Stories & Visions

The Capilano Apricots

Shared by Dustin Bajer Capilano The Capilano Apricots Photo

On the West side of the former Capilano freeway (present-day 75th street) between 86th and 90th avenues are three mature apricot trees known to local gardeners are the Capilano Apricots (Capilano 1, 2, and three walking from South to North). It is widely believed that they were guerrilla gardened sometime in the 1960s as seedlings.

Uncommon in Edmonton, these three apricots are also unique from each other, each tree has its own unique in growth habit and fruit. Botanically and culturally speaking, Edmonton is the only place in the world that you will find these three varieties.

While I can not prove it, I have a hunch that the seedlings may have been planted by (or associated with) an internationally famous local plant breeder by the name of Robert Simonet. Mr Simonet was responsible for breeding many flowers, vegetables, and fruit tree varieties - including apricots. He also lived in the Bonnie Doon area around the time these trees would have been planted.

Despite being on city land, these three trees are still absent from the City of Edmonton's tree inventory

The Capilano Apricots Photo

Mandolin Cafe

Shared by Dawn Mandolin Cafe Photo

The mandolin holds a special place in my heart and in the community of highlands. It's warm, welcoming and unique vibe makes it the perfect place to get away. Cozy on a cold winters day or a summer time patio filled with beautiful flowers.
Located in one of the oldest districts in Edmonton. Community, arts and sustainability focused. They sell and trade books, display different artists work each month and have an amazing selection of loose tea. Each time I come here it's a unique and special experience.

Mandolin Cafe Photo

this theatre is appreciated

8712 109 Street Northwest, Edmonton this theatre is appreciated Photo

I love that this theatre supports local, independent, and unusual programming. The curated series of films are wonderful. this place keeps me learning about topics near and far from my home. I wish this place had better attendance, was more broadly publicized as a gem of Edmonton.

this theatre is appreciated Photo

Planetarium Park

Shared by Lesley Edmonton Planetarium Park Photo

I loved the old Edmonton Planetarium and the signs of the zodiac embedded in the surrounding sidewalk. It opened in September of 1960 and was a very futuristic building. I lived just north of it and spent lots of summertime hours in the surrounding park.

Planetarium Park Photo

Mapping Rat Creek

Shared by Dustin Bajer Mapping Rat Creek Photo

Backfilled with landfill (Clark Stadium) and paved over with asphalt (Norwood Boulevard) present-day Kinnard Ravine represented only a small portion of the original creek.

Extending NW from Dawson park, under Clark stadium, down Norwood Boulevard (111th Ave), past Kingsway, and ending someone near Blatchford once ran the mighty Rat Creek ravine. Rat Creek formerly extended into the adjacent neighbourhoods of Virginia Park, Chromdale, Parkdale, Norwood, McCauley, Spruce Avenue, Central McDougal, and Prince Rupert.

Project Idea:

Part 1: I would like to work with the community and City archives to research the exact path of Rat (short of Muskrat) creek and to identify stories about it its history, use, and impact on the community.

Part 2: Just because the ravine is paved over doesn't mean it's gone. Hidden under the city exists buried infrastructure that channels the water that would have flown through Rat Creek - often still dumping into the ravine via city outfalls. In the second phase of this project, I would like to work with the drainage department to identify the historical and present-day Rat Creek catchment basin.

Part 3: May the historical and present-day Rat Creek catchment basement onto the city. Work with an artist and residents of the basin to create a unique Rat Creek logo. Work with catchment residents and schools to paint the Rat Creek logo onto existing public wastewater infrastructure (drains, utility holes, etc.).

The goal of the 3rd phase is to engage residents of the Rat Creek basin in a placemaking exercise and to connect their home, and the identity of the area to the ravine. By reminding residents that all of the water in their neighbours ultimately makes its way to the ravine we can link individual practices to the health of the present day Rat Creek. To further this goal, public signage and articles in neighbourhood newspapers could help spread the message and the storied uncovered via the research in phase 1.

Part 4: Work with the City of Edmonton to make outfall data in Rat Creek ravine open to the public. Work with residents and organisations such as the North Saskatchewan Watershed Alliance, Epcor, Edmonton Permaculture, Cultivate McCauley, and Alberta Low Impact Development to create programs and initiatives that enable people to contribute to the health of their catchment basin and the ravine downstream of them.

