When it comes to one of the most desirable neighbourhoods to live in Edmonton, the enchanting west end neighbourhood of Glenora stands out. An established oasis of tall canopied trees, lush landscapes and grand homes rich in history is mixed in with impressive modern architectural abodes to combine for a picture perfect image of living the best life.
A stone’s throw away from some of the city’s most popular trails and stunning sights along the River Valley, this community of over 3,500 residents, is close to the exceptional amenities, trendy restaurants and High Street boutique shops of 124th Street. Glenora is bordered by 107 street to the north and 142nd Street to the west, where the up and coming spectacular West Block luxury residential towers and urban plaza will reside. Glenora residents enjoy quiet streets where they can walk, bike and stroll to parks. There are four excellent schools and a daycare nearby for the little ones. Grown-ups can enjoy favourite hang outs like Vi’s for Pies and the new hot spot, Columbian Coffee Bar. With the future Stony Plain Road LRT stop that will link the west end of the city to nearby downtown and the University of Alberta, the central location of this charming modern day community can’t be beat.
An Old Glenora famous spot …and trendy new shop
History in the Making
Glenora proudly features Edmonton’s first and finest estates. The land was initially acquired by Malcom Groat, who worked for the Hudson’s Bay Company until the 1870’s. In 1906 the area changed hands to James Carruthers who purchased the land and named the prestigious community. He ensured that all homes be detached or semi-detached and developed for at least $3,500. Commercial development was limited and street cars and bridges linked the established neighbourhood to the rest of the city. The Lieutenant Governor’s residence was erected and the monumental Alexander Circle & Fountain was developed in the heart of the community. Glenora’s distinct historical foundation took shape as the best architects designed impressive period homes for well-to-do professionals who flocked to the area.
It was this interesting, cultured past that first lured Jill Davies-Shaw and her husband to Glenora. “When we were younger we would walk in the area and enjoy the architecture. It’s a unique pocket with historic homes and aesthetic – there’s a specialness to it.” Inspired by period architecture on a trip to the American East Coast, Jill randomly spotted a captivating 1927 Glenora property on the Edmonton market in an MLS listing and the couple couldn’t resist. “It was the house that drew us in” she explains, “the fact that it still had a lot of architectural integrity was really appealing to us.”
Jill and her husband purchased the two story home in 2014, and the couple’s renovations over the years have been to respectfully preserve its original look and feel. This includes reproduction period lighting, restoring the original kitchen cabinets from the 1920’s and installing authentic subway ceramic tiles they sourced from a company in Chicago.
The stately character home has even made the City of Edmonton historic inventory list. “I think architectural connection to a city's history is essential in every way,” says Jill. “The varied architectural styles, craftsmanship and detail, and storied pasts, add to the charm and romance of the area. Heritage homes offer a glimpse into our history as a city, and we feel much like caretakers of our home. It's a home that has been home to so many before us, and its story lives in the walls. From little marble thresholds between the bathroom floors and hardwood, to art deco soap nooks, and a 2x4 tool rack in the basement stamped with a previous owner (from the 1950's name) - every detail holds history.”
The house has a cozy, warm ambience that blends traditional features with a creative modern touch. Throughout the neighbourhood, there’s an interesting mix of period designs as Glenora developed slowly over time. “Right next door to us, is a home built at the turn of the century that represents a different type of architecture style. It’s nice to see the diversity all around.”
Check out this architecturally stunning Glenora property complete with sweeping views of the river valley nestled in a quiet location along Ravine Drive:
Jill, who works with her husband running a successful digital marketing company, enjoys many other aspects of their property including close proximity to work and their daughter’s school nearby. “We have the best of everything. We can walk outside to a nature ravine or hop on a bike and go for dinner downtown.” Coming from a previous neighbourhood where Jill laughingly admits she “met two neighbours in 16 years” - the family made instant connections with Glenora neighbours. Her daughter walks with friends to school and she adds, “I feel a level of comfort. When she goes out to play there are people up and down the street, looking out for her, I couldn’t have anticipated this before, and it’s wonderful.”
