Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Introducing Friends of Church Street

The horse-drawn wagon depicted above is winding its way through Church Street. To the left is Queen of Martyrs Vietnamese Catholic Church, and on the right is Sacred Heart Church of the First Peoples.

Church Street is one of Edmonton's most valuable historic resources. Although not officially called that - yet - Church Street is located along and around 96 Street in the McCauley neighbourhood, part of the inner city which is currently undergoing revitalization efforts.

Friends of Church Street is a new organization seeking to promote the historical significance of the area. It all started in the fall of 2010 when I was a Community Animator for McCauley with Action for Healthy Communities. Part of my job was to encourage and facilitate residents in grassroots community initiatives. One such initiative was the McCauley Connects Coffeehouse, which regularly features local talent.

The other initiative came from a woman named Colleen Chapman, who also happens to share Volunteer Coordinator duties with me at Boyle McCauley News. Church Street was in the process of being honoured by the Edmonton Historical Society and Colleen thought it would be great to have a Church Street Fair in the summer of 2011.

Planning an event of this magnitude proved to be too much for just a few months, so the event ended up getting pushed ahead to 2013. However, in the meantime, Colleen gathered together a group of community members and boosters to form Friends of Church Street. I am the Communications Director, and in addition to planning the Fair, we seek to raise awareness of and attention towards the history, architecture, and importance of Church Street.

The City of Edmonton is indeed taking notice of just how important the area is. This article, published in the February 27 issue of the Edmonton Journal, reveals that the City may very well make the name Church Street official.

Church Street is a boost to both McCauley's revitalization and the City in general. There is a rich history behind many of the churches, and the architecture is spectacular. In fact, Church Street has put Edmonton in the Guinness Book of World Records - 96 Street still holds the record for the highest concentration of churches within the few blocks it spans.

We launched our website today and are also on Facebook and Twitter (@ChurchStreet96).

What are some of your ideas concerning Church Street? Any suggestions for the fair? Walking tours? Souvenirs? Contact us and get involved!

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