Beverly, Alberta

Beverly, Alberta

The Town of Beverly was a coal mining community, overlooking the North Saskatchewan River valley, located in what is now part of east Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. During the first half of the twentieth century, more than 20 coal mines were active in and around the town, with the larger mines providing much of the town's employment. The town amalgamated with the City of Edmonton on December 31, 1961.

The earliest use of "Beverly" to describe the area dates to 1904, and it appears the area be named after a township in Ontario. Within a few years, there were enough people living in the area to incorporate the community as a hamlet.

In 1907, construction began on the Clover Bar Bridge. Unable to use the High Level Bridge in Edmonton to bring its trains north of the river, the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway (GTPR) decided to build a bridge of its own further downstream. This brought the railway to Beverly. In the years that followed, the GTPR became the biggest shipper of coal in Alberta, with much of the coal mined in and around Beverly.

In 1913, Beverly became a village, and the village council promptly passed a bylaw that "authorized borrowing up to $30,000 for the construction of roads and sidewalks and the purchase of fire equipment." [Herzog, "Built on Coal", p. 16] It was years before residents of Beverly enjoyed amenities that were increasingly being taken for granted in other communities.

Growth was fast, and the following year Beverly incorporated as a town. That same year, Gustav C. Bergman was elected town mayor. [The neighbourhood of Bergman located just north of the Beverly townsite was later named after Gustav C. Bergman.]

The town council needed a town hall, and Allan Merrick Jeffers, who also designed the Alberta Legislature Building, was brought in to do the design. The town hall was a multipurpose facility that also housed police, courts and the fire service on the main floor. The upper floor was used as a dance hall and a school. Located on the same site was the town jail and a corral. One of the famous five, Emily Murphy worked in the Beverly town hall as a Justice of the Peace.

For much of its life as an independent community, the economic backbone of the town came from coal mining. Records show there were over twenty larger coal mines in the area, and an unknown number of small operations as well. The GPTR even built a spur line to provide direct rail service to two of the largest mines.

The Great Depression of the 1930s were difficult on the prairies, and Beverly was hit particularly hard. In 1936, the town defaulted on its debt, and in 1937, the province appointed an administrator to manage the town. An administrator managed the town until 1948. "A provincial study revealed that by the end of the 1930s, many Beverly families had been on welfare more than ten years." [Herzog, "Built on Coal", p. 59]

Time Line

* 1897 - Cloverbar Mine known to be in operation by this year.

* 1904 - First recorded use of the name, Beverly, to describe the area.

* 1906 - Community incorporates as a hamlet.

* 1908 - Construction of Clover Bar Bridge completed.

* 1910 - The Grand Trunk Pacific Railway builds spur line to Humberstone and Cloverbar coal mines.

* 1913 - Community incorporates as a village.

* 1914 - Community incorporates as the Town of Beverly.

* 1936 - Town of Beverly defaults on its debt.

* 1937 - Province appoints administrator to run the town.

* 1953 - Beverly Bridge opened.

* 1954 - The Beverly Coal Mine stops production.

* 1955 - Jubilee Park built on old Beverly Coal Mine site.

* 1961 - The Town of Beverly amalgamates with City of Edmonton.

Modern Beverly

In modern Edmonton, there are five neighbourhoods in the area occupied by the Town of Beverly and the surrounding coal mines: Abbottsfield, Beacon Heights, Bergman, Beverly Heights, and Rundle Heights. While the coal mines are long closed, there are still many links to the old town today, from a park at the site of the Beverly Mine to buildings and neighbourhoods named for prominent residents of the old community.


Further reading

*Herzog, Lawrence, "Built on Coal, A History of Beverly, Edmonton's Working Class Town", Beverly Community Development Society, 2000, Edmonton, Alberta.

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