John Walter Houses

John Walter emigrated from Scotland in 1870 to work as a boat builder at Fort Edmonton. After leaving the fort, Walter quickly established himself as an entrepreneur who dabbled in various businesses including a general store, boat construction, lumber mill, blacksmith operation, ferry service, steamboat freight and passenger line, and coal mine. Aside from his various business ventures, Walter was a major influence in community affairs and was a visionary in the process of transforming Edmonton from a fur trade post into an emerging western metropolis.

John Walter’s first house, built in 1875, was the first residence on the south bank of the North Saskatchewan River (the district was later named Walterdale). The home is a small, single storey house made of horizontal logs with dovetail joints and cedar shingles on the A-frame roof. The buildings were minimally insulated by chinking with a mixture of mud and straw between the logs. As the oldest surviving house on the south side, this home served as an office for various businesses and also housed Edmonton's first telegraph office.

Walter’s second home, built in 1884, was constructed much the same way as the original house (horizontal log with dovetail corners, A-frame roof), but was somewhat larger due to Walter's business successes and the need to accommodate his growing family.  

Built in 1901, John Walter’s third house was a significant departure from his two earlier residences. The house was once again built by John Walter himself, this time in the Queen Anne style. This home is far more ornate and features refined Victorian details such as trim in the gable ends, turned porch columns, and a two storey bay window. It was built mainly of spruce but also with some poplar and birch, and was insulated with wood shavings from John Walter’s mill. At the time it was built, it was one of the larger homes in Edmonton, and it was also one of the first to have electricity. It was moved from its original location under the High Level Bridge in 1974 to be closer to the two other homes that make up the John Walter Museum. Ironically, the original interior was modernized to provide office space for the Fort Edmonton Historical Foundation. In 1985, and again in1998, it was damaged by fire, believed to be caused by arson, and it cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to restore the house.

 

 


Structure Details

Address 9180 Walterdale Hill, Edmonton, AB T6E 2V3
Neighborhood River Valley: Walterdale
Time Period Urban Settlement: 1870-1904
Year Built 1875/1886/1901
Type Residential
Architectural Style
Character Defining Elements Bay window , Clapboard siding , Corner boards , Gable roof , Gingerbread trim , Horizontal log structure , Intersecting gable roof , L shape footprint , Nailed frame structure , Half storey , Porch , Rectangular footprint , Stained glass , Two storeys

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