Logged in as user  [Login]  |
Return to Search Results Printable Version

Key Number: HS 26645
Site Name: Mayor John James McKenzie Residence
Other Names:
Site Type: 0101 - Residential: Single Dwelling


ATS Legal Description:
Twp Rge Mer
52 24 4

Address: 8603 - 104 Street
Number: 3
Street: 104
Avenue: 86
Town: Edmonton
Near Town:


Type Number Date View


Style: Four-square, Cornbelt Cube
Plan Shape: Square
Storeys: Storeys: 2 1/2
Foundation: Basement/Foundation Wall Material: Concrete
Superstructure: Nailed Frame
Superstructure Cover:
Roof Structure: Pyramidal
Roof Cover:
Exterior Codes: Massing of Units: Single Detached
Wings: None
Number of Bays - Facade: First or Ground Floor, 3 Bays
Number of Bays - Facade: Second Floor, 2 Bays
Wall Design and Detail: Balcony
Roof Trim - Eaves: Rafters Exposed
Roof Trim Material - Eaves: Wood
Roof Trim - Verges: Purlins Exposed
Roof Trim Material - Verges: Wood
Towers, Steeples and Domes: None
Towers, Steeples and Domes Location-Side to Side: Centre
Towers, Steeples and Domes Location-Front to Rear: Centre
Dormer Type: Semi-Circular
Chimney Location - Side to Side: Side Left
Chimney Stack Material: Brick
Chimney Stack Massing: Single
Roof Trim - Special Features: None
Window - Structural Opening Shape: Flat
Window - Trim Outside Structural Opening - Head: Plain Flat
Window - Trim Outside Structural Opening - Sides: Plain
Window - Trim Outside Structural Opening - Material: Wood
Window - Sill Type: Plain Slip Sill
Window - Sill Material: Wood
Window - Trim Within Structural Opening - Head: Plain
Window - Trim Within Structural Opening - Sides: Plain
Window - Number of Sashes: One
Window - Opening Mechanism: Single or Double Hung
Window - Special Types: None
Window - Pane Arrangements: 2 over 2
Main Entrance - Location: Centre (Facade)
Main Entrance - Structural Opening Shape: Flat
Main Entrance - Trim Outside Structural Opening - Head: Plain Flat
Main Entrance - Trim Outside Structural Opening - Sides: Plain
Main Entrance - Trim Outside Structural Opening Material: Wood
Main Entrance - Trim Within Structural Opening - Head: Plain
Main Entrance - Trim Within Structural Opening - Sides: Plain
Main Entrance - Number of Leaves: 1
Main Entrance - Number of Panels Per Leaf: 1
Main Entrance - Leaves - Special Feature: Glass
Main Stairs - Location and Design: First or Ground Floor, Without Railing
Main Stairs - Direction: Straight
Main Porch - Type: Open Verandah
Main Porch - Special Features: Ionic Capital
Main Porch - Material: Concrete
Exterior: Full length verandah, overhead balcony, sandstone quoins, tuscan columns, dormer windows.
Central segmental domer. Front verandah and tuscan columns. Bay window. Two semi-circular dormers, east and west. Decorative frieze main floor. South side: swept window; main floor bay window with key stone head.
Bellcast roof; two storey verandah with turned columns; quoins.
Interior: N/A
Environment: Neighbourhood: Strathcona The property is within the boundaries of the Old Strathcona Conservation Area. It adjoins five other properties which are under option by Heritage Canada and are slated for renovation and maintenance as single family dwellings. (May 30, 1975). Situated on a corner lot. Strathcona district.
Condition: Good. Generally good on the exterior, with the exception of some cracked sandstone quoins at the southeast corner of the building. Although it was not possible to view the interior, it appeared form the outside to be well-maintained, and probably retains much of its original character. (June 1975).
Alterations: Interior Remodelled Replacement windows; two storey addition at rear.


Construction: Construction Date:
Usage: Usage Date:
Toy Museum (current)

