AFTER WORLD WAR II
AFTER WORLD WAR II
FAMILIES SETTLING IN THE BEVERLY AREA AFTER WORLD WAR II
A list of new generations of families who came to Beverly from all over the world. Rejuvenation after World War II meant new industries, schools and an active, vibrant community sports life.
Walter and Stella Baydala
Walter and Stella Baydala moved to Beverly in the spring of 1955 and started their Bay Drugs, a pharmacy that was to become a local landmark. The couple recalls that after considering several locations, they decided on a space at the comer of 118 Avenue and 39 Street.
“I recall that we rented the space from Louis Bury and that we weren’t sure that we could make ends meet, seeing as that we had no money and one small child. We opened up Bay Drug with some loans from our families and with a lot of hard work, we managed to stay afloat.”
In 1960, the Baydalas sold the drug store to Ron Helland and moved to Swan Hills. Three years later, they moved back and settled again in Beverly. Their Baydala Drugs on Jasper Avenue and 103 Street became a downtown fixture for many years.
ROGER AND MARY ANN BOURASSA
Roger and Mary Anne Bourassa came to Beverly in 1939 from Plamondon Alberta, Roger started working at the General Hospital where he worked untill 1941 when he found employment with Swifts Canada Ltd. and worked there until 1958. While at Swifts, he opened Beverly Cycle shop in 1949, and in 1950 built a home next to his dad Louis Bourassa Jr. at 4807 115 Avenue where he and Mary Ann raised two sons and one daughter Gerald, Don and Lynne. The house is still stands today.
Roger was well known in Beverly, particularly in the sport circles where he played an active role. Back In 1953, Roger and Steve Mucha took it upon themselves to provide a skating rink at the corner of 48 Street and 115 Avenue for the young crowd to practice hockey and to learn to skate.
After working his day at Swifts Canada Ltd., Roger would be seen building the rink with lumber, some of which came from packing crates from Swifts, flooding the rink to make ice and shoveling snow. A second rink was built behind the original one. The new rink was built with a recently developed product called plywood. The new rink is where most of the men’s broomball was played and the ladies played broomball on the older, smaller rink.
Along with Herb Hanson from the Beverly Lions Club, Roger organized hockey teams that were sponsored by the owners of Superior Cleaners, Marty and Charly Pouix. Marty and his business played a big part in sponsoring various Beverly sport teams, especially broomball which was played by adult players organized by Roger. Marty would make sure that there was a keg of beer handy for the teams to enjoy after the playoff games, which were held on
In 1953-1954 and in 1955, Roger was managing the Beverly Drake Baseball team when they won the Intermediate Baseball Association Championship three years in a row. During these years Roger organized recreational men’s, women’s and mixed teams that played softball at Floden Park.
He was offered the job of Park Supervisor for Beverly in 1959, looking after the baseball parks in the summer and running the Beacon Heights Skating rink in the winter, where he started an in house hockey league for the Beverly hockey players. Players were moved from team to team to make the teams more competitive with each other. These teams were sponsored by businesses such as Bay Drugs, Prins Electric, Beverly Cycle, Beverly Optimists and The Beverly Drake Hotel. The Drake Hotel would hold a banquet for the players after the season was over.
Roger added a residence on the back of the cycle shop at 4711 118 Avenue and he and his wife Mary Ann moved into it in 1960. In 1963, Roger sold the cycle shop and moved to Tofield where he bought a poolroom and bowling alley. The family moved back to Beverly in 1965 and Roger got a job working as a caretaker of the Flodan Park skating rink until his health would not let him do any more work.
Roger was honoured in 1972 with appreciation night for his sports activities by the Beverly Heights Community League and the Beverly Minor Hockey Association. Four years later, in 1976, the Warriors Athletic Club presented him with a plaque recognizing his effort for sports activities in the Beverly area.
Throughout the years, until he passed away on August 27, 1979 at the age of 64, Roger always had a bicycle shop somewhere. He did work for anyone who needed their bicycle fixed.
Roger and Mary Ann were residents of Beverly for 44 and 53 years respectively.
