New $210M transit garage incorporates old Edmonton landmark
Kathleen Andrews Transit Garage taking shape in Edmonton's former meat-packing district
Kathryn Ivany peeks out from under a hard hat at the new $210M Kathleen Andrews Transit Garage, the future home of 700 transit employees and Edmonton's fleet of 300 buses.
The 13-acre site at 12403 Fort Road was once the heart of Edmonton's thriving meat-packing industry.
"Meat packing actually began out in this area about 1908," said Ivany, a City of Edmonton archivist. "The railway had come through here and of course if you're packing meat you want to ship it off. So this is why the original plants came here."
Meat packers like Swifts, Burns and Canada Packers thrived here, but now all that remains is a 12-storey smokestack.
"It's very interesting because it's actually got terracotta tiles," Ivany said. "It's not brick."
The smokestack will be the centrepiece of a new public park that will open alongside the transit garage.
The garage is named after the city's first female bus driver.
Kathleen Andrews died in 2013, but in a conversation with the CBC at the beginning of her career in 1976, Andrews explained she preferred driving to an office job.
"I like driving, I wanted to be outside, I was sick of working in an office so that's why I took the job," Andrews explained.
The pay was certainly another factor, she said, as her hourly wage jumped from $3 to $7.50 an hour.
But it wasn't easy for the trailblazer.
"She faced drunken louts trying to pick her up, male colleagues who questioned her ability to drive, and both female and male passengers who refused to get on the bus because she was a woman," said Andrews' daughter, Lisa Andrews, who followed her mother into the business and is now an ETS operator and instructor.
Kathleen Andrews Transit Garage is scheduled to open late next year.
You can see more from the Kathleen Andrews Transit Garage on Our Edmonton Saturday at 10 a.m. and Monday at 11 a.m. on CBC TV.