Edmonton's Immigration Hall sits abandoned and decaying. Located at 10534 100th Street, the handsome brick building could well be a smaller version of Pier 21, now a national historic site, in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Constructed in 1930 to replace the original 1890s wood-framed Hall, it was designed by Dominion Architect T.W. Fuller and solidly built of brick and reinforced concrete. Just three Immigration Halls constructed after the First World War are still standing in Canada. It is thought that only the now-defunct Winnipeg Immigration Hall (1906-07) was built on a larger scale and of comparable solid construction.
The building began operation in 1931 during the Great Depression. Its real test came at the end of the Second World War, when the discovery of oil near Leduc triggered yet another wave of immigration to Alberta. In 1954, a new addition was added to the west of the building.
The building is now owned by a numbered company based in Calgary, and has been on the market for months. It languishes, a target for vandalism and graffiti, a chapter in Edmonton’s past limping to what could be a sad conclusion of extinction.
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