The streets of Canada: JASPER AVENUE

This is boom street. A fur boom started it. The Klondike gold boom saved it. A legendary land boom shaped it. Now, with Edmonton’s oil boom, it’s busting out again

Ray Gardner September 13 1958

The streets of Canada: JASPER AVENUE

This is boom street. A fur boom started it. The Klondike gold boom saved it. A legendary land boom shaped it. Now, with Edmonton’s oil boom, it’s busting out again

Ray Gardner September 13 1958

The streets of Canada: JASPER AVENUE

This is boom street. A fur boom started it. The Klondike gold boom saved it. A legendary land boom shaped it. Now, with Edmonton’s oil boom, it’s busting out again

Ray Gardner

Carved on the stone façade of the Hudson’s Bay Company's modern department store on Jasper Avenue, the wide winding main street of Edmonton, are two heroic figures symbolizing the opening and the settling of the west—a fur trader, musket in hand, and a farmer, toiling behind his primitive plow.

Oarved on the stone façade of the Hudson’s Bay Company's modern department store on Jasper Avenue, the wide winding main street of Edmonton, are two heroic figures symbolizing the opening and the settling of the west—a fur trader, musket in hand, and a farmer, toiling behind his primitive plow.

They tell, for any in the surging daytime throng who will take the time to glance up, at least half the story of Jasper, this street that once was a lonely trail, traveled by fur traders as they rode horseback or mushed out into Indian country, and which has become the booming, neonlit, traffic-choked principal artery of Canada’s fast-growing sixth city.

The sculptor’s hand should move again—to engrave the image of a land speculator, in his Christy stiff, celluloid collar and peg-top pants, and of a hard-hatted, high-booted oil worker, depicted against a latticed background of derricks. Then the story of Jasper—and of Edmonton, for the destiny of the two has ever been linked—would be complete except, perhaps, for

one or two lesser figures: for instance, a Klondiker of '98.

If ever a street needed such a mural to explain itself to those who hurry along it. that street is Jasper. Since the day in 1947 when oil was discovered at Leduc, on Edmonton's fringe, the city's population has more than doubled. This means that every second person who rushes along Jasper—and no one ever strolls down this hustling thoroughfare—is a stranger unaware of its history, untouched by its romance.

For all its frenzied activity and conspicuous prosperity, Jasper is apt to strike the stranger as not much more than the “main drag” of a prairie town. What he sees is a broad dusty stretch of pavement sweeping, then twisting through an unsightly hodge-podge of buildings old and new, rickety wood-frame shops teetering in the huge shadows of ultra-modern structures of aluminum, colored tile, and plate glass. The very breadth of the avenue seems to evoke, in spite of the traffic’s roar, the quiet emptiness of the prairie.

Yet hidden behind this seemingly meaningless

Continued over page >

Looking east: false fronts, a cupola, the wooded river. To the west: slick shops and the gleaming evidence of new wealth

In the sun or the shade, in a steam cabinet or on a seething corner, everybody in town halts briefly on Jasper. As one waits for a late date two others watch an excavation

jumble is the rich story of fur, land, and oil—of the booms and busts that have, by turn, sped and stopped and sped again the growth of Edmonton from stockade to city.

All about the stranger as he hurries along Jasper move the shadows of fur traders and land speculators and there, for him to behold, is at least part of the substance of the oil boom: the new Devonian Building from where one of the largest petroleum companies directs all its operations in the oil fields that almost encircle the city.

The ground where the stranger treads was once the stamping ground of a remarkable freelance fur trader named John A. McDougall, who came as close as anyone is ever likely to come to owning Jasper Avenue outright. He trod it when it was a trail, became one of its first and richest merchants, outfitted Klondikers there, as mayor sent the first streetcar swaying along it, and, at one time, owned all four corners of First and Jasper, Edmonton’s most important intersection.

The avenue still preserves a link with this interlude in its past through John A.’s grandson, who, in a carpeted, oak-paneled office—on Jasper, of course — presides over the substantial estate left by the old fur trader.

There was a time when the whole of Jasper functioned as a sort of open-air real-estate office, when everyone was giddy with the dream of becoming rich by buying and selling squares on a map. This was during the Great Land Boom, a madness that gripped Edmonton from 1907 until it was shot down by the guns of World War I.