Mapping Rat Creek Photo

Hangar 11

Shared by HeritageForward Hangar 11 Photo

Constructed in 1942, Hangar 11 is one of only two Second World War era hangars remaining at Blatchford Field. Now owned by the City of Edmonton, Hangar 11 is facing demolition as part of the redevelopment of the airport lands.
In an effort to raise awareness about the threat of demolition, Hangar 11 was featured on the @nationaltrustca 2017 list of Top 10 Endangered historic places in all of Canada. A recent report prepared by the City of Edmonton identified this site as one of national significance to the war effort, and a site of unquestionable historic value in Edmonton's history. Not only does Hangar 11 serve as a vital connection to our past, our efforts to end WWII and combat tyranny in Europe, but it was also pivotal in Edmonton's larger urban development as a city, and in providing the critical connection point to the peoples of the North.
Edmonton was a hub of activity during the Second World War. Thanks to our role in the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan and the American Lend-Lease program, Blatchford Field was - for a time - the busiest airport in the continent as pilots were trained up and shipped off, and as planes and essential supplies for the war effort passed through on their way to Europe via the Northwest Staging Route. It was from Edmonton that the Allies were able to supply the Russians with fighter planes to help put the pinch on the Germans in their push to Berlin.
Not only does Hangar 11 have a tremendous national historical significance for its role in the war effort and later in it's role in developing the North, but the structure is also in remarkable condition and is well suited for preservation or a creative adaptive reuse project to enrich the future Blatchford community.

Hangar 11 Photo

End of Steel Park

Shared by Dan Rose Edmonton End of Steel Park Photo

I remember passing this odd green patch as a kid and having no idea why a caboose was in a park. It wasn't until I lived nearby that I wandered through the park one day and learned the history of the park, the caboose, and the concrete blocks that marked the "end of steel". I always thought this was a fascinating place that marked a pivotal junction (no pun intended) in Edmonton's history. Many would be inclined to see this as the start of Edmonton's history. My hope for Edmonton's heritage is that we can better program and interpret these sites, and place them in a broader historical context acknowledging that this place is, in fact, hardly the start or even the middle part of Edmonton's story. I do think it great that we use our public spaces to educate citizens and offer space for history, art, and dialogue. This is, however, also a public park, with a unique heritage focus, that I think the City has forgotten about as the plaques and audio features are long since broken or missing.

End of Steel Park Photo

Telling the all Story pt 2

Shared by Dan Rose Telling the all Story pt 2 Photo

While the community of Mill Woods does recognize the Indigenous history of the area through place names of some neighbourhoods, there is very little acknowledgment of the history of the area that became Mill Woods in the 1970s. Few Mill Woods residents are aware of the history of the Papaschase Reserve, and how the Papaschase peoples were forced from the Rossdale area and re-settled to an area south of the river, how that land was eventually re-acquired by the Federal government and subsequently sold to settler farmers, and how that same land was later assembled and sold to create Mill Woods. In the spirit of Truth and Reconciliation, it would be valuable to undertake an exercise to share that history of the Papaschase and acknowledge the difficult history of the Mill Woods area. There are scant physical reminders of this past in Mill Woods outside of a few place names, nor is the history or context widely known. Let's do better.

Telling the all Story pt 2 Photo

Telling the Full Story pt.1

Shared by Dan Rose Telling the Full Story pt.1 Photo

One vision I have for heritage in Edmonton is more inclusive and appropriate historic interpretation of the diverse peoples and experiences of Edmonton. I hope to see more panels, plaques, and interpretative installations to help share our history, create valuable and meaningful public spaces, and tell the full story of our city. The panels tagged here leave a lot to be desired. I believe we can do better in bringing the community together to collect and tell these stories, and in designing relevant and engaging public resources to learn about the history of our city. Many installations like these aren't valued or relevant because the content is now viewed as problematic, presents an exclusive narrative, or the physical infrastructure is outdated or has been vandalized and damaged.

Telling the Full Story pt.1 Photo

Dancing in the Water

Shared by Sydney Lancaster 109 St NW, Edmonton, AB, Canada Dancing in the Water Photo

Many years ago, on Canada Day, the (now gone) High Level Bridge Waterfall was turned on for the very first time. It was a singular, spectacular moment in this city - such a beautiful way to connect the river to the bridge, and to the city in a really visceral way. I was on the bridge that day - getting drenched under the waterfall, singing and dancing with people. Yes, complete strangers gathered together and became friends, played like children, and forgot there differences for a while. I met three young women from Quebec under the water; they spoke no English and my French was rusty - but we managed to have a joyous time. We even sang the national anthem together, and shared some (illegal) champagne in honour of the Bridge that brought us together.

