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Key Number: HS 53350
Site Name: John Walter House (1884)
Other Names:
Site Type: 0101 - Residential: Single Dwelling


ATS Legal Description:
Twp Rge Mer
52 24 4

Address: 9100 Walterdale Hill
Number: 00
Town: Edmonton
Near Town:


Type Number Date View


Plan Shape: Rectangular Short Facade
Storeys: Storeys: 1 1/2
Superstructure Cover:
Roof Structure: Medium Gable
Roof Cover:
Exterior Codes:
Exterior: Front gable roof, mullioned windows.
Interior: Restored as period house museum; one main room downstairs with bedrooms above.
Environment: Neighbourhood: River Valley Walterdale
Condition: Good
Alterations: Site: Moved


Construction: Construction Date:
Construction Started
Usage: Usage Date:
Educational: Museum or Gallery
Mercantile/Commercial: General Retail Store
Mercantile/Commercial: Office or Administration Bldg
Transportation - Water Facility: Terminal Building
Communications: Telegraph Station or Building
Residential: Single Dwelling

Owner: Owner Date:
John Walter
City of Edmonton
Architect: John Walter
Builder: John Walter
Craftsman: N/A
History: Old address was 10627 - 93 Avenue

Built 100 feet east of original (1875) house overcooking first ferry quay. Walter resided here until 1904 when he moved to his 3rd residence. This house was moved to the present site in 1907; 2nd served as a residence from c.1912 until 1963. Became part of park site in 1958.

* * *
JOHN WALTER MUSEUM (c.1874) City's Oldest Surviving House
When the Belle of Edmonton plied the North Saskatchewan River, the toll was 10 cents per foot passenger, and five cents for farm animals.
Today, the murky waters are spanned by numerious bridges and the Belle of Edmonton has long since disappeared.
But two humble rough-hewn timber cabins - and a not-so-humble wood frame two-storey house - still stand at the foot of Walterdale Hill, marking the approximate location where John Walter's ferry once operated. If you look carefully, you may pick them out on your left, as you drive down the hill and over the 105th Street Bridge toward downtown. The buildings also mark the beginnings of the community that once dotted Walter's Flats. The three houses are collectively called the John Walter Museum, and they mark many firsts for our city.
Documenting the rise of John Walter - one of Strathcona's earliest pioneers and businessmen - the city-owned site includes the first building to be constructed on the south side, and one of the first to be built outside the palisades of Fort Edmonton.
Accounts differ on the year - it was built either 1874, 1875 or 1876.
It served as the first telegraph office in 1880, as well as a general store and an office for Walter's ferry service.
The second log house was built in 1884 and Walter moved into it in 1886 with his new bride, Appia Elizabeth Newby. His two sons, John Jr. and Stanley, were born here.
Again, accounts differ on what year the third house was built - 1899, 1900, or 1901.
The historic site, with the exception of the newest house, is used for student pioneer intrepretive programs. Inside, 19th century furnishings and artifacts provide a pioneer decor for such activities as butter churning, carding wool, and baking. Walter's last home has been headquarters for the Heritage Festival since 1982.
All of the buildings were moved from their original locations to where they now stand. Walter himself moved the first two houses from about a block east to their present site prior to 1900, after constructing his third and most imposing residence. The third house, which was built where the High Level Bridge now stands, was moved by the city in 1974. Ironically, its turn of the century interior was modernized as an office for the Fort Edmonton Historical Foundation. A 1985 fire caused $30,000 damage to this house, and repairs are now being completed.
John Walter was born in Scotland's Orkney Islands in 1849. He arrived at Fort Edmonton on Christmas Eve 1870 to build York boats for the Hudson's Bay Company and died on Christmas Day 1920 - 50 years and one day after his arrival here.
After leaving the Hudson's Bay Company, he built the cabin across the river from the fort and staked his claim to River Lot Nine. He began his business career by operating the Belle of Edmonton, the first cable ferry west of Winnipeg. It ran until the opening of the High Level Bridge in 1913. He built the pleasure steamer, City of Edmonton, in 1909, and purchased Big Island, 22 kilometres upstream on the river, planning to turn it into a tourist resort.
Walter was also involved in the lumber business and operated a coal mine. But floods in 1912 and 1915 wiped out his lumber business, carrying away a large stack of lumber, destroying his mill, and ruining the previous winter's cut.
Walter, said to have been one of Edmonton's first millionaires, suffered devastating financial losses. But, undaunted, he was on a financial comeback when he died in 1920.


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

Register: A85
Record Information: Record Information Date:
S. Khanna 1992/11/23


Alberta Register of Historic Places: 4665-0441
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