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Edmonton - Alberta, Canada

Edmonton lies in the central part of the province, 294 km (183 miles) north of Calgary and 590 km (366 miles) southeast of Dawson Creek B.C. -- Mile "0" of the Alaska Highway. Jasper National Park is almost due west of Edmonton, and is easily accessed by taking the Yellowhead Highway (# 16) to the Jasper townsite 225 miles (362 km) from the capital. Not as apt to benefit from warm winter chinook winds as is Calgary, Edmonton is a northern city with cold winters but a very pleasant summer climate.

Alberta's gateway city

Things to See & Do | Where to Stay | Dining | Camping

The North Saskatchewan River flows through the city, past the downtown city-center and through the Edmonton suburbs. The drive northwest to the Alaska Highway departs from downtown Edmonton, via Highway 16. The turnoff onto Highway 43 which leads toward Grande Prairie and Dawson Creek, is 27 km (17 miles) from Edmonton.

Edmonton Tourism, the large visitor information centre, is at 104 9797 Jasper Avenue North. There are three other information centres on major highway entrances to the city.

Things to See & Do

One of Edmonton's claims to fame is that it is the site of the world's most famous shopping mall -- and the world's largest until 1992. The West Edmonton Mall contains about 800 stores including 11 major department stores, 110 restaurants and cafes, a large amusement park, a hotel with bizarre theme rooms and a waterpark complete with submarine rides, a large wave pool and hot tubs.

The city has an enviable succession of festivals throughout the summer and fall months. The long-running Klondike Days (July) is cause for dancing, costume parties, raft races, gambling, and more, as the city celebrates the 1898 Gold Rush (which took place far from here in Dawson City, and barely affected Edmonton). The city was a starting point for a few adventurous and foolhardy souls, who left for the Klondike by the tough (and deadly) overland route.

Early July brings the Jazz City Festival and in early August, Edmonton is the site for the large Folk Music Festival. The first Saturday and Sunday in August are Heritage Days when the city celebrates its ethnic diversity. A large number of Ukrainian immigrants settled in this area and if there is a place to eat perogys, this is it!

One of the more interesting sights in the city is seen only on holidays, when the historic High Level Bridge over the North Saskatchewan River becomes the Great Divide Waterfall, installed in 1980 for Alberta's 75th anniversary. The cascade is best seen from downstream, on the south side of the river. The waterfall operates on Sunday evenings and on the Saturday afternoon during Klondike Days.

A stay in Edmonton could include sightseeing and one of the most fascinating ways to spend a few hours is by visiting Fort Edmonton Park. The fort is a full-scale replica of the old fort, which was a major fur trading post, constructed by the Hudson's Bay Company in 1846. This is not one but three historical villages, depicting Edmonton as the original fur trading post, as the new capital city in 1905, and as a "modern" prairie community in 1920. You can ride an old streetcar and a steam train. The Fort is reached by driving to Whitemud Drive and Fox Drive, at the south end of the Quesnell Bridge. It's open for summer hours from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sundays and holidays during the winter months.

The Muttart Conservatory, with displays of arid, tropical, and temperate plants, is a series of four glass pyramids at 9626 - 96A Street. Three of the pyramids hold permanent displays. The fourth is changed every few months. The conservatory is open daily during the summer period from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and during the winter Sunday-Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Thursday-Saturday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. The Valley Zoo (134 Street & Buena Vista Road) is a 20-acre zoo with relatively natural exhibit areas featuring, among others, Siberian tigers. This is one of the rare zoos where one can see peregrine falcons, an extremely endangered species. The John Janzen Nature Centre (next to Fort Edmonton) features nature exhibits of flora and fauna, with nature walks on Sunday afternoons.

The Royal Alberta Museum has four large galleries which depict Alberta's history through displays of artifacts, ranging from Native Indian history and culture, the fur trading era, railroad history and the settling of the Canadian West. Other galleries explore ancient fossils, minerals and geology, and biodiversity. It's open daily from 9 am to 5 pm.

Edmonton has an excellent theater center, the Citadel Theatre, a complex of several theaters which offers dramatic productions throughout the year. It's located at 9828 - 101 A Avenue with information & reservations obtained by calling (403) 426-4811.

