Block 1912 Cafe

You are at Block 1912 Café, a fixture on the Avenue for almost 30 years. During the summer the concertina doors are open with patio seating for those enjoying coffee and house made ice-cream, and in the winter patrons snuggle around tables, and maybe participate in the “take a book, leave a book” shelves to one side of the dining room.

Since it opened in 1992, Block 1912 has served the Old Strathcona community as well as been featured on the Food Network, received dozens of Golden Fork Awards and other accolades for their coffee, desserts, and sandwiches. 

The name of the café is a tribute to the year in which the building was constructed, and the building was formally designated as a historic site in 2016. The building’s significance lays in its connection to the early development of Strathcona, which dates back to the arrival of the railway in 1892. Walking through the doors of Block 1912 is like entering a time capsule, with knick-knacks, old art, and bare brick walls.

Block 1912 not only serves up delicious food and drink but is an advocate for the local art and music scene with Monday jazz nights as well as featuring local art displayed on the walls. Artists are encouraged to pitch their portfolios to potentially get hung on the walls, with a new local artist featured every month.

Let’s shift our focus for just a few minutes and talk about youth homelessness. 20% of the homeless population in Canada is comprised of youth between ages of 13 and 24. Youth who stands on the street for 2 years are less likely to leave, making an intervention with in the first two years is keyed to solve the problem. A survey of homeliness youth in Edmonton revealed that for 60% of them, both friends and music were primary coping mechanisms. We would like to introduce you to Edmonton musician Emmet Michael whose music was built on his trials. Turning to music in his darkest times, he found solace in his ability to share his heart with others through his lyrics. He invites us in to experience the world with him reminding us all of our shared desires to love and be loved just as we are.

“My name is Emmet Michael, I am an Edmonton based singer song writer, a mental health advocate and a recovered addict. Growing up I struggled with mental health and with feeling like didn’t fit in the way where everybody else did. When I started going to the high school where I didn’t know anybody else, I realized that the easiest way for me to make friends was to drink and use drugs.

Drugs also help me to suppress all of the negative emotions that I felt as the result of my depression and anxiety. I moved out of my house and I started couch surfing as a young teenager, and I was eventually arrested for a possession at 17 years old. I went to rehab to clear my record. It was while I was there that I started to really pour myself into my music.

Art has empowered me in a lot of different ways. While in rehab, all of these emotions that I have suppressed for so long came flooding back in and I needed to way to channel all of it. Song writing gave me that outlet. It was like a journaling for me. I’ve always struggled with a lot of anxiety with putting my feelings into words but I was able to express myself openly in song. I’ve relied on song writing as my main source of healing ever since. It’s taught me a lot about who I am in times when I felt uncertain about myself.

In my addiction, my relationships were almost always based around drug use. And I knew a lot of people we didn’t know each other all that intimately. It’s hard to be real when you’re not be able to face your own reality. I was almost always surrounded by many people but I always felt alone. Making music has given me the opportunity to connect with so many people in meaningful ways. Because of my open and honest expression, others feel it’s safe to be vulnerable with me too. And that’s how the authentic connections were made.

I’m able to be received in being exactly as I am, and I receive others the same way. I would’ve never made these connections if I hadn’t allowed myself to be known. I’ve met so many of my friends through open mics and playing shows and in the addiction and mental health community just by having willingness to share my story. I will continue to share it as often as I can and in hopes it will resonate with someone who needs it and inspire them to share their own story.

Let’s start walking toward our next location on the corner of 107th St. and 85th Ave.. If you need to, you can look at the Story City map. Along the way, please keep listening to hear some of Emmet’s music. And If you enjoy what you hear there’s a link to Emmet’s Spotify on the Story City app.