Sherwood Park 50 years

This article is one of several commissioned by Strathcona County as part of a project to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Sherwood Park. These stories were published in the Sherwood Park News in 2006 and 2007​​​​​​​.
Last modified: July 6, 2021, 11:28 a.m.

This article was published in two parts:  

October 25, 2006 and November 1, 2006

The Sherwood Park Community League elected its first executive in December 1957 and Gordon Self was elected president. Henry Unrau recalls being appointed to the Education Subcommittee along with Keith McBride, the Vice President of the League. "We decided we needed to put out a little newsletter that would tell people in Sherwood Park what was going on. We started something called the "Notes and News" and ran it off on the Gestetner and we distributed it to every home in Sherwood Park. We started in 1958 and put out our last monthly issue in 1963. We even sold ads for $3 an ad and this sometimes covered the cost of paper!"

One of the first Community League projects was the construction of a skating rink in Sherwood Heights. Because donations were received for the electrical wiring, a water line, the use of a rink shack, a stove and two hockey goals, the construction cost only $469. At the first skating party in January 1958, Christmas trees made the bonfire. The rink was available on alternate days for hockey and open skating. Darik Johnson, who was 4 when he moved to Sherwood Park in February 1956, recalls spending a lot of time at the rink and a lot of money at the little concession that operated in the shack!

A membership drive sold $5 family skating memberships and $1 memberships to the Community League. Other fundraising activities included dances held at the Wye Hall and the school auditorium. A door-to-door bake sale was held with neighbours taking baking next door and charging a fee which would be donated to the League. The recipient would then continue the process with her own baking. The Notes & News of the time warned, "If you see smoke pouring from your neighbour's house check it you may find she is baking something for your table."

In 1959, when the first store in Sherwood Park became vacant, it was used as a community hall for meetings and social events. In 1960, the Community League undertook the construction of a hall, complete with kitchen, office and washroom facilities. Henry Unrau, recalls the decision to order a FAB-A-LOG building because it could be constructed by volunteers. The $27,000 log cabin is still standing on Spruce Avenue and is now operated by Sherwood Park Minor Baseball. To celebrate the completion of the hall a Grey Cup Party was held in November 1960.

Saturday movies were shown at the hall starting in 1961, with community League members paying 15 cents to attend. 188 children attended the first show. Darik Johnson remembers seeing the Three Stooges and Lone Ranger films at the community hall. He also recalls the time Bobby Curtola came to do a concert.

Other programs included a bus to the YMCA in Edmonton for swimming lessons, variety shows, teen dances, fashion shows, figure skating and square dancing. The hall became the home to many other activities including Brownies and Guides, churches, Toastmasters as well as celebrations, such as anniversaries, weddings, and banquets.

In 1962, the first winter carnival was held with the crowning of the Carnival Queen, a teen dance, an adult dance, hockey, curling, skating and other winter activities. From 1964 to 1967, the Medieval Days celebration was sponsored by the Community League. Medieval Days grew to include a midway, floats and a parade held in Edmonton, costumes, jousting, and a hay bale fort where attacking armies were pelted with bags of flour. Each household created a coat of arms and displayed it during the festivities. Three of these shields, which belonged to the Johnson, Saunders and Cherkawski families, can be seen at the Strathcona County Museum. Medieval Days was eventually taken over by the Kinsmen Club.

Many clubs started as community league activities, including hockey, football, soccer, the garden club and a square dance club. These programs grew to assume their own identities. In the early days, the league had only enough money for one complete set of goalie gear, which was issued to the hockey team that was playing the most important game that night.

In 1966, at the request of the Community League, Strathcona County Council declared Sherwood Park a "Recreation Area", allowing it to levy taxes for recreational services and to apply for government grants. The first recreation director was hired and a storage room in the Community Hall cleared out for his office. The first major issues to be dealt with were the construction of an arena and swimming pool. The Sherwood Park Recreation Centre (arena) was opened in 1970, and was paid for by the ratepayers of Sherwood Park. The swimming pool (now the Kinsmen Leisure Centre), was paid for by ratepayers throughout the County and opened in 1975.

With the development of a recreation department and facilities, the Community League lost some of its main functions and with Sherwood Park growing quickly, it was difficult to maintain interest in the Community League. In 1979, the League was disbanded. A final dinner and dance was held to honour all the volunteers that had contributed to the community.

If you have information/artifacts/photos from the early days of Sherwood Park and would like to preserve them, consider donating them to the Strathcona County Museum and Archives, 780-467-8189

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Last updated: Thursday, January 30, 2020
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