Showing posts from August, 2017

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

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'

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'

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'

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'

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'

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

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'

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'

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…