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Alberta Online Encyclopedia

Feature Article

MICHENER HILL

Written By: Michael Dawe
Published By: Red Deer Express
Article Used with permission. © Copyright Michael Dawe, 2007
2007-12-03

There was recently a discussion on one of Red Deer’s radio stations about what exactly is Michener Hill. It is quite a good question as the Michener Hill area is one of the oldest residential neighbourhoods in Red Deer, but one which has had a number of names.

The origins of the district go back to 1903. That was when Edward Michener, a former Methodist minister, went into partnership with Stan Carscallen in a real estate and mortgage loan business.

Red Deer was enjoying a wonderful boom. The population of the Town had soared from just a few hundred in 1901 to almost 1500. Michener Carscallen reported sales of dozens of residential lots and almost 2000 acres of land in a little over a month. Not surprisingly, the firm decided to enter into the land development business and to create new residential subdivisions on land which it owned on the eastern edge of the Town.

The first subdivision was Parkvale, which went onto the market in April 1905. Shortly thereafter, the firm started to market Grandview Park on the top of the escarpment, south of Ross Street.

In 1906, Edward Michener decided to build a grand new home for himself on the brow of the hill, just north of Ross Street. At the same time, he offered ten acres of land north of his new home to the Provincial Government as a site for the Alberta Legislature building if the Government would agree to locate the capital for the newly created province of Alberta in Red Deer.

Unfortunately, although the Premier and the new M.L.A.’s agreed that the site was a beautiful one and that Red Deer had many attractive attributes, once they went back to Edmonton, they voted to permanently locate the capital in that city.

The next year, Michener Carscallen decided to subdivide more lots along Ross Street as it went up the hill. In 1910, a couple of more blocks of lots were put on the market. In May 1911, the whole portion of the East Hill, north of Ross Street and west of what is now 40th Avenue, was fully subdivided and placed on the market as the new Highland Park subdivision.

That remains the official legal name of the subdivision. However, because the Michener family’s home was the most prominent feature of the new neighbourhood, almost everyone in the community referred to the area as Michener Hill.

The subdivision, with its great views both to the west and to the north, proved very popular. Stan Carscallen decided to a huge three storey residence for himself on the north west corner of the subdivision. R.G. Dawe, Red Deer’s first City engineer, built a large brick house on the north escarpment. Several others who built large new homes in the district were relatives of the Micheners, including the Trimbles, Willsons and Lovelands.

Meanwhile, Fred Krause, owner of the Alexandra Hotel, acquired the portion of the East Hill on the south side of Ross Street. A very accomplished horticulturalist, he developed the property into a wonderful terraced showplace with numerous apple, oak, walnut and butternut trees. He also planted extensive hedges of spruce and carragana. The spruce now dominate the site and are the most visible feature of that part of the hill.

Because of the wonderful gardens and arboretum that Mr. Krause had developed, many in the community referred to Ross Street as it went up the hill as "Krause’s Hill". However, over the decades, the other name of Michener Hill prevailed as the name used for the roadway as it goes up the East Hill.

There was another road that provided access to the Highland Park/Michener Hill subdivision. That was the roadway which started as 55th Street at the bottom of the hill, but became 40th Avenue as it curved up the hillside.

For many years, this was just a gravel road through the trees. However, in the 1960’s, the roadway was extensively rebuilt and paved. Because the Provincial Training School was at the top of the hill, many referred to it as the P.T.S. Hill. When the institution was renamed Alberta School Hospital in 1965, people began to call it the A.S.H. Hill.

Today, because the institution is known as Michener Centre, a few people refer to this second roadway as the Michener Centre Hill, but more commonly it is known as the 40th Avenue Hill.

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