In the early 1900's Edmonton was a bustling town, due to the Gold Rush in the Yukon. The Industrial Era opened a chance for entrepreneurs to get rich quickly by supplying merchandise and building materials to the fast growing population of Alberta. They needed to advertise their goods and services, using outdoor advertising.
At that time sign-painting was a fairly common job, and many sign-painters moved from place to place. While most cities had their own sign shops, many smaller towns and rural areas depended on travelling artisans to do their sign-painting. Painters, who designed these signs, were called "wall dogs". Because signs had to be made on the spot, every sign was produced with a brush attached to a hand. Painters used lead-based paint, on the brick buildings in Edmonton downtown, mostly along Jasper Avenue.
The billboards that once advertised anything from cigars, coffee and steam-cooked rice to sportswear can be found on decaying brick buildings and neglected back alleys. Only few of them remain, serving as the reminder of the service or product they sold. Some are visible only after the rain and for this reason they got the nickname "ghost signs." The few that still remain are at risk of being demolished, to make way for new downtown development.
The photos below are my small collection of ghost signs, that are still visible on the brick walls as an evidence of well-being in the past business, but non-existing today.