Reason #67 of '101 Reasons Why I Heart Edmonton'

The Artists

By Emil Tiedemann

“Driving to work listening to CBC, you get the sense that people here [in Edmonton] seem to have a larger, more established appreciation for the arts,” saxophonist Ian Smith told the Calgary Herald a few years back. The Calgary-born musician moved to Edmonton shortly before he made his observation, which seems to be a similar experience for many newbie Edmontonians. 

There is a profusion of innovative and thought-provoking artists of all capacities throughout Edmonton, pouring their hearts and souls out into paintings on the cafe walls, sculptures in the parks and plazas, or murals on the sides of historic buildings. Anything is a canvas here and there’s no shortage of talented maestros ready to transform whatever it is you got, from electrical boxes to back alleys. 

Some of Canada’s most praised and applauded painters, photographers, sculptors, illustrators, and designers hail from Edmonton, where there’s an abundance of year-round festivals (Nextfest, Art W…

Reason #66 of '101 Reasons Why I Heart Edmonton'

10 Year Plan to End Homelessness

By Emil Tiedemann

For most Edmontonians, downtown is a place for weekend drinks and dancing, for dinner at high-end restaurants, coffee at trendy cafes, gleaming office and condo towers, or markets with fresh produce and locally-made crafts. 

For others, downtown is despair and discouragement. It means sleeping on park benches and in alleyways, dragging their things around in abandoned shopping carts, belittled by passersby and threatened by others who are also so far below the poverty line that we couldn’t possibly imagine putting ourselves in their worn-out shoes. 

Many of the people who we see on the streets in these conditions have or have had problems with drugs, alcohol, gambling, or all three, though not everyone who is considered “homeless” in Edmonton has substance abuse issues. 

Some are folks who have recently moved to the city and couldn’t find or hold onto a job; some are youth who were not welcome at home anymore because they came out of the c…

Reason #65 of '101 Reasons Why I Heart Edmonton'

The Fringe

By Emil Tiedemann

When the middle of August rolls around, some Edmontonians instinctively begin to panic. It means that summer is coming to a close, and the nippy seasons are just around the corner. Others look forward to mid-August all year round, because it means that their favourite season has arrived...Fringe season! 

Unless you count K-Days, the Edmonton International Fringe Theatre Festival is Edmonton’s most attended and sought-after festival of them all, and one of the oldest ones too, and that means something in a town rightfully known as “Festival City.” 

There’s something about the Fringe that enlivens Edmonton, bringing out locals who appreciate authentic and often experimental live theatre at its best, incorporating all forms of performing arts, including music, dance, spoken word, comedy, improv, cabaret, burlesque, puppetry, poetry, circus, and even magic. 

Some 120,000 tickets are sold for more than 200 shows and 1,600 performances at the 11-day event, making it …

Reason #64 of '101 Reasons Why I Heart Edmonton'

Sir Winston Churchill Square

By Emil Tiedemann

Every city has that plaza, block, or courtyard in the heart of town where folks come together to celebrate or commemorate something, where festivals and other events are held for the masses, and where locals congregate for that sense of community. 

For us, it’s Sir Winston Churchill Square, a piece of land surrounded by City Hall, the Art Gallery of Alberta, the Winspear Centre, the Citadel Theatre, the Stanley A. Milner Library, and many other cool spots to eat, drink, and shop.

It is within walking distance of most of the rest of downtown, namely the future sites of Ice District and the new Royal Alberta Museum, as well as the river valley and Jasper Avenue, and is home to some of our most beloved get-togethers, including Taste of Edmonton, the Street Performers Festival, Movies on the Square, Nuit Blanche, and of course, the New Year’s Eve bash! 

Even when there isn’t anything happening on Churchill, there’s something happening on Churchill…

Reason #63 of '101 Reasons Why I Heart Edmonton'


By Emil Tiedemann

I’ll admit it, I choked up singing along to “No One Needs to Know” at the 2015 Shania Twain concert at Northlands’ Rexall Place. Judge me all you want, I don’t care! I couldn’t help it, after all...I had some sort of weird gay crush on Shania when she was one of the world’s superstars back in the ‘90s. 

I knew all of her songs by heart and I knew everything there was to know about the Canadian icon, and now there I was, singing her lyrics right alongside her to a glowing audience tipsy on expensive booze and the sounds of their high school days. 

But that certainly wasn’t the only time I stood in the aisles of Rexall belting out to the songs of one of my favourite singers or bands. Nope, it all stemmed back to when I was 12 years old and went to the Paula Abdul concert with my buddy Peter. Again, judge me all you want, it doesn’t phase me! It was one of the fondest memories I have of growing up. 

Since then, I’ve had the chance to see everyone from Jay-Z and Ti…

Escape the Bank!

Servus Credit Union offers you a chance to "escape the bank" and learn about what sets them apart, at this year's Heritage Festival

by emil tiedemann

Escape rooms have been all the rage as of late, and for good reason. They're a fun and unique way to get up off the couch, put your mind to work, and cooperate with your friends in order to figure out a puzzle. 

Edmonton has no shortage of these rooms popping up all over town, including this long weekend at the Servus Heritage Festival in Hawrelak Park. The member-owned, community-based Servus Credit Union has teamed up with the world's largest festival dedicated to the various cultures of the world to offer their crowds a chance to "escape the bank"!

Imagine being trapped inside one of those vintage banks you see in the movies, being left to your own devices (and those of whomever you take along with you) to break out, metal bars blocking all your exits.

"Once participants have entered the mobile escape…

Reason #62 of '101 Reasons Why I Heart Edmonton'

El Cortez & Other Bitchin' Bars

By Emil Tiedemann

There’s a bright red neon sign on one of the rustic brick walls of Old Strathcona’s El Cortez Tequila Bar & Kitchen that reads, “Find what you love and let it kill you.” It’s a quote from the late German-born, L.A.-based poet Charles Bukowski, who Time magazine once called “the laureate of American lowlife.” 

His words of drudgery and toil have influenced countless writers and artists since, including El Cortez co-owner Melanie Swerdan, whom may not take those words literally, but certainly retains the sort of passion Bukowski was alluding to. That passion is evident on every wall, in every corner, and within every aspect of El Cortez, perhaps the most unique bar in all of Edmonton, and certainly the city’s only one that specializes in tequila. 

“I remember this place, I remember partying here when it was Wooly Bully’s,” Swerdan answered when I asked her why she and co-owners Michael Maxxis, Eli Diamond, and Bill Graham chose t…