Anglo-Edmontonians gave the name “Galician Market” to an area just north of Jasper Avenue and photographer Ernest Brown’s studio but they rarely went there. Here Ukrainian homesteaders from outside the city parked their wagons and, joined by local Ukrainians, came to mingle with their own kind, visited friends, exchanged news and conducted business.
The number of Ukrainians living permanently in early Edmonton was small and constantly changing, but hundreds more accessed the city on a regular or periodic basis. Figuring among them were homesteaders making the long trek by team from points east and south to find temporary employment, buy supplies or collect newly arrived relatives from the train. When such people came to the city, they needed a place to serve as a base. That place was an open space on the edge of the emerging downtown core north of Jasper Avenue and the Ernest Brown Block (which still stands) in the area of Kinistino and Namayo Avenues (96 and 97 Streets) that Anglo-Edmontonians dubbed the “Galician Market,” using the then-popular but derogatory term for Ukrainians. But if to them the space represented somewhere separate where only potential employers of casual labour and those with goods or services to offer ventured, to Ukrainians the Galician Market was a gathering place where they felt comfortable and in control. Here visitors parked their wagons, fed and watered their horses, met old friends and acquaintances and, together with Ukrainians residents in the city who came to mingle with their own kind, exchanged news and information about jobs, bought, sold and traded. One winter day, photographer Ernest Brown, whose ubiquitous camera left a remarkable pictorial record of Edmonton’s rise from a fur trading post to a bustling frontier city, once made the short trip from his studio to the Galician Market to capture its passing inhabitants for posterity. The two pictures he took show some two-dozen men (a handful in suits and overcoats, most keeping warm in their traditional sheepskin coats and felt boots), a couple of young boys and no women. All but the horses munching their hay stared straight into the camera’s lens.