There are 30 golf courses in Edmonton, most of them open for public play. Major city courses are Riverside at Rowland Road & 86th Street, Rundle Park (2902-118th Avenue), and Victoria, at River Road and 120th Street. For family thrills, jet boat rides are available on the North Saskatchewan River. For reservations, phone 486-0896.

To catch a view of what this part of Canada looked like before European settlers arrived in the mid-1800s, drive a few miles east of Edmonton to Elk Island National Park. The park is home to 1600 elk, 500 plains bison (buffalo), and 400 wood bison, as well as deer and moose. There are 100 km (60 miles) of hiking and walking trails throughout the park and a boardwalk over part of a lake. There's an interpretive center with displays and films. There is golfing available and several picnic areas. Located within the park at the Astotin Recreation Area is a Ukrainian pioneer home with museum displays inside. The Sandy Beach Campground has 80 sites. For information on the park, phone 922-5790. It's reached by driving east along Highway 16 (the Yellowhead) from downtown Edmonton, or by taking Highway 15 from the north end of town.

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Camping

Klondike Valley Tent & Trailer Park
1660 Calgary Trail, Edmonton Alberta T6W 1A1
(403) 988 5067
South of Edmonton, this campground has 155 sites, full hookups, laundry, and store with hiking trails nearby. Near Highway 2 South. Take Ellerslie Road west to Service Road south 1 km (.6 mile), parallel to Highway 2 South.

Shaker's Acres
21530 103rd Avenue, Winterburn Alberta T5G 3A1
(403) 447-3564
This large campground is at the western city limits, off Highway 16 (Yellowhead Hwy.) at the Winterburn Road exit. Facilities include RV and tent sites, snack bar, dump station, store, and playground. Open year -round.

Half Moon Lake Resort
21524 Township Road 520, Sherwood Park Alberta T8E 1E5
(403) 922 3045
This is a campground & RV park with hookups, tent sites, a sandy beach, wading pool, ball diamonds, store, laundry, riding stables, and paddle boat rentals. Located 3.2 km (2 miles) east of Sherwood Park, 6.4 km (4 miles) south on Highway 21, and 10.4 km (6.5 miles) east on Township Road 520.

Where to Eat

The large Canadian cities, particularly those in the west, are blessed with many great Vietnamese cafes. Lemongrass Cafe, at 10417 51st Avenue on the city's South Side, is one of the best. Noodle dishes, seafood entrees, and wonderful hot (both ways) soups make a stop in this small but pleasant restaurant a special treat. (413-0088)

Another fine little Vietnamese cafe is Saigon Terrace, at 11607 Jasper Avenue.(488-8383)

Moroccan Gardens, 6427 112th Avenue, is one of the finest ethnic restaurants in Edmonton. It is linked to another restaurant, La Boheme, but the two operations are very different. Moroccan Gardens has the required North African ambience, and what you eat is a six-course Moroccan feast. This is a leisurely-paced restaurant, and you can expect to spend an entire evening here. For info & reservations, call 474-1204

Kobe, a fine sushi restaurant, is located in a strip mall in Edmonton's west end, at 516-6655 178th Street. You have your choice of separate sushi plates or combinations. (444-7878)

For fine dining, you couldn't do better than to spend at least three hours in L'Anjou, at 10643 123rd Street. This is definitely a restaurant for those special (especially romantic) occasions. Like Moroccan Gardens, this restaurant has a prix fixe menu, with a five course meal that makes a full evening here go by as if it's only a few minutes. The price is surprisingly reasonable, for one of the best meals you'll ever eat. For information and reservations, call 482-7178

La Piazza, 5641 Riverbend Road, is an excellent Italian cafe, located in the Riverbend district. This is a relaxed but quite sophisticated place, with a varied menu including pasta and meat dishes. For information and reervations, call 435-1049.

Cafe Select, 10018 106th Street, has been a local institution for years. It's the type of restaurant where you can spend considerable time dining on great seafood and other entrees, or is the type of drop-in place where you can have dessert after a show. Either way, you'll be served by experienced, skillful staff. The menu is extensive with daily specials. Reservations: 423-0419.

 

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