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

The Sidetrack Cafe

Shared by Trina Shipanoff 10333 112 St NW, Edmonton, AB T5K, Canada The Sidetrack Cafe Photo

The place to be if you were plugged into the cool goings on in the city was the Sidetrack Cafe. A perfect mix of humans it was the young the old, the hipsters the headbangers and everything in-between.... It was open for 26 years. This venue was the one that launched k.d. lang, Sarah Maclachlan, Blue Rodeo, Captain Tractor and the Barenaked Ladies careers.

A good night always included the sidetrack, I danced, I sang, I met and mingled.... you did not have to be or do or have anything.... but a smile.

The Sidetrack Cafe 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

Repurpose Building

Shared by Natasha Corbett 7515 118 Ave NW, Edmonton, AB T5B 4M9, Canada

What is most important to me about living in Edmonton is that I have always had a home to live in, and a family to care for me. I have never had to worry about being outside for a long time in a cold Edmonton winter. Or stuck outside in the sometimes very hot summers, we are in a fairly extreme climate. Not everyone in this city is as lucky, and we have homeless people in Edmonton. Often times people who end up on the streets do not actually choose to be there. When we live in a climate as unforgiving as ours, people die in the streets of Edmonton every year. It would be amazing to transform Rexall place, or part of it, into a multi-purpose rehabilitation center and housing for the homeless.
Rexall place could have large indoor gardens and greenhouses, and could have many small apartments set up to get people off the streets. Services offered could include, check in, free yoga in the mornings, registration for health care cards and any type of documentation missing, disability funding, which could help pay their rent in the little space. They could be required to participate in meditation and yoga, or exercise and mindfulness programs, could have help with goal setting classes, resume building, career information sessions, etc. (I would be willing to volunteer in this sort of facility) People could be given jobs to do around the center which would help pay for their space (at the minimum wage). This would help get people off the streets, and give them something to do, and also open up countless job opportunities for the many Edmontonians that are in need of jobs currently. People could work hours daily to clean and maintain the space, cook and provide services for others. There could be a little market place inside of the large center part of the arena. The possibilities are truly endless!
A city that lets its people die and live in homelessness is not a city to be proud of.
I would love to see Edmonton truly and wholeheartedly commit to helping all of its people, without exclusion, separation, and elitism. All egos aside, we are all human beings. All human beings are deserving of love and acceptance, and help. When we nurture and care for things, they grow and bloom. When we cast them away and tell them we hate them, they become wilted, disfigured, and die. We are only as strong as our weakest members, and we cannot move forward as humanity while we allow people to die outside because we are CHOOSING to not help, and to blame other things. The time is now to take responsibility for our people, and to do the best we can with the resources we ALREADY have available to us.
The time is now to be a leader on the world stage. Lead by example. You have to be willing to make the choice to take a chance, or things will never change. We are ready.
Thank you for reading.

Let's save our built heritage

Shared by John Richardson Let's save our built heritage Photo

My dream is to live in a city that encourages the preservation an use of heritage buildings. The Minchau Blacksmith shop is one of the few actually old buildings left in "Old" Strathcona. It is in the heart of what is becoming revitalized commercial, residential, and artistic community, with new theatres being put into repurposed buildings, new cafes and restaurants, new craft industries and new residential opportunities. The recent application for demolition of the Minchau Blacksmith shop swims against the current of the community's positive development. The idea of demolishing this built -cultural example of Strathcona's blacksmithing heritage -- blacksmithing being one of the oldest of craft industries -- is an insult to the community and the many creative, risk-taking entrepreneurs who are every day making Strathcona a better place to live, work, shop, and create.

Let's save our built heritage 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

Historic Building Graveyard

Shared by Dan Rose Historic Building Graveyard Photo

Tucked between the Winspear and Chancery Hall, you'll find a curious public space. This place is kinda neat and kinda sad. On this spot, you'll find several architectural fragments from demolished historic buildings that once previously occupied downtown; everything from window openings and arches to other pieces of brick and concrete, as well as a plaque marking the former civic block. It's a bizarre public demonstration of the city's difficulty in preserving our built heritage, but it's also an interesting lesson that could hopefully inform a future where our city values and actively protects our built heritage with focused investment and policy tools.

Historic Building Graveyard 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

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


River Photo

Some of my favourite times in Edmonton are when I am on the river. Beside the natural beauty and the recreation I participate in there, it is grounding to be connected to this place by the river that has been there forever. I imagine the history and the people that have been there before me for the thousands of years leading up to the moment I get to be there too. I can see public art from the river and enjoy that perspective. The river connects our past and present and is a backdrop and inspiration for art and creative thought.

River 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

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
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