TOM AND MILLIE CROSS
In the late 1960s and 1970s, Tom and Millie Cross were known as “the couple that owns the rink.” Ice makers, caretakers, sports organizers, concessionaires and Jacks-of-all-trades, the couple exemplified the spirit of giving that built the Beverly Heights Community League from just a few memberships to the largest in Edmonton and grew the minor sports program from a handful of teams to more than 20 between 1960 and 1980. The rink shack they used became known as “Uncle Tom’s Cabin.”
With his excavation business operational only in the warmer months, Cross was able to devote thousands of hours every year to the community. In a 1978 Edmonton Journal article, he explained that his own experience as a boy taught him the value of participation. “I didn’t have the advantage of organized hockey as a boy, and I would argue you can’t over-organize at the minor levels to develop talent.”
Tom explained that the couple’s children Jim, John and Sharon had also benefited enormously from participation in community league activities. A tournament that Tom started for Mite hockey in the 1970s was later named the Tom Cross Tournament. Tragically, Tom died in a car crash in 1997 while returning from the American sun belt.
Tom was born on March 19, 1928 in Cutknife, Saskatchewan, the second youngest of seven children in a farming family. He grew up in the era of listening to Hockey Night in Canada on the radio and following the career of Gordie Howe, born just 12 days after him in another farming community in Floral, Saskatchewan. He was always very active and interested in all sports, but never had the opportunity to participate in organized hockey. He was also an avid reader of many subjects, and particularly liked biographies, politics and history.
When Tom was a young man he travelled off the farm to work and took jobs in construction and forestry. While travelling up the Alaska Highway to work, Tom met Millie who was managing a diner in Charlie Lake, BC at the time. A few years later they married and moved to Edmonton, first settling in the Jasper Place community, then making the move to Beverly. Tom and Millie raised three children in the community, John, Jim and Sharon. They strongly encouraged and actively supported their children’s activities, through fundraising, coaching, volunteering and participating at an executive level in many community league ventures and programs.
Tom was one of the original pioneers in organization of the Beverly community over the 1961-1964 time period. In the early years however, if someone wanted to skate and play hockey they had to go to Beacon Heights. Tom always believed that children in Beverly should have a place to skate in their own community. Recognizing the community needed funding to support the development of a rink and community hall, Tom was prepared to use his own home as collateral to secure a loan for these projects. The Beverly community rallied around Tom’s vision and initiative, and a number of investors stepped up to also assist with the funding required to get things kick started.
Right from the beginning, involvement in the community was a family venture. All three of Tom and Millie’s children benefited from their participation, and were active in repaying the community by volunteering and passing on valuable lessons in training and instruction they received. John is a law partner practicing in the City today who was involved in sports for years, including Double A hockey competition. Jim, was a member of a national junior hockey championship team and played for the Edmonton Oil Kings and later the Portland Winterhawks, and even a few games as an Edmonton Oiler in the WHA. Their daughter Sharon was involve in figure skating, baton, gymnastics and dancing through the community league. She also taught figure skating through the league.
Tom was seen as a catalyst and a doer, someone that others in the community looked up to and trusted for his opinion and support when new development initiatives were being considered. Once the Floden rink was built and the community hall was constructed in 1964-65, Tom stepped in was the icemaker, maintenance man and organizer of sports, that, besides hockey, included soccer, baseball and recreational and figure skating. Tom owned and operated a truck and tractor business in the City and was very busy during the construction season. In the winter months he cleared snow around the City and also used his tractor to keep the rink and parking area accessible for everyone. For over a dozen years (until 1977), many people thought of Tom as the ‘rink owner’.
He also served as vice president of the NE Zone athletic body for two years, hockey director with the Edmonton Maple Leafs for a year, community league president, and league hockey program director.
In 1977 Tom was hospitalized with a knee infection that required surgery and extensive rehabilitation. As a result, he could no longer spend all those long hours at the rink. He missed the rink and seeing all the kids and their parents during the winter. After selling the truck and tractor business Tom found other employment. He and Millie remained active in the community and continued to volunteer and support many events.
