Showing posts from June, 2017

Reason #46 of '101 Reasons Why I Heart Edmonton'

Edmonton Folk Music Festival

By Emil Tiedemann

The first time I ever made it down to Gallagher Park for the Edmonton Folk Music Festival, it rained! We sat near the very top of the hill and had to leave sooner than planned, because of our sore and wet asses. It kinda sucked, actually. 

But, come rain or shine, there are thousands of Edmontonians who will sit through anything during the four-day event, one of the leading folk festivals on the planet. I had a bad run, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t at least enjoy the live music on stage, which is really what this festival is all about, and has been since Don Whalen (the inaugural artistic director) and Mitch Podolak first kicked it off in 1980. 

And although it nearly all fell apart five or six seasons into the festival over financial woes, these days tickets sell out in a matter of hours. Some of the world’s greatest singers, songwriters, and musicians have graced the stage at Folk Fest since those early days, as well as many unknown local…

Reason #45 of '101 Reasons Why I Heart Edmonton'

Shaw Conference Center

By Emil Tiedemann

My friend Cindy introduced me to donairs back in the day, and so I owed her in a big way! If you like donairs, then you know what I’m talking about. That just might have been the reason why I agreed to cancel my New Year’s plans and join her for the very last Big Sugar concert before they called it quits (until reuniting in 2010, that is). 

That was December 31, 2003, and the Shaw Conference Centre was already 20 years old. That was the first time I had ever been to the Shaw, this strange - but in a good way - looking structure dangling on the side of the river valley in downtown Edmonton. 

That night, I got drunk, Cindy met some guy, and I scarfed down two - yes, two - donairs by the time I made it home on the LRT. It was a good night, overall. 

The Shaw is one of the premier venues for trade shows, festivals, concerts, galas, luncheons, conventions, awards shows, and of course, conferences, including some of our most favourite annuals: the Edmonto…

Reason #44 of '101 Reasons Why I Heart Edmonton'

Alberta Avenue

By Emil Tiedemann

Every city has that area of town in which they tend to avoid, because it’s got that...reputation. You know what I’m talking about. For so many years, 118th Avenue has carried that burden, a neighbourhood that was stricken with higher levels of crime and poverty, which always seem to go hand in hand. 

But, that was then and this is now, and now things are better...a lot better, depending on who you ask. In fact, it’s not even called 118th anymore, going back to it’s original name, Alberta Avenue (between 109th Street & Wayne Gretzky Drive), after nearly a century as 118th. 

Sure, there are still pawn shops and cheque-cashing joints “plaguing” the area, but Alberta Avenue has long evolved from just that, thanks to some dedicated locals who want to prove to the rest of Edmonton that this isn’t such a bad neighbourhood after all. 

A revitalization plan has seen plenty of positive outcomes so far, such as shop owners reinvesting in their infrastructure, flow…

Reason #43 of '101 Reasons Why I Heart Edmonton'

City of Champions

By Emil Tiedemann

I wonder how many students who attend J. Percy Page High School actually know who their school’s namesake was. Before he had a school named after him, before he worked as a high school principal, and way before he served as the eighth Lieutenant Governor of Alberta, Mr. Page coached perhaps the most winningest team in the history of North American sports! 

Actually, the Edmonton Grads - out of the then new McDougall High School - still hold the record for the best winning percentage of all time (96.2%), for any team in any sport! Between 1915 and 1940, the all-female basketball team lost just 20 times, and won 502 of their matches, even sweeping four consecutive Olympic Games (1924-36) and pummeling their opponents 1,863 to 297, overall. 

So, before the Eskimos, before the Oilers, and way before the Oil Kings, the Grads warranted our “City of Champions” epithet. More importantly, these young women were from Edmonton, not traded here. They grew up here, …

Reason #42 of '101 Reasons Why I Heart Edmonton'

Borden Park

By Emil Tiedemann

It’s kind of like this little forest in the middle of the city, 22 hectares of greenscape situated in between 112th Avenue and the Northlands compound. And even though it’s more than a century old, you probably wouldn’t even know about it if not for some Tweet or Instagram of what’s got to be the sweetest toilet in all of Edmonton, the Borden Park Pavilion. 

