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Edmonton

Discover cosmopolitan charms on the Alberta prairie

Up from the Canadian prairies rises a cosmopolitan city that blends its proud frontier heritage with world-class amenities and culture. Visitors to Edmonton can bag white-tailed deer just outside town and hunt for bargains in North America’s biggest indoor mall—all on the same day.

Started as a pioneering community, this city of gleaming skyscrapers is framed by lush parks and greenbelts. Sitting on the Saskatchewan River, it’s the most northern North American city with a population exceeding one million people. Despite the frigid winter temperatures that come with such a high latitude—it sits 186 miles north of Calgary—the city has adapted to the cold with flair, featuring endless indoor attractions. During summer, the long days entice visitors to hike the ample trails and open spaces that grace the city and its surrounding areas.

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Edmonton’s Pioneer Past

Before it incorporated as a city in 1904, the capital of Alberta was a pioneering community built on the nearby timber and hunting resources. As settlers flocked to the region, the legendary Hudson’s Bay Company and its contemporary, North West Company, established trading posts that merged to make Fort Edmonton a major player in the western fur trade.

Visitors today can tour Fort Edmonton Park, a living history destination that includes the reconstructed 1846 fort and recreated streets from Edmonton’s early years. Four eras are represented in the park: fur trading, settlement, post-railway municipal and metropolitan. Interpreters dress in period costume to represent real-life individuals who were central to the development of Edmonton. Buildings and artifacts represent the city’s evolution through the decades.

The Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village is a stunning example of how residents have preserved their global heritage while celebrating life in Edmonton. The open-air museum is staffed by costumed guides who recreate life in a Ukrainian settlement at the turn of the 20th century. The village is home to nearly 40 restored traditional structures, including a sod house, a grain elevator and three churches.

Canada’s storied military history is a point of pride, and the Loyal Edmonton Regiment Military Museum puts that pride on display. Armed forces in Canada, under the leadership of Britain, began as colonial support for British troops. They evolved into a permanent local army bolstered by volunteer militia. Much of the museum’s collection is dedicated to arms, uniforms, regalia and medals.

Wildlife and Window Shopping

If a shopping spree is on your to-do list, stop by the West Edmonton Mall, ranked as the largest shopping mall in North America and the tenth largest in the world. Covering 5.3 million square feet, the mall boasts 800 stores and a bevy of family-friendly attractions. Galaxyland is the world’s second-largest indoor amusement park and features the Mindbender ride, the world’s largest indoor triple-loop roller coaster. World Waterpark covers 5.1 acres with the world’s largest indoor wave-pool and waterslides. Sea Life Caverns and Sea Lions’ Rock is an indoor lagoon with a saltwater habitat. The centerpiece is the Santa Maria, a life-size replica of a 15th-century Spanish galleon; visitors can even walk the decks of the vessel.

If natural thrills are on your agenda, plan to spend a day at Elk Island National Park on a guided wildlife tour. The park was established in 1906 as a refuge for elk, and today it’s home to bison, moose, mule deer and Canadian lynx. It’s also a stopover for hundreds of migratory bird species such as pelicans, great blue herons and bald eagles.

Hunting and fishing are popular activities in and around Edmonton, whether you aim for whitetail deer, bighorn sheep, geese or pheasant. Alberta provides plenty of opportunities for licensed hunting year-round, and Edmonton is famous for its bow-only whitetail-hunting zone. Guided outfitters can be found throughout the city.

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Flying High in Edmonton

Turn your eyes upward and glimpse Canada’s airborne legacy, which is honored at the Alberta Aviation Museum. Dozens of restored and preserved aircraft are on display, as well as scale models. From a Curtiss Jenny to a Sopwith Camel, nearly 40 distinct flying machines beckon admirers of planes, helicopters and fighter jets to the museum’s hangars. The museum regularly launches living history flight recreations with its Spirit of Edmonton biplane and other operating aircraft.

If you prefer to relive history on solid ground, hop aboard Edmonton’s High Level Bridge Street Car. The bridge opened in 1913 and was outfitted with three sets of tracks on its top deck; Canadian Pacific Railway trains ran down the center, and local streetcars traveled on the outside. Operated by the Edmonton Radial Railway Society, the streetcar is a restored 1912 model that runs daily between May and September, and on weekends through Thanksgiving Day (in Canada, it’s mid-October).

The North Saskatchewan River flows through the city and is an urban gem surrounded by walking and biking trails. At the water’s edge, cast a line for lake sturgeon, goldeye, burbot and mountain whitefish. Local lakes are prime spots for trout fishing in the warm summer months.

Plant your feet on solid ground once again and take a casual stroll through Muttart Conservatory. This unique set of glass and metal pyramids is home to three biomes, or plant communities—desert, tropical rainforest and temperate, where deciduous forest and tundra coexist—consisting of thousands of species of plants. A fourth pyramid houses rotating exhibits and seasonal displays.

Get in touch with Edmonton’s natural surroundings at John Janzen Nature Centre, chock full of interactive exhibits and special events to teach visitors about local ecology. The Nature Centre is a hit with children and families, who find its hands-on activities and indoor play space a great combination of fun and discovery.

For More Information

Edmonton Tourism

800-463-4667

www.exploreedmonton.com

 

Travel Alberta

800-252-3782

www.travelalberta.com