At the turn of the 20th century, the cities of Edmonton and Strathcona were engaged in an intense rivalry to attract growth. This competition and nationwide land boom led both cities on a path of rapid subdivision and expansion. The portion of Bonnie Doon that lies west of 91st Street was annexed by Strathcona in 1907 and was later absorbed by Edmonton through the amalgamation of the two cities in 1912.
In 1913, Edmonton expanded once more, including eastern Bonnie Doon within its borders. At the time, Bonnie Doon seemed somewhat distant from the development concentrated around 82nd Avenue (Whyte Ave) and 103rd Street, but the extension of a streetcar line made development in the area more attractive. Early residents of Bonnie Doon took advantage of the river valley views by constructing their residences in the northwest corner of the neighbourhood, next to the Mill Creek Ravine and overlooking the North Saskatchewan River.
During the inter-war years, Edmonton grew rather slowly; by 1950, less than half of the present structures in Bonnie Doon had been constructed. After World War II and the discovery of oil at Leduc, Edmonton again underwent tremendous growth. Neighbourhoods like Bonnie Doon began to fill out.
Bonnie Doon’s development is still under way due to the neighbourhood’s attractive central location and relatively permissive residential zoning. The bulk of the neighbourhood is zoned RF3—low-density infill zone—which provides the opportunity for single-family and duplex housing while allowing some apartment or row housing with up to four units. As original structures are being replaced, most residential redevelopment is of a higher density.
The neighbourhood is the site of one of Edmonton’s first suburban shopping centres, Bonnie Doon Shopping Centre, which still provides important commercial space within the neighbourhood today.
Bonnie Doon takes its name from the Scottish for “pleasant, rolling countryside,” and was named in 1912 in honour of Canadian-born Premier Alexander Cameron Rutherford, who was of Scottish descent and owned a portion of the land east of Mill Creek.