What is “Annamoe?” Why is the name “Annamoe Mansions” cast in concrete on the front of an apartment building built in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada in 1914? The answer is found in the tortured Ireland-England history of the past 700 years. It is found in the Hudson’s Bay Company occupation of Canada from 1670 to 1866. It is found in the remarkable 1910 land boom in Edmonton and a prominent Irish family possibly anticipating recrimination for supporting Irish independence.
The initial purchaser for the site of the building for the Annamoe Mansions in 1913 was David Lubbock Robinson (3). David Lubbock Robinson bought the land from the Hudson’s Bay Company in Mar. 1913 during a remarkable land boom in Edmonton. David Lubbock Robinson was born in 1882 in Dublin, Ireland. Thirty one years later in 1913, David was a law clerk in the law offices of prominent Edmonton lawyers, George O’Connor and W.A. Griesbach (1). David’s father was a teacher in United College, a well known Anglican College in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. In June 1915 the Hudson’s Bay Company transferred ownership of the lot to “Robert Childers Barton” of the village of Annamoe (Annamoe means “cattle crossing” in Irish), County Wicklow, Ireland” (6). Robert Childers Barton was a cousin of David Lubbock Robinson (19). Robert Childers Barton made monthly payments on the lot until it was fully paid for in 1922 (7).
Why did the Hudson’s Bay Company own the land it sold to David Lubbock Robinson 1913 on which Annamoe Mansions would be built? Because In 1670 King Charles II of England gave “Rupert’s Land” to “The Governor and Company of Adventurers of England Trading into Hudson’s Bay” (17). The “Governor” in question was Prince Rupert of the Rhine, a first cousin of King Charles II. “Rupert’s Land” was the drainage basin of Hudson Bay, 3.9 million square kilometer (1.5 million square miles) consisting in Canada of all of Manitoba, most of Saskatchewan, southern Alberta, southern Nunavut, northern parts of Ontario and Quebec and in the Unite States parts of Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and Montana. Today, we know this “Company of Adventurers” as the Hudson’s Bay Company. Rupert’s Land was considered by the Hudson’s Bay Company as a gigantic fur farm. Two hundred years later, in 1866, the Hudson’s Bay Company sold Rupert’s Land to the newly formed Canadian government for £300,000. One stipulation in the sale was that the Hudson’s Bay Company “reserve” ownership of 1000 acres around each of their trading posts in Canada. Fort Edmonton was one of these trading posts and the 1000 acres around Fort Edmonton was called “The Hudson’s Bay Reserve” (HBR) (17). The Hudson’s Bay Reserve in Edmonton was bordered on the east by 101 St., on the west by 121 St., on the north by 118 Ave. and on the south by the North Saskatchewan River (1, 2) and contained the lot on which the Annamoe would be built.
31 year old David Lubbock Robinson made a down payment of $2,500 on the $10,000 price for the Annamoe Masnsions lot (3). Sixteen months later In July 1914 World War 1 started and 3 months after the outbreak of the war, on Oct. 28, 1914, while in West Down South, England, David Lubbock Robinson joined the Overseas Expeditionary Force of the Canadian Army (15). While overseas he met his cousin Robert Childers Barton of Glendalough House, Annamoe, Ireland. Robert Childers Baron was also in the British army (18). This meeting resulted in Robert Childers Barton buying, sight unseen, the lot on which Annamoe Mansions would be built (5).
Annamoe Mansions were designed by “Architectural Designer” Arthur W. Cowley, of the Agency Building, Edmonton. The original blue prints, dated Dec 1913, said “APARTMENT. BUILDING TO BE ERECTED ON. LOT 8. BLOCK 19. H.B.R. EDMONTON ALTA. FOR MESSRS. TAYLOR. WHITCROFT. AND ROBINSON”(16). It was built in 1914 by the Zenith Contracting Co (4). The building was a three story, 25 unit walk-up apartment, complete with a freight elevator powered by hand-pulled rope; electric door bells in the hallway outside of each unit; and dumb waiters in each unit, powered by hand-pulled ropes. The dumb waiters were used to send trash to the basement (after signaling the janitor with an push-button bell) to be burned in an incinerator.
