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Reason #80 of '101 Reasons Why I Heart Edmonton'

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Christmas in Edmonton

By Emil Tiedemann

My dad would run out into the living room in his pajamas to tell us to turn on the radio to 630 CHED whenever Jerry Forbes was about to come on with his heartwarming Christmas story, And a Creature Was Stirring

Forbes wrote and narrated the piece himself - complete with sound effects like the crunching of snow under our feet and the bellows of excited young children - about a young man with “shoulder-length hair” and “a shaggy beard” who delivers donated gifts to underprivileged families in Edmonton. 


The local radio host was inspired to write the story based on experiences from another one of his cherished projects, Santa’s Anonymous, which would provide donated Christmas toys and games to children who were less fortunate. 

“Wouldn’t it be great if there would be no needy kids...and every kid had a present...not a used present...but a brand new present,” Forbes said when a reporter asked him why he started Santa’s Anonymous. “From that modest star…

Reason #79 of '101 Reasons Why I Heart Edmonton'

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The Shopping

By Emil Tiedemann

When its Christmastime in Edmonton, there’s no shortage of options when it comes to where to get your holiday shopping done. All year round, there’s an abundance of places offering up everything from the international brand name fashions to trinkets hand-made by local artisans. 

Edmonton is home to more than a dozen shopping centres, including North America’s largest, West Edmonton Mall. On the opposite side of the city is South Edmonton Common, the largest retail power centre in the country, with more than 150 shops & services spread over 320 acres. 



Other folks prefer to hit up some of the smaller centres to spend their hard-earned dollars, like Kingsway, Southgate, Londonderry, City Centre, Northgate, or Mill Woods Town Centre, home to all the famous brands we’ve come to love or hate. 

For Edmontonians who have a flare for indie or local, they’ll likely head down to Whyte Avenue in Old Strathcona, the downtown 4th Street Promenade, or High Street just …

Reason #78 of '101 Reasons Why I Heart Edmonton'

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The Nonprofits

By Emil Tiedemann

My parents had to raise four kids on next to nothing at times, and so making ends meet was often a struggle when we were growing up. I can’t imagine how difficult it must have been, but I certainly appreciate it now. 

I remember there were times when we had to head over to a nearby church to grab groceries to get us through the next week or two. At the time, I had no idea why a church was handing out bags of food, and why we were so lucky. I know now that it was all part of the Edmonton Food Bank program, the first of its kind in the entire country! Without it, what would we and thousands of other hungry or even starving Edmontonians had done?! 



That’s the spirit of Edmonton though - giving, supporting, lending a helping hand wherever and whenever it is needed, without asking for anything in return. It’s that spirit that has formed countless nonprofit groups, organizations, and programs for the underprivileged, serving the community and ensuring that all l…

Reason #77 of '101 Reasons Why I Heart Edmonton'

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Art Gallery of Alberta

By Emil Tiedemann

Shortly before the brand new Art Gallery of Alberta opened to the public on January 31, 2010, myself and a group of fellow bloggers were treated to a private tour of the unconventional structure designed by late architect Randall Stout



We climbed the incurved stairway - aligned with a blue flare and winding steel walls - to the second floor, where we had a better look at the ceiling that fraternized with a surging landscape of precisely-squared windows. On the outside of the glass, snow had collected, an intentional portrait that, like other aspects of the design, can alter how we see the gallery at various states of the day and of the seasons. 

We made our way to the third floor and outside terrace before the group convened in the gallery’s basement, though you couldn’t tell that it was a basement by its sleek walls made up of domestic Douglas-fir, floors of maple wood, and classrooms set up to teach aspiring artists the tricks of the trade. The…

Reason #76 of '101 Reasons Why I Heart Edmonton'

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The Quarters

By Emil Tiedemann

If you don’t go downtown on a regular basis, there’s a good chance you have no idea what “the Quarters” is. I frequent the downtown, and yet I had no recollection of the City working on such a game-changing project, until years after plans commenced. 

When you think about the actual scale of this enterprise, it’s surprising how it has sort of flown under the radar for many, perhaps most Edmontonians. It is 100 acres of urban space on the eastern edge of the downtown that will be transformed over the next 10-20 years into five distinct precincts, all within walking distance of the natural amenities of the river valley. 


