Edmonton is the capital city of the Canadian province of Alberta. Edmonton is on the North Saskatchewan River and is the centre of the Edmonton Metropolitan Region, which is surrounded by Alberta’s central region. The city anchors the north end of what Statistics Canada defines as the “Calgary–Edmonton Corridor”.
The metro area of Edmonton had a population of 1,491,000 at the beginning of 2021, making it Alberta’s second-largest city (after Calgary) and Canada’s fifth-largest municipality. Edmonton’s 2019 municipal census recorded a population of 972,223. Also in 2016, Edmonton had a metropolitan population of 1,321,426, making it the sixth-largest census metropolitan area (CMA) in Canada. Edmonton is North America’s northernmost metropolitan area with a population over one million. A resident of Edmonton is known as an Edmontonian.
Edmonton’s historic growth has been facilitated through the absorption of five adjacent urban municipalities (Strathcona, North Edmonton, West Edmonton, Beverly and Jasper Place) in addition to a series of annexations through 1982, and the annexation of 8,260 ha (82.6 km2; 31.9 sq mi) of land from Leduc County and the City of Beaumont on January 1, 2019. Known as the “Gateway to the North”, the city is a staging point for large-scale oil sands projects occurring in northern Alberta and large-scale diamond mining operations in the Northwest Territories.
Edmonton is a cultural, governmental and educational centre. It hosts a year-round slate of festivals, reflected in the nickname “Canada’s Festival City”. It is home to North America’s second largest mall, West Edmonton Mall (the world’s largest mall from 1981 until 2004), and Fort Edmonton Park, Canada’s largest living history museum.
Things to do
West Edmonton Mall
West Edmonton Mall (WEM) is a shopping mall located in Edmonton, Alberta. It is the second most visited mall in Canada, after the Toronto Eaton Centre in Toronto, followed by Metrotown Mall in Burnaby, and the 23rd largest in the world (along with The Dubai Mall) by gross leasable area. It is currently the 2nd largest shopping mall, by square footage, in North America behind the Mall of America. Mall of America encompasses 5.6 million square feet and West Edmonton Mall encompasses 5.3 million square feet. The mall was founded by the Ghermezian brothers, who emigrated from Iran in 1959. Its major anchors include Hudson’s Bay, London Drugs, La Maison Simons, The Brick, Toyota, and Winners/HomeSense.
West Edmonton Mall covers a gross area of about 490,000 m2 (5,300,000 sq ft). It holds over 800 stores and services including nine attractions, two hotels and over 100 dining venues in the complex, and parking for more than 20,000 vehicles. More than 24,000 people are employed at the property. The mall receives about 32 million visitors per year; it attracts between 90,000 and 200,000 shoppers daily, depending on the day and season. The mall was valued at $926 million in January 2007, and in 2016, for tax purposes, it was valued at $1.3034 billion, making it the most valuable property in Edmonton.
Art Gallery of Alberta
The Art Gallery of Alberta (AGA) is an art museum in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. The museum occupies a 8,000 square metres (86,000 sq ft) building at Churchill Square in downtown Edmonton. The museum building was originally designed by Donald G. Bittorf, and B. James Wensley, although portions of that structure were demolished or built over during a redevelopment of the building by Randall Stout.
The art museum was established in 1924 as the Edmonton Museum of Arts. In 1956 the museum was renamed the Edmonton Art Gallery. The museum occupied a number of location from its establishment in 1924 to 1969. The museum was relocated to its present location and reopened to the public in 1969 at the Brutalist Arthur Blow Condell building. In 2005, the museum was renamed Art Gallery of Alberta. From 2007 to 2010, the art museum underwent a CA$88 million redevelopment of its building. The redeveloped building was reopened to the public on January 31, 2010.
Its collection includes over 6,000 works, with a focus on art produced in Alberta, and other parts of western Canada. In addition to exhibiting its permanent collection, the museum also hosts travelling exhibitions and offers public education programs.
Fort Edmonton Park
Fort Edmonton Park (sometimes referred to as “Fort Edmonton”) is an attraction in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Named for the first enduring European post in the area of modern-day Edmonton, the park is the largest living history museum in Canada by area. It includes both original and rebuilt historical structures representing the history of Edmonton (including that of Indigenous Peoples), and is staffed during the summer by costumed historical interpreters.
Royal Alberta Museum
The Royal Alberta Museum (RAM) is a museum of human and natural history in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. The museum is located in Downtown Edmonton, north of City Hall. The museum is the largest in western Canada with more than 7,600 square metres (82,000 sq ft) exhibition space and 38,900 square metres (419,000 sq ft) in total.
The museum was established by the Government of Alberta in December 1967 as the Provincial Museum of Alberta. The museum received royal patronage from Queen Elizabeth II, and was renamed the Royal Alberta Museum in 2005. In 2011, plans were announced to move the museum to a new building. The museums continued to operate from its original building in Glenora, Edmonton until it was closed to the public in December 2015. Although the museum was closed to the public, a number of its departments continued to operate, either preparing the museum’s collection for the move, or conducting fieldwork. The new building was completed in August 2016, and was opened to the public in October 2018.
The museum features expansive galleries chronicling Alberta’s natural and cultural worlds, a feature gallery showcasing travelling exhibitions from Canada and around the world, an interactive, 650 square metres (7,000 sq ft) dedicated children’s gallery, and a bug room with live invertebrates and visible nursery.