In 1981, they became the first managers of the Porta Place Senior Citizen’s apartment in
Beverly. For 11 years until their retirement in 1992, they managed the rental and maintenance of the apartment building and helped to place hundreds of Beverly and area senior citizens.
They knew so many people through their work in the community which made the transition easier for many seniors and their families. After their retirement, Tom and Millie were snow birds for a couple of months down in Mesa, Arizona. Tom always made sure though that their return to Edmonton from down south was in time for him to be home before the second week in January for the opening of the annual outdoor minor hockey tournament that was named after him – the Tom Cross Hockey Tournament.
Tragically, in January, 1997, Tom was killed in an automobile accident while returning home from Arizona to attend his hockey tournament. He was really looking forward to seeing all the kids and their parents, many of whom played hockey and skated at Floden years earlier when he managed the rink.
He always said he and the family got back more from the community than they ever contributed.
GROWING UP IN BEVERLY DURING THE ’50s
HONORE DAHLBERG WEST (nee GLOSSOP)
East of Edmonton on the north side of the North Saskatchewan River was a small farming community known as Beverly. It had one paved street, 118 Avenue and the rest of the roads were hard packed mud at best, with two sets of ruts for the cars and a cinder path on the side for the people. If you could find the path in the weeds you could walk without getting too muddy or worse, a boot full while walking a mile or so to the local schools.
The schools consisted of:
- A church style two room grade one class on 38th street;
- Old Black School with four classrooms and a gym in the basement;
- Central School (H-shaped) grades 1 to 6;
- Beverly Heights School grades 1 to 6;
- Beacon Heights School grades 1 to 6;
- Calvin Christian School, a Dutch School;
- Lawton Junior High School;
- St. Bernadette School
- St. Nicholas Catholic School and
- later R.J. Scott Elementary School, named after R.J. Scott, the Superintendent.
Once a year Mr. Scott visited every class I was ever in and looked at every ones work.
There was no high school. All the students had to go to Eastglen or O’Leary. It remains there is still no high school in Beverly. The teachers of the decade were: Mr. P.B. “Bob” Lawton, (Lawton Jr. High named after him). The janitorial custodians who looked after us during the noon hour were: Mrs. Pudluzny; Mr. Abbott; Mr. Hopkins; and Mr. Clybum.
Some of the aforementioned contributed 30 to 40 years of their career lives to the benefit of the Beverly students. The educational services were the finest anywhere in the area for the time. Each September Beverlyites would converge on Bill Lesicks Rexall Drug Store on 44 Street and 118 Avenue to get their school supplies.
In the 50’s we were given Vitamins and Cod Liver Oil, free-of-charge, and the Sturgeon Health Unit was there every year to make sure we were all immunized against every and all diseases known to man. We were also fed little half pints of milk daily to supplement our diets and to ensure that we were receiving a daily dose of calcium.
The playgrounds, after school hours, were the open fields and the riverbank. Our particular area was called “The Pines”, mainly for the trees but the last time I looked there were no pine trees, just the ever popular poplar. The “Cave” was also a noted spot of distinction. We were sure one day it would cave in. I believe it finally did cave in in the 70’s probably due to the paving and traffic of Ada Boulevard.
The sparsely housed area of 38th Street consisted of small pyramid, two room houses, clad with tar paper and a god’s eye window in the door. There were many of these houses in Beverly but also many other different styles as the area populated and grew throughout the years. Soon every street was “row housed” and the infrastructure changed with waterlines, sewer lines and power lines laid. Telephones poles crisscrossed the area and pavement was rolled out. Lastly sidewalks were added.
Walking to school in the 50’s was eventful. When the weather permitted, bicycles were the main mode of travel to school. There were no school buses. When we couldn’t take our bikes, it was walking or running depending on the time. There were many obstacles or excuses that could prevent or delay our arrival. These consisted of
- A slough crossing the road and walkways;
- Mrs. Miles cow in the middle of the road;
- Got a boot-full and had to go home;
- Got stuck in the mud and lost my shoe;
- My bike wheels got clogged with mud.
