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Key Number: HS 14503
Site Name: Land Titles Building
Other Names: Victoria Armouries
Site Type: 1308 - Governmental: Registry Office
1405 - Military: Armoury or Drill Hall


ATS Legal Description:
Twp Rge Mer
52 24 4

Address: 10523 - 100 Avenue
Number: 23
Street: 105
Avenue: 100
Town: Edmonton
Near Town:


Type Number Date View


Plan Shape: Rectangular
Storeys: Storeys: 1 1/2
Foundation: Basement/Foundation Wall Material: Concrete
Superstructure Cover:
Roof Structure: Hipped Gable
Roof Cover:
Exterior Codes: Massing of Units: Single Detached
Wings: Front, Rear and Either Side
Number of Bays - Facade: First or Ground Floor, 9 Bays or more
Dormer Type: Hipped Gable
Exterior: Hipped dormers; large central gable. The building has the massive proportions typical of the structures erected by the Hudson's Bay Company. It is possible that this was the source of inspiration for the design. Roof is galvanized iron.
Side jerkin headed roof; projecting front gable over entry; hip dormers front and back.
Interior: Woodwork is of British Columbia fir.
Environment: Neighbourhood: Downtown Corner location with lawn; mature deciduous trees at corner.
Condition: Good. JAN 1979.
Alterations: The exterior of the Land Titles Office has been stuccoed. A new entrance porch has been added to the front of the building. Various alterations have been made to the interior. Apparent Alterations and/or Additions: Wall. Apparent Alterations and/or Additions: Roof. Apparent Alterations and/or Additions: Chimney. Apparent Alterations and/or Additions: Window. Apparent Alterations and/or Additions: Door. Stucco; new front entry; new front porch. Present condition: The interior has been remodeled and the exterior brick has been covered with a plaster finish. (December 6, 1974, Susan Low).


Construction: Construction Date:
Usage: Usage Date:
Tenant: Department of Health and Social Development
Crown Land, Timber, and Registry Office
Listed in directory as Land Titles building
Occupant not listed in directory
Armoury - 19th Alberta Dragoons Regiment
Edmonton Fusiliers
19th Armoured Car Regiment
Various Provincial Government Departments
Medical: Clinic or Medical Centre
Industrial Health Laboratory

Owner: Owner Date:
Province of Alberta,
Her Majesty the Queen
Province of Alberta, Minister of Public Works
Minister of Housing and Public Works

Architect: Thomas Fuller
Builder: Walter Alford
Craftsman: N/A
History: Heritage Significance: Opened in 1893, this building served as the crown land, timber and registry office for several years and is possibly the oldest such building in the province. The style of architecture appears to have been copied from the old Hudson's Bay Co. warehouses in Edmonton and elsewhere. During the first World War the 19th Alberta Dragoons occupied the building and remained there until the late 1930's when the Edmonton Fusiliers took it over and remained there for the duration of World War II. The 19th Armoured Car Regiment occupied it for the next few years. Victoria Armouries as it was called for more than 3 decades was then used mainly for offices and laboratories of the Provincial Government Department of Health.

In 1891, the railroad from Calgary to Edmonton was terminated on the south bank of the North Saskatchewan River, and a new community called South Edmonton was established there. A trend became apparent in 1892 when the federal government decided to move the office issuing land registration documents from Edmonton, where it had been for many years, to the south side. A band of angry Edmontonians, led by the Mayor, detained the wagons carting the effects of the office away, with the result that the office remained in Edmonton. In 1893, the new 'Land Registration and Crown Timber Offices' were built. With walls of brick eighteen inches thick and roofed in galvanized iron, it was an attractive and impressive addition to the town. Despite alterations made during the two world wars, when the building served as a meeting hall for various military units, the essential character of the Office, with its jerkinhead roofline and central entrance gable flanked by hipped gables, can still be detected. The Land Titles Office was designated a Provincial Historic Resource in 1977.
The Dominion Land Titles Office in Edmonton in 1893, and served as the Crown land, timber and registry office until 1913. In 1915, the building became the Armoury for the 19th Alberta Dragoons Regiment and in 1947, it housed the 19th Armoured Car Regiment, thus the name Victoria Armouries. From 1949 to the present, it has housed various Provincial Government departments and is now a Child Guidance Centre.

The architect was H.D. Johnston, and the contractor for construction of the building was Walter Alford. An early newspaper article said that although the outside is unattractive, 'the interior is roomy and conveniently arranged, the construction is to the last degree substantial and the inside furnishing is elegant'.
This structure represents an early event in the trend of land acquisition and settlement in Edmonton. It is unique for its type in Alberta and is possibly the oldest existing land titles office in Alberta. In 1977, it was designated as a Provincial Historic Resource.