It reached such a frenzy that men paid thousands of dollars not to buy land but to buy a chance to buy land. One night, in 1912, Ed Alexander, a visitor from Winnipeg, was dragged by friends from his bed in the Corona Hotel, on Jasper, to where the line-up was forming for the Hudson’s Bay land sale. The Bay was putting six thousand lots on the market—limit: four to a customer. Before the sale itself began, the first fifteen hundred people in line were to take part in a public lottery to decide the order in which they’d make their choice of lots. Alexander stood in line all night, the next morning drew ticket No. 5 and sold it to a speculator for five thousand dollars. The first man in line, F. T. Aitken, was offered fifteen hundred dollars for his place, but turned it down. (He later drew ticket No. 910.) The man eighty-seventh in line sold out for a thousand dollars and the man in 1,442nd place for fifty-five. The No. 1 ticket was drawn by James Walsh, a retired farmer, who was in 928th place. Speculators hounded him, bidding as high as twenty-seven thousand dollars for his ticket, but he brushed them aside and bought two lots, at twenty-five thousand

apiece. He could have sold his right to buy two more, but didn’t bother.

Nowadays Jasper thrives on oil and the new industries it has spawned. The world's largest crude-oil pipeline—the 1,930-mile Interprovincial, from Redwater. Alberta, to Port Credit, Ont.—is managed from here; all the new buildings rising on the avenue were created by oil. and if you stand at a point on Jasper where it swerves to follow a bend in the North Saskatchewan River you may see, in the distance, the huge refineries whose storage tanks glisten in the sun and give the impression of a futuristic city of aluminum.

Though Calgary’s Eighth Avenue is rightly regarded as Canada’s main street of gas and oil. the odds are that Jasper floats on a sea of oil. In 1905 a man named Ginter actually erected a derrick right on Jasper and drilled for gas. Though it was a dry hole, the derrick stood there for four years, a symbol of things to come. When 1 told this story to Keith Huff, a geologist who directs Imperial’s search for Alberta oil from the Devonian Building, on Jasper, he remarked wistfully, “I wish they’d let me drill a well on Jasper. We’d sink no dry hole.”

And then he recounted an anecdote of his own: “In 1942—that was five years before Leduc —a geologist said to me. The best place I know to drill a well would be right at the corner of First and Jasper.’ ”

No well is likely to be drilled on Jasper now. but the big deals are being swung there, and oil is contributing to the folklore of the street its own store of what continued on page 59

being bitten out of the prairie

Jasper Avenue

Continued from page 21

eventually may become legends.

Take the case of the multi-milliondollar mistake. It was a Jasper Avenue lawyer, ¡VI. E. (Ted) Manning, Q.C., who first began to unravel it.

In 1908 when a Ukrainian immigrant. Anton Turta, bought farmland near Leduc, a land-office clerk in making out Turta’s title reserved the coal rights for the land’s original owners, the CPR. But, by a slip of the pen, he failed to include the oil rights. In 1943 a land-registry official tried to repair this oversight by inserting two words, “and petroleum.” Then, in 1947, oil was discovered at Leduc. Who owned the oil—if there was any—under Turta’s land?

The case—Turta and his family vs. the CPR and Imperial Oil — was fought through to the Supreme Court of Canada by Manning and one of Alberta's most prominent barristers, George H. Steer, Q.C., whose office is also on Jasper. The Turtas won and now eight oil wells are gushing on their property, bringing wealth to them as well as to a syndicate of Jasper Avenue businessmen who gambled on a Turta victory by buying an interest in the land. Estimates place the value of the wells’ ultimate output at anywhere from two to five million dollars.

Though fur, land, and oil is the stuff the street is made of, there’s more to Jasper than that.

The city’s oldest hospital, the General, founded in 1895 by the Grey Nuns; its finest hotel, the Macdonald; the Catholic cathedral, the Jewish synagogue, the Canadian National Institute for the Blind, and the University of Alberta outdoor clinic where pensioners and others are given free treatment (2,600 patients in all last year), are all on Jasper.

So are Edmonton's oldest and some of its newest theatres. One of them seems worth mentioning if only because it has the most appropriate name a movie house could have; it's called the Dreamland. From the stage of another, the Paramount. Ernest C. Manning, the premier of Alberta, broadcasts every Sunday his Back to the Bible Hour, a fundamentalist sermon that thunders out across the land to Canada’s largest radio congregation.

Premier Manning’s stake in the street is not only spiritual, but political, too. For, in a sense, the whole province is ruled from a small, crowded office and meeting hall on Jasper—the headquarters of the Alberta Social Credit League, the political party that has held power, provincially, for the past twenty-three years.