My personal favorite was Mrs. Miles cow. She was a beautiful tan colored Jersey, 16 times larger then myself I gave her no argument, I just went back home justified that I had given it, good effort. There I would find my father only too willing to drive me to school.
Another area of distinction in the realm of play was a rope swing that swung out over the river. It was just complete fun and I don’t remember ever being afraid of falling in. For some reason the rope was completely trustworthy.
Just a short walk away was the Beverly Dump. Someone told me there were bears there. I didn’t believe it, so I went there and sure enough, I saw five bears. Big Brown Bears. They weren’t the only wildlife. Coyotes howled every night. Pheasants were seen everywhere, and laid eggs just about everywhere as well. Rabbits hopped and popped up all along the riverbank. Even “Wild” horses lived and roamed free.
If we were allowed to venture to downtown Edmonton on the Beverly Bus Lines, the Beverly kids were just like any of the other kids with one exception; we were the ones with the muddy shoes, getting off the bus at the Union Bus Depot. The Beverly Bus tickets were 4 for 25 cents. The Edmonton City bus tickets were 8 for 25 cents.
One of the best things to do in Beverly on a Saturday was to ride our bikes to the Beverly Cycle shop and have Roger Bourassa, the owner, service our bikes. Then go across the street to the Avalon Theatre (the Ruptash’s) to the movies. The movie cost 15 cents and a horseshoe sucker was 10. The Avalon went on to become a bowling alley, a seniors drop-in centre and then a hall for the Beacon Heights Seniors Association.
The main artery of Beverly, 118th Avenue, had all the important buildings and landmarks on it. The Town Hall, the Cenotaph, the Slovak Hall, Club Embassy, Drake Hotel (still there), Sankoffs Store, Lagadyns Store, Kliciaks Store and the IGA Foodliner (now Welsh’s Saddlery). It was the business centre of the community complete with gas stations on every comer. It even had an air raid siren, a necessary part of life in the 50’s. If we ever heard it, we were instructed to go home.
Across from the Drake Hotel was the Quandum Cafe, the local hangout, but you’ll have to ask Gordon Procinsky about that (he was Beverly’s “The Fonz”-Happy Days). I wasn’t allowed to go there for reasons only a concerned parent could understand.
Beverly often had a distinct odor about it on days when the north wind would carry the fumes of the old creosote plant southward to the residential areas. There is nothing that resembles that smell. Beverly had other, more pleasant smells. The fall when harvest time came and went and all that was left of the gardens was the sweet smell of burning com husks and the roasting of potatoes in the bonfires burning throughout the fields and the yards.
The area was well known for the vegetable and floral gardens. Among theses were: Zaychuks; Tylers Flowers; Prinns and Vissers Farms. This was an era before television and kids played outside in groups of 10 and 20. Some of the popular games were baseball, kick the can, anti-anti eye over, and of course garden raiding. Halloween was always an event.
Besides the usual treats mostly homemade candy, popcorn balls and apples, tricks were big time. Knocking over outhouses was a favorite (this was before the arrival of sewers in much of the town). I remember one incident when a group of boys put an outhouse on the steps of the Old Black School and Mr. Lawton, who just happened to know who did it made them pick it up and put it back over the rightful hole with the instigator at the appropriate end. The boys who did this deed will remember this escapade vividly I’m sure.
Especially the smell. In the winter broomball and skating were poplular. Rinks like Mucha’s, Jubilee and Floden Park were the most popular with skating music playing on the loudspeakers. “Sail on Silvery Moon” and “Skaters Waltz” still echo in my mind.
Anyone else writing this story might have something different to say about their area, but this is how Beverly was as I remember it.
So this is my story of growing up on 38th Street and Ada Boulevard. Those days are gone along with the caragana hedges and frankly I miss the Old Beverly, a wonderful community to have grown up in. Too bad things have to change so much so soon.
