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Key Number: HS 75869
Site Name: Rossdale Power Plant (see also 56247)
Other Names:
Site Type: 0605 - Industrial/Manufacturing - General: Power Generating Building

Location

ATS Legal Description:
Twp Rge Mer
52 24 4


Address: 10155 - 96 Avenue
Number: 55
Street: 101
Avenue: 96
Other:
Town: Edmonton
Near Town:

Media

Type Number Date View
Source

Architectural

Style:
Plan Shape: Irregular
Storeys: Storeys: 1
Foundation: Basement/Foundation Wall Material: Concrete
Superstructure: Metal
Superstructure Cover:
Roof Structure:
Roof Cover:
Exterior Codes:
Exterior: Reinforced concrete foundation.
Interior: N/A
Environment: Neighbourhood: Rossdale The Rossdale Power Plant is a conspicuous and familiar landmark in the context of Edmonton. Its central location in the River Valley ensures that a large number of people travelling between the north and south sides in the city centre will see it. The 105 Street Bridge, the main artery into the downtown from the south side, passes within a few hundred metres of the building. In addition to its bulk, the steam emitted from the many smokestacks is a well known winter sight in the city. The Rossdale area is dominated by several structures, the most prominent of which are John Ducey Park stadium, and the Rossdale Power Plant. The regular grid pattern of streets originally planned for the south part of Rossdale was disrupted in order to accommodate the Power Plant and the other municipal facilities which surround it. In the context of the mixed residential, industrial, and recreational use patterns of the Rossdale area, the Power Plant is of particular significance because of its placement, size and age. The Rossdale Power Plant is very important to the urban design and environmental quality of the area. No other industrial operation of this size remains in the River Valley. Its design, location and dimensions are all important factors which have an impact on Rossdale. Most large North Amercan cities retain areas such as Rossdale, and in a number of cases adaptive re-use of the major structures has maintained the historic character of the area, while providing for current needs. Urban design practices in the latter part of the 20th century have strictly segregated buildings by functon, and mixed areas such as Rossdale have gradually been eliminated; the Rossdale Power Plant is part of a vanishing urban pattern.
Condition:
Alterations: Relocation of the plant's controls from the Switch House on the east side of the plant to new, centralized location on the west side and the replacement of metal-framed windows with glass block.

Historical

Construction: Construction Date:
Construction Started
Conatruction Ended
1930/01/01
1958/01/01
Usage: Usage Date:
Power Plant
Electrical Generation Facility


Owner: Owner Date:
Power Plant
City of Edmonton (Edmonton Power)


Architect: Maxwell Dewar
Builder: N/A
Craftsman: N/A
History: The Rossdale Power Plant was constructed in the period 1930-1958. It is apparent that the building was designed to be expanded. Though the final demensions of the Power Plant may have exceeded those originally foreseen, all parts of the structure are consistent in style based on the first section of the building. Until 1968, Edmonton's municipally-owned electrical utility consisted only of the Rossdale Power Plant. As such, it was associated with the city's Mayors, Commissioners and Councils since it was established in 1902. Persons and groups of both primary and secondary importance have been loosely connected with this structure throughout its history. This building has a long association with events of great continuing interest and importance to residents of Edmonton. Any event associated with the Power Plant inevitably found its way into the newspapers, whether it was construction projects, labour disputes, new equipment, City Council debates, or statistics on increased output and consumption. Questions relating to it occupied many hours of Council debate, it was a source of civic pride, and was seen as a major component in the city's 'War Effort' between 1939 and 1945.

Three themes are represented by this building: 1) the use of the river valley as an area of industrial development; 2) the paticipation of the city's municipal government in an industurial enterprise--the generation of electrical power; and 3) the steady growth of the power Plant reflects the demographic, economic and political trends and events which shaped Edmonton's history; in spite of the long period of its construction, the plant emerged as an organized, unified structure--evidence of a strong vision and a sustained plan of expansion.

