Tag Archives: fire halls

Fire Alarm & Police Call Box Systems in Edmonton

Introduction

Gamewell Fire Box at 97th and Jasper

Gamewell Fire Alarm Box at 97th Street & Jasper Avenue

Fire Alarm Boxes and Police Call Boxes were once common throughout cities and towns in the developed world. Police Call Boxes may be familiar to many readers through Doctor Who’s T.A.R.D.I.S., which takes The Doctor on his adventures through space and time. Fire Alarm boxes may be less familiar, since they have disappeared from many municipalities and have not been recycled as a pop-culture icon.

Edmonton installed its first Fire Alarm Boxes in 1907, and followed these with Police Boxes (though much different from the British style seen in Doctor Who) in 1910. The articles and images in this post sum up the best online references to the City of Edmonton’s Gamewell Fire Alarm System and Gamewell Police Alarm System as well as Strathcona’s Northern Electric Fire Alarm System. This article will be updated if and when new material surfaces.

Thanks go to the Peel Prairie Provinces Newspaper Collection for the newspaper clippings below. There are more relevant articles on the Peel website, but most dealt with questions of system cost and financing.

1895

The Edmonton Bulletin, May 27, 1895, p.1

Rumblings about a Fire Alarm System go back to the 1800s, as this article shows.

1895-05-27 The Edmonton Bulletin, May 27, 1895, Page 1, Item Ar00105 (Town Council)

1903

The Edmonton Bulletin, June 10, 1903, p.2

And rumblings continue in the early 1900s…

1903-06-10 The Edmonton Bulletin, June 10, 1903, Page 2, Item Ar00204 (Fire Alarm System)

1906

The Edmonton Bulletin, November 21, 1906, p.2

Finally, we see action and a Gamewell Fire Alarm system has been ordered for the young City of Edmonton.

1906-11-21 The Edmonton Bulletin, November 21, 1906, Page 2, Item Ar00207 (Fire Alarm System Ordered)

1907

The Edmonton Bulletin, January 31, 1907, p.2

Not to be outdone, the City of Strathcona looks into a fire alarm system.

1907-01-31 The Edmonton Bulletin, January 31, 1907, Page 2, Item Ar00217 (Outline of Fire Alarm System Which May Shortly Be Installed In Strathcona)

The Edmonton Bulletin, April 1, 1907, p.4

1907-04-01 The Edmonton Bulletin, April 1, 1907, Page 4, Item Ar00403 (Fire Alarm System Shipped)

The Edmonton Bulletin, May 17, 1907, p.7

1907-05-17 The Edmonton Bulletin, May 17, 1907, Page 7, Item Ar00706 (Fire Alarm System Coming)

The Edmonton Bulletin, May 28, 1907, p.5

1907-05-28 The Edmonton Bulletin, May 28, 1907, Page 5, Item Ar00511 (Fire Alarm System Here)

The Edmonton Bulletin, June 4, 1907, p.1

1907-06-04 The Edmonton Bulletin, June 4, 1907, Page 1, Item Ar00132 (Fire Alarm Being Installed)

The Edmonton Bulletin, September 30, 1907, p.8

Edmonton’s Gamewell Fire Alarm System is installed!

1907-09-30 The Edmonton Bulletin, September 30, 1907, Page 8, Item Ar00816 (Alarm System Finished)

The Edmonton Bulletin, October 3, 1907, p.8

Where might I find a Fire Alarm Box in Edmonton in 1907? Glad you asked…

1907-10-03 The Edmonton Bulletin, October 3, 1907, Page 8, Item Ar00808 (Where The Fire Alarm Boxes Are)

The Edmonton Bulletin, November 13, 1907, p.2

And, just behind Edmonton, Strathcona installs its Northern Electric Fire Alarm System.

1907-11-13 The Edmonton Bulletin, November 13, 1907, Page 2, Item Ar00203 (Strathcona News-Fire Alarm System)

1910

The Edmonton Bulletin, May 10, 1910, p.1

Police Boxes for Edmonton?

1910-05-10 The Edmonton Bulletin, May 10, 1910, Page 1, Item Ar00112 (Police Boxes Will Be Ready By August)

The Edmonton Bulletin, November 17, 1910, p.8

Twenty-five Gamewell Police Call Boxes installed in Edmonton in late November 1910. This article includes a detailed description of Edmonton’s Gamewell Police Call Boxes.

1910-11-17 The Edmonton Bulletin, November 17, 1910, Page 8, Item Ar00809 (Install Police Alarms)

1911

The Edmonton Capital, January 7, 1911, p.6

Gamewell Fire Alarm System equipment in an Edmonton fire hall.

1911-01-07 The Edmonton Capital, January 7, 1911, Page 6, Item Ar00603 (Department Has 4 Equipped Halls)

1918

The Edmonton Bulletin, February 7, 1918, p.2

1918-02-07 The Edmonton Bulletin, February 7, 1918, Page 2, Item Ad00206_3 (Reward Advertisement)

1920

The Edmonton Bulletin, November 13, 1920 (City Edition), p.9

A detailed description of Edmonton’s Gamewell Fire Alarm Boxes.

