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Edmonton time capsules opened to reveal 111 year YMCA history

Artifacts from two Edmonton Downtown YMCA capsules are on display, Monday, April 23, 2018. Morris Gamblin, Global News

A lot of memories were made inside the downtown Edmonton YMCA that closed last year, and now a piece of history has been unveiled.

Two time capsules from 1907 and 1951 were opened and displayed to the public for the first time on Monday morning.

The capsules, full of items representing the time, were planted in the exterior wall of the old building until they were removed last year.

“Things that really stood out for us were the list of donors who contributed to the campaign to build our very first YMCA,” Northern Alberta YMCA president & CEO Nick Parkinson said.

rtifacts from two Edmonton Downtown YMCA capsules are on display, Monday, April 23, 2018. Morris Gamblin, Global News
Several coins taken from an Edmonton Downtown YMCA capsule are on display, Monday, April 23, 2018. Morris Gamblin, Global News
Morris Gamblin, Global News
Newspapers are pulled out of a Edmonton Downtown YMCA capsule , Monday, April 23, 2018. Morris Gamblin, Global News
Morris Gamblin, Global News

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The Downtown YMCA opened in 1907 with a capital investment of around $75,000 — which would equate to over $1.6 million in 2018 dollars.

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“Fundraising and philanthropy and use of volunteers was still at the core of the YMCA then and it is today,” Parkinson said.

“There’s pledge forms and donation history of who contributed to the YMCA to get us started in 1907.”

In 1951, a community campaign for $275,000 to expand the facility was completed, and a new swimming pool and gymnasium was added.

“At some point this year, we’ll reseal them [the artifacts] and we’ll probably plant the capsules back in the Don Wheaton YMCA,” Parkinson said.

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In recent years the Edmonton Downtown YMCA operated as a long-term housing facility for, but it closed in November 2017.

“It was a really tough decision to close that old building and the work we were doing in housing, but a number of decisions and a two year comprehensive review of our programs and services came to the conclusion that we need to make that tough decision,” Parkinson said.

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Parkinson said everyone who lost their homes when the building closed have found new housing.

A local developer has started a massive renovation to the old building, which will feature 90 micro apartments, a co-working office floor, health and wellness space on the second level and a food hall.

The YMCA is now looking to the future, having expanded into northern Alberta communities like Grande Prairie and Fort McMurray.

Items have also been collected for a new time capsule that will represent 2018. Those items will be placed inside a capsule and stored at at the Don Wheaton YMCA along with the 1907 and 1951 capsules.

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