The Rossdale Power Plant was, at least in part, designed by Maxwell Dewar, a prominent Alberta architect. Employed by the Power Plant in the 1930s, he later served as City Architect for Edmonton, and went on to a successful career in private practice. He was also president of the Alberta Association of Architects for at least two terms. In addition, several of Edmonton's most prominent contracting firms worked on the various phases of its construction. As such, the Power Plant is connected with architects and builders of particular importance. The design of the Rossdale Power Plant reflects the period in which it was conceived. That is, it is consistent with the period of the late 1920s and early 1930s. This was a transitional period in Edmonton, when both classical and Victorian architecture were on the wane, but neither the Art Deco nor Moderne styles had been established. The models for this building are found in such ground-breaking industrial and factory designs as those of Albert Kahn's Ford Highland Park Plant in Detroit.

The Rosdale Power Plant is not a revolutionary building in terms of structure. It is composed of a steel load-bearing skeleton with brick curtain walls and concrete floors and foundation. It is a good example of its type, and is unique in Edmonton; there are no other curtain wall brick and steel industrial buildings of comparable period or size. Both the interior and the exterior of the Rossdale Power Plant display a remarkable degree preservation. The two most significant changes were the relocation of the plant's controls from the Switch House on the east side of the plant to a new, centralized location on the west side and the replacement of metal-framed windows with glass block. Even so, it remains essentially intact.

The Edmonton Power Historical Foundation has artifacts from earlier Power Plants.

The Rossdale Power Plant is a prominent landmark in Edmonton which has long served as a symbol of the city's progress, self-reliance and resourcefulness. Architecturally, the Rossdale Power Plant belongs to an earlier period than that during which it was actually constructed. Its design relates strongly to the most advanced factory and industrial buildings of the 1910s, while the decorative programme is rooted in the styles of the late 1920s. From 1902 until 1913, the Power Plant had been expanded in a way which did not take into account the aesthetic impact of the building. This was not the case with the 1930-1954 structure. It is clear that a consistent design programme was followed from the beginning and carried through until the last addition was made. As a result, the Rossdale Power Plant appears to be a unified and uniform building which the casual observer could be forgiven for believing had been constructed all at once. The cumulative effect is imposing and yet, at the same time pleasant, the massing of the structure and the arrangement of the in-line smokestacks being more reminiscent of an ocean liner than an industrial site.

The history of the Rossdale Power Plant parallels that of the city of Edmonton. Prominent figures in municipal government and public office have been associated with the Power Plant throuthout its history. Rises and falls in the economic prosperity of the community, as well as political battles and international conflicts all played a part in its evolution. The pursuit and completion of the building programme for the Power Plant set in motion in 1930 must be considered a triumph of determination, planning and perseverance. Throughout the term of construction, the mechanical component of the Power Plant was consistently upgraded and brought to the highest contemporary standards. At several points, the Rossdale installation was hailed as the largest municipal power plant in Canada, and its machines as the most advanced. Despite provincial and federal trends towards private enterprise and hydroelectric generation, Edmonton persevered with a publicly-held utility powered by fossil fuels. The result has been competitive rates, and annual profits to augment City revenues.