* * *
Except for hipped roof and dormers, this building has no architectural character as stucco covers original brick. Stucco addition is even worse box. Very large lot. Stucco should be removed.
H.D. Johnson most likely local architect unconfirmed if Fuller (Federal DPW) provided plan.
* * *

1892 - 1908 A sign over the door proudly proclaimed, Land Registration and Crown Timber Office, giving notice to all that the new office was built to last on the north and not the south side of the river. The victory for Edmonton over the newcomer, Strathcona, was hard won.

Before 1905, Edmonton, a small train and wagon stop in the federally administered Northwest Territories, was home of the land titles office.
On the other hand, the new town of Strathcona was the last stop of the railway from Calgary. This posed a problem for settlers, who had to cross the North Saskatchewan river by ferry and trudge up the north bank to the Dominion Lands Agency, then humbly located in the old Roy house on 105th Street. Why not, some mind in Ottawa reasoned, move the office to the south side?

The citizens of Edmonton reacted to this simple decision--'theft' is the word they used to describe it--by taking vigilante action. One day in June 1892, Edmonton's first mayor, Matt McCauley, led a group as they disabled a wagon, kidnapped its horses, burned an effigy of the land agent, and shouldered rifles to defend their actions from meddling by the Northwest Mounted Police. Ottawa settled the dispute without bloodshed by building the new land office on the Edmonton side of the river in 1893. Federal architect Thomas Fuller blended the design of rural English houses and Hudson's Bay Company warehouses to produce a building which was 70 feet by 35 feet with a porch, arched window and a galvanized Gothic roof.

1909 - 1948 By 1909 Edmonton had outgrown the sturdy brick structure on Victoria (100) Avenue, but the two-storey structure remained to welcome the next group of players in its multi-storey history.

The Land Title Building was conveniently adaptable to military purposes, and became the Victoria Armoury, home of the 19th Alberta Dragoons, at the outbreak of World War I. Under the command of Lieutenant Colonel F.C. Jamieson, the unit fought in many major battles in France, including the gas attack at Ypres in 1915.

During its years as the Victoria Armoury, the building sprouted new additions on its east and west sides. Two pairs of cannons, souvenirs from the Great War and the Riel Rebellion of 1885, guarded the entrance, giving the building a self-importance it hadn't possessed even in its government days.
The Second World War brought more changes. The cannons were melted down for the new war effort, and the 101st Regiment Edmonton Fusiliers took over the Victoria Armoury. At the end of the war, the two units were combined and remained in the building until 1948.

1949 - 1984 The Land Titles Building was adapted to post-war use by the provincial government. It became the Health Guidance Building--its exterior appearance was de-fortified and modernized with a coat of stucco.

Rooms were added, partitioned and combined as agencies came and went.
Health care agencies included Mental Health and Old Age Services.
Child Guidance Clinic, Industrial Health and Hygiene Clinic with laboratories, and the Red Cross blood transfusion centre.
During the 1950s, the building was home to Ducks Unlimited and to the Edmonton District Planning Commission.
By the late seventies, the building seemed to have reached the end of its contributions to a rapidly growing city. While the oldest federal building in Alberta was designated an historic site by the province and the city of Edmonton in March, 1977, it was vacated once again in 1978.

1985 - 1993 The simple wooden sign on the front lawn reads WORDWORKS BUILDING. It quietly tells the story of an important milestone in the cultural life of the City of Edmonton and the province of Alberta.

In 1985 members of the Alberta literary arts community took a tour of the Old Land Titles Building, then empty. The dream of a home for the literary arts in Alberta, a dream long held by this group of writers, publishers and librarians, breathed new life into the building. Some saw the dream taking form as a single place where writers could go for advice. Others saw a central meeting place, office space and address for literary arts organizations.

These ideas and more took root when the management committee established the WordWorks concept was based on ideas of networking, partnerships and cooperation. Financial support came from the Alberta government and from the Alberta Foundation for the Literary Arts.

Twelve groups moved into the Old Land Titles Building in July 1986, in a spirit of optimism. That optimism quickly evolved into an interactive growth within the literary arts community, and with the general public. The success has been phenomenal. The WordWorks Society of Alberta currently provides services to fifteen member organizations. Today, a new generation of Albertans seek out the WordWorks Building. They are looking for information on publishing, writing, conferences, courses, workshops, awards, author readings, manuscript reading and editing, as well as book, storytelling and poetry festivals, and other services provided by Alberta writers, publishers, editors, storytellers, poets, booksellers, and libraries.

