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.

June 21, 2006

The winter of 1955-56 marked the arrival of the first residents of Sherwood Park. This series of articles, provided by Strathcona County, celebrates Sherwood Park's 50th birthday.

When a family moves to a new home in Sherwood Park today, there are challenges: finding your way around, starting at a new school, discovering the shopping facilities, perhaps dealing with deficiencies in construction of a new house, or landscaping a new yard. But these are much different than the challenges facing those who moved to the brand new community when it began in 1956.

Venice Harris moved to Sherwood Park in March 1956 and recalls, "We had no streets; no sidewalks; no lights; no telephone; half the time, no electricity; half the time, no water. We'd be 2 and 3 days without water or electricity. We kept candles and kerosene lamps around, so we'd have something to light our place with. We also learned how to cook on barbecues!"

Eileen Johnson, who moved here in February 1956, remembers her husband Ralph brought out the Anglican Church Bishop and several of the clergy from Edmonton to tour Sherwood Park and discuss the feasibility of starting a new parish. After the tour, they came to the Johnson home for a cup of tea. Since there was no running water that day, buckets of water had been delivered and the children were under strict instructions not to touch the water; it was for the Bishop's tea!

The water mains had been installed in the winter and the pipes broke when the ground thawed. In the winter, residents melted snow to flush toilets and when the water truck came, filled pots and pans and bathtubs. Those men who worked in Edmonton, would clean up and shave at work!

The Oscroft family wrote in the Sherwood Park 25th Anniversary Book that an impending thunderstorm was prepared for by "filling every available kettle with clean water for drinking and cooking, and the bathtub for washing and flushing. An electrical storm meant "lights out" as a rule and quite often, water cut off as well." Since the Oscrofts had one of the few gas stoves at the end of their block, they heated baby bottles and boiled potatoes for the neighbours!

The first residents managed without telephones until the late summer of 1956 (and that was in the pre-cell phone days!) The first phones were party lines and with several families sharing a line, Mrs. Harris remembers that sometimes you'd have to ask somebody to get off the line so you could make an emergency call.

Oleh Cherkawsky, who also came in March 1956, remembers the problems but says, "The friendliness of the other new homeowners and the closeness of the community made up for the troubles, as we were able to share them together."

Last updated: Wednesday, January 29, 2020
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