Jasper derives its name from an obscure fur trader from Missouri whose surname was cither Hawes, Haws, or Hawse (in old records all three spellings occur). There is no doubt about his Christian name; it was certainly Jasper.

An independent trapper and trader, Jasper Hawes came to the northwest from Missouri early in the last century, bringing with him his wife and a large family. He soon found he couldn't beat the Hudson’s Bay Company and so he joined it, taking charge of its post in territory within what is now Jasper National Park.

The post became known as Jasper

House and soon the same name was given to a lake, to mountains, to a river, and, in time, to the Indian trail that straggled out of Fort Edmonton and led into the Rocky Mountains.

As a settlement emerged beyond the palisades of Fort Edmonton, the Jasper Trail began to evolve into a street. By the time the Hudson’s Bay Company ventured beyond its stockade to establish its first store on Jasper, in 1890, other merchants — notably John A. McDougall — were already doing business there. When Edmonton formally became a village a year later, Jasper stepped naturally into its role of main street.

For a time, part of it was even called Main Street, but by 1908 the whole street was known as Jasper, and in 1913 when Edmonton decided to number its streets, Jasper was one of the few to hold on to its name.

In its early days Edmonton and Strathcona, a rival town on the south bank of the Saskatchewan, fought bitterly to decide which would become a city and absorb the other as a suburb. Once, in 1892, the battle was joined right on Jasper Avenue when the dominion land agent, a Strathcona booster named Tom Anderson, began to move the land office from Jasper to Strathcona. An angry crowd unhitched his horses and removed the wheels from his wagon while the mayor mobilized five hundred armed men to make sure the land office stayed on Jasper.

When the first railway reached Strathcona and stopped there, Edmonton seemed doomed. The Klondikers changed all that. (The Klondike gold rush is described in greater detail beginning on page 13.)

They streamed into Strathcona by the hundreds, but because they wanted to set foot on the beginning of the long trail to the Yukon they crossed the river at once, to camp and buy their outfits on the north side. The money they spent sent Edmonton and Jasper Avenue soaring ahead of Strathcona and its main street. Whyte Avenue, once and for all.

So secure was Edmonton’s victory by 1905, when Alberta became a province, that it was made the capital city. The great Inauguration Day parade, led by the prime minister of Canada, Sir Wilfrid Laurier, swept down Jasper Avenue. And, of course, Sir Wilfrid was bedded down in Jasper’s finest hotel of the time, the Alberta.

Another dignitary who rode in that parade was Earl Grey, then governorgeneral of Canada. His present fame, of course, derives from the trophy that has become the symbol of Canadian football supremacy — the Grey Cup which for three years running, until 1957-58, was brought back by the Edmonton Eskimos and proudly displayed in a glass case in the lobby of the Macdonald Hotel.

The length of Jasper has been tampered with so many times—only last April four blocks were tacked on to its western tip—that most Edmontonians are not certain where it does actually begin and end. The swath it cuts through the heart of Edmonton is about five miles long— from 75th to 125th Street.

The street never strays far from the Saskatchewan and. though its middle reaches are as straight as a die, at other times it twists and bends to follow the contours of the river. Toward its eastern end the river emerges in full view, gracing Jasper with its only touch of natural beauty.

Jasper rises in the east, out of Rat Ravine, and. briefly, is lined on one side by fine old houses and new apartment buildings that face the river. This marks one of the street’s more successful at-

tempts at self-improvement. The ground where these apartments now' stand, their neatly trimmed lawns serving as badges of respectability, was until 1919 part of the Alberta Penitentiary. In the distance the old prison itself can be seen, its once grim, grey walls now painted a gay robin's-egg blue and its windowless cells stuffed with fur coats, for the old stir is now in the service of a moving-andstorage firm.

This fling at suburban respectability is short-lived and soon Jasper’s seedy side emerges, a dozen or so blocks of ramshackle buildings that have indeed seen brighter days. A few have undergone a face-lifting while others try simply to brave it out. bracing themselves, like a drunken man, with as much dignity as they can muster. This architectural junk yard stops only when it comes face to face with the towering new wing of the Macdonald Hotel.

Here on Jasper was written a large slice of Edmonton’s early story, and tangible traces of the past are still to be found.

Much of it is written in the pages of the Edmonton Bulletin, the city’s first newspaper, founded in 1880 by Frank Oliver, a printer who later became a federal cabinet minister. His original building is preserved as an historical exhibit at the city’s Borden Park.