Dancing in the Water Photo

Edmonton's Wild Gojiberries

Shared by Dustin Bajer Edmonton's Wild Gojiberries Photo

As a young city, newcomers brought many of their personal, cultural practices to Edmonton. Over decades, this unique mixture of cultures has added to the vibrancy of our City.

When the Chinese community first settled in Edmonton many of them took up farming. According to the author Kathryn Chase-Merrit, in her book "Why Grow Here" the Chinese community owned and operated as many as fifteen market gardens around the City - many located in Edmonton's river valley. Among the plants that they would have grown were goji berries - a brambly shrub in the tomato family that produces oval orange-red berries and edible leaves popular in soups and prized for their medicinal qualities.

While the market gardens are long gone - some pushed out due to controversial city policy - at least one by the flood of 1915 - many large goji berries remain. The decedents of plants imported by the Chinese community they have long made the North bank of the river valley their home; longtime residents of Edmonton's downtown.

It could be noted that goji berries have become popular at local nurseries over the last decade. However, most people don't realise that a hardy, Edmonton lineage of this plant has naturalised and perfectly adapted itself to call this city home.

Edmonton's Wild Gojiberries Photo

Connecting to Black History in Edmonton

Shared by Elsa Robinson Queen Elizabeth Park Road Connecting to Black History in Edmonton Photo

I used to take my children swimming at the Queen Elizabeth Pool. In the summer of 1988, I noticed this big chalk board near the change rooms. I went over to have a closer look. The information on the board was regarding the history of mixed race bathing in Edmonton. That is when I found out that Queen Elizabeth Pool was the first location where Black Edmontonians were allowed to swim in a public place managed by the City of Edmonton.

So, I explained the information to my four and five year old children - they both remember hearing this story. At the time I told my children that this obviously why we had come to this pool, because it was the first place that people like us could swim in public. When the City closed the pool, some years later, I joined the community group that lobbied the City of Edmonton to rebuild the pool. The group was also involved in designing the new pool and deciding on the new location for Queen Elizabeth Pool.

Connecting to Black History in Edmonton Photo

Lucky Chinese Guardian Lions

Shared by GL 102 Ave NW, Edmonton, AB T5J 0L6, Canada Lucky Chinese Guardian Lions Photo

When my relatives visited us, my parents would bring us to the Harbin Gate to take pictures. As a kid, I remember climbing to reach and rub the ball in the guardian lion's mouth for good luck. I didn't realize how special and important the Chinatown Gate was until it was taken away.

Lucky Chinese Guardian Lions Photo

Learning about Edmonton's history

Shared by Annette 9703 94 St NW, Edmonton, AB T6C 3W1, Canada Learning about Edmonton's history Photo

My favourite school field-trips were always to the Bennett Centre! I loved seeing what people had to pack for their long journeys before we had cars or even roads; trying to make a fire using sticks; opening up owl pellets; and running through the woods as a herbivore during a game of Survival. I hope my own children will have just as much fun as I did at this great place.

Learning about Edmonton's history Photo

A Bonfire

Shared by Hunter Alfred H. Savage Centre, Fox Drive Northwest, Edmonton, AB A Bonfire Photo

This is where I have been told my ancestors used the ochre deposits for their ceremonies. So coming here in the evenings, starting a fire in the fire pit, and looking up at the same night sky with the same stars that my ancestors would have seen makes me feel profoundly connected to this city that I love.

A Bonfire Photo

Royal Alberta Museum

Shared by K. Hamilton 9810 103a Ave NW, Edmonton, AB T5J 0G2, Canada Royal Alberta Museum Photo

My first introduction to non-domesticated animals was at the Royal Alberta Museum. Through the glass enclosures, I was given a glimpse into life as a mountain goat, a Snowshoe Hare and many other animals. One of my very favourite exhibits to this day was looking at the female coyote with her pups. I would stay and watch them, letting them come alive in my mind, until being dragged away by a parent or teacher. The dioramas inspired in me a sense of adventure and a lasting love of nature and animals. In recent years, I have taken my two children to these exhibits and I loved watching their little faces light up with amazement. We are so fortunate to have cultural institutions like this in Edmonton. I can't wait to begin taking my children to the new Royal Alberta Museum. This is a special city that cares deeply for its arts, culture and heritage, and I am grateful for that.

Royal Alberta Museum Photo
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