In 2014, a $9 million restoration of the northside Borden Park, one of the oldest green spaces in the city, was completed. It included the installation of the eye-catching pavilion, sidewalks and benches, picnic tables and fountains, revolving art pieces, a formal garden, and a playground that looks like something right out of The Flintstones

Named after former Canadian Prime Minister Sir Robert Laird Borden (who visited Edmonton in 1914), the park was first established in 1906 (as East End City Park) and was actually the original home of the Edmonton Zoo and even a fairground from 1915 to 1935, as well…

Reason #41 of '101 Reasons Why I Heart Edmonton'

Hotel Macdonald

By Emil Tiedemann

When a monarch, a world leader, or an international rock star happens to stroll through town, it’s usually a safe bet that they’ll be put up at the 11-storey, 199-room Fairmont Hotel Macdonald in the downtown. 

And when they do, you can be sure that they’ll be lodging in the $3000 a night Queen Elizabeth II “Royal” Suite, the grandest of them all. It is built on two levels, and includes a spacious living room and foyer, a dining room and kitchen, two bedrooms, three bathrooms, and the “royal” treatment. 

The Mac, as it has become known to locals, is as extravagant as it gets in Edmonton, a four diamond, ch√Ęteau-style luxury hotel overlooking the breathtaking river valley, along the buzzing Jasper Avenue. Named after our first Prime Minister, Sir John A. Macdonald, this iconic landmark took four years to construct, opening for the first time on July 5, 1915 as “the centre of Edmonton’s social life.” 

In 1985, Hotel Macdonald became the first building in tow…

Reason #40 of '101 Reasons Why I Heart Edmonton'

Winspear Centre

By Emil Tiedemann

Dr. Francis G. Winspear was born in Birmingham, England in 1903, but by the time he was eight years old he had moved with his family to a hamlet just outside of Calgary. He eventually made his way north to Edmonton, where he studied accounting at the University of Alberta in the 1920s. By the ‘40s, Winspear had the top accounting firm in his adopted hometown. 

His success benefited many local organizations and charitable foundations, and Winspear also made significant contributions to the University’s Faculty of Business. He even helped to found the Edmonton Symphony Society in 1952 and then the Edmonton Opera in 1963. In fact, his $6 million gift to the Edmonton Concert Hall Foundation was this country’s largest single private donation ever made to a performing arts facility. 

That money spearheaded the construction of the Francis G. Winspear Centre for Music - or simply the Winspear - which opened on September 12, 1997, just eight months after the proli…

#yeg Video of the Month/ June '17

Ruth B.'s "Superficial Love" (2017) Directed by Alison Honey Woods (from album Safe Haven

Reason #39 of '101 Reasons Why I Heart Edmonton'

Camping & Lake Life

By Emil Tiedemann

It’s a long-held tradition for Edmontonians to get their camping season kicked off during the May long weekend by calling up a few friends, grabbing a few cases of beer and their tents, and heading outta town (or even in town!) to enjoy the great outdoors! So many options, so little time. 

The camping season usually ends when autumn begins - or shortly thereafter - so we don’t take these trips for granted. With the amount of picturesque lakes & camp sites in Central Alberta, we’re amongst the luckiest & happiest campers in the whole country! 

In case you’re new to town, here’s a list of some of the best places to visit in the (mostly) Central Alberta area for lake & camping life: Alberta Beach at Lac Ste Anne, Anthony Henday Campground, Aspen Beach Provincial Park on Gull Lake, Banff National Park, Glowing Embers RC Park, Jasper National Park, Long Lake Provincial Park Beach, Ma-Me-O Beach on Pigeon Lake, Miquelon Lake Provincial Park

Reason #38 of '101 Reasons Why I Heart Edmonton'

Our Healthcare System

By Emil Tiedemann

Whether you need a cast for your broken leg or major surgery on some vital organ, one of the best places in the world you could possibly be is right here in Alberta, where race, gender, age, religion, lifestyle, or the amount of cash in your bank account doesn’t matter. You’re going to get the help you need! 

Alberta Health Services (AHS) is the largest province-wide, fully-integrated health system in the country, delivering the very best in health and medical services to more than four million Albertans (& beyond) twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. 

