Remember… When the trees were seedlings? When Jasper Place was its own town? The Muk Luk Mardi Gras? When people drove from Edmonton to shop in the evening?
Ground Zero Productions is just getting started on a community history project. Jasper Place is rich in history. From the beginning, the neighbourhoods that make up the area have welcomed all kinds of people. We’ve heard about “bumper riding” on the side streets – the dangerous sport of hanging on to the back of a car and sliding on your snowboots – and about the country bars on Stony Plain Road, the last place in Edmonton where a live band could work six nights a week. We want to hear your stories.
We aim to create a community collection of oral history interviews, videos, and photos of the people who have lived in Jasper Place. We will be gathering the Indigenous stories, the stories of the first settlers, and of people who just arrived and remember their first impressions of their new home. These parts of our history will be documented, archived, and shared back with the community.
Ground Zero is based in the Orange Hub. We hope this project will help to connect people in the neighbourhood to the building that used to house the MacEwan School for the Arts. The collection will be displayed in part at the Hub and we will have events there to show it to the community. The full collection will be on our website. Finally, everything will be donated to the Provincial Archives of Alberta, so people all around Alberta can know more about Jasper Place. In the past, we’ve worked with people in Mill Woods and Northeast Edmonton to collect their stories and shared them in variety of ways. We created Video Ballads in collaboration with singer-songwriter Maria Dunn, like GWG: Piece by Piece, and Packingtown about the NE Edmonton meat packing plants.
We want the community to have access to its own stories and have pride in the neighbourhood. We think a big part of revitalization is knowing what came before and sharing our history. What bridges us all together? What can we learn from each other?
Brooke Leifso is a community-based artist working on the Jasper Place Community History Project.