Larry Heron’s Memories of Highlands
This article is based on a 2014 interview with Larry Heron. It was written by interviewer Helen Gillespie, former board member with the Highlands Historical Society. Thank you Larry, for sharing your memories, and thank you Helen, for writing them for us.
Larry Heron grew up on 71st Street and 111th Avenue, now a part of Concordia College. (Larry remembers sneaking into Concordia cafeteria for cookies when he was only 4 years old).
Larry’s parents’ home was built in 1920 and was torn down in 1968 to make way for the Capilano Freeway.
Larry was one of five boys in the Heron family. One of these boys died in wartime in 1942, on his 20th birthday.
Larry attended Highlands School in Grade 1 in 1947 but then moved to Virginia Park School, which opened the following year. Open boundaries did not exist then so Larry had to move to Virginia Park School as he lived in that district. He was a student there until 1953 when he went back to Highlands for Junior High School. He was a student there until 1956 and went from there to Eastglen High School.
He recalls that at Highlands School boys and girls had separate entrances and there were separate staff lounges for men and women. Smoking was allowed….
Larry remembers that he had decided to run for Student Council and had his friend, John Whittaker, write his speech. On the day Larry was to give his speech Mrs. Savage, one of his teachers, said to him, “I hope you are going to go home and change if you are running for Council”. Larry was grateful for the wardrobe advice but lost anyway. It turned out that John had written the speeches for all the candidates.
Sports at Highlands was fairly informal but many of the boys would come early to school to play football. Only basketball was more organized.
Larry still has friends from the old days at Junior High School and he enjoyed the wonderful dinner at the Highlands Golf Club after the 100th Anniversary celebration of Highlands School on May 31st of this year . He even met people whose names he had heard but he had never met before. At school he mostly spent time with students in his own year.
Although Larry’s home was not officially in the Highlands he and his buddies considered themselves Highlanders and spent time in many of the haunts on 112th Avenue around 65th Street. At Pete’s Meat and Grocery (owned by a friend) he and his buddies climbed up on the flat roof and threw snowballs. Grades 2 to 6 they hung out at the Polar Bar (71st Street and 112th Avenue) during the week. Jamison’s was like McDonalds, a stopping spot for Junior High students on the way home from school. The Cozy Corner where Eccie (Mrs. Eccles) held sway was mostly the haunt of older kids. Of course there was also the Highlands Bakery, beloved to all who lived in the Highlands in years gone by.
One of Larry’s brothers did deliveries for Agnew’s Drugs. Jack Agnew was a family friend. Skates were sharpened at Highland Hardware, now Butterfly Fashions [now The Tesserae]. Safeway (on the north east corner of 112th Avenue and 65th Street) was where all the neighbourhood shoppers bought their groceries.
From Grade 7 onwards Highlands students spent time in some part of the retail area almost every day.
Larry’s present-day office (Direct-Line Insurance) is on the north east corner of 112th Avenue and 65th Street where Safeway had its store and which afterward became a branch of the CIBC. He moved his office into that building in early 1992. Larry’s previous office had been in the Muttart Building and he was looking for more room. He had been having lunch at La Boheme, looked across the street, and noticed that the CIBC had moved out of the building. He phoned the bank and after some negotiation bought the building and moved in.
There were two attractions about the location. One was that it was near the Capilano Freeway with easy access to all parts of the city. In these days insurance brokers went to visit their clients…. The other attraction was nostalgic. The area had so many memories for Larry. As he said, “Highlands has always been home”.
Larry commissioned the “Historic Highlands” mural on the east wall of his office building. He said he did this because he had seen many murals in “The City of Champions” and since he had a large blank wall he thought it would be wonderful to commemorate Highlands’ past in this way. His original idea was to centre the mural around a streetcar as streetcars used to run past the building but after some consultation with the artist (Ian Mulder) it was decided to widen the focus to include local buildings and a portrait of W. Magrath, founder of the Highlands. A mockup was done and Pete Jamieson, a non-Highlands resident, was added as he was an interesting local character known by many in Edmonton.
As you drive west along 112th Avenue past the mural you feel as if you are driving into it, driving into the past, a past that Larry remembers with fondness and generously shares with all of us.
A major part of growing up for many boys in the Highlands area was being part of the Boy Scout movement, Cubs, Scouts and Rover Scouts. There were two groups, one at Highlands School and one at St. Mary’s Anglican Church. Larry belonged to the St. Mary’s group and Art Clough, who lived on 63rd Street, was his Cub master and later his Rover Scout leader. Mr. Clough was a huge influence on his life and on the lives of many other Highlands area boys through their growing up years. He and his wife and family were like a second family to many of these boys, long after they grew up and left the Scout movement. Christmas Eve at the Cloughs was a tradition carried on into adulthood. Everyone went to midnight mass at St. Mary’s, whether they were Anglican or not.
Highlands was home and Highlands was family – was it only Robert Burns who said, “My heart’s in the Highlands”?