Rossdale has great historical depth and, through time, has carried different stories. It was the site for pre-Treaty 6 Aboriginal settlements, the second Fort Edmonton, the inauguration of the Province of Alberta, a burial ground, an ice house, a fair ground, a ball park, a power plant. In the early twentieth century, it offered working-class housing near the coal seams of the North Saskatchewan; in the early twenty-first century it is characterized by expensive vinyl Victorians alongside the Capital City Recreation Area.
Stand in one spot in the Rossdale Flats to apprehend the complexity of place. If you look closely at the boreal bush along the bike trails, you can discern raspberry canes and apple trees on the riverbanks, domestic remnants of the backyards from houses expropriated in the 1970s to build the “Ribbon of Green.” Where you stand and marvel, trying to imagine that disappeared cityscape, will be on a riverbank hollowed by coal extraction: a formative city phenomenon beneath the plane of the visible. Beneath that vision, another made forcibly invisible by the false celebration of this city as a hundred-year-old entity: aboriginal Rossdale, routinely inhabited for six thousand years. You may be watched by a ring-necked pheasant, red squirrels, a coyote, foxes, and certainly magpies: denizens of the urban river valley. Look uphill, downriver, and you will see the brick brewery, now a residence for the city’s best-loved architect, implicated as well in gentrification; upriver, the brickyard site has become a fitness centre. Running past you this whole time is the river itself, its water not far from the Saskatchewan Glacier, though heated and treated by the Rossdale power generating station.
How can we read these diverse narratives and histories in a way that illuminates not only the past, but also the present? The Rossdale Pipeline aims to flatten history – to bring the past up to the level of the present, so that Rossdale’s diverse narratives can be read in simultaneity. In order to do this, we will group historical and present moments according to the themes of Trade, Traffic, Play, Power, Dwell, View, Haunt, and Name. All eight groupings will appear on a Hypercities map, which will allow users to read Rossdale by one or more themes, in a way that will promote the discovery of new, interconnected narratives between the past and present.