Canadian Wanderer

Travel plans, thoughts & lessons

Two-wheel touring Edmonton

When setting off early on a Sunday morning for a longer ride around Edmonton on a hot summer day I thought I would take the opportunity to photograph some of the hidden gems, scenic spots and my favored rest stops around the city.

On the grounds of the Royal Alberta Museum and adjacent Government House are two very different landmarks commemorating provincial milestones. Gangwon province in Korea twinned with Alberta to foster agricultural cooperation and this pavilion was meant to mark the 30th anniversary of that friendship while celebrating Alberta’s centennial in 2005. The Jeongia are traditional Korean pavilions were people and nature come together and are often used as a summer retreat in a deep valley and given Edmonton’s river valley is only metres away the choice of location seems fitting. 20150628_073102

Immediately to the left of the Korean pavilion is a majestic totem pole erected with many helping hands to mark the Universiade, the 1983 World University Games held in Edmonton. The 37-foot pole is in the Northwest Coast native style and was begun in Ksan, British Columbia and completed in Edmonton.

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Not far away is St. George’s Crescent, a quiet, leafy lane that winds around  Ramsay Ravine. The first house built on the crescent in 1914, The Graenon, is an Alberta Registered Historic Resource and parked in front almost as old as the house was a vintage French Citroën 2CV, it’s striking yellow adding a splash of colour to a darker background.

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One neighborhood in transition elsewhere in the city is just north of the Old Timers Cabin on Scona Road as a natural block long terrace that overlook Edmonton’s skyline has become popular with developers replacing the former tiny post-war houses with much larger modern boxes.  A small park on this ledge has become a favorite place to stop and admire the view from a handful of park benches as it takes in the whole of Riverdale, the Alberta Legislature as well as the tall towers that make up Edmonton’s skyline.

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With a million dollar view I guess it should be no surprise to find million dollar homes but was a little sad to see their arrival in what had been a quiet corner of the city.

A short distance away and almost in the shadow of the valley landmark pyramids of the Muttart Conservatory  is an outdoor gazebo popular with wedding parties for photographing their big (expensive) day. Happy or unhappy couples can rent the gazebo for $200 per hour from the city and when not in use for special occasions it makes a nice shady rest spot before the climb up Mill Creek Ravine.

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Mill Creek Ravine has become a favored cycling haven for its canopy of trees which completely covers trails in many spots offering a cool escape from the hot summer sun as well as a choice between paved or dirt trails. On the valley floor many small bridges have been built over the creek while on higher ground former railway trestles have been repurposed as trails including one built between 1900 and 1902.

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This trestle formed part of the Edmonton, Yukon and Pacific Railway which transported both passengers and goods from the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) line south of what was then the town of Strathcona into Edmonton’s downtown by way of the Low Level Bridge. The last freight train rumbled though in 1954 and the tracks were pulled up shortly thereafter.

Getting off the paved track at the trestle leads hikers and cyclers down the valley past a beloved summer tradition, the outdoor Mill Creek Pool. While records show a swimming hole on this spot over a hundred years ago the current pool dates back to 1954 and despite a few attempts to close it since remains popular as a cool oasis in a green ravine.

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Just off the ravine in the King Edward Park neighborhood is a sporting tradition of a colder kind but from the same era as the Shamrock Curling Club opened in 1956. The club has undergone a rebirth in the last year creating a haven for novice curlers and sports a brand new colourful curling mural on an exterior wall.

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I curled at the Shamrock once upon a time but was more focused on the action on the ice than the surroundings so don’t recall much about the club although it is good to see its recent rebirth.

Elsewhere in King Edward Park I noticed a number of Korean food stores, restaurants and a church and it brought to mind the Korean pavilion I’d seen at the start of the ride. Having really fallen for Seoul on a past visit I made a mental note to return to this area to try the cuisine at one of the local restaurants.

Wanting to pass on my love of cycling I visited my seven year old niece Ashley for a quick spin around a sprawling park a few blocks from her Millwoods home. Suitably sporting a layer of elbow, knee pads and helmet as well as a coating of suntan lotion we rode together and had a grand time and hopefully it’s the first of many such rides.

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The last stop on my ride was the first for others on Edmonton’s High Level Bridge Streetcar which runs between a terminus at Jasper Avenue over the High Level Bridge to the Strathcona Terminal just off Whyte Avenue on the city’s south side. Edmonton #33 is a streetcar fully restored to its original 1912 condition and snapped some photos at the Grandin stop which is barely a block from the Legislature.

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The age of streetcars in Edmonton lasted from 1908 to 1951 and was revived temporarily in 1979 before becoming a permanent addition to the local landscape in 1997. From a single streetcar in 1980 the Edmonton  Radial Railway Society now boasts a fleet of nine operational streetcars including some from other Canadian cities such as Saskatoon, Regina and Toronto as well as others from Hannover, Melbourne and Osaka.

Pointing the handlebars homeward I am reminded that there are areas of the city I’ve called home for 30+ years I’m still discovering on my rides and that getting off the usual grid we take with our cars in our daily routine is often a good thing.

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1 Comment

  1. Great article about our beautiful city – and Ashley was super excited to go for her first official ride with her uncle. Many more to come!

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