The first issue, which came off the press (brought from Winnipeg by Red River cart) on December 6. 1880. reported that the adult population of Edmonton and Fort Saskatchewan stood at two hundred and seventy-five, and that "Sitting Bull is talking of going south.”

When the Bulletin sold out to the rival Journal and closed down, in 1951. after seventy-one years at the same stand, its last publisher, Hal Straight, acted in the Oliver tradition by hanging a black wreath in a display window and by throwing a wake for the staff. All who came wore black ties.

Fortune-teller at town hall

One reminder that this part of Jasper was not always down-at-the-heels, but once wore satin pumps, is the Alberta Hotel, a solid red-brick building that sits grimly, where it once stood haughtily, on a Jasper corner. In the Alberta’s heyday, going back to 1903. Edmonton’s social life swirled about it, as it now revolves around the Macdonald. Its bar was the most ornate in town, it boasted the city’s first elevator, and. once, as proof of the house’s unbounded hospitality, the manager, one Tommy Rookes. marched down to the river and. with a grand flourish, tossed away the front-door key. Nowadays the Alberta is a humble place, its grand bar a beer parlor patronized by working folk, though its elevator still works like a charm, as it did in the days when it whipped Sir Wilfrid Laurier to his room in the tower.

Close by is a white wooden-frame building, slightly tilted to leeward and now occupied by a barber shop, a taxi stand, and. upstairs, by Madame Sonia, a dark-eyed gypsy fortune teller, but which, for all that, served in the Nineties as Edmonton’s first town hall.

Though none of the buildings hereabouts is of imposing size, one is downright microscopic. This is the Mite Block, far and away Edmonton’s most publicized building, cited by Ripley’s Believe It Or Not as "the smallest two-story building on earth.”

Built on the city’s smallest lot, shaped like a slab of pie. the Mite is five and a half feet wide at the front, tapering to two and a half feet at the rear, and now houses a taxi office.

Shooting off this stretch of Jasper is a series ot streets where much of Edmonton's considerable immigrant population is settled, and here, in some ways, the avenue smacks more of the Old World than of the Old West.

At times the two stare one another square in the face, though nowhere quite as conspicuously as they do in an unpretentious café called the Casanova, which is owned and operated by Johnny Guerrato, a gentleman from Verona, and Santé Torrant. late of Rome. Splashed across one wall is a gaudy mural domin-

ated by the figure of a charging buffalo, while, on the opposite wall, as large as life—or so it seems—are the Leaning Tower ot Pisa, the Roman Colosseum and the Grand Canal ot Venice. Though the artist who created these murals is never likely to put Picasso out of business, he has captured, in a slap-dash sort of way, something of the spirit of this slice of Jasper.

Here, too. Jasper reveals its polyglot side. This is where a Chinese herbalist. Louie Low-On. finds it expedient to advertise his services in both English and

Ukrainian; where you might see, as 1 did. a New Canadian, decked out in a cowboy hat, saunter into the Rhineland Café, and select a German carnival tune on the juke box; and where, at World Books, you may buy a Ukrainian translation ot Dreiser's Sister Carrie or the works ot the Chinese author. Lu Hsun. either in English or the original Chinese. You may dine at a café that tries to cover the field by advertising, as its specialties, Hungarian goulash, Viennese schnitzels. Italian spaghetti, and Gypsy steaks, and. afterwards, take in a movie

at the Gem where the fare is even more cosmopolitan. The city's oldest movie house, it screens films from Russia, Poland, the Ukraine, Hungary, Germany, Italy, and even Hollywood.

With the swiftness of a quick-change artist, Jasper assumes a completely different character and beats to a faster tempo the moment it comes up against the new thirteen-story wing of the CNR’s Macdonald Hotel. Now it becomes the pulsating main artery of the city. The banks, the business offices, the shops, the theatres, the restaurants, the new hotels, are all marshalled along this wide, straight stretch of Jasper.

If, in this thriving quarter, you don’t actually sec oil bubbling up between the cracks in the pavement, the wealth it produces is conspicuous enough. Everywhere new buildings are gushing out of the ground.

The new wing of the Macdonald is itself a symbol of Edmonton’s startling postwar growth, though not a pretty one. Aesthetically, it’s a frost on Jasper's frolic, so lacking in grace or,beauty that Edmontonians refer to it, derisively, as "the packing box the old hotel came in,” when they are not calling it simply an eyesore.