Joe and Fran Holoiday
The First House
My parents moved to Beverly in 1935. They rented 10 acres of land on 39 Street and 122 Avenue. There was a house, barn and chicken house on that property. Dad had a team of horses, a cow, some chickens and ducks. We had a large garden and grew many vegetables. There were six boys and six girls in our family. I was 10 years old when we moved to Beverly from a farm near Camrose. Dad made a living by plowing gardens, hauling coal and digging basements. Dad held a small scrip and I drove the horses. We lived there till 1940.
Our Next House
Dad bought a few lots between 42 Street and 43 Street and built a house on 43 Street, just north of 118 Avenue. Lots were selling for $10.00 each. We also built a barn and chicken house on that property.
Beverly Central School
I went to school in a two-storey brick building. It had 4 classrooms and a basement. Each room had two grades. Grade 8 was the top grade. The school was located between 38 Street and 40 Street, on 116 Ave. I remember three teachers’ names – Miss Thompson, Mr. Gerrig and Mr. P. B. Lawton, who was our Principal. The school was heated with a coal furnace. There were no water or sewer lines in Beverly. We had to use outside toilets. Mr. Abbot was our janitor.
In the Neighbourhood:
- There was a small dance hall located where the Drake Hotel parking lot is located. They called it The Lady’s Club Rooms.
- Between 40 Street and 41 Street, north of 118 Avenue, there was a skating rink.
- On 39 Street where Shoppers Drug Mart (later, Pioneer Jewellery and Loan) is located there was a small grocery store and a house. It was owned by Mr. Hunter, and later sold to Mr. Brockie.
- Where the CIBC Bank is located was a two-storey brick building. It was the Red and White Store.
- People lived on the top floor and there was a store on the main floor.
- Between 44 and 45 Streets, north of 118 Avenue, Mr. Lasiwka owned a grocery store. Dad would buy groceries on a charge account and pay once a month.
- Between 45 and 46 Streets, north of 118 Avenue, Mr. Danilowich had a grocery store.
- On the east corner of 44 Street north of 118 Avenue, Reg Carter owned a garage and service station. He repaired my 1929 Model A Ford. The gas was 25.9 cents a gallon.
- From 44 Street to 46 Street, south of 118 Avenue, Mr. Zaychuk owned a large berry farm.
- On the East side of 46 Street, north of 118 Avenue there was the Slovac Hall, where they held dances and weddings. Many years later a Saddlery bought it. A few years later it burned.
- The Beacon Heights hall was originally of movie theater. The adult ticket price was 50 cents. After the theatre closed they converted it into a bowling alley.
- Bill Lesick owned a drug store where the Mohawk car wash and gas bar is located.
- There was a baseball diamond where the Crest Hotel is now.
- On the north side of 118 Avenue between 38 and 39 Streets, there was the Beverly town hall and a fire hall. They had a mayor and four people on town council. Mr. Johnston was the town policeman. A few years later they had two police.
- There was a Beverly Bus service which ran every hour. It dropped off the people at the Union Bus Depot.
- On the east side of 43 Street and 120 Avenue, the Beverly Coal Mine was located. It was owned by J. C. Clarke. Mr. Campbell was the night watchman. In the winter Dad would send two of us to get coal for the stove. On the mine property were large piles of coal. We had two sacks and a toboggan and we would fill them full of stove coal and haul them home. We did this at night.
- On 42 Street where I now live there was a deep ditch where the mine pumped the water from the mine. The ditch went to the river where the water drained. Close to Floden Park there was a lovers lane surrounded by large trees. There was a dirt trail where the lovers drove in at night. We would watch for a car to drive in, sneak under the car and plug a potato in the tail pipe. Then we would shake the car and run to the river bank.
- On weekends in Beverly there seemed to be a house fire every Saturday or Sunday. People were never home when it caught fire and burned. I think they wanted to collect fire insurance.
- Many people had no jobs. Many families collected relief from the province. It’s like welfare is now. Milk was 10 cents per quart. Bread was 5 cents per loaf. Pop and chocolate bars were 5 cents each.
- Mr. Bailey owned the first bicycle repair shop in Beverly. It was located at 48 Street and 121 Avnue.