Owner: Owner Date:
John James McKenzie
Jacob Galper
Ronald John Young
Robert and Geraldine Bell
Architect: N/A
Builder: N/A
Craftsman: N/A
History: John James McKenzie arrived in Edmonton in 1886 where he first worked as a ferry hand for John Walter. With the coming of the Calgary and Edmonton Railway and the creation of the townsite of South Edmonton in 1891, he left the employ of John Walter and established a blacksmith shop at this location. He was thus one of the pioneer businessmen of Strathcona along with J.J. Duggan, Malcolm McIntyre, John Gainer, and W.J.G. Dickson all of whom established business enterprises during the early 1890s. By 1899, he had expanded his business activities to include a farm implement dealership.
In addition to his role as a businessman, he was also involved in other aspects of community life in Strathcona. During the 1890s he served on the Strathcona Public School Board and in 1894 he was a member of the building committee of Knox Presbyterian Church.
Following the incorporation of Strathcona in 1899, he served as alderman in 1902, 1903 and 1906 and on the City of Strathcona Council in 1907. He served as Mayor of the Town of Strathcona Council in 1904. Following the amalgamation of Edmonton and Strathcona in 1912 he continued his involvement in education and municipal politics by serving on the Edmonton Public School Board from 1912 to 1921 and as an alderman in 1920-21.
The residence was constructed for J.J. Mackenzie in 1907 at the height of his success as a Strathcona businessman and municipal politician.
The name of the builder and architect, if one was involved, cannot be documented at this time. Its construction occurred during a period of rapid expansion in the history of Strathcona. Strathcona's population, which was 1,156 at incoproration in 1899, had grown to 5,579 when it amalgamated with Edmonton. This growth reflected the general prosperity of the Province at this time because of increased settlement and railway construction and higher prices for agricultural commodities.
Architecturally the Mackenzie Residence is an elaborate version of the Canadian Four-Square style. This Georgian inspired style was popular in Western Canada from the 1890s to the 1920s. The features of this house which reflects this style include its 2 and one half storey height, its square shape, its pyramidal roof and such architectural details as the dormer, the front verandah, and the wide eaves with large brackets.
The McKenzie family occupied the house until 1924, at which time it was sold to Jacob Galper. Members of the Galper family resided in the house until 1975.
The significance of the Mackenzie House therefore derives from its association with the career of J.J. McKenzie, who played a prominent role in the social, political and community life of both Strathcona and Edmonton, primarily during the era of settlement expansion between 1896 and 1914.
* * * John McKenzie Mayor of Strathcona 1904. Born 1863, died in 1952.
On Strathcona town council 1899-1903, 1906-07.
1908-1923 - J.J. McKenzie lived in this house.
1909 - August 24. Land sold to J.J. McKenzie.
1924 - November 27. Land sold to Jacob Galper.
Now used as a lawyer's office, this house has been privately restored.
* * * * When John James McKenzie arrived in Edmonton in 1887 at the age of twenty-three, he found work as a ferryman on the North Saskatchewan River. In 1891 he struck out on his own and opened a blacksmithing and farming equipment business in the new town of Strathcona.
McKenzie was interested in civic affairs, and served on Strathcona's first town council from 1899 to 1903. He was also a member of the school board and mayor of Strathcona in 1904. His interest did not wane after the amalgamation of Edmonton and Strathcona, and he continued to serve on the Edmonton city council and the Edmonton public school board.
This house was built in 1907, and McKenzie is recorded as living here from 1909 to 1923. It is a fine example of domestic Edwardian classical revival architecture. Symmetry, restrained classical details and an emphasis on the horizontal are all charasterictics of this style which can be seen in the McKenzie residence. Particularly striking are the hipped roof with bellcast eaves and the full length front porch with plain Tuscan columns supporting a second storey balcony.
Bay windows flank the front door, and a centrally-located dormer window with an arched gable completes the classically balanced scheme.
There are many houses of this type in Strathcona, but few are as well designed or preserved as this one. The McKenzie residence was designated a Registered Historical Resource in 1976 and currently houses the Strathcona Model and Toy Museum.
In 1886, a weary traveller stumbling into the sleepy hamlet of Edmonton would have been greeted by a dusty, quiet prairie community.
Wandering down the Calgary Trail, he would discover several small shops, selling everything from bacon to ostrich plumes. Further on, the five-year-old Edmonton Bulletin building, a baker's, a butcher's and a blacksmith shop - all serving 350 people.
These were the sights that faced 23-year-old John James McKenzie, a pioneer from the small town of Danville, Que., a hard-working pioneer who decided to settle here to seek his fortune in the year of 1886.
He lived in Edmonton for 66 years until he died.
He was a blacksmith, a dealer in farm machinery, a member of the Edmonton Public School Board an alderman and Mayor of Strathcona and a man who gained the reputation of one who fought to the finish.
In 1907, two years after his term as mayor, he decided to build his own home on a site at 8603 - 104 Street--then 77 Main Street North in Strathcona.
His two-storey brick home was one of the most substantial of its time.
The McKenzie home, says Susan Algie with Alberta Culture's historic sites branch, is one of the few houses remaining in Edmonton of its size with its amount of detail. (Verandah, bay window and landscaping are all original construction).
