Here are a couple of the more interesting neighbourhoods around Edmonton:
This 30-minute walk takes on a tour of Edmonton’s history. Begin at the Alberta Legislature, where the original Fort Edmonton stood, and walk to Old Town, where the Shaw Convention Centre now stands. The route follows the red brick sidewalks, complete with period lights and street signs. The Trail follows along 99th Avenue past the historic McKay Avenue School (when Edmonton had named streets). Zig-zag left on 104th Street and right on 100th Avenue to pass the recently renovated Hotel Macdonald. The Oak Room bar inside has a magnificent view of the river valley. From Macdonald Drive enjoy spectacular views of the North Saskatchewan River, whose waters flow into Hudson’s Bay and the Arctic Ocean about 2,000 miles downstream.
Chinatown meets downtown at the Harbin Gate at 102nd Avenue and 97th Street. This gate symbolizes the friendship between Edmonton and its sister city, Harbin. The old Chinatown ran for three blocks on 97th Street, between 105th and 108th Avenues. The construction of government buildings and the LRT forced Chinatown to move east to 95th Street, between 102nd and Jasper Avenues. This is where Edmonton’s Asian immigrants buy fresh produce and specialty items, or eat at great Chinese restaurants.
Avenue of Nations
The Avenue of Nations is to the north of downtown, and a bit west of Chinatown. It’s centred around 107th Avenue, from 95th Street to 116th Street, and has a smorgasbord of ethnic shops reflecting the cultures of China, Japan, Italy, Latin America, Poland, Ukraine, and Vietnam. Nearby 96th Street has over 16 churches on it, and is featured in Ripley’s “Believe it or Not.”
This historical neighbourhood overlooks the Highland Golf Course along the North Saskatchewan River. Many lavish mansions have been restored to their original turn-of-the-century splendor, complete with beautiful gardens. Seven historical sites including the Gibbard Block are centred around the intersection of 65th Street and 112th Avenue.
124th Street/West End
Edmonton’s historic 124th Street has over 125 shops and boutiques. The neighbourhood is centred around the High Street Mall (at 102nd Avenue at 125th Street) and hosts the Jazz City Festival, Pick of the Fringe, and the Caribbean Cariwest Carnival. The area is rich in art galleries, members of the Gallery Walk Association. Explore 90 years of Edmonton building history, including the 1910 Carruthers Steel Bridge, and the Provincial Museum of Alberta. Walking tour maps are at #204, 10350 – 124 Street.
University of Alberta
Alberta’s largest university was founded in 1908 by Alberta’s first Premier, A.C. Rutherford. It started with 45 students and eight professors. The university now has over 40,000 students and staff, hosed in 90 ivy-covered brick and modern buildings on 200 acres of land. Other features include: the Universiade Pavillion, the main sports venue for the 1983 World University Games; The Northern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium, built to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Alberta becoming a province in 1957, and home to the Alberta Ballet, the Edmonton Opera and the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra.
Many Strathcona buildings date back to the 1891 launch of the Edmonton-Calgary Railroad, especially along Whyte Avenue (82nd Avenue). You’ll see a Farmer’s Market, Edmonton’s first movie house, the Princess Theatre, and several museums: the C&E Railway Museum, the Old Strathcona Model & Toy Museum, and the Telephone Historical Centre. The neighbourhood comes alive for the Silly Summer Parade on Canada Day (July 1), and the Fringe Festival in late August. The Old Strathcona Foundation at #401, 10324 – 82 Ave. has a walking tour map.
Edmonton is the “Oil Capital of Canada” being in the middle of several major oil fields. Major fields in Devon, Leduc, and near Fort Saskatchewan were discovered just after World War II. A little further away are oil fields around Whitecourt and Swan Hills to the west, Cold Lake to the east, and Fort MacMurray’s tar sands to the north. Canada’s pipeline transportation network centres around Refinery Row, in east-end Strathcona County, along 101st Avenue east of 50th Street. The manufacturing plants in the area not only refine the petroleum but manufacture items such as battery anodes, chemicals, fertilizers, insulation, plastic, and steel.