Edmonton’s vibrant antiquing scene will quickly have you reminiscing about days long past

picture: amazon.ca

guide and photos by Bree Meiklejohn

A little nostalgia every once in a while is comforting. The soft glow of a nightlight at your grandparent’s house, a video game console you played in the morning before your parents were awake, or an album you used to have on repeat that you can still remember all the lyrics to, can bring you back to a simpler time in life. If you’re looking to momentarily travel back in time, Edmonton’s vibrant antiquing scene may be able to guide you. 

Old Strathcona Antique Mall

Located just off of Gateway Boulevard (10323 78 Ave NW), the Old Strathcona Antique Mall boasts an impressive variety of antiques. The mall greets you with a two floor marketplace made up of various independent vendors, arranged similarly to Artist Alley at a convention like Edmonton Expo. The upper level is decorated with a few different facades that mimic the look of The Princess Theatre and the brick backwash of the Edmonton Gardens.

Walking through the booths of both the lower and upper levels, one can easily lose track of time trying to take it all in. The mall is somewhat segmented off, based on what vendors are selling, but it flows in such a way that you can be looking for a set of earrings at the front of the mall and end up in the gas station section upstairs in the corner. On the second floor the walking area extends around the furniture section, making you feel as if you’re walking through a museum exhibit.

I have to admit feeling the slightest bit giddy at finding a copy of an old Legend of Zelda game I played in my tween years in one of the display cases. The mall covers a large area of antiques from the past century, from jewelry to clothes, records, toys, pottery, decorations, sports memorabilia, and handmade crafts. This is a store you’ll want to take your time in, as trying to rush through may be overwhelming. 

Ibon Antiques

Named for the Filipino Tagalog word for bird, Ibon Antiques certainly had me feeling like a creature easily distracted by shiny objects.

Only a few blocks away from the Old Strathcona Antique Mall (10423 79 Ave NW), Ibon Antiques also has two floors in the building with shelves and display cases stocked with all kinds of different trinkets. Full disclosure, I am currently employed here, but even I get distracted while working by the antique and modern jewelry the store carries.

Upon entering, you may be frightened by the mannequin replica of Humphrey Bogart who acts as the resident mask model, but afterwards you can freely roam around the store and examine jewelry, silverware, china, and glassware on the first floor, or the array of furniture, clothing, books, and records on the upper floor.

My favourite speciality of theirs would have to be the Tiffany lamps, specifically one made with flowers adorned with jewels imposed on a baby-blue background, or the owl-shaped desk lamp whose feathers are made of pale yellow Tiffany-style glass. These lamps are reproductions, but are still hand-made in the same style as if they were originals from the 1920s. While you can, and probably should, take your time in looking at all the store has to offer, it is an alternative to the Antique Malls if your schedule is tight and you only have time to do a quick look-see. 

Black Swan Antiques 

Innocuously sitting on Whyte Avenue near 109th Street (10822 82 Ave NW), Black Swan Antiques & Collectables is a single floor store that’s filled from floor to ceiling with much of the same items as previously discussed. Repetition does not equal monotony, however, as there are many different kinds of necklaces, decorative figurines, books, and china to catch your eye.

The store itself is tightly packed, giving it a cozy atmosphere that can be walked through in only a few minutes. Though it may be smaller than other antique stores, it is no less of a contributor to this particular niche in Edmonton.

I was pleased to have found copies of Ovid’s Metamorphoses and Horace’s poetry for myself, which I’m grateful for as a Classics student because it may have saved me a trip to the U of A bookstore. Unique to the other stores, Black Swan also carries a collection of sea-shells and fossils for sale. 

Rocky Mountain Antique Mall

Rocky Mountain Antique Mall is similar to the Old Strathcona Mall in that it is made up of various sections from independent vendors, but this location specializes more in antiques from the 1950’s and older.

The store is set up in a single floor warehouse with arrows on the ground to guide you through. A section of this mall was dedicated to books ranging from bird watching guides to classic literature like a Tale of Two Cities and Anna Karenina, set up like a mini-library. As well, an early 1800’s Canadian artillery uniform tunic stood prominently above a display case of several different kinds of army helmets from WWI to the Korean War in a museum-like fashion.

But my favourite piece from this collection had to be the sky blue Smith-Corona typewriter sitting near the front of the store, and I had to draw a lot of inner strength not to blow the remainder of my dwindling budget on it. 

A few of these antique stores curve their prices to appeal to an Edmonton market, meaning they’re more affordable than elsewhere in the province or the country. If you’re in the mood for taking a nostalgic stroll or have a free afternoon for shopping, Edmonton’s vibrant antiquing scene will quickly have you reminiscing about days long past. 

Old Strathcona Antique Mall
10323 78 Ave

Ibon Antiques
10423 79 Ave

Black Swan Antiques
10822 82 Ave

Rocky Mountain Antique Mall
7025 Gateway Blvd