Old Strathcona is a historic district in south-central Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Once the commercial core of the separate city of Strathcona, the area is now home to many of Edmonton's arts and entertainment facilities, as well as a local shopping hub for residents and students at the nearby University of Alberta. Many of the area's businesses are owner-operated but, chains have also made inroads. A good proportion of Edmonton's theatres and live-performance venues are also in the area. The district centres on Whyte (82) Avenue and has shops, restaurants, bars and buskers.
Whyte Avenue, historic buildings blend with youthful exuberance to make Old Strathcona one of Edmonton’s trendiest neighbourhoods. The city's celebrated arts and cultural community make its home here, as does a plethora of unique local boutiques, one-of-a-kind art galleries and music shops, and trendy restaurants and cafés.
After the amalgamation of the cities of Strathcona and Edmonton, Strathcona went into an economic slump and little re-development occurred, allowing many of the area's old buildings to continue to the present day. In the 1970s, the Edmonton city council bought many properties along 104 Street in preparation for a freeway through the historic area. A "Save-the-district" movement emerged and the plan was abandoned. Old Strathcona then became more Bohemian in tone, as well as performing its historic purpose of supplying goods and services to local residents, students at the nearby University of Alberta, and residents of the nearby County of Strathcona whose county offices would first be located in Old Strathcona.
The Strathcona Hotel, the first building built after the arrival of the railway that had established the hamlet of South Edmonton in 1891 (leading to the town and city of Strathcona) has been in operation ever since (excepting the period of Prohibition, 1916-1923), and other bars were never absent from the district. However, in the 1990s, many new bars were established in Whyte Avenue buildings that had previously held offices and shops. The area's night-time ambience began to change dramatically. The area has attracted media attention over the years for its revelry.
Over time, the area has become the premier entertainment strip in Edmonton and is the locale for events such as the Edmonton International Fringe Festival. Although it has lacked alternative music venues since the 1990s heyday, there is a strong revival of music venues on Whyte Avenue with several offering live entertainment for various genres. The primary location for clubs and nightlife is on Whyte Avenue between 99 and 109 Streets, with the majority of clubs directly on Whyte Avenue or on adjacent side streets.
Whyte Avenue arguably remains the centre of Edmonton's alternative lifestyles, containing various independent clothing and other types of shops catering to a variety of alternative subcultures (ranging from hippie to raver to goth etc.). Clothing is the fastest growing business trend in the area, with retailers all along the avenue. Old Strathcona is a bastion of small, local and independent business.
There are a number of restaurants in this area, many locally owned. Several of the bars also have kitchens. In total, there are almost 100 places to eat in Old Strathcona.
Old Strathcona is home to a vibrant independent theatre scene, with nine theatre companies operating out of several buildings in the neighbourhood, including the Varscona Theatre and The Walterdale Playhouse. The Varscona Theatre alone is home to several award-winning companies:
Teatro la Quindicina
Plain Jane Theatre Company
The variety show That's Terrific!
Improvisation troupe Die-Nasty
Every August, Old Strathcona plays host to the Edmonton International Fringe Festival, the largest and oldest Fringe Theatre event in North America. Edmonton historian Lawrence Herzog called the diversity of material being produced in the Old Strathcona Theatre District "wide and astonishing."
Old Strathcona is also known for its art-house theatres, The Princess Theatre and the Garneau Theatre. In 2011, Edmonton's Metro Cinema Society took over management of the Garneau Theatre, while The Princess continued to be operated by Magic Lantern Theatres.
Old Strathcona celebrates all year long. January brings Ice on Whyte, a sculpting competition and outdoor ice playground. June features Improvaganza, an invitational international improv festival, hosted by Rapid Fire Theatre.
In mid-July, the Whyte Avenue ArtWalk puts more than 230 working artists on the sidewalks of Old Strathcona, and on the final Sunday of Artwalk, Whyte Avenue closes the entire street for a massive Street Sale.
In August, the Edmonton International Fringe Festival welcomes hundreds of thousands of theatre-goers and festival patrons. The fall brings the Chante Festival and many events during the Edmonton Halloween festival.
Old Strathcona has a year-round farmers' market that requires all vendors to be primary producers. Edmonton's market garden industry finds an average of 10,000 customers every Saturday.
Ritchie is a residential neighbourhood in southeast Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. It is named for Robert Ritchie, the original owner of the Ritchie Mill and former mayor of the City of Strathcona. The population of Ritchie enjoys good access to the nightlife of nearby Old Strathcona and the Mill Creek Ravine.
The neighbourhood is bounded on the north by Whyte Avenue, on the south by 72 Avenue, and on the east by the Mill Creek Ravine. The west boundary, south of 79 Avenue runs along 100 Street. North of 79 Avenue, the west boundary runs along 101 Street and 102 Street. Whyte Avenue provides good access to the University of Alberta. 99 Street, which passes through the neighbourhood, provides good access to the downtown core.
In the City of Edmonton's 2012 municipal census, Ritchie had a population of 4,194 living in 2,561 dwellings, an 11.5% change from its 2009 population of 3,761. With a land area of 1.25 km2 (0.48 sq mi), it had a population density of 3,355.2 people/km2 in 2012.
According to the 2001 federal census, almost one in four (24.4%) of the residences in Ritchie were built prior to the end of World War II. Another one in three (35.6%) were built between the end of the war and 1960. One in ten (10.8%) were built during the 1960s and one in ten (9.5%) were built during the 1970s. One in eight (13.0%) were built after 1990.
The most common type of residence in the neighbourhood, according to the 2005 municipal census, is the single-family dwelling. These account for three out of every five (60%) of the residences in the neighbourhood. Another one in three (32%) are rented apartments and apartment-style condominiums in low-rise buildings with fewer than five stories. Most of the remaining residences are duplexes (4%) and row houses (3%). Just over half of the residences (55%) are owner-occupied while the remaining 45% are rented.
Schools (There are three schools in Ritchie):
Escuela Mill Creek School is an elementary International Spanish Academy operated by the Edmonton Public School Board (EPSB). The school was built in 1946 and became a bilingual Spanish-only school in 2007. A replacement school building was approved in 2014, with the construction of the $11.5 million replacement building adjacent to the original building starting in October 2017 and expected to be completed in 2018.
École Joseph-Moreau is a French Catholic junior high school operated by the Greater North Central Francophone Education Region No. 2. École Joseph-Moreau is housed in what was formerly the EPSB's Ritchie Junior High School. The school opened in 1913, with extensions built in 1954, 1956, and 1975. The original 1913 building is only used to house the complex's boiler system. The EPSB school was closed in 2008, and the francophone school board leased the building in 2009, purchasing it in 2016. A $15-million project announced in March 2017 will replace the original building and is expected to house 500 students by 2020. This will be the first new francophone school building in Edmonton.
The Learning Store on Whyte is a small outreach program for high school students operated by the EPSB.
In the spring of 2017, a collaborative community building called Ritchie Market opened on 96th Street and 76th Avenue. This unique space houses several local businesses including a cafe, butcher, a restaurant, and a brewing company.