Now that another Labour Day has arrived signalling an end to Summer I thought I would post a few photos and thoughts of a recent ride around Edmonton as the cycling season likely isn’t to last much longer.
The city’s south side has always been a favorite and find myself passing through almost every ride for short or long spells. The University of Alberta campus and surrounding neighborhoods occupying the high ground overlooking the river valley do hold a rich history that is there for the discovering.
One of the city’s oldest neighborhoods, Garneau, is just east of the university and is named after Laurent Garneau a Metis who fought alongside Louis Riel in Manitoba’s 1869 Red River Rebellion settling here some five years later when barely 100 others called it home.
Until the 1912 amalgamation with the city of Edmonton the district was part of the town of Strathcona and that heritage is reflected on street signs which have both the modern street & avenue numbers as well as the previous name in smaller letters below.
The sturdy red brick Garneau School is a local landmark and a throwback to a different time when students had separate entrances.
When the university moved to its current location in 1911 five years after its founding and with the completion of the High Level Bridge in 1913 the whole area underwent a boom as notable homes were built by prominent local citizens including the province’s first premier, Alexander Rutherford who purchased a lot overlooking the river and built a proper mansion complete with white Doric columns, two storey bay windows and Dutch gables. Built for a princely sum of $25,000 the home was occupied by the Rutherford family until 1940 and narrowly escaped demolition with university expansion in the 1960’s and Rutherford House is now a designated provincial heritage site.
Rutherford is my kind of Edmontonian as not only did he stick it to Calgary by supporting the northern city’s selection as site of the legislature and therefore capital of the new province of Alberta but also by working to have a project dear to his heart, the University of Alberta, located in his hometown of Strathcona. Despite the setbacks the city to the south went on around the same time to rename its outdoor show the Stampede and has done fairly well for itself since even though its no Edmonton although I will admit to having a bias in the inter-city rivalry.
Further east you find the heart of Strathcona which was gearing up for the annual Fringe Festival, a ten day arts and theatre festival that’s one of the largest in North America drawing over 600,000 to the outdoor events and over 100,000 ticket holders to various indoor theatre productions. It’s always fun to ride through when the event itself is underway and catch a few street performances.
Blocks away is the End Of Steel Park which commemorates the northern terminus of the Calgary and Edmonton Railway which began operating in 1891. On the preserved tracks is a vintage rail caboose.
Along the bike trails that follow the edge of the river valley in this area is an excellent vantage point to take in the city skyline from Legislature to the new bridge being built over the North Saskatchewan River to replace the 102 year-old Walterdale Bridge. As with all major construction projects around Edmonton however this new bridge is a year behind schedule giving us another little while before the green spans and metal roadway of the iron bridge disappear from view.
This has been a truly exceptional Summer weather-wise with hot days, little rain and almost bug-free conditions that help make for excellent conditions for city cycling. The weather like me goes in cycles.