- The Bush mine was located on 38 Street and Ada Boulevard.
- Mr. Curtis was the Justice of the Peace in Beverly. They held court in the town hall. He was also the Postmaster. He had a small post office just west of the Cenotaph.
- There was a skating rink on Mr. Mucha’s property, located on 48 Street and116 Avenue. We played a lot of broom ball on that rink.
- When I was 12 years old, I delivered the Edmonton Bulletin and Edmonton Journal to the miners and farmers in the Clover Bar area. There were three coal mines on the east side of the river. I had to use the railroad bridge to cross the river. There is a wooden sidewalk on the side of the tracks. I had a bicycle to deliver the papers. I went five miles each way. Many miners in Beverly worked in those mines east of the river. (Ottewell Mine, Marcus Mine, Black Diamond Mine)
- On 38 Street, north of 118 Avenue there was the first United Church in Beverly.
- On 38 Street and south of 118 Avenue, there was a Presbyterian Church. When I finished my grade 8 in the Beverly School, I then went to the Highlands School for grade 9.
- When I finished my year in the Highlands School, I had to go to work. I was delivering groceries with my bicycle for $10 a week. I also was an usher at the Dreamland Theatre for six months. When I was 17 years old, I got a job at Swift Can Packing Plant. My starting wage was 34 cents per hour. I worked for one year, and when I turned18 years old, I joined the Canadian Army in 1943. I was in Europe till 1946.When I came back from the army, I went back to Swifts to work. I was there for 43 ½ years. I retired in 1986.
I met my lovely wife Fran at a dance hall in Edmonton in 1947. On August 6 in 1949 we got married. We had the wedding dance in the Slovac Hall. We have two lovely daughters Joyce and Gloria. Also, we have two wonderful sons Brian and Perry. We have 10 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. As of 2013, we had two great, great granddaughters.
Alphonsus Leo McIlhargey
Chief of Beverly Police Department – 1951-1961
Written by Dale McIlhargey (son)
Alphonsus Leo McIlhargey was born in Lucan Ontario in 1889 and moved to Wetaskiwin in the 1920’s. He worked for a short time with Canadian Pacific Railways and then for many years was Chief of Police of Wetaskiwin.
He moved to Edmonton in 1944 where he worked as security for Canadian Pacific Airlines until the early 1950’s when he took the position of Chief of Police of the town of Beverly Chief McIlhargey soon established himself as an extremely fair but firm person. He had excellent people skills and a real ability to be able to diffuse most volatile situations with logic and discussion.
However, if diplomacy and discussion failed he was still able to handle the situation. Such was the case the time he was called to the Drake Hotel to investigate a man causing a disturbance. This time diplomacy didn’t work and the ensuing fight in the street in front of the hotel ended up with the man spending a night in the Beverly Jail to sober up.
Chief McIlhargey used his private vehicle, originally a 1950 green Chevrolet, and later a 1954 blue Pontiac, as police vehicles, both of which were fitted with a siren.
Police duties at the time were varied, consisting of many duties other than keeping the peace, traffic patrol, investigation etc. and it wasn’t uncommon to see Chief McIlhargey driving someone to the hospital or catching loose dogs and returning them to their owners before the dog catcher got them.
Also, there was a shortage of phones in the early 1950’s and with the police station having a phone, police duties very often included taking and relaying emergency messages to the citizens of Beverly who didn’t have phones.
In summary, Chief McIlhargey was extremely well liked and no one had a bad word to say about him, he retired from the Beverly Police Force in 1961 when the City of Edmonton annexed Beverly. He passed away in 1970.
When Bill Mucha began flooding part of his spacious backyard for a skating rink, he started a Beverly tradition that stretched over more than 20 years. Bill and his wife Tillie arrived in Beverly in the early 1940s from the Thorsby area, buying a huge parcel of land just off 48 Street and 116 Avenue.
Bill, who was a carpenter by trade, had owned and operated a sawmill and a grain mill business as well as several farms. He helped build several Beverly houses and jubilee Park, scrounged up some of the lumber for the construction of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church. But it was his decision to build a skating rink that made the Mucha name famous in Beverly.