The Muttart Conservatory is a botanical garden located in the North Saskatchewan river valley, across from the downtown core in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. One of the best-known landmarks of Edmonton, the conservatory consists of three city-operated greenhouses, public gardens, as well as four feature pyramids for display of plant species found across three biomes, with the fourth pyramid hosting a seasonal display. A fifth minor skylight pyramid lights up the central foyer.
A donation from the Gladys and Merrill Muttart Foundation provided momentum for the conservatory’s construction, with the remaining funding supplied by the Government of Alberta and the City of Edmonton. The conservatory is staffed and operated by the Edmonton Parks and Recreation Department.
William Hawrelak Park
William Hawrelak Park (or simply Hawrelak Park) is a park in Edmonton, Alberta. Formerly known as Mayfair Park, it was initially going to be developed into a 500-lot subdivision; however, when the Strathcona Land Syndicate forfeited their taxes the city obtained the title for the land in 1922. This land lay unused until 1954, when Mayor William Hawrelak proposed to create a 350-acre (1.4 km2) riverside park in this area as it would “fit into the overall park development of the City along the lines of the zoo, and the golf courses and other picnic areas”. The digging of the man-made lakes began in 1959 and later was completed in 1964 but had few facilities. The official opening day of Mayfair Park was on Dominion Day, July 1, 1967. It was renamed in 1982 for Hawrelak, who died in office in 1975 while serving as mayor of Edmonton.
High Level Bridge (Edmonton)
The High Level Bridge is a bridge that spans the North Saskatchewan River in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Located next to the Alberta Legislature Building, the bridge linked the separate communities of Edmonton and Strathcona, which became one city in 1912. It was designed from the outset to accommodate rail, streetcar, two-way automobile, and pedestrian traffic. The original bridge design included three tracks on the upper deck (one CPR track with one streetcar track on either side). The first CPR train (a passenger service) operated on June 2, 1913, after which the bridge became a part of the Calgary-Edmonton main line. Streetcar service started on the west streetcar track of the bridge on August 11, 1913 (at 11 am) with the east streetcar track opening by September of that year and automobile traffic after that. Automobile traffic did not begin at the same time as CPR and streetcar traffic as the lower deck had not been completed and the installation of galvanized iron under the tracks was still needed to prevent cinders dropping from steam trains onto traffic on the lower deck. Streetcars travelling northbound operated on the upstream side of the bridge, and southbound streetcars operated on the downstream side of the bridge; This left-hand operation was contrary to the right-hand driving on the lower traffic deck.
The bridge was transferred to the ownership of the City of Edmonton in 1994 and designated a Municipal Historic Resource in 1995. Trucks are prohibited on the bridge due to the low clearance of 3.2 metres (10 ft 6 in) and substandard lane width. Currently street traffic is one-way southbound. At the north end of the bridge, 109 Street enters into the left lane, and 110 Street enters into the right lane. The next bridge downstream, the Walterdale Bridge, is a three-lane bridge with one-way northbound traffic into downtown.
The last Edmonton Transit System operated streetcar travelled over the bridge on September 1, 1951 and the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR), responsible for the design of the bridge, ceased rail operations over the span in 1989. The upper deck contains only the one middle track now, which is currently used only by the High Level Bridge Streetcar, a historic streetcar route that travels from the Strathcona Streetcar Barn & Museum, just north of the Strathcona Farmers Market, in Old Strathcona, to Jasper Plaza south of Jasper Avenue, between 109 Street and 110 Street, in downtown, with three intermediate stops.
Southgate Centre is a shopping centre located in south Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, covering just under 90,000 square metres. It contains 165 retailers including The Bay, Aritzia, Zara, Michael Kors, Browns Shoes and Edmonton’s only Restoration Hardware and Crate & Barrel. Apple opened a second store in Edmonton at Southgate Centre on May 28, 2010, and Edmonton’s first Lego store opened in June 2013. The centre is located adjacent to Whitemud Drive and 111 Street, and is located across from a transit bus station and the Southgate LRT Station.
Following major expansion, the mall marked its reopening in August 2009, including a new food court and added parking. These expansions included 40 new stores under a new two-level parking deck and a station on the expansion of the Edmonton Light Rail Transit system, whose opening ceremony was on April 24, 2010. An Edmonton Public Library branch operated until 2002, when it relocated to nearby Whitemud Crossing.
The mall is owned by Ivanhoé Cambridge, a subsidiary of the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec.
The mall is currently undergoing a $93 million expansion which will see the former Sears space repurposed as a new mall common area with three floors, with anticipated completion in Fall 2021
Strathcona Science Provincial Park
Strathcona Science Provincial Park is a provincial park in Alberta, Canada, located between Edmonton and Sherwood Park, south of the Yellowhead Highway and west of Anthony Henday Drive.
The park is situated in the North Saskatchewan River valley, on both banks of the river, at an elevation of 625 m (2,051 ft) and has a surface of 2.9 km2 (1.1 sq mi). It was established on December 12, 1979 and is maintained by Alberta Tourism, Parks and Recreation.
This site was for thousands of years the site of an annual aboriginal camp, as it was located close enough to the river for transportation and trade and the bluffs of the river valley provided excellent bison-hunting opportunities. The park was established to preserve the site from encroaching industrial development. It was the site of archeological excavations in 1978 to 1980.
The park contains several abandoned interpretive buildings opened by the Alberta government in 1980 but now shuttered. Remnants of the park’s history as a public science center include tiled triangular obelisks, a boardwalk through the archaeological area, and a few interpretive plaques. The area is safe but overgrown.