Retired grocer Tommy Guay has lived in Edmonton’s Montrose neighbourhood since the 1950s. And he has noticed a lot of changes lately in the blue-collar community.
“I used to know lots of people when they were in my store,” says Guay, who formerly owned and operated Montrose Grocery, which has since been turned into a residential development. “I haven’t had much contact with them lately.”
Granted, Montrose is a rather transitory neighbourhood, considering almost 40 per cent of the nearly 1,400 dwellings are rentals and City of Edmonton census statistics indicate roughly one in five residents maintains the same address for less than three years. But that level of mobility may change soon, with attention shifting towards Montrose and its scores of infill projects taking place. Bungalows built after the Second World War that haven’t withstood the test of time are being replaced.
“Areas like that are attractive to developers because of the location and access to downtown,” says realtor Mark Slobodan. “Schools are already there and, more importantly, infrastructure is already there.”
Where students go to school could change, though. If the province approves funding for the modernization of Highlands School, Edmonton Public Schools has recommended the closure of Montrose and Mount Royal Schools. The students would be consolidated at Highlands.
With newer bungalows going for up to $300,000, making them attractive as starter homes, Slobodan has no doubt that younger families moving in will lower Montrose’s average age bracket, currently at 35-39.
One of the northern neighbourhood’s biggest draws for residents is access to the rest of the city to downtown via the LRT, to the south side courtesy of Wayne Gretzky Drive, and points east and west by way of Yellowhead Trail. Many new shops and cafes further west on 118th Avenue are within walking distance.
The roughly 3,300 people who live in the neighbourhood also benefit from existing services like schools, churches, scores of trees lining its boulevards, an off-leash area for dogs on a berm south of the Yellowhead and the recently rebuilt Wally Footz Field, arguably the most popular recreational baseball diamond in the city.
“It’s a nice place to live,” says Guay. “There’s lots of peace and quiet there.”
Photography by Paul Swanson
WHERE TO GO
Montrose Community League Hall
Seating 120, and including a dance floor and warming kitchen, this facility can accommodate events ranging from banquets and
wedding receptions to karate and yoga classes.
Seasoned musicians or those wanting to start out on instruments can benefit from a wide selection of everything from guitars and amps to DJ gear and karaoke equipment. For those serious about learning, instructors can give guitar, bass, keyboard and drum lessons.
Cooling compartments taking up more than two walls are loaded with almost every kind of meat you can imagine, from ribs and sausage to delicatessen fare. The shop can also smoke and cure wild game on request.