The WordWorks Society of Alberta proudly pays homage to the building that has become the home for the literary arts in Alberta.
WORDWORKS SOCIETY 'Home of the Literary Arts in Alberta'
Alberta Association of Library Technicians
Alberta Book Fair Society
Alberta Booksellers Association
Alberta Library Trustees Association
Book Publishers Association of Alberta
Editors' Association of Alberta
Canadian Authors Association
Canadian Children's Book Centre
CANSCAIP Minus - 30
Library Association of Alberta
The Alberta League Encouraging Storytelling (TALES)
The Alberta Speculative Fiction Association (TASFA)
Stroll of Poets Society
Writers Guild of Alberta
Young Alberta Book Festival Society
The WordWorks Society is financially supported by the Alberta Foundation for the Arts (AFA).
The WoodWorks Building is provided by the Alberta Government through Public Works Supply Services, and Alberta Historical Sites and Archives.
For more information call 424-7764.
10523 - 100 Avenue Edmonton, AB T5J 0A8
* * *

Building Subject of Rivalry

The humble Land Titles Building stands as a monument to the success and growth of Edmonton, and as a tombstone marking the demise of Strathcona.
In an 1893 article, The Edmonton Bulletin commented that the building's construction 'is the first tangible acknowledgement from the government that the town of Edmonton had any right to exist.'

Plans were drawn by the federal public works architect Thomas Fuller.
The design is similar in style to English rural houses and barns, which have large, jerkinhead roofs and comparable proportions. The building was designated a Provincial Historic Resource by Alberta Culture in 1977.

Its erection was the culmination of a tumultuous tug-of-war that could easily have resulted in bloodshed. The tussle between Edmonton and Strathcona residents marked the beginning of the end for Strathcona's aspirations to become the major city.

The success of loyal Edmontonians who rallied around the defense of the land office may have bordered on treason, but it assured the pre-eminence of this city in the early struggle to become a leading provincial centre.

'Strong antipathy arose between the two settlements on the north and south banks of the river,' The Bulletin said in a 1909 article. 'South Edmonton was puffed with pride at the acquiring of railway facilities, and Old Edmonton, perched on its regal throne on the high bank to the north, viewed with wrath the attempt to rob it of its glory.'

Stories are mixed as to just how Edmontonians discovered the affair.
One dark night in June 1892, the land office was being loaded onto wagons for a furtive trip across the river. It seems boosters of that impetuous overnight clapboard sensation - otherwise known as Strathcona - had convinced Interior Minister Edgar Dewdney or 'Dirty Dewdney' as The Bulletin called him, that the office would be better located close to the end of the recently-completed Calgary and Edmonton Railway.

One account had it that a Reverend Fauquier, a Roman Catholic priest, alerted the populace, while The Bulletin claimed it found out when the land office placed a late classified advertisement that night to advise the public of its new location. In any event, 'the trumpet of Mars was sounded on Jasper Avenue' and 'blue was the ozone with the deprecations which were called on the head of the offenders,' The Bulletin said.

Mayor Matt McCauley, who had already garnered a reputation for expedition, led a troop of indignant residents to the offending wagons, quickly removed the 'whiffletrees' and the nuts on the axles, and placed a guard around the wagons.

On orders from Dewdney, Captain Arthur Griesbach of the Northwest Mounted Police led 20 Mounties from Fort Saskatchewan with orders to ensure the land office's removal. But they were met by McCauley and the 'home guard'.

McCauley told Griesbach that the 'building will not be moved without bloodshed. I am prepared to take chances, if you care to do the same.' Griesbach backed off and four days later, the land office was back in business in its old location.

'The excitement had barely time to subside, when on July 11, 1892, tenders were called for a new land office to be built in Edmonton,' The Bulletin said.
The land office had occupied a number of locations up to that point.

The first was opened in 1884 by Pierre Gauvereau in a log house formerly occupied by The Bulletin. This original Dominion Land office was moved to Fort Edmonton Park in the 1970s.

In 1887, registrar George Roy built the first house on 100th Street and moved his office into his home. In 1893, the combined land, timber, and registry office moved to 106th Street and 100th Avenue and became known as the Land Titles Building. It featured a galvanized iron roof with a steep pitch, and B.C. fir for interior woodwork.

It served as the land office until 1909, when the office moved to the Jasper Block at 105th Street and Jasper Avenue, where it stayed until new offices were built in 1912.

During the First World War, the Old Land Titles Building was occupied by the 19th Alberta Dragoons, and subsequently it became known as Victoria Armories. The Dragoons used it until the late 1930s when the Edmonton Fusiliers moved in, remaining there for the duration of the Second World War. The 19th Armored Car Regiment then occupied the building until it was acquired by the province in 1949. It was then used by the provincial department of health and social development for offices and laboratories.

The province vacated the building in 1978, and rented it to the Red Cross Society. In 1986, the Alberta Publishers Association, the Writers Guild of Alberta and numerous other organizations established WordWorks in the building.


Status: Status Date:
Designation Status: Designation Date:
Municipal A List
Provincial Historic Resource

Register: A25
Record Information: Record Information Date:
K. Williams 1989/06/07


Alberta Register of Historic Places: 4665-0395
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