In 1924, after his children had grown up, McKenzie decided he needed a smaller home, so he sold to the merchant Jacob Galper family, who lived in the house for nearly 50 years.
Seventy years after its construction, Mckenzie's presence is still found in the building. During reconstruction, J.J. McKenzie's initials were found, burned with a poker into a beam in the basement.
*** McKenzie Residence, 8603 Main (104) Street. Built 1911. John J.
McKenzie, town councillor, mayor, school board member and City of Edmonton councillor, built his home to portray his enviable social standing in Strathcona. The building, still in excellent condition, is being renovated for office use by the law firm of Olekshy and Young.
*** ONE-TIME MAYOR'S HOME A COMMUNITY HOT POTATO By JacMacdonald Journal Staff Writer
OUR HISTORIC BUILDINGS: MCKENZIE HOUSE The 78-year-old home of a one-time Strathcona politican has itself become politicized, as the community battles its proposed use as a day care centre.
The three-storey brick house was built by John James McKenzie, mayor of Strathcona in 1904. He lived in it from 1908 to 1924.
After serving as offices for a law firm for several years, the building was purchased last month for $174,000 by Ann Schager, owner of Wonderland Day Care Centres. She planned to open her fifth location, with space for 80 children, in the building.
The area is zoned for low density single-family dwellings in order to maintain the character of older housing in the area, but conversions to offices or uses such as day care facilities have been considered from time to time, city planner Barb Macdonell said.
A permit was issued for the centre, but area residents, the Strathcona Community League, and Old Strathcona Foundation appealed the move to the Development Appeal Board, which decided to allow a maximum of 24 children in the centre.
The DAB said the proposed use was reasonable, but only with reduced numbers, Macdonell said.
'It's not good enough for us--it doesn't pay for anything' Schager said. 'There's a big mortgage on this house'.
Foundation secretary Simon Van Der Valk responded by saying: 'You should think of these matters before you buy something for a commercial venture.'
'That's unfortunate, but that's business,' echoed Stephen Tyler, chairman of the league's planning committee. 'People are restoring houses here under the assumption that the redevelopment plan will restrict development to that which is compatible with single family housing'.
He said the centre would create traffic and noise problems, and that the league would prefer to see the house used as a single-family residence.
Schager plans to appeal the DAB decision to Alberta Court of Appeal.
If an appeal is unsuccessful, she said she already has a buyer for the house.
The house was designated as a registered historic resource by Alberta Culture in 1976, both on historic grounds and because of concern for building preservation in the face of redevelopment pressures in Old Strathcona, said Art Looye, Alberta Culture historic site designation officer.
He said Alberta Culture does not dictate use for historic buildings providing there is no impact on a building's historic fabric.
'Our policy is that heritage should pay. We want buildings to have an economic lifespan as well as historic significance'.
The house is considered to be an elaborate version of the 'cube' type of house common in the early 1900s. This style of design is also known as American four-square, with a pyramid or bell-cast roof. Such houses are noted by their square plan, truncated hip roof, central dormer, and symmetrical window placement.
Elaborate features of the McKenzie House included a full-length front verandah and an overhead balcony, which has since been removed; sandstone quoins at the corners; eaves brackets, and tuscan columns.
The roof has two hooded and two swept dormer windows.
McKenzie, who also served as an Edmonton public school trustee and alderman, had come to Alberta from Quebec in 1887. He worked as a ferry man and a blacksmith before starting a farm implement dealership which he owned until 1932.
He sold the house in 1924 to Jacob Galper whose family owned it for more than 50 years.
* * * HERITAGE SIGNIFICANCE: Built by John James McKenzie, this house was his residence from 1911 until 1923. McKenzie was a member of the first school board in South Edmonton in the 1890s. He was elected to the first town council when Strathcona became a town in 1899. McKenzie was mayor of Strathcona during 1904. He served on the Edmonton Public School Board for about ten years after the two cities were amalgamated, and on City Council in 1920-21. The property was sold to Jacob Galper, a Strathcona merchant, in 1924, and has remained in the Galper family until the present time.
The heritage significance of this site is increased by its situation in the Old Strathcona Conservation Area. This fact enhances the historical connection with mayor McKenzie as well as emphasizes the need for preservation to retain architectural compatibility in the area.
CONDITION of SITE: Generally good on the exterior, with the exception of some cracked sandstone quoins at the southeast corner of the building. Although it was not possible to view the interior, it appeared form the outside to be well-maintained, and probably retains much of its original character. (June 1975).


Status: Status Date:
Designation Status: Designation Date:
Municipal B List
Registered Historic Resource

Register: B254
Record Information: Record Information Date:
K. Williams 1989/06/06


Alberta Register of Historic Places: 4665-0467
Return to Search Results Printable Version

Freedom to Create. Spirit to Achieve.

Home    Contact Us    Login   Library Search

© 1995 - 2021 Government of Alberta    Copyright and Disclaimer    Privacy    Accessibility