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John Walker Barnett House

Edmonton

Other Names:
Barnett House
J. W. Barnett House
Barnett Residence
Barnett, John Walker House
J. W. Barnett House
John Walker House
Walker Barnett House

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place
The John Walker Barnett House was built in 1914. It is a one-and-a-half storey, wood frame, residential building with a gable roof. The house is designed in the Craftsman style and features exposed eave brackets and exterior walls clad in shingles, with a wide band of stucco covering the foundation and lower portion of the exterior walls. It is located at 10701 University Avenue, a corner lot in Edmonton’s Queen Alexandra neighbourhood across the street from the Queen Alexandra School.

Heritage Value
The heritage value of the John Walker Barnett House lies in its association with John Walker Barnett, a founder and the first General Secretary-Treasurer / Executive Secretary of the Alberta Teachers’ Association.

John Walker Barnett was born on August 28, 1880 in Lincolnshire, England. He trained as a teacher and, while teaching in England, served as a district president of the National Union of Teachers of England and Wales. In early 1911, he migrated to Canada and taught for a short time in the Lougheed area before moving to Edmonton, where he became Vice-Principal of Alberta College and a music instructor and supervisor with the Edmonton Public School Board. In September 1914, Barnett had a house built on University Avenue in the Queen Alexandra neighbourhood. Soon after this purchase, he moved his family from northern Edmonton to the new house, which was only eight blocks south-west of the high school. The one-and-a-half storey house is a Craftsman style bungalow with an open floor plan interior. It has wood-shingle clad exterior walls, exposed eaves, large decorative brackets and a large gable roofed veranda. The interior features large quantities of natural wood elements, such as the wood strip flooring, exposed wooden beams, fireplace mantles, large doorways with wooden columns, built in seating benches and cabinetry. Craftsman style houses such as this were popular at the time and the scale of the house is typical for an urban, middle class family.

Encouraged by his experience with teachers’ unions in England, Barnett became involved in efforts to develop a stronger and more unified voice for Alberta teachers. In 1915, he led the Edmonton Teachers’ Association’s protest against salary cuts, and he was instrumental in the formation of the Alberta Teachers’ Alliance (ATA) in 1918. The organization of the Alliance began when 700 teachers gathered in Edmonton to draft a series of resolutions. In 1920, Barnett was appointed as the Alliance’s first General-Secretary Treasurer and he resigned his teaching position to concentrate fully on his ATA duties. Between 1920 and 1924, the ATA operated out of Barnett’s University Avenue home. During the early years of the ATA, Barnett concentrated on increasing membership and lobbying the government for better working conditions. Despite facing substantial resistance from the provincial government during the 1920s – particularly following a 1921 strike by Edmonton’s junior high and high school teachers – under Barnett’s leadership the ATA gained in members and legitimacy. Following the election of the Social Credit government of William Aberhart – who was a former high school teacher – the ATA won a number of important concessions. In 1936, the government amended the Teaching Profession Act making membership in the ATA mandatory for all public school teachers. Long-term contracts and pensions were secured and in 1941, the ATA became the first teachers’ association in Canada to gain the right to collective bargaining and the right to legally strike. Barnett’s determination and effort was instrumental to the achievement of these long-sought after goals.

John Walker Barnett lived in the University Avenue house until April 1946. Five months later he resigned from the ATA, although he continued to serve as an advisor until his death in June 1947. The residence’s style and floor plan retain considerable integrity from the period in which the Barnett family was in residence.

Source: Alberta Culture, Historic Resources Management Branch (File: Des. 1816)


Character-Defining Elements
Key elements that define the heritage value of the John Walker Barnett House include its:

Exterior
- modest size and cottage-like appearance;
- gable roof with rear gable-roofed dormer;
- wood shingle cladding on the main exterior walls and gable ends;
- off-centre, gable-roofed front porch with square wooden support posts;
- oversized decorative eave brackets;
- exposed rafter ends;
- fenestration pattern of historic windows, many single hung with six small lights over a large single pane;
- central brick chimney.

Interior
- historic open floor plan on the main floor with wide, wood-framed arches and wooden doors with multi-light glass inserts connecting the public rooms, where much of the early Alberta Teachers’ Alliance work was carried out;
- historic floor plan of the second-floor, private area of the house with bedrooms accessible from a central hallway;
- kitchen with built-in cabinetry;
- prominent, decorative ceiling beams in the public areas of the main floor;
- wooden fireplace mantle;
- extant historic wood strip floor;
- extant historic millwork, such as door and window frames, window ledges, curtain rods, interior doors, fireplace mantle, staircases and banisters, wainscoting trim, picture rails;
- extant built in cabinetry and bench seats
- extant historic heating vents, light fixtures and chandeliers, light switches and other hardware;
- extant historic lath and plaster walls.


Location



Street Address: 10701 University Avenue
Community: Edmonton
Boundaries: Lot 1, Block A, Plan 1343AX
Contributing Resources:

ATS Legal Description:
Mer Rge Twp Sec LSD
4
4
4
4
24
24
24
24
52
52
52
52
29
29
29
29
03
04
05
06

PBL Legal Description (Cadastral Reference):
Plan Block Lot Parcel
1343 AX
A
1


Latitude/Longitude:
Latitude Longitude CDT Datum Type
53.512929 -113.506562

UTM Reference:
Northing Easting Zone CDT Datum Type

Recognition

Recognition Authority: Province of Alberta
Designation Status: Provincial Historic Resource
Date of Designation: 2012/11/15

Historical Information

Built: 1914/01/01 To 1914/01/01
Significant Date(s) N/A
Theme(s)
Historic Function(s): Residence : Single Dwelling
Current Function(s):
Architect:
Builder:
Context: HERITAGE SIGNIFICANCE

John Walker Barnett was the untiring secretary-treasurer of the Alberta Teacher's Alliance for 1920 to 1946 when he retired. It was he who spearheaded and galvanized the Alliance to push for increased salaries from 840 to 1,200 dollars per year, tenure instead of annual contracts, an appeal process for dismissals, a pension scheme and a code of ethics and the publication of the Alberta Teachers Association (ATA) Magazine.

Walker Barnett's determination to raise the status of the teaching profession resulted in the dramatic growth of the Alliance from a membership of 700 in 1918 to a fully-fledged Association in 1935. This occurred in spite of bitter opposition from the department of Education that viewed the Alliance's objectives as dangerous and radical. In the early years, Walker Barnett apparently ran the fledging ATA from his bedroom. It was not until the election of William Aberhart in 1935 that the association began to make major strides toward its objectives.

John Walker Barnett received an honorary Doctor of Laws Degree from the University of Alberta in 1947.

Additional Information

Object Number: 4665-0683
Designation File: DES 1816
Related Listing(s):
Heritage Survey File: HS 6216
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. 1816)
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