A testament to built heritage -
Lt-Col. James Kennedy Cornwall, also known as Peace River Jim and the Apostle of the North, for his passionate love of this part of the country returned to Edmonton in 1918 following his service in the First World War.
He returned to The Villa, a grand Highlands green and white Tudor mansion, built for his wife, Evelyn, and family in 1912 “to stand stately on the eastern lip of the Groat Ravine”. He continued his business ventures, although somewhat thwarted by the stock market crash of 1929. He lost The Villa, but not his resiliency.
|James Kennedy's Villa in Edmonton built in 1912. Recently sold for $1.45 million. Photo by John Lucas, Edmonton Journal|
Historian and author Hugh A. Dempsey writes, "Cornwall had made a tangible contribution to the northland and people loved him for it. Mr. Cornwall had done more to show the world the country north of Edmonton, said the Calgary Herald, than any government, church or individual. He believed in it and he preached it, he lived there and he finally convinced others to try and see if it was not what he said. They have tried and found it so, and Edmonton is proud of him, and the northland loves him, and the entire province is glad and proud to know that there lives within its boundaries a man of such public spirit and absolute confidence as J. K. Cornwall. "
The Villa, a testament to built heritage, over the years has housed several owners. Most recently, the 7,000- square-foot home with three bricks thick walls, exuding “rustic grace and charm” had been on the market for two years. Even with its historical significance, it was without a heritage designation. Concern was that even if the house was sold, it might be demolished. The realtor is quoted: “You can’t create history and leave a legacy for younger people without leaving these properties. There’s not enough of that around Edmonton.”Alas, it was purchased in early August 2015 for a reported $1.45 million. In addition, the buyer paid between $50,000 and $150,000 for its antique furnishings. The intent of the buyer is for his family to live in The Villa, after making a few upgrades and perhaps have it as a Bed and Breakfast