Above: Glenora School, Built in 1940
Branching out in the Community
This type of natural, inviting neighbourhood is exactly what Brad Colcy often dreamed of and is now a reality for his young family. The City of Edmonton firefighter grew up in the north end where he spent his summers “basically outside from sun up to sun down.” Brad and his wife moved into Glenora in 2014 and also loved the unique layout and look and feel of their home. However, they eventually made the choice to build new on their lot, and the first-time expectant parents are thrilled they will have a larger Tudor style home ready for their baby. Their house overlooks Glenora Park and hall, where there is a lovely playground, spray park, hockey rink, tennis and basketball courts – important community perks for this active Dad-to-be. “We are so lucky, we didn’t have to relocate, and we’re just across the way from amenities I want to be accessible for my kids’s youth. “
Above: Having a ball at Spring League Glenora Mini Sports
Brad wants to ensure the quality of life persists in the ever changing neighbourhood. His passion for the community has lead him to become actively involved on the Glenora Redevelopment Committee, which is working on updating the park, fields and green spaces. Plans are in the works for a new rink, pickle ball courts, and possible volleyball and skateboard area for kids. The active millennial bikes through the river valley to work, and would love to see fitness equipment in the park for local athletes added into the layout. In addition he is a big advocate for gardens and a food forest in the green space, supporting the idea of planting shrubs and fruit trees available for residents to pick. “I always admired how beautiful the area is, and when I moved in, I took a closer look and researched what people did before, and realized it’s a good time now to carry on the tradition.”
Brad is referring to the planting of the gorgeous landmark canopy trees that grace the streets of Glenora. Glenora’s neighbourhood design was based on the popular "Garden City” movement complete with tree lined curving streets in a nod to English parksides. Throughout the 1920s, the Edmonton Tree Planting committee organized digging in forests surrounding the city, where locals brought back native birches and evergreens to town. Homeowners took on the responsibility of digging holes and planting the trees on their boulevards, following directions provided in leaflets that were distributed door-to-door. With everyone working together a vast number of trees were planted in just ten years.
Brad values the historic horticultural legacy and believes with the new redevelopment plans “there’s an opportunity now to continue the work started over 100 years ago by adding trees and greenery to our community, and improving quality of life for all.”
Gardens & Giving
Brad’s green appreciation and drive to give back is a common feeling you’ll find in this intergenerational community. Sheila Taschuk and her husband have lived in their Glenora bungalow for the past 15 years. Growing up with a farm background, the IT systems analyst has a side passion for gardening and heads up the long running Glenora Gardening Club. The group meets once a month year round where they have topical discussions, guest speakers, tastings of their fruit liquor creations (like delicious apple jack whiskey and rhubarb raspberry liquor), and get togethers for spring clean up at the hall. Many members take part in Edmonton’s popular Front Yards in Bloom, in fact over 300 Glenora resident yards are typically nominated in the program each year.
A Glenora resident gets ready for Front Yards in Bloom 2019 (located next to the Glenora neighbourhood “Little Library” book share box)
Sheila also generously lends her green thumb skills and is part of a unique Garden Yard Share program in the neighbourhood. She plants flowers and vegetables with Zoe, a 77-year-old who is unable to manage a garden on her own. This works well for Sheila too, as her backyard is limited for room. Over the years they’ve enjoyed bumper crops of corn, cabbage, radishes, beans, potatoes, kale, spinach, lettuce...and zucchini!
Above: Sheila and Zoe Going Green together
During the summer, Sheila regularly walks over to Zoe’s to maintain the garden and share in the bounty. And in the meantime she’s cultivated a friendship with the senior. “It’s a huge uplift for her. Growing things can bring positive mental health, warmth to the heart and smile to the face of others. And there’s something really calming to the spirit by putting your feet and hand into the soil and connecting to the earth.”
Whether it’s taking care of beautiful historical homes, flourishing trees and gardens, - or looking out for each other — the diverse neighbours of Glenora are inspired to nurture their environment and enhance the qualities of a good life. Community League supporter Brad Colcy who embodies the new energy of the neighbourhood, lives by a favourite quote that sums it up : “To make us love our city, we must make our city lovely" Gladys Reeves, Edmonton Tree Planting Committee, 1923. And the residents of Glenora, past and present, have done just that.
If you’d like to live the dream of owning a fine home rich in history, character and charm - take a moment to stroll through the timeless, inviting, enchanting neighbourhood of Glenora. The place where neighbours connect, pride of ownership shines through and a solid foundation has been laid as one of the best places to live in Edmonton!