Charming, classy, and cultured. Three of many words that you could use to describe Jasper Avenue. Stretching east to west, north of the North Saskatchewan River, this iconic avenue begins around 97 Street. It links together neighbourhoods, including Grandin and Oliver, before finishing at the turn onto 124 Street.
Jasper Avenue was named after Jasper Hawes. Originally from Missouri, Hawes was the manager of a trading company. A notable role of his was as commander of a trading post on Brule Lake, later known as Jasper’s House. As the early 1900s rolled on, there were several large changes to Jasper Avenue, including scheduled streetcar operations, a real estate boom, and the decision to number Edmonton’s streets – Jasper Avenue has always kept its original name. To accommodate for the influx of newcomers and subsequent traffic, Edmonton’s very first street lights were implemented on Jasper Avenue and 101 Street in 1933.
The character of Jasper Avenue was said to have come from developments made around wartime, in the early to mid 1900s. Around the 30s and 40s, there was an eclectic theatre and nightlife scene, accented with lively attractions. At one point, Jasper Avenue was tagged “The Great White Way”!
Though there are still a few recognizable structures and signs (the Fairmont MacDonald Hotel, for example), much of Jasper Avenue’s character was said to have been lost over several developments that occurred in the 70s, onward to this present day. What was once known as a vibrant shopping district has become a touch more corporate but at the same time, incredibly trendy. While shopping expanded to other areas of the city, such as the West Edmonton Mall, Jasper Avenue has welcomed unique and diverse establishments, spanning from high class restaurants to niche retail, and everything in-between.
Some may say that Jasper Avenue lost a bit of history after the war era. We prefer to see it as Edmontonians writing a new chapter. We are utilizing every opportunity to create and better this magnificent avenue. We will always remember the history and early beginnings of Jasper Avenue, carrying them forward into our new ventures!