A meeting of citizens in the Methodist Mission tent led to the incorporation of the Village of Beverly in 1913. A year later, on July 10, 1914, Beverly became a town. The inspiration for the name Beverly is thought to have originated either from the Beverly Township in Wentworth County in Ontario, or the town of Beverley in Yorkshire, England.Situated on rich seams of coal, the Beverly area became the setting of many small coal mining ventures at the end of the 19th Century. These smaller ventures gave way to larger and more successful endeavors at the dawn of the 1900s.
The Bush, Humberstone, Cloverbar, and finally, the Beverly Limited mines resonate and live on in the history of the Beverly Towne area. Coal was by no means the only abundant natural resource in Beverly: surrounding areas boasted some of the finest agricultural soil in North America. Early Beverly was supported by an economic base of several producing coal mines and thriving farms.In 1905, the construction of a new Beverly rail bridge across the North Saskatchewan river accompanied the arrival of the Canadian Northern and Grand Trunk railways.
This made Edmonton much more accessible than its rival, the City of Strathcona. It also allowed workers to walk across the bridge to additional employment opportunities in the mines across the river.Gus Bergman (1872-1962), a homesteader who farmed just north of the new township, was the first town mayor. During his term, a two story, brick town hall was built at 38th St. and 118th Ave.
A multi-purpose structure, the town hall housed civic operations (including police and fire services) and was a home to Beverly's first grade pupils. In the evenings, the second floor was rented as a dance hall. The jail was in a separate building on the same site, as was an adjacent pen for stray cattle and horses. Emily Murphy was an early magistrate in Beverly.
To support a burgeoning population that had risen to about 1,000 persons, the Beverly Central School was erected in 1913 on the southeast corner of the present-day yard of R.J. Scott Elementary School. During the next 40 years, this school would be a place of learning for thousands of pupils, many of whom would later become pillars of the Beverly community.
P.D. Lawton (1902-1962)—the namesake of Lawton Junior High—was a long-time principal of Beverly Central and an important community leader, as was the school custodian and WW I veteran Abe Abbott (1897-1964). Selfless community service performed by these and other like-minded individuals was instrumental in forging the unique character of Beverly.
Beverly was the first town in Alberta to build a cenotaph honoring its fallen servicemen in the years subsequent to WW I. To this end, a war veterans committee was formed, and Thomas R. Dando (1867-1927) contributed four lots at 118th Ave. and 40th St. for a lease term of 99 years. On the beautiful autumn afternoon of October 17th, 1920, Alberta's oldest cenotaph was dedicated by visiting dignitaries Lt. Gov. George Brett and Brig. Gen. Wm. Griesbach, in addition to local mayors Joe Clarke (Edmonton) and Fred Humberstone (Beverly).
The Great Depression of the 1930s, combined with the devaluation of town-owned Beverly Ltd. Mine shares, resulted in Beverly's bankruptcy in 1937. A town administrator was appointed by the province, until 1949 when Beverly again began to be represented by a mayor and council.The post-war boom of the 1950s resulted in enormous economic growth for the community. During the decade, the population of Beverly soared to more than 10,000 persons, with a resultant boom in the construction of new homes. With the construction of another Beverly bridge—this time for automobile traffic—came yet another impetus for economic prosperity in Beverly.
The landscape of 118th Ave. changed to accommodate the new business traffic that Highway 16 brought to the area. Hotels, motels and service stations sprung up as area businesses began to focus on regional (in addition to local) business. Until the construction of the Yellowhead Trail in the 1970s, much of Beverly's commerce depended upon its surrounding neighbors. The old Beverly Central School, beyond repair, was torn down in 1953. In its place, nine new schools were built during the next two decades for the public and Catholic school boards.
This period saw a tremendous increase in new infrastructure expenditures for the municipality—new roads and utilities began to take a toll on the community purse. Local citizens saw an amalgamation with Edmonton as the most viable solution to the enormous costs associated with rapid growth. A 62 per cent majority of Beverly's 9,000 citizens voted in favor of amalgamation in late 1961, and on December 30, 1961, the town of Beverly became a neighborhood in the city of Edmonton. From the 1950s onward, the 118th Ave. business section of Beverly—originally comprised of mostly small-scale owner-operated businesses—saw the development of more automobile-oriented commercial development, such as small strip malls, service stations and drive-in food services.
The boom years of the 1970s saw the construction of the Abbottsfield Shoppers Mall, developed as an enclosed, climate-controlled shopping complex with a large surface parking lot. The shopping centre has undergone renovations and improvements in recent years.The Beverly Towne Community Development Office was opened in November of 1995, and has since been a hub for community development staff, a resource centre for community residents, and a meeting space for community groups.
In 1995, the Beverly Business Revitalization Zone was established, with a mandate of advocating the long-term economic viability of the area. To this end, the Beverly Business Association has developed a long-term plan for the revitalization of business activity on 118th Ave. between 32 and 51 Streets.
This plan includes the development of a western frontier theme for promotional purposes, streetscape improvements along the Avenue, and a number of initiatives designed to encourage businesses to locate in Beverly Towne. ______________"Built on Coal" A Beverly Towne Community History - by Lawrence Herzog (Now Sold Out)