1891
- 10 years franchise to supply Edmonton with electricity granted to the Edmonton Electric Lighting and Power Company, led by Alex Taylor. First Power Plant erected near present location of north side end of Low Level Bridge.
1899
- Flood knocks Power Plant out of operation for six weeks.
1902
- Franchise expires, and electrical plant purchased by the municipal government for $13,000; becomes Edmonton Power.
- Power Plant relocated to Rossdale, beside the contemporary location of the racetrack, and near the present north end of the 105 Street Bridge and present site of the Rossdale Power Plant.
1905
- 24 hour domestic service initiated.
- First electric streetlamps installed. 'Moonlight' hours in effect.
1906
- Addition made to Power Plant.
1908
- Further addition made to Power Plant.
- Electric streetcar service initiated.
1910
- 2,000 KW turbo-generator installed.
1911
- 400 KW turbo-generator installed (to service street railway).
- 2,000 KW turbo-generator installed.
1913
- 4,000 KW turbo-generator installed.
- Construction of new power house with boiler and 6,00 KW turbine initiated. Proposed cost of $270,000.
1914
- Project halted after City Council debate and city-wide referendum. Proposals for power supply by private companies called for and received in September 1914.
1915
- North Saskatchewan River floods its banks, but does not damage Power Plant.
- Used Power Plant equipment sold to the City of Winnipeg.
1916
- Power Plant operated by private company; the Alliance Power -1919 Company.
1915 - No mechanical improvements made to the plant. -1920
1921
- 5,000 KW turbo-generator installed.
1922
- Mechanical feed stokers installed to replace hand feeding of coal to some of the Plant's 16 boilers.
1927
- 10,000 KW Parsons turbine installed.
1928
- Report prepared indicating projected power production requirements.
- Two boilers still stoked by hand.
1930
- Five year plan for expansion of Rossdale Power Plant initiated.
- City Council approves expenditure towards expansion of existing Power Plant.
- Plans drawn up for Administration Building at Rossdale Power Plant.
1932
- First section of extant Rossdale Power Plant under construction.
- Men on 'Relief' employed as part of construction crew on Power Plant.
- Photographs show the Power Plant with one smokestack.
1935
- Inventory of Power Plant turbo-generator equipment shows no change from 1928.
1936
- Boiler explodes at South Side Power Plant (in Strathcona). Subsequently, electricity for the South Side supplied by the Rossdale Power Plant.
1937
- Pump house and intake line constructed by Hulber & Wilson. Boiler and turbine room main building extension built by H.G. Macdonald & Company, with structural steel supplied by the Dominion Bridge Company (which supplied all structural steel for construction of Power Plant extensions hereafter).
1938
- 15,000 KW Parsons turbo-generator installed.
1940
- Purchase of second 15,000 KW Parsons turb-generator approved as part of Edmonton's contribution to the 'War Effort'.
- Conversion of Power Plant from coal to natural gas initiated.
1941
- Contract to provide structural steel for addition to Power Plant awarded to Dominion Bridge Co., Ltd.
- Robert McRae awarded contract to build brick building to house machine shop, electrical shop and carpenter shop.
- Construction work on concrete bases for structural steel and for Switch House for extension to Power Plant under way.
1942
- Extension to Power Plant completed. Eight old boilers sold off.
1943
- Parsons turbine parts made in England for the Rossdale Power Plant lost at sea (ship sunk by enemy action, WWII).
- Photographs show Power Plant with three smokestacks.
- During a strike by Power Plant workers concerned about layoffs and wage reductions, a 'Dimout' is put in effect to conserve the coal used to fire the plant. Power is turned off at midnight and turned back on from 6-8 a.m.
1944
- Parsons turbine arrives from England and is installed in Power Plant.
1945
- Designs completed and tenders called for an extension to house a 30,000 KW generator at north end of Power Plant.
1946
- Orders placed for turbine and boilers for new section of Power Plant.
1949
- Photographs show the Power Plant with five smokestacks.
1951
- Demolition of old section of Power Plant completed.
1953
- 30,000 KW Parsons turbo-generator installed.
1954
- Extension at south end of Power Plant under construction to house second 30,000 KW generator, bringing this section of the Plant to maximum dimensions.
- Photographs show Power Plant with seven smokestacks.
1955
- Conversion of Power Plant from coal to natural gas completed.
1958
- 30,000 KW Brown-Boveri gas turbine installed in Power Plant.
1959
- Additional 30,000 KW gas turbine installed in Power Plant.
1960
- 75,000 KW gas turbine installed in wing added to west side of north end of Rossdale Power Plant.
1963
- Second 75,000 KW gas turbine installed in addition to west wing of Power Plant.
1966
- Third 75,000 KW gas turbine installed in further addition to west wing of Power Plant.
1968
- Clover Bar electrical generating station under construction.
1982
- Genesee Power Plant under construction.

Internal

Status: Status Date:
Active
1993/04/25
Designation Status: Designation Date:
Municipal A List
Provincial Historic Resource

2001/10/17
Register: A87
Record Information: Record Information Date:
T. Gilev 1995/11/22

Links

Internet:
Alberta Register of Historic Places: 4665-0418
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