To date, the person who supplied the money to construct the Annamoe Mansions is unknown. However, the name name “Annamoe Mansions” is cast in concrete on the front of the building, suggesting Robert Childers Barton, who lived in Glendalough House near Annamoe, Ireland, was the financier.
The Annamoe Mansions in Canada have an interesting place in the troubled history between Ireland and England. The names “Barton” and “Childers” were prominent in the Irish-English relations of the 1914 era, crucial years in 700 years of conflict. In Ireland, descendants of English Immigrants to Ireland between the Norman Invasion of 1169 and before the Turdor Conquest of Ireland (resulting in the Plantation of Ulster by the English in 1609) were called “Old English.” The Bartons were an “Old English” family and had considerable land holdings in Ireland. In 1876 the Bartons owned 1,542 acres in County Wicklow (19). Robert Childers Barton was raised at Glendalough House near Annamoe, Ireland, along with his first cousin, Erskine Childers, whose parents died from tuberculosis when Erskine was an infant (8). Despite English roots, Robert Childers Barton and his first cousin Erskine Childers played an important part in Ireland’s struggle for independence from England
In 1915, during World War 1, around the time Robert Barton was building Annamoe Mansions, his first cousin, Erskine Childers, was smuggling guns into Ireland on Erskine’s yacht, the “Asgard” (9, 10) to aid the Irish struggle against the English. In 1921, three years after the end of World War I, the political activities of Robert Barton and Erskine Childers continued (18). An Irish delegation met with a delegation from the English government to work out details of independence for Ireland. Robert Childers Barton and Erskine Childers were members of this Irish delegation. Lloyd George and Winston Churchill, current and future Prime Ministers of England, and members of the 1921 English delegation, threatened an “immediate and terrible war” against Ireland if the Irish delegation did not sign the treaty proposed by England. Faced with such intimidation, the Irish reluctantly signed the treaty giving independence to the south of Ireland (11).
This treaty was supposed to end several centuries of conflict in Ireland resulting from English occupation. However, many people in Ireland did not want this treaty signed, because the Treaty resulted in a divided Ireland with 1/5 of the Island of Ireland in the north remaining a part of England and 4/5 in the south becoming the Irish Free State. An Irish civil war resulted. On one side of this civil war was the official government of infant Ireland, the “Pro Treaty” group led by Michael Collins. On the other side of the Irish civil war was the “Anti Treaty” group led by Eamon De Valera. The conflict resulting from the signing of this treaty is being played out to this very day in the violence in the north of Ireland. Erskine Childers and his first cousin Robert Childers Barton sided with De Valera’s Anti Treaty group. On Nov. 10, 1922 Erskine Childers was arrested by the “pro-treaty” infant Irish government at his home in Glendalough House in Annamoe, Ireland, for having possession of a revolver. He was executed by firing squad two weeks later. A twist of fate in this execution is that the revolver in question was given to Erskine Childers by Michael Collins, leader of the pro treaty group that arrested and executed Erskine, while Erskine and Michael Collins were fighting together against England for Irish independence. In 1973 Erskine Childers’ son Erskine Hamilton Childers, was elected the 4th president of Ireland.
Robert Childers Barton probably had Annamoe Mansions constructed in 1914 as a potential source of income to hedge against the possibility of the Bartons losing their land in Ireland due to he and his first cousin’s stand against English occupation of Ireland.
Robert Childers Barton owned Annamoe Mansions until 1969 when he was 89. He sold the building to Cabrhel Holdings, the estate of deceased Joseph Herbert Conroy, MD, of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada (12, 13). Joseph Herbert (Herb) Conroy, his wife Ruth, and family owned and lived for 36 years from 1941 to 1977 in the house, adjacent to the east side of the Annamoe Mansions. The house was originally build by Canadian Senator Lassard This house, still owned by a daughter of Herb and Ruth Conroy, Catherine Ryan, was torn down in 2007 to be replaced by the 5 story condominium called “Lassard Place.”