His rink featured a cozy heated shack and amplifiers for night music. There was a ten cent charge, although mothers with preschool children were let in for free during the afternoons.
Evenings were fun nights with hockey games and public skating and on Sundays adults played broomball, while hundreds more came to watch the teams compete. Two women’s teams captained by Sophie Rybie and Jennie Bodnar were particular fan favourites.
As told by Nestor Waluk on June 12, 1998
Mr. Harry Waluk came to Beverly with his family in 1936. He built and ran a small grocery store on the comer of 44 St. and 118 Ave. Hard times during the depression necessitated that he work in the Beverly Coal Mine. The mine was located about 43 St. and 120 Ave. He worked there for several years, whenever work was available. Mr. and Mrs. Waluk had three sons and one daughter; Orest, Julian, Nestor (Zeke) and Helen (Mrs. John Paran). Orest moved to Ontario very soon after the family moved to Beverly. Helen became a nurse, graduating from the Royal Alexandra Hospital in 1943.
The first Beverly Town Hall was on 39 St. and 118 Ave. Municipal offices and fire hall were on the first floor. The town was run by a Council and a Mayor. On the second floor of the town hall building was a school room for grade one students. From grades two to eight, children went to the “big school” where R. J Scott School is now located. This was a two-storey four room school. The school room above the town hail was also used as a meeting room. At one time, the town went bankrupt and the council was disbanded. The provincial government took over the administration of the town (February 1937). Note: The original town hall was deemed unsafe in 1937. It was replaced by a one storey town hall on 38 Street and 118 Avenue.
Nestor (nick-named Zeke) attended grade one in the town hall school in 1937. His first teacher was Miss Hedgiss, who later became Mrs Wotherspoon. Going to the “big school” was a big deal especially when you got to grades 7 and 8 where the teacher was Mr. P. B. Lawton.
Mr. Lawton was a very good teacher and a confidant and counsellor to many of the kids for over thirty years in Beverly. He was also the school principal. In May of 1957, a school reunion was organized and the Lawton Junior High School was opened and hundreds of alumni came, some from as far away as California and the Yukon, to pay tribute to Mr. Lawton. It was a great night.
Other teachers were Miss Biollo (grades 2 and 3), Mr. O’Donnell, and Miss Mann. Mr. O’Donnell and Miss Mann joined the Air Force when the Second World War started. Another memorable personality was Mr. Abbott, the school custodian or janitor. He was custodian for many years and the Abbottsfield area of north Beverly was named after him.
There was no grade nine taught in Beverly. Kids went for the higher grades to Highlands School for grade 9 and Eastwood High School or Victoria High School for grades 10 to 12. Most from Beverly went to Eastwood.
At that time, the Town of Beverly consisted of small houses with root cellars, wells and outhouses. Many people kept a few animals; chickens, cows. They planted gardens, both large and small. Times were hard and people grew a lot of their own food.
The roads were graveled with pit run gravel which included big rocks making driving difficult and bumpy. Many of the sidewalks were covered with cinders from the Beverly Mine. There were wooden sidewalks over the low swampy areas. Not many people had cars. To go uptown one had to walk to the streetcar on 112 Ave. and 62 St. (the White Line) or 118 Ave. and 66 St. (the Blue Line).
Growing up in Beverly as a young boy was a lot of fun. There were a lot of wide open spaces and kids could roam around and explore. Pine Creek was a favourite place. We used to collect magpie and crows eggs and sell them for 5 cents each to the government. There was a bounty on these birds. You could also cut the feet off the young ones and sell them. Raiding gardens was another favourite pastime.
Watching the Men’s Baseball team was very popular with many people. The ball diamond was where the Beverly Crest Hotel is now situated. It was kind of a low area and the mosquitoes were very bad at times. I was quite young when I joined the Men’s team as they were short of players. I very much enjoyed playing ball. Going to tournaments was a big event. Several bus loads of people would go to these tournaments which took place in other towns such as Vegreville and Stony Plain.