The old Mac, opened in 1915 and named for Canada’s first prime minister, stands just ofi Jasper, facing the river, and is fashioned in the French chateau style, though purists insist it is fake French chateau. Fake or not, Edmontonians have long regarded the handsome Mac with a certain affection and resent the manner in which its ugly offspring has hidden it from view.

It’s here, where Jasper hums, that you’ll find Mike’s Newsstand, and Mike, let it be known, is one of the avenue’s more prominent public figures, even if his fame has diminished in recent years. There was a time, before the place suddenly became a big city overrun by strangers, when the name of this former New York newsboy was a household word in Edmonton. His full name is John Michaels, MBE (for his wartime public service), though few of the thousands who know him are likely to be aware of it.

Many things contributed to Mike’s curious fame: his newsstand, described by those who know about such things as the finest in Canada; his News Boys’ Band, for many years the pride of Edmonton; his testimonial scrolls and plaques (he’s probably the city’s mostdecorated civilian); and, not the least, the wonderfully pure East Side accent which was his trademark.

In the Twenties, Mike was the announcer at every sports event, including, of course, the games of the famous women’s basketball team, the Edmonton Commercial Grads. To Mike they were the “Comm-oy-shul Grads” and that was the way he always introduced them. Even now when old-timers recall the hey-day of the Grads they are just as likely to think of Mike’s introduction as they are of Percy Page, the team’s incomparable coach, or of the Grads’ mascot, a stuffed replica of Spark Plug, Barney Google s faithful horse.

One of Mike’s many scrolls commemorates the first Edmonton-to-Aklavik airmail flight, made in 1929 by the famous World War I ace and bush pilot, "Wop” May, for Commercial Airways. Mike was the managing director of this company which since, through a series of mergers, has become part of CPA.

Mike’s scroll provides Jasper's only tangible link with an exciting era when Edmonton played a key role in pioneering Canadian and even international aviation, when round-the-world fliers, Rus-

sians as well as Americans, touched down there on their history-making flights. Yet the air age has placed its mark on Jasper, as it has on no other Canadian main street. Because the airport is so close at hand, a limit of one hundred and fifty feet has been set for the height of any building on the avenue. As it is, airliners skim over Jasper, their motors adding to the traffic’s roar.

A few steps beyond Mike’s is the hub of Edmonton, the intersection of First and Jasper. (It's really 101st Street but no one ever calls it that.) The four corners are held down by two banks, an office building—the Empire Block, which housed Alberta’s first government offices —and the Selkirk Hotel, to which a certain local fame attaches because Jack Kearns, the fight manager, tended bar there in the days before he discovered Jack Dempsey.

The Empire Block is one of the marks left on Jasper by John A. McDougall, the pioneer fur trader. His fifty years in Edmonton, from the late seventies when, as a free-trader, he traveled to the Indian encampments by dog sled, until his death in 1928, covered the whole of Jasper’s transformation from wilderness trail to metropolitan thoroughfare.


There’s one aspect I’ve noticed in children’s toys:

On this point, my opinion’s unshakable. Only those playthings designed to make noise

Are not only strong, but unbreakable.

D. E. Twiggs

Since then Edmonton has grown bigger and Jasper busier, but the character of neither has changed.

The swiftness of this transformation is personified by McDougall’s own career. He and his bride came to settle in Edmonton in 1879, and the overland journey from Winnipeg, by covered wagon, took them three months. Less than thirty years later, McDougall was drafted as mayor to get the streetcars running down Jasper and, by the time he died, the four corners of First and Jasper, which he had bought when they were bushland, held the four buildings that stand there today.

As a shopping street, First rivals Jasper and may even surpass it, yet the dean of Edmonton merchants does business on Jasper. He is Cecil Sutherland, the whitehaired, eighty-year-old president of the Johnstone Walker department store, a pioneer firm founded in 1886 when the avenue was, as he recalls, only a mud road and “to clerk in a store you had to speak at least a little Cree.”

Sutherland joined the firm sixty-two years ago as a clerk, has been running it for more than fifty, and since 1912, when Walker died, has owned a controlling interest. When Sutherland and his son, Syd, recently modernized the store, many old customers complained that Arborite and chrome were no substitute for the atmosphere of the Gay Nineties. They especially missed the cage elevator that was one of Jasper’s curiosities. “Not that they would ride in it,” says Syd.

