Edmonton In '09: A Recap, Pt. I

So much has happened over the last 12 months, and 'I Heart' is here to revisit the best (& worst) moments...


IT'S been another exceptional year for the city of Edmonton, despite some unseasonably cold & record-breaking temperatures, an Oilers losing streak (or two), and that recession that everybody's been talking about.

But, as is our intention, "I Heart Edmonton" is gonna try and stick to the good that has graced our growing metropolis...more or less.

So, before I ramble on any further, let's recap some of my favourite or most memorable moments and experiences in my hometown during 2009! (Part 1 of 3):

Best Fest of the Year
There's literally dozens to choose from in "Festival City," but one stands out for its record-setting season that was full of innovation and community spirit. The Fringe! The 11-day live theatre event (August 13-23) recaptured its title as North America's #1 fringe festival, with ticket sales eclipsing that of Winnipeg's, which held the title for all of four weeks before we reclaimed it. The 28th annual Edmonton International Fringe Festival, the oldest on the continent, saw attendance reach 550,000, while ticket sales topped 92,000!

Runner-Up: The 49-year-old Edmonton Folk Music Festival also saw record ticket sales in 2009, thanks to the idea to add a fifth day to the usually 4-day music fest. Organizers sold about 105,000 tickets during this season, continuing their streak of 15 consecutive years in which they've sold-out. Performers this year included Patty Griffin, Steve Earle, Boz Scaggs, Bela Fleck, Rodney Crowell, and Sarah McLachlan.

Tweet of the Year
"Assholes beware" was the first thing I noticed when I checked out my Twitter page on the evening of Thursday, December 3rd. I'm not usually caught off guard by such comments on social networking sites--I've seen much worse-- but this particular tweet was from Ward 5 City Councillor Don Iveson, who's clean-cut look I've seen numerous times on the evening news, always when they are doing a story centering around Edmonton's City Hall. Iveson, 30, was referring to a brazen daytime attack earlier that day that sent city bus driver Tom Bregg to the hospital. "An ETS bus operator was assaulted very seriously this morning," Twittered Iveson that same night. "Police caught the guy. Assholes beware, buses have cameras."

Favourite Place to Watch Movies
Although The Garneau would take the crown during the Winter season (and most of the Fall), the rest of the year it's runner-up to Sir Winston Churchill Square. Unfortunately, brand new releases are not available for screening on the Square, but the scenery kicks ass!

Video of the Year
I hope Kanye doesn't run up on stage and interrupt the acceptance speech this time, but you never know with that guy! Anyways, the (Edmonton) Video of the Year award goes to "Hitler Goes Off on the Oilers," a 4-minute satirical clip made by 19-year-old U of A student Saurash Reddy, who posted it on YouTube on March 16th. The video uses a scene from a 2004 German film titled Downfall, in which Hitler's advisors tell him that they've lost WWII. Reddy added his own hilarious Oilers-oriented subtitles, some of which use (very) foul language, so don't say I didn't warn you Edmonton. As of today the video has been viewed on YouTube well over 220,000 times!

Concert of the Year
On the heels of their first album in eight years (2008's Black Ice), the rockers from Down Under AC/DC set out on a global tour to promote it. After many torturous weeks of speculating whether the Aussie icons would return to Edmonton, we got the news! On Wednesday, August 26th the aging band hit the stage at a swiftly sold-out show at Commonwealth Stadium, taunting the weather to play along with their raucous riffs that have become second nature to the 60,000--give or take--Edmontonians--give or take--in the seats of the football stadium that euphoric night. Mother Nature obliged, and as the chilly rain poured down hard and the lightning danced in the dark skies above, AC/DC hammered out every thunderous rock anthem in their imperishable repertoire. It was rock 'n' roll bliss!

Runner-Up: A much smaller affair than AC/DC's extravaganza was Bryan Adams' outdoor bash at Telus Field, on Friday, September 4th. Adams performed his nearly endless list of hits for 7,500 fans (including several Oilers) and also welcomed new Oilers head coach Pat Quinn onstage for a brief pep talk on the upcoming hockey season, before ending the night with fireworks. Actually, for me, the night ended with a $50 parking ticket!

