Forgotten Edmonton reveals stories within the walls as architectural sleuth shares historic homes

Dane Ryksen, a University of Alberta history student, is working on a project to document historical architecture in Edmonton. (Photo by Larry Wong/Postmedia)

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Where other architectural observers may notice an elaborate cornice, a cladding of Roman brick, an Art Deco flair, Dane Ryksen ponders the porch, and the people who perched there.

Not that the local history buff is disinterested in the art of architecture. But he’s really keen on what went on in the buildings, and particularly the homes, that he photographs for his blog, Forgotten Edmonton, and his Instagram account, _citizen_dane_.

“A building might be important architecturally, but the important thing to me is the people who inhabited it and the stories contained within its walls,” says Ryksen, 23, a history major at the University of Alberta.

Those stories pepper his social media platforms. But they also occupy Ryksen’s imagination as he strolls through historic Edmonton neighbourhoods, capturing images with his camera, and sourcing tales of those who once lived there.

A self-described “architecture nerd,” Ryksen became fascinated by the cityscape as a teenager. He remembers tackling a stop-motion movie project in junior high, and thinking hard about how to construct a 1930s, gangster-style movie set complete with period buildings, entirely from Lego. While the movie project never materialized, the creative experience sparked something within Ryksen, an urge to observe, to wonder, and to share.

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