John Walker Barnett House
Historical Edmonton Homes
The John Walker Barnett House is located across from the Holy Trinity Anglican Church in Strathcona Edmonton at 10701 University Avenue. The heritage value of this south-central house home lies in its association with John Walker Barnett, a founder and the first General Secretary-Treasurer / Executive Secretary of the Alberta Teachers’ Association.
John Walker Barnett was born on August 28, 1880, in Lincolnshire, England. He trained as a teacher and, while teaching in England, served as a district president of the National Union of Teachers of England and Wales. In early 1911, he migrated to Canada and in September 1914, Barnett had a house built in the Queen Alexandra neighborhood.
Soon after this purchase, he moved his family from northern Edmonton to the new house, which was only eight blocks southwest of the high school. The one-and-a-half-story house is a Craftsman-style bungalow with an open floor plan interior. It has wood-shingle-clad exterior walls, exposed eaves, large decorative brackets, and a large gable-roofed veranda. The interior features large quantities of natural wood elements, such as the wood strip flooring, exposed wooden beams, fireplace mantles, large doorways with wooden columns, built in seating benches, and cabinetry. Craftsman-style houses such as this were popular at the time and the scale of the house is typical for an urban, middle-class family.
Encouraged by his experience with teachers’ unions in England, Barnett became involved in efforts to develop a stronger and more unified voice for Alberta teachers. In 1915, he led the Edmonton Teachers’ Association’s protest against salary cuts. Between 1920 and 1924, the ATA operated out of Barnett’s University Edmonton home. During the early years of the ATA, Barnett concentrated on increasing membership and lobbying the government for better working conditions. Following the election of the Social Credit government of William Aberhart – who was a former high school teacher – the ATA won a number of important concessions. In 1936, the government amended the Teaching Profession Act making membership in the ATA mandatory for all public school teachers. Long-term contracts and pensions were secured and in 1941, the ATA became the first teachers’ association in Canada to gain the right to collective bargaining and the right to legally strike. Barnett’s determination and effort were instrumental to the achievement of these long-sought-after goals.
John Walker Barnett lived in the University Avenue house until April 1946. Five months later he resigned from the ATA, although he continued to serve as an advisor until his death in June 1947. The residence’s style and floor plan retain considerable integrity from the period in which the Barnett family was in residence. This University area Edmonton house sold in 1991 for $141,800. For more information or to learn the value of your Strathcona Edmonton homes, contact us at 780-910-5179.