Reason #100 of '101 Reasons Why I Heart Edmonton'

City Hall

By Emil Tiedemann

Edmonton City Hall is not just the home of our civic leadership, where our elected officials congregate to debate and discuss all the important and not so important issues facing all Edmontonians. City Council & Committee meetings are held at City Hall year-round and are open to the public, who are also free to ask questions or bring up concerns (in a civil and orderly fashion, of course!).

During winter weekends, shoppers head to City Hall for the City Market, where dozens of vendors offer up handmade crafts and locally-grown foods. When it’s warm outside, children play in the adjoining fountain pool, while downtown workers spend their lunch hour at one of the outside umbrella tables or on the surrounding patches of greenery taking in the sun. Or they’ll stay indoors and try a dish made from fresh ingredients at the Kids In the Hall Bistro, located on the southwest corner. 

Annual events such as Cariwest and the Street Performers Festival spill over from t…

Reason #99 of '101 Reasons Why I Heart Edmonton'

The Oilers

By Emil Tiedemann

Peter Pocklington was intent on bringing a National Hockey League franchise to Edmonton, no matter the cost. When the NHL refused to merge with the struggling WHL back in the mid-’70s, Regina-born Pocklington went to work, putting together a behind-the-scenes team that would allow him to realize his dream for his adopted hometown. 

In 1978, Pocklington hired Larry Gordon as general manager, and then brought on Alberta’s own Glen Sather (as vice president and coach), who had actually played on the Edmonton Oilers WHL team for the 1976-77 season, before leading the team to a championship the following year as their coach. 

In November of 1978, Pocklington paid $850,000 to sign on 17-year-old Brantford, Ontario phenom Wayne Gretzky (an Oiler from 1979-88) (as well as forward Peter Driscoll and goaltender Eddie Mio), who had just inked a deal with the Indianapolis Racers of the World Hockey Association. 

Finally, on June 22, 1979, the Edmonton Oilers were granted a…

Reason #98 of '101 Reasons Why I Heart Edmonton'

The Other Festivals

By Emil Tiedemann

I would be remiss if, in a town rightfully recognized as “Festival City,” I didn’t mention all of those other exciting and enticing festivals that happen all year round here in Edmonton.

The 101 Reasons Why I Heart Edmonton book includes individual entries for the Fringe, Folk Fest, the Street Performers, Heritage Fest, and collectively the film festivals (‘The Cinema’), but there are so many others that deserve to be praised, and this list simply wouldn’t be complete without them. So, in alphabetical order, here they are from A to Zoofest...

ALL IS BRIGHT FESTIVAL (since 2013) 124th Street and High Street light up for one vibrant Saturday night in November, as All Is Bright celebrates the coming of the winter season by providing illumination, entertainment, food, fashion, and plenty of all-ages fun. It is hosted by the 124th Street Business Association.

ANIMETHON (since 1994) Japanese animation fanatics come out for three days in August to partici…

Reason #97 of '101 Reasons Why I Heart Edmonton'

Morning Radio

By Emil Tiedemann

If you’re one of the lucky ones who get up in the morning and can’t wait to get to work, then good for you!! Sorry, I haven’t had my coffee yet. But, if you’re like the majority of us - who either dread that spirit-crushing alarm clock or would rather be doing anything else other than getting up before humans were ever meant to and then heading to a job that offers little to no stimulus - then coffee isn’t the only thing you will probably need to get you through the weekday mornings. 

I kid, I kid! Although it doesn’t actually solve any of our problems of having to work for a living, those voices we hear coming from the local radio stations seem to make our starts to the day a little more bearable. 

Most of my mornings begin with Crash & Mars of 102.3 NOW! Radio, who have the illustrious ability to make me laugh out loud when I’m alone in my vehicle no matter how little sleep I managed the night before. They also happen to be the reigning “Best Radio Mo…

Reason #96 of '101 Reasons Why I Heart Edmonton'

Citadel Theatre

By Emil Tiedemann

Bernard Engel, of the University of Alberta’s Drama Department, starred in and directed the premiere of Edward Albee’s timeless Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? during opening night on November 10, 1965, back when the Citadel Theatre was located in the now defunct Salvation Army citadel. 

“The 277 theatre patrons who flinched in their new soft seats 50 seasons ago while George and Martha hammered each other ferociously onstage,” wrote the Edmonton Journal’s Liz Nicholls in 2015, “were in on the birth of something big: a city-changer; the country’s biggest, most secretive, most splendidly appointed, most idiosyncratic regional theatre; a national cultural institution.” 

Of course, the audience had no idea at the time, but Edmonton-born Citadel founder Joseph “Broadway Joe” Shoctor (1922-2001) probably did. Known for his all-consuming and excessive leadership of everything that went on within the walls of the Citadel, right down to the actors who hit the sta…

Reason #95 of '101 Reasons Why I Heart Edmonton'

Mercer Building

By Emil Tiedemann

John B. Mercer started his liquor and drug business in Battleford, Saskatchewan during the 1890s, before he moved west to Edmonton in 1900 to sell liquor, beer, wine, and cigars out of a shop on Jasper Avenue and what is now 96th Street. 

Mercer was very successful in sales, soon becoming the local representative of beer from the Calgary Brewing Company, as well as the only agent in town selling imported spirits like Scotch Barley’s Gaelic Old Smuggler. 

“This firm deals direct with old country producers, and handles some of the finest whiskies that are distilled over there, also French brandy, cordials, gin, and all the other spirits that are made in different countries most expertly,” wrote a reporter for the Edmonton Bulletin newspaper in 1911. 

That was the year that Mercer opened the Mercer Warehouse on the corner of 104 Avenue and 103 Street in what would soon become known as the Warehouse District. The three-floor brick & mortar building served …

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…