On December 13, 1982, a day that will live in infamy for lovers of heritage buildings and local history, the old Tegler Block was imploded to make way for a new BMO office block. By then a Zellers, the 1912-built building was the tallest in town by two storeys during much of its relatively short lifespan.
The entire block was demolished in spectacular fashion in front of a large crowd of onlookers, and caught on live television by CBC News. Using 450 explosive charges, the corner of 101 Street and 102 Avenue was changed in an instant. The prime downtown site had been purchased in 1978 by BMO, and was set to become the bank's new Edmonton head office.
Reportedly filling the streets with a billowing cloud of smoke, which can be seen blowing towards the crowd — and out of the sewers — at an alarming rate in the archival footage, the otherwise routine implosion gave spectators and viewers at home more than they bargained for. Viewed at the time as an exciting new chapter in the young city's history, the demolition of the old Tegler Block was a sign of progress, and its modern replacement understood by many as the way forward.
Today joined by a rising crop of new office and condo towers, the BMO building has now become one of the oldest structures on the corner, predated only by the 1970s-era office block that can be seen behind it in both the archival screen capture and Google Street View image posted above. Half as old today as the Tegler Block was upon its demise, only time will tell how long the current edifice will last, as downtown Edmonton is in the midst of yet another building boom and urban transformation.
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