Reason #73 of '101 Reasons Why I Heart Edmonton'

Brewery District & Oliver

By Emil Tiedemann

The historic Molson Brewery in the Oliver area, just blocks away from Ice District, closed its doors for good in August 2007, following an ongoing worker’s strike. It was the end of an era of Edmonton’s long brewing history, dating back even before the Molson building went up in 1913. 

Former Strathcona Mayor William Henry Sheppard, also a local businessman and hotelier, bought the land in Groat Estates that would eventually house the Molson Brewery. It was designed to model castles from Sheppard’s homeland Germany, and cost $250,000 to build. It was sold off to Lethbridge’s Fritz Sick in 1927, and was then acquired by Molson in ‘58. 
The old Molson building is a signature of the Oliver neighbourhood.

A few years later, in 1961, they added a decorative building in the design of a fur trade fort and called it the Molson House, used as a hospitality lounge to entertain customers (as well as the place Peter Pocklington used to announce he had traded Wayne Gretzky). That section was later dismantled and reassembled just outside of the city after it was purchased by an anonymous Edmonton family. 

Since then, we haven’t heard much else about the downtown(ish) landmark, up until the beginning of 2013, when the City announced plans for redevelopment of the area and repurposing of the Molson building. It would be called the Edmonton Brewery District, 45,000 square meters of upscale retail and entertainment that will incorporate Molson’s local brewing legacy. 

The mixed-use, pedestrian-oriented development will provoke renewed vitality in an area that had been used up by a car dealership not long ago, including a proposed pair of 14-storey apartment towers. It will link surrounding neighbourhoods and spark further area investment, serving almost as the lobby for our burgeoning downtown. #yegbrewerydistrict


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