It’s made up of about 120,000 employees and well over 15,000 volunteers at more than 100 acute care hospitals across the province who have teamed up with other important health authorities, such as Alberta Cancer Board, Alberta Mental Health Board, and Alberta Alcohol and Drug Abuse Commission (AADAC). 

There are eight hospitals within the Capital Health Region alone, including Edmonton’s Mi…

Reason #37 of '101 Reasons Why I Heart Edmonton'


By Emil Tiedemann

Coming out is difficult. Especially when you don’t have the support or advice you might need to guide you through such a complicated and unforeseeable process. Unfortunately, I didn’t have any advice and I didn’t know if I would have the support when I decided to finally stop hiding from the person I was born to be. 

But, in the end, I made it out okay. Not everyone does, however. Some don’t make it out at all. Less than ten years ago, I would’ve given Edmonton a failing grade on its progress and support of the LGBTQ+ community here, but that’s because I simply wasn’t aware of the all the programs and organizations in our town that are set up for folks such as myself (iSMSS, Pride Centre, TESA, etc.). And also, because things have gotten a lot better for Edmonton’s queer populace rather rapidly since then. 

I think back to the days of Delwin Vriend, one of the most important figures in Canada’s own gay revolution. He was a teacher right here in Edmonton at King’s U…

Reason #36 of '101 Reasons Why I Heart Edmonton'

Jubilations & The Mayfield

By Emil Tiedemann

Some people spend their Saturday nights going for dinner and then catching a show afterwards. Others do both at the same time! Did I just blow your mind?! Probably not, if you’ve ever been to a dinner theatre. 

The Mayfield and Jubilations Dinner Theatres, both in the west end, are the perfect solution for anyone bored with spending their precious evenings and weekends at the movies, going for drinks, or grabbing something to eat downtown. 

Not that there’s anything wrong with those things, but some days you just feel like something different! And that’s just what the dinner theatre experience is. Patrons enjoy an upscale buffet with all the trimmings just before they sit in for a musical extravaganza over at the 452-seat Mayfield, situated on the ground floor of the DoubleTree By Hilton on 166 Street at 109 Avenue. 

Jubilations, inside West Edmonton Mall, does things a bit differently, offering up a delicious four course meal served to you …

Reason #35 of '101 Reasons Why I Heart Edmonton'

 Java Joints

By Emil Tiedemann

To be honest, I can drink a cup of coffee from just about anywhere, but there’s no denying that some places simply serve up superior brews. Just as Edmonton’s culinary scene matures and expands, so does its coffee landscape, broadening local bean buffs’ alternatives to include more than the ubiquitous Starbucks or Timmy’s. 

There are java joints offering up specialty coffees and tasty cafe cuisine in virtually every corner of the city, from the Burrow in the downtown Central LRT station to the Carrot on Alberta Avenue. Some of the “older” shops have even grown into local franchises, like Transcend, Credo, or the Remedy Cafe, all with multiple locations around town. 

There are small ones (Coffee Bureau), underground ones (Lock Stock), fashionable ones (Barking Buffalo), nearly hidden ones (Little Brick), ones that sell books (Mandolin), ones that specialize in baked goods (District) or sandwiches (Farrow) or Italian (Leva). We’ve got you covered, no matter yo…

Reason #34 of '101 Reasons Why I Heart Edmonton'

MacEwan University

By Emil Tiedemann

Although Dr. J.W. Grant MacEwan (1902-2000) was born in Manitoba, raised in Saskatchewan, and studied in Ontario, his heart belongs to Alberta. The former Calgary Mayor (1963-65) and Lieutenant Governor of Alberta (1966-74) left behind a legacy of sustainability and environmental advocacy, well before “being green” became a societal standard. 

An educator and author for most of his lengthy career, MacEwan proudly became the namesake of the Grant MacEwan Community College (Scona Campus) when it was founded in 1971. Back then, the college primarily offered one and two-year certificate and diploma programs, focusing on fields like nursing, social work, child care, and psychotechnics. 

Just two years later, in 1973, MacEwan established a second campus at Jasper Place, and then a third in 1976 in the Mill Woods region. By 1988, the college was approved to offer university transfer programs, just as the provincial government committed $100 million to the con…