The Historic Past of East Junction and Holyrood
The East Junction proudly sits within the community of Holyrood. Holyrood was originally called Mount Pleasant and East Edmonton Gardens in 1912. This area joined together with Strathcona County during the 1912 amalgamation process where they collectively became part of our city’s newest district called ‘Edmonton’.
After the amalgamation with Edmonton, this area became known as Balmoral due to its duplication with another subdivision name. In 1953 the area was rebranded to Holyrood – after Edinburgh’s famous abbey and likely named so because of how close it was located to many major landmarks. At that time there were only about 1000 homes but by 1955 this number grew tremendously due to large numbers of people moving into new developments in the central region.
THE “TWO MILE” CIRCLE
In the early 1900’s, the “Two Mile Circle” was an area known for being connected by train offering the inhabitants of the area convenient access to services, amenities and a means to cross over the newly constructed bridges – which connected Edmonton to Strathcona. The newly delivered rail service was called ‘The Edmonton Radial Railway’, a name which stemmed from its radial, or “out-and-back”, model; all streetcar lines terminated at Jasper Avenue and 101 Street and radiated outward to various areas of the city. This municipal radial railway system was the first public transit system in the city and allowed for explosive housing growth within the “Two Mile Circle”.
The “Two Mile Circle”, now known as Central Edmonton, still holds a special place in many people’s hearts. While the original radial railway system has long been gone, the new LRT line that will open in 2023 is going to once again connect the city in ways not seen in years.
THE HOUSING BOOM
The desire to be in the convenient “Two Mile Circle” resulted in a housing boom in the Holyrood area between 1912 – 1955 at which time there were just over 1000 homes in the area. However, between 1960 and the early 1980’s, housing started to stall and the area became plagued by failing infrastructure and regular sewage backups. With almost annual flooding between 1980 – 1983, the residents of Holyrood threatened to sue the city over failing infrastructure. Insurance companies stopped insuring the homes in the area – leading to a decline in desirability despite being so close to the Downtown and Strathcona cores.
No new developments or large projects were started until the 1990’s when the proposed Holyrood Townhouse Project was pitched in 1996. The Holyrood Townhouse project was brought forward by a developer and in their plans, they wanted to demolish the 190 rental townhouses that existed and replace them with a 460-unit townhouse project. The local residents and community league opposed the number of units and suggested the developer scale their project back to 324 units.