Joseph Herbert Conroy was one of a second Canadian-born generation from a group of 300 destitute Irish families from the south of Ireland which was sent, at government expense, in 1825, to Peterborough, Ontario, Canada. Herb’s father, David Conroy, was illiterate and from the first-born generation of the immigrant group to Peterborough.
It is interesting to consider that 150 years after a destitute illiterate Irish family arrived in Peterborough in 1825, one of their descendants purchased the Annamoe Mansions in 1969 from a large landowner in Ireland.
The Annamoe Mansions are currently owned by Bob Conroy (Bobbycon Holdings Ltd.), son of Herb and Ruth Conroy (14).
(1) Personal communication by the author with A.W. (Tony) Cashman, Edmonton historian and newspaper columnist.
(2) Instrument #136V15, June 6, 1911, North Alberta Land Registration District, transfer of title of lot 8 block 19 to the Hudson’s Bay Co.
(3) David Robinson bought the property from the Hudson’s Bay Co. This info. was obtained on May 4, 2007 from the Land Records in the Hudson’s Bay Company Archives in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. The information is in RG1/40/4, Town site Sales Register, in a book on Edmonton. The Annamoe property is lot 8, Block 19. The information was researched by Hudson’s Bay Archivist Kathy Mallett ( ph. 204 945-6401) and communicated by telephone to the author. On May 7, 2007 Kathy emailed the author the following additional info:
“I just located another bit of information for you Bob. I did find a very flimsy copy of a receipt from Robert Barton for $10,000 which he paid on November 14, 1922 (reference RG1/61/20). This receipt cannot be photocopied because of its condition and location, and is found in the Deed Copy Book, Deed no. 1825.”
(4) Instrument #3815AZ, April 18, 1914, filed by J. Zenith Contracting Co. at the City of Edmonton Land Titles Office.
(5) Personal communication in 1955 by the author with Mr. Arnold Taylor, Annamoe Mansions manager, in Apt. “D” at Annamoe Mansions .
(6) Instrument #83C37 at the North Alberta Land Registration District, 17 Jan., 1915.
(7) Instrument #3933DP, Nov. 24, 1927, transfer of title of the Annamoe Mansions to Robert Barton at the City of Edmonton Land Titles Office.
(8) “Dangerous Waters, the Life and Death of Erskine Childers” by Leonard Piper, published by Hambledon and London, 2003.
(9) Details of Erskine Childers’ gun smuggling are given in Norman Donaldson’s “Introduction” to the 1975 Dover Edition of Erskine Childers’ novel “Riddle Of the Sands.” (This 1903 novel by Erskine Childers is considered a classic, and one of the first spy novels in English literature.)
(10) “Ireland, A History” by Robert Kee, 1980, page 150, published by Little Brown and Company (UK) Ltd., mentions Erskine Childer’s gun smuggling,
(11) The Encyclopedia of Ireland, page 189, edited by Brian Lalor.
(12) Caveat filed in City of Edmonton Land Titles office on 12 Feb. 1969, by Catherine R. Ryan (née Conroy) for Cabrhel Holdings Ltd., the Holding Company of the estate of J.H. Conroy.
(13) 20 Aug. 1970, new title granted by Edmonton Land Titles Office to Cabrhel Holdings Ltd.
(14) Oct. 2002, new title granted by Edmonton Land Titles Office to Bobbycon Ltd.
(15) Attestation Paper of David Lubbock Robinson into the Canadian Army, Oct. 28, 1914.
(16) Original Blue Prints obtained from City of Edmonton Archives.
(17) “Rupert’s Land” from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, on the internet.
(18) Document obtained from the Internet: Bureau of Military History 1913-21 No. W.S. 979.
(19) Barton, Robert Childers, by Paulic J. Dempsy and Shaul Boylan, Dictionary of Irish Biography, Cambridge University Press, 2009, vol. 1, PP 361-363.