Other Big-Name Edmonton Concerts of '09
-Brad Paisley @ Rexall Place on February 20th
-Beyonce @ Rexall Place on March 26th
-Nickelback @ Rexall Place on April 1st
-Britney Spears @ Rexall Place on April 6th
-Neil Young @ Rexall Place on April 23rd
-John Fogerty @ Rexall Place on June 3rd
-The Offspring @ Northlands Agricom on June 13th
-Coldplay @ Rexall Place on June 18th
-Megadeth @ Rexall Place on June 26th
-Jonas Brothers @ Rexall Place on July 2nd
-Green Day @ Rexall Place on July 6th
-Kenny Chesney/Taylor Swift @ Commonwealth on July 9th
-No Doubt @ Rexall Place on July 16th
-Blink-182 @ Rexall Place on July 31st
-Rod Stewart @ Rexall Place on August 10th
-Kings of Leon @ Rexall Place on August 12th
-The Beach Boys @ River Cree Casino on August 27th
-Marilyn Manson @ Shaw Conference Centre on September 11th
-The Tragically Hip @ Jubilee Auditorium on September 13-14, 16-17th
-Tim McGraw @ Rexall Place on September 17th
-Keith Urban @ Rexall Place on September 20th & 22nd
-Motorhead @ Edmonton Event Centre on September 29th
-Kenny Rogers @ River Cree Casino on October 4th
-George Jones @ Jubilee Auditorium on October 9th
-Jay-Z @ Rexall Place on October 13th
-Chris Isaak @ Jubilee Auditorium on October 14th
-The Temptations @ River Cree Casino on October 15th
-Tony Bennett @ Jubilee Auditorium on October 15th
-Stone Temple Pilots @ Shaw Conference Centre on November 11th
-Emmylou Harris @ Winspear Centre on November 12th
-Three Days Grace @ Rexall Place on November 26th

Big-Name Cancellations of '09
-Fleetwood Mac @ Rexall Place on May 13th
-Aerosmith/ZZ Top @ Commonwealth Stadium on August 11th
-Lil' Wayne @ Rexall Place on August 18th
-Mos Def @ Edmonton Event Centre on August 24th
-Def Leppard @ Rexall Place on October 31st
-Kanye West/Lady Gaga @ Rexall Place on November 28th

Favourite Used Book Store
On Halloween I stumbled upon a quaint little book shop near the University Hospital, called Belgravia Books & Treasures (76th Ave. & 115th St.), which was packed full of mostly second-hand books, but also nic-nacs, picture frames, jewelry, CDs, and even sheet music. A bit pricier than I had hoped for, but worth the extra bucks.

The It's-About-Time Moment of the Year
In October the city of Edmonton presented an order to the owners of the notorious Cromdale Hotel (118th Ave. & 82nd St.) to have the aging inner-city bar/hotel demolished. This came five years after the health department had the establishment closed due to numerous health & safety violations, including mouldy walls and floors strewn with condoms, urine and even feces. The Cromdale served as a mainstay of the crime-plagued strip now rechristened Alberta Avenue, and has no place in a community eager to revitalize. "It's just an eyesore," said City Councillor Ed Gibbons. "We're spending a lot of money trying to bring life back to the avenue. We want to see the end of it." Now let's set our sights on the Transit next, shall we?!

Promotion of the Year
38 years after it was erected in downtown Edmonton, and a decade after dropping "community" from its name, Grant MacEwan College became Grant MacEwan University, officially renamed as so on September 24th. What's the difference? Well, not that much, really! The institute now offers even more university-like degree programs, in addition to its traditional shorter-term diploma programs. It first started offering full bachelor degrees back in 2004, but waited another five years to fully transition into university status.

Venue of the Year
When it comes to arenas of 15,000 seats or more, Edmonton's Rexall Place ranks No.10 in the world for concert & event ticket sales! This is according to a mid-year report from the Venue Today publication, recognizing Rexall as a major player in global venues. Grossing $17.3 million worth of tickets from 39 shows & events (home-team sports games were excluded) also made Rexall the No.2 arena in Canada, behind only Toronto's Air Canada Centre. "U.S. acts want to come to Canada, and when they come to Canada they need to come to Edmonton," said Rexall sales director Leanne Smoliak. "We have become well-known in the marketplace for doing a good job." The report, which was released in early September, calculated ticket sales from October 2008 to May 2009. Some of the acts that performed at Rexall during that time frame included Bob Dylan, Britney Spears, Neil Young, Beyonce, and Nickelback.

NOTE: I Heart Edmonton would like to apologize for using so many exclamation marks, but it's just that we're so damn passionate about this city we call home!! I know you'll forgive us, though!


  1. I agree about movies in Churchill Square! I saw a few this summer and the atmosphere was really fun and family friendly.

  2. Plus we get to bring our own food & drinks without having to worry about getting kicked out! I seen Anne Wheeler's 'Bye Bye Blues' there for the kick-off of the Edmonton International Film Festival.

  3. I am absolutely humbled to be included in this list (in the Local Podcast category)... I should note, though, that our URL has changed. You can find us now at theunknownstudio.ca

  4. love the down town movies, but Garneau is my favorite.

  5. Thanks 'bingofuel,' the URL has been updated, and great job on the new site! For those of you wondering about the "Local Podcast" category, it's actually in 'Pt.II' of this Recap. Thanks again. Cheers!


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