During the war years many of the young men went into the forces. The economy improved during the first part of the war years. There was more work in the mines and around the city. There were two mines in the Beverly area. The Beverly Mine and the Bush Mine. The Bush Mine was located at about 36th St. on the river bank. Many Beverly people worked in the other mines located across the river in Clover Bar. The Black Diamond Mine was the biggest. It was where the Petrocan Refinery is now, but closer to the river bank. Two other mines were the Ottewell Mine and Marcus Mine. Many men also worked at the Creosote Plant just north of Beverly across the railroad tracks. This plant pressure treated rail ties and power poles with a preservative.
In 1945, Harry opened the Riverside Store at 50 Street and 114 Avenue with the help of his son Julian. When the war ended and times were better, another town council was formed (1948). After the war Calgary Power electrified the town in about 1946, which was a great improvement over the coal oil lamps. The gas line came in a few years before the sewer and water. The town started installing the sewer and water lines about 1953. When all utilities were finally installed, the town experienced a time
The entire Edmonton area was growing and the lots were less expensive in Beverly. Nestor began his building career in 1954. He later incorporated under the name of Skylark Construction Ltd. In 1956, Nestor was elected to serve on the Beverly Town Council. Other council members at that time were Mayor John Sehn, Councillors Sid Payne, Mike Chilmar, Kliciak, Elmer Hanson and Steve Zaychuk. The town secretary was Mr. Joseph Batty. There were very many meetings and much work because of the rapid growth of the town in the late 1950s. Nestor also served on the Edmonton District Planning Commission for two years.
After years of negotiations and requests to the city of Edmonton and the Provincial Government for amalgamation, the Town of Beverly became a part of the city of Edmonton on January 1, 1962. The town, with a small tax base, mostly from homes, was not able to provide adequate facilities, therefore amalgamation was desirable. After amalgamation the town seemed to lose some of its unique character, but will always remain a home town to many of us.
Rex, the German Shepard
When I attended Grades 7 and 8 in Mr. Lawton’s classes, my dog Rex, a German Shepard, would come to school and lay on the floor beside my desk. Mr. Lawton tolerated Rex until one day Mr. Lawton stepped on the dog and Rex let out a loud growl. P.B. said, “Take that dog out of here and don’t bring him back.”
I took Rex outside but as soon as a student went to use the outhouse, Rex came back into the school and laid by my desk. He was at my desk every day until the term ended.
The next school year when I went to Highlands School for Grade 9, Rex came to the Beverly School and slowly made an inspection of the students in Mr. Lawton’s classroom. As I was not there, he went out and never came back to the Beverly School.
STEPHEN AND MARY ZAYCHUK
Photo courtesy David and Ann Zaychuk
Started as the first commercial small fruit operation in Western Canada during the Depression years, Zaychuk Farms has grown to be one of the biggest and longest operating family-run produce growers in the province.
The venture was started by Stephen Michael Zaychuk, who was born in Bruzuchowicze, Poland on February 2, 1908 and emigrated to Canada in 1927. Eight years later he married the former Mary Kobewka of Beverly and that very year he began growing strawberries on property along 44th Street.
The story goes that Justice H.H. Parlee gave him $200 to start the venture and said that if the business prospered, he could repay the money, but if it did not, Zaychuk owed him nothing. In 1943, Zaychuk successfully grew Concord grapes outside and later he expanded the fruit operation by propagating fruit trees for the local climatic conditions.
In 1952, Zaychuk was elected to Beverly town council and then returned to office three more times, serving nine years until amalgamation with Edmonton at the end of 1961. That year, he and his son David joined as partners to form Zaychuk Nursery and Vegetable Farms Limited and acquired land east of Namao.
With the guidance of Mr. Zaychuk as president, the company became the largest fresh vegetable growers in Alberta and continued to grow and prosper until a tragic end to the story. Stephen Zaychuk was killed in a car accident in Little Fort, BC on April 4, 1973. The family has carried on the tradition he so tenaciously began.