|The Lambton Block was built by a prominent Edmonton lawyer and politician and designed by a prominent Edmonton architect, but neither of their names were Lambton. The three-storey building at 11035 97th Street, was constructed in 1914 by John Robert Boyle and named for his home county of Lambton in Ontario.|
The lot on which it was to be built, on the corner of what was then Namayo Avenue and Thompson Avenue, was an irregularly shaped chunk of land. To overcome the constraints of the site, Edmonton architect Roland Lines came up with a six- sided structure. The building featured four stores on the main level and two dozen apartment suites on the top floors.
Interior adornments included gleaming hardwood floors and trim, wood spindled stairway and bannisters, transom windows over suite entry doors and four skylights on the top floor. There were bachelor and one-bedroom suites, some with fireplaces and bathrooms and some without. Common ladies and gentlemens bathrooms were found on each floor.
Lines, who died in 1916 at the age of 39 while fighting in the First World War, worked in Edmonton as an architect for barely a decade early in the 20th century. And yet his mark on the city remains indelible. His commissions between 1906 and 1915 included the Strathcona Collegiate Institute (constructed between 1907 and 1909), schools named for Alex Taylor (1908) and Norwood (1909), the Union Bank Inn and the Canada Permanent Building (both 1910).
Roland Lines treasures lost to time include the Royal Alexandra Hospital (1911) and the Exhibition Stock Pavilion, better known as the Edmonton Gardens (1914). In all, he designed more than 20 public and private structures in the city - and the Lac La Biche Inn.
Research by renowned historian Ken Tingley, available at the City of Edmonton Archives, reveals that when the building permit for the Lambton Block was issued on June 23rd, 1914, the estimated cost of construction was $25,000. The general contractor on the project was Read-Macdonald-Brewster, a local firm with offices in the Tegler Building. James I. Brewster lived in Banff and was a prominent member of the Brewster family which first developed the Banff area.
Early tenants included many doctors and nurses, who worked at the nearby Royal Alexandra Hospital, which had opened in 1911. In 1928 and 1929, the top floor of the Lambton Block became the Nurses Home for the hospital, until the large new Nurses Home opened at the hospital itself at the end of 1929.
After the Second World War, the neighbourhood around the Lambton Block began to evolve. The Blue Cross Animal Hospital, Edmontons first treatment centre for small animals, was opened in 1948 by Dr. Alex Rattray, a veterinary surgeon. The four stores on the main level were converted to apartments and a darker brick added to the facade.
In 1979, the Lambton Block was purchased by Martin Hattersley, who became president and leader of the federal Social Credit party. Hattersley was the man who terminated teacher Jim Keegstras party membership for anti-Semitic views and resigned as president when Keegstra was later reinstated.
Then theres the story of the Honourable John Robert Boyle, who was one of the most prominent and influential politicians during the first years of Albertas provincial history. He was an alderman, elected to Edmonton City Council in 1904 and then won as a Liberal in Albertas very first election in 1905.
Boyle was born in 1870 or 1871 (reports conflict) at Sykeston, Ontario, near the city of Sarnia. His parents were Scots and Irish and, when his father died in 1884, young John suddenly had the responsibility for a family of nine with barely 14 years of age. Although he had to leave school to support the family, Boyle was able to complete high school while attending Sarnia Collegiate Institute in 1888 and 1889.
In 1894, Boyle travelled west to learn law at Regina Normal School and in 1896 he moved to South Edmonton (now Strathcona) and took up residence at the Hotel Edmonton (renamed the Strathcona Hotel in 1899). He taught school for the next three years before being admitted to the Bar of the Northwest Territories in 1899.
He entered into partnership with Judge Hedley C. Taylor under the firm name of Taylor & Boyle, which later became Boyle, Parlee, Freeman, Abbott & Mustard. Boyle married Dora Shaw in 1902 and the couple had three children. While representing Sturgeon Constituency from 1905 through 1921, he served as Albertas Deputy Speaker, Minister of Education and Attorney General.
Boyles part in the Alberta Great Waterways Railway scandal debate, in which he introduced the Boyle Resolution to expropriate the rights of the railway companies and vest them in the province, endeared him to voters for many years afterwards. He became leader of the opposition in 1922 when Herbert Greenfields United Farmers of Alberta defeated Clifford Siftons Liberal government.
Boyle was appointed to the Supreme Court of Alberta in 1924 and it was a position he held until his death in 1936. His visible legacy includes the building he built nearly 90 years ago, which endures virtually unaltered, with many of the original interior finishes still intact.
Boyles name graces the Edmonton inner city neighbourhood of Boyle Street and the Alberta town 70 km north of Edmonton. Fittingly, Boyle is located adjacent to the Alberta Great Waterways Railway line -- the very one that triggered the great kerfuffle all those years ago.
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