Flourishing in this retail region of Jasper is the modern department store of the Hudson's Bay Company, by far the street’s most successful merchants. The

Bay, of course, is no fly-by-night outfit; it has been doing business around Edmonton for one hundred and sixty-three years and on Jasper for sixty-eight.

It was the Hudson's Bay that started the beginning of the end of Edmonton's great land boom by throwing six thousand lots on the market in the feverish lottery sale of 1912. World War I finished the boom completely, and during the next few years the city claimed seventy thousand lots for taxes. When I visited Edmonton last spring, the first thing 1 noticed as I left the air terminal was a work gang tearing up the streetcar tracks on Portage Avenue, or Kingsway, as it is now called. No streetcar ever ran on them.

No commercial ever disrupted the programing of another of Edmonton's rarities, radio station CKUA in the Alberta Block on Jasper. “This station.” says its manager, Jack Hagerman, with remarkable restraint, "is an oddity."

If the CBC’s approach to life causes the commercial radio man to wince, CKUA’s is enough to make him slash his throat—with a Gillette Blue Blade of course. In all its thirty-one years, CKUA has never broadcast a commercial or a soap opera. It spins no Hit Parade records, and though its disc jockeys are permitted to play jazz—rock 'n' roll, never!

CKUA is owned by Alberta Government Telephones, a crown corporation, and operated by it, at an annual cost of about ninety thousand dollars, for the University of Alberta.

Fifty percent of CKUA's air time is filled by classical music. Its most popular record show is Classical Juke Box, a one-time summer replacement that listeners demanded as a regular feature. Public service and educational broadcasts consume much of its air time. New Canadians listen to their own programs—in Norwegian, Swedish, Danish, Dutch, Ukrainian, German and Polish. A program for the handicapped is conducted from his home by Gordon Stewart, himself the victim of a crippling disease. “Gordon has lost the use of almost everything but his voice,” says Hagerman. “He has guts.”

The last lap of Jasper, lying beyond 109th Street where it dives beneath the CPR overpass, has had to endure all the caprices of Edmonton's booms and busts. It was left badly scarred by the collapse of the land boom: grass grew wild between the streetcar tracks and every block was disfigured by vacant lots. The wounds have only recently been healed by oil. The streetcars have vanished and though a .strip of grass remains it is closely cropped. The only unbuilt-on lots thereabouts are crowded with cars for sale.

Even the churches have felt the vagaries of Edmonton’s economy. A sight to intrigue the passer-by on Jasper is the crypt of St. Joseph's Cathedral, for the rest of the church has never been built and, at first glance, one takes the crypt for a mausoleum. Work on St. Joseph's began in 1925 and only the crypt had been finished when it halted for lack of funds. Now that times are better work will begin again, next spring or summer, and the cathedral will be completed at a cost of $1,300,000.

"We have had to scrap the original design,” explains the rector, Monsignor Joseph Malone. "For one thing, there are no longer the stone cutters to build the cathedral we had planned.” The new plans, for an airy structure with clean lines, are by Henri S. Labelle, of Montreal, who designed St. Cécile’s Cathedral in Valleyfield, Que. “To my mir\d,” says Father Malone reflectively, “St. Cécile’s

is the most beautiful church in Canada.” Nearby is Beth Shalom (House of Peace) Synagogue, spiritual home to Edmonton's three hundred Jewish families. Its dynamic, vibrant rabbi. Dr. Louis Sacks, a Chicagoan, is right at home on the avenue for it is precisely those two adjectives—dynamic and vibrant—he uses, appropriately, to describe Jasper. Dr. Sacks is known far beyond the Jewish community: every Sunday an estimated sixty thousand Albertans tune in to his Sparks of Truth program over CKUA. “My talks are

non-denominational," he explains. “Their only purpose is to give a lift to the man who listens—like the pause that refreshes.”

Before Jasper scurries on to end its journey by sliding down into an abandoned railroad right-of-way, it passes one final institution, the Canadian National Institute for the Blind, another postLeduc addition to the street. “It was just bush along here when we began to build in 1948,” says the CNIB’s Alberta superintendent. W. E. Milton. “Now Jasper sounds busier than ever."

In the end, of course, it takes a woman—in this case Edith Hilton, a provincial library clerk who has lived all her life in Edmonton and has an unbounded affection for Jasper, to put her finger on the avenue's essentially masculine character.

"It’s virile," she says. “There’s something ot the Old West about it, of the wide open prairie. Of course it’s not beautiful or even handsome. I hope they never do try to pretty it up with boulevards and flower gardens. I love it the way it is.” ★