Mill Woods Living Heritage

Please visit the Mill Woods Living Heritage website for up-to-date information.

How Is The Project Being Developed?

In 2012, GZP began the process of developing a collection about the Mill Woods area of Edmonton. There are two parallel strands to this work. One involves Don Bouzek and Catherine C. Cole taking the lead to gather the stories of the community and Catherine conducting historical research. The other sees local artists working to develop its artistic identity. In 2012, Don and Catherine collaborated with word artists Jannie Edwards and Rod Loyola. In 2013, South Asian dancer, Ashley Kumar, joined the collaboration, and in 2015, they are working with Aboriginal visual artist Aaron Paquette.

Mill Woods is based on a city-planned and funded land assembly. It is an urban community designed and built to provide quality, affordable homes to offset the inflationary impact of the second oil boom. It represented Edmonton’s first socially planned neighbourhood. The scale of the project, with a town centre and eight surrounding communities, which are each divided into multiple neighbourhoods, and the decision to take the street design ‘off the grid’ into crescents and connecting circular roads, like Mill Woods Road, made the development unique. With the new plans for the Municipal Airport lands, the historical context of progressive planned urban design is particularly relevant.

The multicultural character of the neighbourhood developed due to events in distant corners of the world, and the mingling of these newcomers brought unexpected results. The 1972 expulsion of Ugandans of Indian origin, the 1973 coup in Chile, the declaration of martial law by the Marcos regime in Manila, the emigration of Sikhs from Punjab, and of other South Asians from Pakistan, in the early 1970s, and the arrival of ethnic Chinese ’boat people‘ from Vietnam in 1979-1980 combined to initially shape the neighbourhood.

GZP has received funding from the Alberta Historical Resources Foundation, the Edmonton Heritage Council Livina Local program, and the Mill Woods Presidents Council.

Who Is Involved With This Project

Don Bouzek

Catherine C. Cole has been the principal consultant of Catherine C. Cole & Associates for nearly 20 years and previously worked as a curator and interpreter. She has an MA in History from the University of Alberta and extensive experience conducting material culture and oral history research projects on various aspects of Alberta’s social and industrial history and built heritage. Significant large-scale research projects include:

  • Piece by Piece: The GWG Story (2004-2011), a multidisciplinary collaboration consisting of oral history interviews, artifact and archival collecting, temporary displays, video ballad, an award winning virtual exhibition, the successful nomination of the founding of Local 120 UGWA as an event of national historic significance, and a book (to be published in October by Goose Lane Editions);

  • Before E-commerce: The History of Mail Order Catalogues in Canada (2002-2004), a virtual exhibition developed for the Canadian Museum of Civilization, and preliminary research for the related travelling exhibition Rail, Mail and Retail as well as a comparative analysis of the Toronto and Winnipeg editions of the Eaton’s catalogue; and

  • Inventive Spirit: Alberta Patents from 1905 – 1975 (1999-2003), a book and virtual exhibition developed by the Heritage Community Foundation titled Alberta Inventors and Inventions; wrote Invention Prototypes in Museum Collections, a report on the value of NMAH curatorial programs collecting prototypes for the National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution.

Jannie Edwards has lived in Mill Woods since 1980. She has published three books of poetry; the most recent, Falling Blues, was a finalist for the Writers Guild of Alberta poetry prize and nominated for the ReLit award. Her second book, Blood Opera: The Raven Tango Poems was adapted for the stage by an Edmonton theatre group and performed as part of Workshop West’s 2010 Canoe festival. She taught creative writing and literature at MacEwan University for over 25 years, and continues to offer workshops to writers of all ages. She has participated in the creation of several collaborative works including a videopoem in which Jannie’s English poetry is translated into American Sign Language and performed by Deaf translator and actor Linda Cundy. More recently, Jannie is working with visual artist Agnieszka Matejko and videographer Bob Lysay on an installation work of poetry and image on the theme of Resonance: Urban Wind, which will be featured at the 2012 Edmonton Poetry Festival. Recently, her work was featured on the busses as part of the Take the Poetry Route collaboration between Edmonton Transit and the Edmonton Arts Council. Jannie is currently the Canadian Authors Association Writer in Residence for 2011-12.

Rodrigo (Rod) Loyola is part of the people’s poets, an Edmonton based hip hop group who represent their refugee roots from Chile, mixing rhymes about life experiences with social commentary. Influenced by Latin American folk and Nueva Cancion Latinoamericana as well as hip-hop, people’s poets bridge the social element of these genres in order to raise awareness of social issues and inspire others, particularly youth, to become involved in their communities. Performing regularly at a variety of music festivals, cultural events and international conferences, people’s poets combine music and action for social change and community building. Aside from lending their voice and support to a variety of community groups, people’s poets also offer workshops on hip-hop, art and community building, and tools for expression. Collaborating organizations include the Centre for Race and Culture, iHuman youth Society, Youth Emergency Shelter Society, Change for Children, John Humphrey Centre for Human Rights, Edmonton Immigrant Services Association, Alberta Federation of Labour and others.

The People’s Poets released album No Life Without Roots, which debuted at No. 1 on the CIUT 89.5 (University of Toronto) Hip Hop Chart in mid April and maintained a presence for 5 weeks. The chart activity of No Life Without Roots across Canada secured the #16 spot on Earshot’s Monthly Top 20 Hip-Hop Charts for May and June 2009.

In May 2010, people’s poets participated in the World Festival of Youth Artists at the Romerias de Mayo in Holguin, Cuba. The week long festival sponsored by The Ministry of Culture is one of the most popular festivals in Cuba with over 400 International delegates attending. people’s poets acknowledge the generous support of the Alberta Foundation for the Arts, the Alberta Music Industry Association, the Edmonton Arts Council and our community members.