Between 92nd & 97th Streets and 103A & Jasper Avenues, the area will be converted into the pedestrian-friendly and environmentally-sustainable Quarters, split into the Civic, Five Corners, Heritage, and McCauley Quarters, and then linked by the Armature district. 

The City’s plan is to turn this ignored inner-city region - known so long…

Reason #75 of '101 Reasons Why I Heart Edmonton'

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Edmonton Public Library

By Emil Tiedemann

Only West Edmonton Mall gets more visitors on an annual basis than the 18 Edmonton Public Libraries combined, at more than 14 million people! They borrowed well-over 10 million books, CDs, DVDs, and magazines from the EPL - which has a entire collection of some 17 million items - while about 350,000 folks participated in some 14,000 library-run programs. 


Those are some pretty impressive numbers, stats that have led to dozens of awards since 2010, including Library Journal’s 2014 Library of the Year, the first time a Canadian library was ever chosen. But, the century-old EPL has been pioneering public services for many decades now, like in 1941 when they were the first North American library to offer a bookmobile! 

In 1979, the EPL became Canada’s first library to install an integrated, computerized circulation system, and in 2007 it was the first urban library in the country to implement RFID technology. The following year, the EPL applied “an in…

Reason #74 of '101 Reasons Why I Heart Edmonton'

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William Hawrelak Park

By Emil Tiedemann

More than 10,000 people paid their respects to William Hawrelak (1915-75) as his body lay in city council chambers, after the former Edmonton mayor suffered a heart attack and passed away on November 7, 1975. 


 As Edmonton’s longest-running mayor in history (1951-59, 1963-65, and 1974-75), Hawrelak and his council were able to construct some of Edmonton’s most treasured landmarks in an era of prosperity for the city, including Fort Edmonton Park, the Edmonton Valley Zoo, Stanley A. Milner Library, Borden Park, the Royal Alexandra Hospital, the Riverside Golf Course, Groat Bridge, Edmonton’s section of the Yellowhead Trail, and the Mayfair Park, which would later be renamed William Hawrelak Park

The park has become one of the city’s most beloved destinations among the extensive green belt that wraps the city, at 68 hectares of green space with a five-hectare artificial lake as its centerpiece. Edmontonians have used the area for everything from cro…

Reason #73 of '101 Reasons Why I Heart Edmonton'

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Brewery District & Oliver

By Emil Tiedemann

The historic Molson Brewery in the Oliver area, just blocks away from Ice District, closed its doors for good in August 2007, following an ongoing worker’s strike. It was the end of an era of Edmonton’s long brewing history, dating back even before the Molson building went up in 1913. 

Former Strathcona Mayor William Henry Sheppard, also a local businessman and hotelier, bought the land in Groat Estates that would eventually house the Molson Brewery. It was designed to model castles from Sheppard’s homeland Germany, and cost $250,000 to build. It was sold off to Lethbridge’s Fritz Sick in 1927, and was then acquired by Molson in ‘58. 


A few years later, in 1961, they added a decorative building in the design of a fur trade fort and called it the Molson House, used as a hospitality lounge to entertain customers (as well as the place Peter Pocklington used to announce he had traded Wayne Gretzky). That section was later dismantled and reassemb…

Reason #72 of '101 Reasons Why I Heart Edmonton'

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The Road Trips

By Emil Tiedemann

Road trips are how most young Edmontonians experience some of their first and most memorable adventures, leaving the parents at home and grabbing a few friends and some 7-11 snacks to set out on the open road. 


We’d put on some music, play some highway games, maybe share the occasional joint (don’t do drugs, kids!) on one of our pee breaks. Many times, it really had nothing to do with the final destination - a random selection from the provincial road map - but more so about the trip itself, sharing stories and making memories with your friends and family along the way to Jasper or Banff or Calgary

You get older, but the road trips don’t get old, though now they’re not as often, and perhaps taken with the family or your best buddy (& more pee breaks). But the essence of the road trip remains intact, driving down the highway as mountainscapes and scenic lakesides pass us by at 100 kms/hr. 


