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Owen Residence / Dominion Meterological Station

Edmonton

Other Names:
Dominion Meteorological Station/Owen Residence
Owen Residence
Owen Residence (former Meterological Station)

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place
The Owen Residence / Dominion Meteorological Station is a two and one half storey residence situated on a single lot in Edmonton's Highlands district. Built in 1912, the building is representative of the American four-square style of architecture and features a square plan, hipped roof with front and rear dormers, second storey balcony surmounting the ground floor west veranda that also wraps around the south side of the house.

Heritage Value
The heritage value of the Owen Residence / Dominion Meteorological Station lies in its association with pioneering meteorologist Eda Owen and in its well-preserved representation of American four-square architecture.

In 1908, Eda and Herbert William Owen emigrated from London to Edmonton. After a number of temporary employments in his new home, Herbert accepted a position as an assistant in the Dominion government's Meteorological Office. In 1913, the weather office was moved into the Owen residence in the Highlands neighbourhood. Wartime exigencies prompted both Owen and his supervisor, Captain S. M. Holmden, to enlist in 1915 for active service overseas. In their absence, Eda Owen, who had learned the arts of reading navigational charts and employing scientific instruments from her husband, took over meteorological duties at the Highlands station. Herbert never returned home, dying in a prisoner of war camp in Europe. Though overcome by grief, Eda continued her work at the station. In 1921, following a brief spell as an assistant meteorologist, she was formally named Provincial Agent and Weather Observer for Alberta by the federal Department of Marine and Fisheries. Her work was incredibly demanding. The Highlands station was arguably the most significant meteorological post outside of Toronto. Eda was required to take hourly readings from 36 different instruments throughout the day and compile reports from over 140 stations in the region. The information she amassed had wide currency, being circulated to forest rangers, aviators, agriculturalists, as well as radio and newspaper personnel. For most of her service from 1915 until she resigned her post in 1943, Eda was the only woman employed as an observer at a major Canadian meteorological station. Indeed, she was one of only a handful of woman meteorologists at major stations in the world at the time. As a result of her trailblazing work, she garnered international acclaim. MacLeans, the Toronto Star Weekly, and the Christian Science Monitor all featured Eda in their pages, hailing the "Weather Woman of the West" as a pioneer in a scientific field largely dominated by men.

The Owen Residence / Dominion Meteorological Station is a well-preserved, typical example of the American four square style of architecture. Elements of this style embodied in the design of the residence are its simple, box-like massing, hipped roof with front and rear dormers, side bay windows, and broad front veranda. The use of both horizontal wood siding and shingling on the exterior was also common in four-square houses. The interior of the home is similarly representative of the style in its four-room floor plan, lath and plaster walls, and simple, robust wood mouldings. Eda Owen adapted the home's design to her own purposes. The rear dormer was modified to provide access to a 60-foot high wood tower containing a rotating anemometer. This meteorological sentinel, painted red, was a local landmark in the Highlands neighbourhood for decades before its removal. Owen also covered the original wood flooring in parts of the main floor to mitigate the wear and tear occasioned by the meteorological station's many visitors.

Source: Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch (File: Des. 1795)


Character-Defining Elements
The character-defining elements of the Owen Residence / Dominion Meteorological Station include such features as:
- mass, form, and scale;
- fenestration pattern and original wood sash windows;
- cedar-shingled hipped roof with front shed dormer and modified rear shed dormer which previously provided access to the roof tower;
- red-pressed brick chimneys;
- horizontal wood siding, shingling and trim;
- wrap-around veranda across the west and south façades, complete with second storey covered porch above the west section;
- floorplan;
- original interior elements, including mouldings, trim, flooring and fireplaces.


Location



Street Address: 11227 - 63 Street
Community: Edmonton
Boundaries: Portion of Lot 5, Block 7, Plan 4065AE
Contributing Resources: N/A

ATS Legal Description:
Mer Rge Twp Sec LSD
4
4
4
4
24
24
24
24
53
53
53
53
11
11
11
11
11
12
13
14

PBL Legal Description (Cadastral Reference):
Plan Block Lot Parcel
4065 AE
7
5


Latitude/Longitude:
Latitude Longitude CDT Datum Type
53.566464 -113.435081 Secondary Source NAD83

UTM Reference:
Northing Easting Zone CDT Datum Type

Recognition

Recognition Authority: Province of Alberta
Designation Status: Provincial Historic Resource
Date of Designation: 1994/03/02

Historical Information

Built: 1912/01/01 To 1912/01/01
Significant Date(s) N/A
Theme(s) Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life : Architecture and Design
Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life : Science
Historic Function(s): Residence : Single Dwelling
Residence : Single Dwelling
Current Function(s):
Architect:
Builder:
Context: HERITAGE SIGNIFICANCE

Originally used as a Dominion Meteorological Station, this dwelling housed what was arguably the most important weather station outside Toronto between the years 1912 until 1943. The station was responsible for all of Northern Alberta, as well as parts of the Northwest Territories. As the most important meteorological station in the West, the information amassed by the researchers was critical in early agriculture and in early aviation.

One of the first residents of this building was 'Weather Lady' Eda Own, the Provincial Agent and Weather Observer for Alberta in charge of the first class weather station. For most of her service from 1915 until she resigned her post in 1943, Eda was the only woman employed as an observer at a major Canadian meteorological station. Indeed, she was one of only a handful of woman meteorologists at major stations in the world at the time. She was involved in extensive studies of Aurora Borealis and was seen featured in a newsreel produced by Fox Studios. She was one of the Toronto Star's 'Women of the Year' and was well-known to bush pilots like Wop May, Wiley Post and Grant McConachie. Eda Own was also a sister-in-law of Edmonton Mayor A.U.G. Bury.

Additional Information

Object Number: 4665-0522
Designation File: DES 1795
Related Listing(s):
Heritage Survey File: HS 56558
Website Link:
Data Source: Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch, Old St. Stephen's College, 8820 - 112 Street, Edmonton, AB T6G 2P8 (File: Des. 1795)
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