Edmonton Tourist: Emily Murphy House

I was researching Garneau, a community in Edmonton, for a new novel I am writing and I stumbled upon Emily Murphy’s house. I knew she lived in Edmonton when she arrived west in 1907. I didn’t give much thought to where she lived. I was looking around google maps looking for a specific architectural style needed for my story. I knew it was in the area between the High Level Diner and the river valley, but I zoomed out a bit to see what else was in that neighbourhood and a pin was marking her house.

I am not a stranger to the University of Alberta. I worked in the area for years, attended classes on campus, and worked production on the Indoor Games held at the Butter Dome. I would run all over the commons and quad, check out the public art and dine at the locals like Sugar Bowl and High Level Diner. My friend Jenny even lived on the same street at the Murphy House and I never knew it.

Emily Murphy House is located 11011 – 88 Ave on the 88 Ave common. It’s a road that only has vehicle access occasionally, usually during student move in time. The house is surrounded by student housing for the University of Alberta. The student housing was originally built for the 1983 Universiade Games as athletes village. (I remember those games and spent the entire summer on campus watching events and games. It was a great summer.) The tree lined common is typical of the area, well, typical of most of the older Edmonton neighbourhoods, with elm boulevard trees.

The house was not marked from street view, I had to walk right up to the stairs before I found the historical marker. It was built in 1912. Emily Murphy didn’t move into the home until 1917 and lived there until her death on 1933. I stood there for a moment thinking about the significance. She was an activist and author in her own right, but also part of the Famous Five. The group of Canadian white women who fought for the right to be people under the law in the infamous Persons Case. That is some big history in this house. The Person’s Case happened in 1929. Big meetings happened in that house. I found that cool. It still surprises me that I hadn’t thought about where Emily Murphy might live. The park that bears her name is straight north of the house in the river valley and there is a statue that commemorates her and her contributions. I also had been there but not in a few years. It is one of my favourite places for a picnic though. Check it out if you are in the area.

I guess my point is, Edmonton is full of history and interesting things to look at. You don’t need to go to other cities or countries to be a tourist. You can do it in your own backyard.

Stay healthy everyone.

Picnic Table Topics To Go

Chicken Hawk gave me a box of Picnic Conversation Topics for my birthday. No it’s not anywhere close to my birthday, but that’s how we roll. We stick gifts in our respective purses and wait for 15 opportune moments to pass before we give each other our gifts! I of course thanked her and said, “Seriously? You think my family EVER runs out of things to talk about?” So when Picnic season starts, I will bring these little gems with me for conversation starters around the fire while we are making s’mores.

Thanks Chicken Hawk!

Meanwhile, I took a peek at these cards.

  1. How much dirt is it okay to eat? Hmm, if it is worms and dirt pudding – all you can eat. If it is dirt from the ground, I choose none, although I have eaten some by accident and lived to talk about it.
  2. How much money would it take for you to eat a worm in your sandwich? Gross, but I have a price. It would have to be enough for me to be debt free for life.
  3. What is your favorite sandwich? Grilled Pear and Brie. Followed closely by grilled peanut butter.
  4. What is the best picnic food? My mom’s rice crispy squares.
  5.  What is the most beautiful park in your area? Emily Murphy
  6. What celebrity would you be least surprised to see to day? Nathan Fillion? Jerome Iginla? Mark Messier?
  7. Where are some interesting places you’ve taken a picnic? Christmas Tree hunting in a lodge pole pine forest. It was -10C.
  8. What sandwich do you like that no one else does? Jam and Cheese – Cuban Style.
  9. Would you rather picnic at the beach or the mountains? Beach in Alberta means stink and algae, I’ll choose Mountains and take my chances with the bears.
  10. What do you ponder while gazing at the clouds? Would you believe World Peace? I didn’t think so. Travel destinations.
  11. What is the most unusual thing you know how to do?

They all left me with a definitive answer, except one. What is the most unusual thing you know how to do? I thought about this for a very long time. I can face paint, make balloon animals, quilt, build stuff, but the MOST unusual? Hmmm

Years ago I was in a relationship with a guy who liked to think he was Grizzly Adams…He was not. He hated spending money on pre-made stuff. The guy made his own wallet, cab for his truck, canoe, boat lift, lathe, and a bazillion other things. Nothing was aesthetically pleasing, they often cost MORE than buying the item in the first place and it was hugely time consuming. The thought of giving the bank a chance to lend him money for a mortgage was inconceivable. He wanted to live mortgage free and build his own house. Sadly, that meant I needed to help.

We bought land, a tractor, a backhoe, a drag-line, logs and 2 chainsaws. All of these items were not brand new, so months were spent working on them to make the usable. It fell upon me to peel the logs for a log home. These logs were 2 feet in diameter. The standard draw knife at LeeValley Tools was too small and my knuckles had no skin left by the end of the day. So, I made myself a draw knife. I took a spring from the old Ford F150 from the back of the property, ground an edge and welded two handles on it. That right, I can weld. It isn’t pretty, but I could do it. I peeled 150 logs all by myself. My draw knife was a heavy but very efficient.

I suppose the answer would be make my own Draw Knife.

There isn’t one thing about that relationship I look back on and fondly remember except it made me strong physically so I could punch him when I left. Not that I did…But I could have and that makes me smile.