So, there’s this thing happening in Edmonton. People are making lists of fifty things that define our city. I’m on board with that. Here’s my list of the moment, in no particular order:
1. The River Valley Parks. Really, that’s enough for any list.
2. The Fringe Festival. The Fringe is a phenomenon.
3. The Folk Fest. A phenomenon as well.
4. The High Level Bridge. Never mind the New Walterdale Bridge which is abuilding, the High Level Bridge, paired with #5, Edmonton has it’s “signature bridge(s)”. And a streetcar runs across the top!
5. The LRT/pedestrian bridge across the North Saskatchewan. Just a beautiful piece of bridge building art.
6. Walterdale Playhouse. A tremendous theatre space and a company of true theatre people.
7. Freewill Shakespeare. If you haven’t been, go. There is no Shakespeare like Shakespeare outdoors, and the Freewill company make the plays as fresh as the air of a summer afternoon.
8. The Winspeare. Seriously. What a concert hall! What a magnificent treasure we have.
9. The Citadel, the sturdy old aunt of Edmonton theatre, sometimes stodgy, but always with a surprise or two up her sleeve.
10. The Art Gallery of Alberta. What I love most about the AGA, apart from the staff, is its own collection. The travelling shows from the National Gallery are pretty darn nice too.
11. Harcourt House artist-run centre. With two galleries on the third floor (Visual Arts Alberta Gallery and Harcourt House Gallery), studios in the rest and lesson space in the Annex, this unassuming pair of buildings on 112th street is one of the best places to catch work by emerging and established Edmonton and Alberta artists.
12. Latitude 53. Another great support for emerging artists.
13. DC3 Art Projects. Oh, look, another great support for emerging artists. Edmonton sure does support these emerging artists
14. The Edmonton City Archives in the Prince of Wales Armoury. What a place! And be sure to check out the Loyal Eddies’ Museum and the powerful Gun Sculpture.
15. The Royal Alberta Museum and Government House. Although I’m excited about the new RAM, I have good memories of the old building. And hidden away in Government House is one of the most beautiful collections of Alberta art anywhere. Join a tour of Government House just for the art.
16. Fort Edmonton Park. A whole summer wouldn’t be enough to explore this place!
17. Victoria Golf Course. I had to put a golf course on the list and I chose Victoria because it has no pretension. Golf for the masses!
18. The amazing Recreation Centres. I walked out of Kinsmen Rec Centre in Walterdale the other day and I felt like I was in some artists conception of a future urban space, or in an episode of Star Trek: the Next Generation on 24th century Earth! Hundreds of happy shining people of all shapes and colours in a peaceful, green playground. The City’s Rec Centres are over the top goodness!
19. 118 Ave. The Carrot, Battista’s, Safron’s, the terribly important Nina Haggerty Art Centre, everything!
20. 124 St. Start at Jasper and head north. And keep going. There’s always something more.
21. 112 Ave. in Highlands. And I’ll throw in Marshall MacLuhan’s house.
22. Old Town Beverly, a neighbourhood to watch – it’s going to be happening.
23. Holy Trinity Anglican Church in Old Strathcona. A beautiful century old building that has become an art and theatre centre while continuing to be one of those church thingies.
24. K-days. Not really my thing, but it sure is a lot of people’s thing!
25. The Steadward Centre and its Free2BMe program, providing adapted fitness and physical activity for adults and children with disabilities. The Steadward Centre is a resource all Edmontonians should know and be proud of.
26. The Legislature grounds and particularly the Annex and the Federal Building, two important bits of architecture. I’d love to know what happened to the weird sculpture that was above the entrance of the Annex when it was the AGT building.
27. Canada Place. I like to call it the Ministry of Truth. It’s such a wonderfully hulking piece of architecture.
28. Churchill Square.
29. The Edmonton Public Library, all branches.
30. The University of Alberta and Grant MacEwan University.
31. The secondhand bookstores that keep hanging on.
32. The Hecla Block. I’m charmed by this old brick building’s unexpected name (who names a building for a volcano? an Icelander, of course) and it’s out-of-square walls.
33. Lavigne, Riverdale, Cloverdale, Rossdale and Walterdale. Five treasured villages in the valley and a marvelous playground for all ages. And Rossdale (Pehonan) is the millennia old meeting-place on which our city is founded.
34. John Walter’s house. The home of Edmonton’s ferryman, now a museum.
35. Talus Dome and the Quesnell Bridge. Did you know the Quesnell Bridge is an example of great architecture in the National Geographic Book, The Builders: Marvels of Engineering?
36. The strong, open and welcoming Aboriginal, Italian, Jewish, Latin American, Franco-Albertan, Muslim — I could go on at length — communities who make our city such an exciting place to be. And all those businesses, like Tienda Latina, The Italian Centre Shop(s), The Lucky 97, and Librairie Le Carrefour that keep reminding us that none of us is an island.
37. La Cité francophone. Such a beautiful building!
38. The Jubilee Auditorium. A grand place!
39. Old Strathcona, of course.
40. Edmonton’s unbelievable waste management system.
41. The Stollery Children’s Hospital. Seriously, this thing is phenomenal and the staff are heroes.
42. The seasons. All of them. Even winter.
43. ETS. I love the bus and the train.
44. The sparkling arts community.
46. Jasper Ave. All of it. Even the underconstruction parts. Don’t forget the little residential bits at each end.
45. The Muttart Conservatory. Be sure to take time with the mural by the great Alex Janvier.
47. Downtown. After being on life support for a couple of decades, Downtown is back and it’s great! Deadmonton no more.
48. Linda Duncan, MP for Edmonton-Strathcona. As the only non-Conservative MP from Alberta, Ms. Duncan is a refreshing reminder that Edmonton is full of surprises and that Albertans aren’t monolithically Conservative supporters. And, unlike a lot of MPs, you actually bump into Ms. Duncan strolling about her neighbourhood.
49. Mayor Stephen Mandel. Mayor Mandel has been a great leader for our city.
50. My particular neighbourhood, north of Whyte between 99 st. and the Mill Creek.
And the bonus:
51. Edmontonians! Sure, some of us love to gripe about Edmonton, but we’ve have made a bloody great community of communities out of the place. So, pat yourself on the back and be proud. Even you gripers.