At points, you just have to pull the car over and take it all i…

Reason #71 of '101 Reasons Why I Heart Edmonton'

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Hometown Celebs

By Emil Tiedemann

Edmonton is actually the hometown to plenty of national and international movie, music, and television stars! Don’t believe me? Go ahead and Google filmmaker Will Beauchamp (Pariahs), actress Michelle Beaudoin (Sabrina, the Teenage Witch), director Gil Cardinal (The Rez), actor Terry Chen (Elysium), singer Ken Chinn (of SNFU), actor Tommy Chong (of Cheech & Chong), actress Rae Dawn Chong (The Color Purple), model Meghan Collison (Dolce & Gabbana), singer Mac DeMarco (Another One), TV host Marilyn Denis (The Marilyn Denis Show), actress Paula Devicq (Party of Five), singer Tim Feehan (“Where’s the Fire”), actor Nathan Fillion (Castle), actress Dianne Foster (Perry Mason), actor Michael J. Fox (Back to the Future), actor Patrick Gilmore (Stargate), actress Grace Glowicki (Her Friend Adam), singer G.NA (“Black & White”), actor Robert Goulet (Beetlejuice), actress Meghan Heffern (Degrassi), actress Jill Hennessy (Crossing Jordan), actor Jimmy He…

Reason #70 of '101 Reasons Why I Heart Edmonton'

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Neon Sign Museum

By Emil Tiedemann

I envy the nighttime streets of Austin and Nashville, lit up with neon signs welcoming visitors into local bars and shops. There’s just something about those colourful beacons that makes us want to head downtown and listen to loud live music and swallow copious amounts of beer and whiskey, and eventually shots of cheap tequila. 


Okay, maybe it’s just me! Whatever the case, one of my favourite public art installations is the Neon Sign Museum on the corner of 104th and 104th, where glowing signage from Edmonton’s past are put out to pasture. When it first went up on February 21, 2014, it was the first of its kind in Canada, made up of a dozen rotating pieces, including Cliff’s Auto Parts, XL Furniture, Mike’s News, W.W. Arcade, and the Pantages Theatre. 

And the City couldn’t have chosen a better spot to display these historic signs, situated across the street from Ice District and the Mercer Building, near the 104th Street Promenade. #neonyeg

Reason #69 of '101 Reasons Why I Heart Edmonton'

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The Troupes

By Emil Tiedemann

I think that the rest of Canada is finally beginning to realize just how much of a theatre-centric town Edmonton really is, although theatre-loving locals have been well aware for decades now. Every single week in Edmonton there are amateur and professional actors, comedians, dancers, musicians, and improvisationalists taking to one of the many stages around town to entertain us through some form of theatre. And although we couldn’t name them all, here are some of the best theatre, dance, and comedy troupes in all of Edmonton. #yegtheatre


CAPITAL CITY BURLESQUE/
Edmonton’s premiere burlesque dance troupe has been voted our city’s “Best Burlesque Show” for several years now, entertaining locals with their Rockettes-inspired kick lines, their revealing and glamorous outfits, and their themed performances - everything from Santa Claus to Star Wars. Registered as a not-for-profit organization, the troupe has also performed at local festivals, private events, and …

Reason #68 of '101 Reasons Why I Heart Edmonton'

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Alberta Legislature Grounds

By Emil Tiedemann

“Edmonton was still very much a frontier city with many inhabitants living in the roughest of shelters, in tents and wooden shacks,” wrote former Alberta Legislative Assembly Speaker Moragh Macauley in an article celebrating the 75th anniversary of the Legislature Building, in 1987. “The population of the province was, for the main part, made up of homesteaders, recent immigrants who had come to settle the land and make new lives for themselves.” 


It was the turn of the century and Edmonton had just been declared the capital of Alberta, shortly after it was incorporated as an actual city. The first provincial legislative session happened in 1906 at the Thistle Rink, which happened to be the largest building in the whole town at that point. 

Future sessions took place at the MacKay Avenue School (1906-08) and then at a hall in the government-owned Terrace Building (1908-11), until the Duke of Connaught - then Governor General of Canada - offici…

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

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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…