Sherwood Park 50 years
October 18, 2006
Differing from most Alberta communities, Sherwood Park began with only houses - just 4 model homes in the middle of farm land! The first businessman to take a chance on the new community was Glen MacLachlan, who opened a coffee shop and general store on Alder Avenue in 1955. The store also housed the Alberta Government Telephones switchboard and the post office.
The other "businessman" to set up shop was 11 year-old Bruce Johnson, the first paperboy, whose original route was 4 houses, including his parents! His father, Ralph brought the Edmonton Journal home with him after work. Bruce's two bothers also became paperboys and eventually Ralph was supervising over 25 paper carriers.
In 1958, the first gas station opened - an Imperial Oil station located on the corner of Wye Road and Ash Street.
In 1959, Sherwood Park had grown to 500 homes, and construction began on the Sherwood Shoppers Park, which held its grand opening in the fall of that year. The shopping centre, located at the corner of Wye Road and Sherwood Drive included a Royalite service station, a barber and beauty shop, a pharmacy, a hardware store, a men's and boy's wear store and a Safeway. The Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce is still located in the shopping centre, now named Sherwood Centre.
Glen MacLaughlin closed his store and operated the post office in the new shopping centre. The old store was used temporarily as a community hall.
In 1959, Robert Meyer and his wife Bernice were licensed to sell general insurance. They operated from their home and put a sign on their garage! In 1964, they moved to the Sherwood Shoppers Park when it was expanded. Other additions to the shopping centre included a bakery, TV repair shop, shoe store, a restaurant, and a bowling alley. Bernice Meyer is still working, along with her son Darryl, at Meyer's Insurance, now located on Broadway Boulevard.
In 1960, the first full time physician, Dr. Ferrari, came to Sherwood Park. He was soon followed by other doctors, dentists and a chiropractor.
In 1972, the Sherwood Park Mall, built at a cost of $4 million, opened under the moniker "Eastgate Mall" and boasted over 20 businesses. The Zellers store included a pharmacy, auto service and a restaurant where you could get apple pie and ice cream for 45 cents. Safeway was selling bread, 5 loaves for a dollar. Of the smaller stores in the mall, the only familiar name is Ricki's, still operating in 2006. That year, the Christmas promotional contest at the mall encouraged shoppers to cash their "baby bonus" cheques at the mall and be entered to win a $100 gift certificate.
It was in April 1977 that the Chamber of Commerce was formed with the goal to foster business interests in Sherwood Park. John Vrolijk was the first president. From 45 people at their organizational meeting, the Chamber has grown to 858 members in 2006.
The early businesses encouraged people to shop locally and this was an ongoing challenge for many years. Now, one often hears stories of Edmontonians who come to Sherwood Park because it is more convenient!