If your wanderings have drawn you to Ada Boulevard at any time, a highlight would be the stately and magnificent Magrath Mansion, now designated a historic resource in Edmonton. For the dog-walker or casual cyclist, this epic piece of real estate hearkens to the boulevard’s origins with a riverfront grandeur rarely experienced this close to downtown. Across the water rises the smoker’s cough of industry’s infinite exhale. When built, it would have faced open farmland, as the neighbourhood across the river wasn’t developed until 1956, and the fields of refineries were a distant fevered dream.
Destined to become part of the University of Concordia operation, the mansion has faced challenges in its long life, shifting from purpose to purpose, from elegant high society to functionality and charity. It was raised in 1913, along with nearby Holgate Mansion, to anchor the new Highlands neighbourhood. Fifteen years after being built, it also became a prominent symbol of hubris and economic turmoil as it was seized by the sheriff for tardy property taxes.
William Magrath’s wife, Ada, lives on in the name of the boulevard.