That brings me to the question: what is YEGuncovered?
I grew up in Edmonton during the 1980s-2000s. I remember finding travel books about Canada while I was growing up, and looking up Edmonton. It was inevitably some variation on the tale of an oil town with nothing to do and only a gigantic mall. That mall. “West Ed”. I used to go there on the bus in junior high to drink milkshakes. Never forget the fire-breathing dragon.
But from where I stood, a lot of stuff happened. Slowly, and on a smaller scale, but it happened. Does anyone remember when the Rolling Stones came to Edmonton in the ’90s and it was a Really Big Deal in the news? I remember an article about Mick Jagger being spotted jogging in the river valley and a countdown to the show. My family walked around outside the stadium (we didn’t have tickets) and my brother climbed a tree and looked in.
Over time, especially during the boom of the late 2000s, the city started changing. Often for the better. There’s a lot more to do than there used to be.
But while some of it is good, a lot has changed, too. A lot of things that used to be here are gone. There are so many cranes downtown. Recently, I saw from the bus that the building formerly known as the best laser tag ever (Laser Quest) is now a pile of rubble. I spend a lot of time trying to connect what I knew with where I live now. Memory is fascinating and terrifying.
This city isn’t easy to love but it has a lot of character. Both good and bad.
So, I’m going to write about it. Throw in some photos. Maybe talk to some people. See where things go. Do it over summer 2015, from May to September, and maybe keep going if I still have things to say.
Some weekends, I volunteer as a costumed historic interpreter at the John Walter Museum (open to the public from 1-4 pm on Sundays, throughout the spring-to-fall months, free admission).
The museum itself:
Yes, those are scones you see. Come about halfway through the afternoon (2:30-3 pm) for maximum likelihood of catching the (free!) fresh baked goods from the wood fire.
John Walter was one of the founding pioneers of Edmonton (you know, other than the people who had already been there for thousands of years), a successful entrepreneur who ran everything from a ferry company to a lumber mill to a coal mine. Eventually, he made a million bucks and built a mansion (now one of the three houses in the museum).
There was a thriving community called Walterdale where the Kinsmen Sports Centre is today. In 1915, there was a flood that devastated the community.
The Kinsmen field and High Level Bridge in the distance.
The Walterdale Bridge, back in 2013. It will not be around much longer – construction has already transformed the area.
John married a woman named Annie (née Newby), who has an intriguing backstory. Originally from England, she came to Canada as the nanny to two boys. She had traveled with the family all the way from the east coast to Manitoba, when plans went awry. One of the boys died, so what did the family do with Annie? They left her there, of course!
Annie met up with another girl about her age, and they travelled around working a series of jobs, before Annie ended up on John Walter’s ferry one fateful day. What I wonder is: what did she do on her “road trip” between Manitoba and Edmonton? I want to know.
There are a lot of reasons to love and loathe this city. Sometimes both. Mostly both.
I wander around a lot, taking photos.
Allow me to indulge you in my rollercoaster of emotions about this city. I guess that’s what YEGuncovered is.
Because this is the Internet, you can also check out the project on other social media platforms:
Facebook: YEGuncovered (page)