Reason #94 of '101 Reasons Why I Heart Edmonton'

Ice District

By Emil Tiedemann

I spent a brief time in Toronto in 2005, and would head downtown each day I spent there. It was full of people everywhere, browsing around in shops, sipping on wine and chugging beer in the pubs; busy hot dog stands were on every corner, Chinatown poured out into the sidewalks, buskers performed in the streets, gray-haired men played chess in the parks, City Hall brimmed with crowds, and outside diners shared the concrete walkways with tourists and their expendable cash. That’s what I wanted for my city. For our city. 

In 2010, as the lengthy debate over whether or not Edmonton should fund the proposed downtown arena project was heating up, I penned an article highlighting all of the reasons why we did, in fact, need it! 

“So much uninhabited space, unused infrastructure, ignored charm in such a large portion of a region that is supposed to be the hub of a metro,” I wrote about the state of our downtown in 2010. “This absence of activity is not only off-putt…

Reason #93 of '101 Reasons Why I Heart Edmonton'

The Opera & Ballet

By Emil Tiedemann

English musician and photographer Vernon West Barford (1876-1963)  moved to Edmonton on January 15, 1900 from the Northwest Territories, where he taught for two years. In 1904, Barford established Edmonton’s first opera, The Chimes of Normandy, for the newly formed Edmonton Amateur Operatic Society. 

That was eventually succeeded by Beatrice Carmichael’s Edmonton Civic Opera (1935-46), Herbert & Eileen Turner’s Light Opera of Edmonton (1950-67), and finally the Edmonton Professional Opera Association in 1963, premiering with Giacomo Puccini’s Madama Butterfly that October, and Jean Letourneay at the helm as artistic director. 

By the time the society shortened its name simply to the Edmonton Opera in 1966, our hometown was synonymous with oil, not culture. It was probable that most locals at that time never even knew there was an opera in town, let alone took in one of its shows. Nonetheless, the Edmonton Opera survived and evolved over the com…

Reason #92 of '101 Reasons Why I Heart Edmonton'

McCauley Neighbourhood

By Emil Tiedemann

When the City initiated their revitalization plans for the inner city McCauley neighbourhood, area residents were excited and perhaps a bit relieved. Dozens of homes and businesses were built soon after kickoff, while the City poured millions into streetscaping, infrastructure renewal, and investment in a district with somewhat of a rough reputation. 

Named after Edmonton’s first mayor Matthew McCauley (1850-1930), the neighbourhood is now a vibrant and ethnically diverse region, full of restaurants and cafes dedicated to dishes from around the world, mostly located in and around the “Little Italy” core. 

The whole of it seems to be anchored by the bustling Italian Centre Shop on 108th & 95th Street. This European-inspired marketplace first opened in 1959 when Italian immigrant Frank Spinelli pooled his savings with partner Remiro Zalunardo to buy the original building that still stands today. Hundreds of locals walk, bike, or drive down to the…

Reason #91 of '101 Reasons Why I Heart Edmonton'

The Startups

By Emil Tiedemann

Edmonton is a city of opportunity, where anyone with an idea has the ability to realize their dreams, no matter how far-fetched they may seem. Some might argue that only the wealthy and well-connected get all the breaks, but that’s simply not true. 

There are people, groups, and organizations out there to help anyone bring their concept to fruition, and show the rest of the country - perhaps even the whole world - what they’ve got under their sleeve! 

Over the years, there have been countless successful ventures that have gotten their humble starts right here in Edmonton, including restaurant chains, product lines, tech companies, entertainers, and even multi-billion-dollar corporations. 

In a town where business-minded folks tend to support and assist each other in their respective endeavors, the sky’s the limit, and you certainly don’t need to uproot to some larger municipality in order to get your business off the ground. To show you what I’m talking about…

Reason #90 of '101 Reasons Why I Heart Edmonton'

Green Edmonton

By Emil Tiedemann

You might not realize this, but Edmonton is Canada’s leader in setting and achieving the highest standards of environmental preservation and sustainability; a feat that we’re proud of and one that we are determined to not only maintain, but to improve on. 

In an era when nations around the globe are looking for ways to reduce their carbon footprints and build a more sustainable and environmentally-friendly future for generations to come, Edmonton seems to be paving the way for innovative and diverse tactics to accomplish these lofty, yet necessary goals. 

A few years back, David Suzuki and daughter Sarika brought their show The Nature of Things (CBC) to Edmonton’s Waste Management Centre, where they were informed of our state-of-the-art composter, the largest in North America! This structure produces some 60,000 tonnes of compost every year, allowing Edmonton to reduce its own emissions and to recover clean energy that can be used elsewhere. 

“Edmonton has …

Reason #89 of '101 Reasons Why I Heart Edmonton'


By Emil Tiedemann

Imagine 60,000 rapturous men, women, and children - most at variant stages of drunkenness - pounding their soaked fists into pouring skies and chanting, “Oi! Oi! Oi!.” Picture a darkened football stadium full of adrenaline-hyped rock fanatics begging for 54-year-old Angus Young to strip off his trademark schoolboy uniform to bare his AC/DC undies! 

Now try to imagine lightning bolts criss-crossing the ominous skies as Brian Johnson screams, “I’m a rolling thunder, a pouring lightning flashes across the sky”! I have no need to imagine such things, because I lived it when the band played the packed Commonwealth Stadium in the summer of 2009. That was an experience anyone there that night couldn’t possibly forget, and that was just one night! 

Commonwealth has hosted many major concerts over the years, including Bob Dylan, Pink Floyd, Taylor Swift, U2, The Police, Willie Nelson, Genesis, Tim McGraw, David Bowie, Bon Jovi, the Rolling Stones, Beyonce,

Reason #88 of '101 Reasons Why I Heart Edmonton'

Northern Alberta Institute of Technology

By Emil Tiedemann

There is a large banner hanging from a pedway at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT) that reads “We are essential to Alberta.” That couldn’t be more true! 

Tens of thousands of part-time and full-time students from nearly 90 countries study any number of 120 credit programs essential for Alberta’s technical and knowledge-based industries, including everything from petroleum engineering and business administration to hospitality and interior design. 

That’s a far cry from the very beginnings of NAIT, when 326 students graduated at the first graduation ceremony in 1965, two years after the school first opened. Over the years, NAIT (Edmonton’s equivalent to Calgary’s SAIT) has rapidly expanded, with the construction of numerous additions and extensions, and there are more plans for the near future. 

In a province like Alberta, trades people are always in demand, and NAIT just so happens to specialize in trades educatio…