The old dusty warehouse with battered up walls covered in graffiti and ramps, it all just seemed too great. It was perfect.
—Kyle Thomas, photographer
For almost 17 years, the old rundown building that housed The Edge skatepark on
Pacific Avenue united Winnipeg's skateboarding community. With hundreds of volunteers
and more than 20,000 skateboarders passing through the doors during its run, the
2011 closure and relocation to King Street marked a significant change
for its patrons.
The Edge 125 Pacific Avenue is a new compilation of photographs that documents the park's history. Publisher Matt Joudrey recalls the first time he walked into The Edge in 1992, when he was 17. "The place was an old machine shop but was almost completely dilapidated. It felt like a pool hall or a dingy arcade. There was tons of graffiti on the walls and they played music that you actually wanted to hear. It was the coolest place on earth and felt like home right away even if the roof was caving in and one section of the building had been completely overtaken by pigeons," he recalls.
Anders Homenick's photos are featured in the book and he jokingly says he spent half his life in a building he calls, "interesting." "Uneven ground, no windows, eerie at night, dusty, roof leaked every 10 feet. It was like skating an obstacle course just to ride a ramp at times. I'll never forget the anticipation one would have skating in the dark to find the light switches. This building was home for many people for many years. We loved it."
The Edge 125 Pacific (At Bay Press)
With so much time spent in the building by so many skateboarders - often with cameras - a rich visual history is captured in the pages of The Edge 125 Pacific Avenue.
The layout of which feels a bit like a yearbook packed with memories.
Photographer Kyle Thomas has a vivid recollection of his first trip to The Edge when he was 13. "I remember looking around at the building and thinking, 'I can't believe that I am the kind of person that comes to a place this amazing'," he says. "I felt pretty cool just to walk in the door. The old dusty warehouse with battered up walls covered in graffiti and ramps, it all just seemed too great. It was perfect."
And like many of the skateboarders who walked through the doors, The Edge quickly became a place Thomas would come back to, again and again. "When I was younger I was there one or two evenings a week, year round. And as I got older I was there more. Between helping out with sessions, coming to or staying for late night after-sessions, working rentals, and barbecuing hotdogs on the roof, I was there all the time," Thomas says.
Photographer Cam Nikkel also had fond memories of The Edge, despite the fact that he broke an elbow and cracked some ribs in the building. He says The Edge was an integral part of Winnipeg's skateboarding community for one reason, "We live in Winnipeg," he says. "Thinking about your next skateboarding session can keep you up at night. During the winters when I was in my teens we spent our spare time being chased by security guards in the city's parkades. The Edge skatepark is indoor skateboarding."
Photographer Cam Nikkel's favourite photo captured during The Edge's final skate. (Cam Nikkel)
It also became a place Nikkel shared with his own family. Asked to choose one favourite photograph from his time spent in the building, he selected one from the final session before The Edge shut down, an image of his eight year old son doing a trick over the mini spine ramp.
"I spend so much of my time trying to balance my own skateboarding time with documenting others skateboarding that I often forget to take the time to just sit back and watch my son," he recalls. "I wasn't skateboarding and I wasn't taking photos, I was just walking from one end of the building to the other when I caught my son doing this trick in the corner of my eye. I stopped to watch him do it a few more times, just watching and enjoying the moment. I then asked if he minded doing the trick one more time so I could take a photo. He obliged," Nikkel says.
The Edge 125 Pacific Avenue launches at McNally Robinson February 12 at 7 p.m.