980s, Alberta stopped sending the statements in a misguided attempt to save money.
As a child, I remember my mother discovering how much an allergy specialist had charged the B.C. government for the few minutes he spent doing allergy tests for me. These were simple scratch tests, not injections.
As instructed on the statement, my mother wrote a letter explaining the situation and the specialist’s fees were reduced.
It does not take many valid complaints to offset the cost of preparing and mailing these statements every six months. Especially if a single complaint results, as it should, in the investigation of similar charges by the same doctor to other patients. And roll back of the excessive charges.
Ice Fog still exists in Edmonton, but occurs a lot less frequently than in the past. The major change has been the reduction in use and then closure (2009) of the Rossdale Power Plant located on the banks of the North Saskatchewan River just South of Downtown.
There were four major sources of the Steam that created the Ice Fog:
- Rossdale – steam from the combustion of fuel to generate electrical power: natural gas in recent years; coal previously.
- Rossdale – river water used to cool the generators kept the North Saskatchewan River ice-free and steaming downstream past the Dawson Bridge.
- University – steam from the heating plant
- Sewage Outflows – steam from the River’s surface as the warmer water from the outflows of storm sewer and sewage treatment plant(s).
Weather conditions in the winter that were favourable to Ice Fog created an Inversion Layer where warmer air was trapped at Ground Level by colder air above it. In Edmonton, it was generally worst near the River between the Groat and Dawson Bridges.
Ice Fog is Steam that condenses into clouds of water vapour that sink to ground level, becoming Fog, that freezes into Black Ice when it hits the surface of Roads.
The Great Western Garment Company (GWG) was a well known brand of bluejeans made right here in Edmonton.