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. 

Locals skating on the man-made lake at Hawrelak during winter.

 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 cross-country skiing and ice skating to hiking and paddleboating, although it has become best recognized as the home of the annual Servus Heritage Festival

The Edmonton Symphony Orchestra performing at the Heritage Amphitheatre.

That is certainly not the only major event that takes over the park though, as the 1,133-seat Heritage Amphitheatre - built in the late ‘80s - plays host to the Freewill Shakespeare Festival, Symphony Under the Sky, the Interstellar Rodeo, and the Edmonton Blues Music Festival, to name a few. 

Although William Hawrelak’s reputation had its ups and downs over the course of his lengthy career in municipal politics - beginning as an alderman from 1949-51 - the park that was developed in his name remains pristine and untainted by the urban jungle that surrounds it. #hawrelakpark

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