1920-11-13 The Edmonton Bulletin, November 13, 1920 (City Edition), Page 9, Item Ar00903 (History of the City's Fire Fighters)

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Fire Hall – Edmonton Exhibition Grounds

This is a fire hall I doubt that very few people (living today) have ever seen. This fire hall was dedicated to the protection of the Edmonton Exhibition Grounds. Interestingly it was made of wood and right next to another wooden building that was (apparently) stuffed with fire works (see the map below). I am really not sure how useful it would have been if that building, one of the largest sources of risk on the grounds, had exploded…

1912 (Looking Northeast)

Here we see the fire hall with the poultry building in the background.

na-1328-78 - Fire department at Edmonton Exhibition, Edmonton, Alberta. - 1912

na-1328-63592 - Harness racing at Edmonton Exhibition, Edmonton, Alberta. - annotated for fire hall - August 1912

EdHGIS: 1914 Fire Insurance Maps & Google Earth Imagery

na-1328-78 - Fire department at Edmonton Exhibition, Edmonton, Alberta. - Map

West Edmonton Fire Hall & Jail (es 123 Street, North of 129 Ave)

The West Edmonton Fire Hall served its original function for only a few years before it was converted to a parish hall for the nearby Church of the Good Shepherd (12947 123 Street). The following text comes from their website (via Brent Welch of Historic Edmonton and Northern Alberta):

“The W.A. purchased the Calder fire hall and jail from the City of Edmonton. The building was moved from across the corner to the Church property (south lot), May 1921. While the hall was in still rough shape the ladies held a bazaar and raised $300. So, in two months the purchase and moving of the hall were completely paid for. With willing workers and hours of labor, the jail and fire hall was soon turned into a Parish Hall. It was a two floor structure. In later years the second floor was declared unsafe and they had to remove it from the building and made it into one floor. The hall served the parish for 38 years. A unique feature of this two story building was the town jail. There was an ironed barred area under the stairs used as the jail. A parishioner, Wilf Collier took the iron bars and made a lych gate for the front entrance walk of the Church.”

And here is more of the same story, taken from the church’s 65 Anniversary Pamphlet. Also note the Lych gate, which was partially made from the old jail cell…

West Edmonton Fire Hall - Story

Possible Photograph

This photograph cannot be confirmed as the 2 storey West Edmonton (Calder) Fire Hall yet, but I can say that it is not the Beverly Fire Hall (which was brick), it is not the wooden Strathcona fire hall (which looked very different) and is not the wooden Exhibition Grounds fire hall (which was 1 1/2 storeys, not 2) and it is certainly not Fire Hall No. 1 (which was built in 1893 of brick). I realize that the approximate year for the photo below is circa 1900, but that just doesn’t seem to fit. So, I still feel like this could be the fire hall/jail that Calder once had. I will research more before I give a certain answer though…

West Edmonton Fire Hall - Possible Photo

EdHGIS: Fire Insurance Maps & Google Earth Imagery (w/ Henderson Directory Pages)

West Edmonton Fire Hall - Map and Directory Pages

Click image for larger version.

Fire Hall No. 9 (12040 – 88 Street)

According to “The Edmonton Fire Department: A Pictorial History, 1892-1986” this fire hall opened in 1915, operated for three months and was closed in 1916 due to motorization.

1915

Well, this is a different situation for me. There is no known photo of this fire hall, so all I can offer is the now view and the map showing where it was. If you have a photo of this one…even if it is a pile of bricks about to be hauled away…please contact me in the comments section below.

Google Streetview

No Known Photo - Fire Station No. 9 - 12040 88 Street - Now

EdHGIS: 1914 Fire Insurance Maps & Google Earth Imagery

No Known Photo - Fire Station No. 9 - 12040 88 Street - Completed 1915, Closed 1916 Due to Motorization

Fire Hall No. 2 (10016 – 104 Street)

Completed: 1908

Closed: 1961

The new Fire Hall No. 2 on 107 (built in 1992) has an old style to its architecture and its location is what one might expect for the city’s second fire hall, but this is neither the original building, nor the original location of Fire Hall No. 2. The original building dates over a hundred years ago and (before I get your hopes up for speaking the present tense) is gone. Check it out below and compare it to the new Fire Hall No. 2 as well (final image).

Circa 1910

PC006476 - Exterior view of a fire hall, firemen and horse-and-carriages in Edmonton, Alberta. - Fire Hall No. 2 - ca 1910

1930

An addition was added later in the fire hall’s life.

nd-3-5126a - Fire Hall No. 2, Edmonton, Alberta. - 1930

Google Streetview

nd-3-5126a - Fire Hall No. 2, Edmonton, Alberta. - Now

1930

Addition only…

nd-3-5126b - Fire Hall No. 2, 10016 - 104th Street, Edmonton, Alberta. - 1930

EdHGIS: 1914 Fire Insurance Maps & Google Earth Imagery

nd-3-5126a - Fire Hall No. 2, Edmonton, Alberta. - Map

New Fire Hall No. 2 (10217 – 107 Street : Google Streetview)

The architecture of this new fire hall fits in nicely with the remaining history in Edmonton’s downtown core, but it is too bad that the old fire hall had to be torn down at some point. Considering that this isn’t even at the same location, it’s not even as though it had to go for the sake of modernization. I wonder why Fire Hall No. 2 was torn down. Ideas?

nd-3-5126a - New Fire Hall No. 2 - Now