Place Name: Ada Boulevard
Feature Type (Year Approved): Road (Common Usage)
Name Origins: Commemorative
Ada is a feminine given name. One origin is the Germanic element "adel-" meaning "nobility", for example as part of the names Adelaide and Adeline. The name can also trace to a Hebrew origin, sometimes spelt Adah - עָדָה, meaning "adornment". Ada also means "first daughter" in Igbo. Finally, the name occurs in Greek mythology and was in use in Ancient Greece.
Cultural Affiliation: German Jewish
Naming Edmonton: From Ada to Zoie
Ada Thirsee Macgrath (1863-1941), wife of real-estate developer and entrepreneur William J. Macgrath (1870-1920), is the namesake of Ada Boulevard. The road runs past the spectacular Macgrath mansion, along the north bank of the North Saskatchewan River in the city's east end. William Macgrath is best known for the development, with his partner Bidwell Holgate, of the Highlands neighbourhood. The suburb, along with Glenora, was aimed at housing the wealthy.
Ada Lake was born in Tamworth, Ontario, and married William Macgrath in 1894. In 1905 they moved to Edmonton, taking the first Canadian Northern train west from Battleford. They had one son, Adrian. Asa was on the first board of directors of the Edmonton YWCA and was active in the Highlands, Wesley and McDougall United Church.
The 14-room, red brick Macgrath home, at 6249 Ada Boulevard, was built in 1911 and is today recognized as a historic site. The three story house was designed by the architect E.W. Morehouse and cost $85 000 to build. Considered one of Edmonton's most beautiful homes, there is a ballroom and a billiards room on the top floor, and a pool in the basement. No expense was spared in its construction; the luxurious interior included bathroom fixtures imported from Paris and marble tile from Rome. The family's residence in the grand home was to be short-lived. William Macgrath died at the age of 51 in 1920. The misfortune, combined with the 1929 stock market crash and the Great Depression, ruined the family's fortune. In 1931 the city took possession of the house for nonpayment of taxes.
Now in private hands, the Macgrath mansion was, for many years, the residence of the Ukrainian Catholic Bishop of the Edmonton diocese. the oak-lined dining room was used as a chapel and the pool served as storage for the church's records.
A six-block portion of Jasper Avenue formally become Ada Boulevard in 1949. However, the name has been in use from shortly after the Macgraths built their home there decades before. In 1970 Ada Boulevard was extended to include the portion of 113 Avenue lying between 48 Street and 50 Street.
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