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Adventure

THE STURGEON BY KAYAK


Experiencing a wilder, wetter side of St. Albert The Sturgeon River has provided many different things throughout the central Alberta region’s history, from food and water to transportation, habitation and recreation. These days, a growing appreciation of the local waterway’s ecological importance and understated beauty is drawing many folks from the Edmonton area and surrounding …Read More
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Experiencing a wilder, wetter side of St. Albert

The Sturgeon River has provided many different things throughout the central Alberta region’s history, from food and water to transportation, habitation and recreation. These days, a growing appreciation of the local waterway’s ecological importance and understated beauty is drawing many folks from the Edmonton area and surrounding communities back to the water. And there are so many ways to enjoy that water now, too, including by kayak. These ancient, low-impact
watercraft are not only fun and easy to use, but also provide an entirely new perspective of our home by the river.

Close to Water

There’s no preamble, no safety lessons or even a kayaking 101 lecture. Within a few minutes of showing up at the boat launch in Riel Park, I’m on the water in a 12-foot, 50-lb. kayak, as if I’ve been doing this sort of thing for years. (I haven’t.) Not that there’s much need for formalities—unlike many other recreational activities, kayaking really is as easy as it looks. The distinctive boat sits low in the water, giving it greater stability than a typical canoe. Manoeuvrable and quick, it responds very well, even for the novice, darting forward with just a few strokes and (almost) stopping on a dime. It’s a comfortable ride, too—braces inside the seating area, including a backrest and footrests, make for easy, low-impact exploration.

The Sturgeon River is also a great venue for the first-time kayaker. According to Sean Demidovich of Active Recreational Rentals, the Sturgeon is a big draw for many of his customers, especially through the spring and early summer. A popular route for many clients is to float downstream from Riel Park to downtown or even further.

On this mid-July morning, however, weeds are already choking much of the sluggish river. Instead of heading off for a jaunt through town, for a few minutes I simply try out the area around the boat launch, getting a feel for the water. Unlike other modes of aquatic travel, kayaks really put you in touch with the thing you’re moving through—you feel you’re in the water, as much as you’re on it. I stop for a moment to watch the dark head of a muskrat bobbing past as it crosses from one bank to the other. Then I turn the kayak upstream and make my way to more open water.

Birds of a Feather

Another advantage of kayaks, at least as far as the soloist is concerned, is the paddle. The distinctive spoon blades at either end allow for more strokes and a rhythmic pace, as the kayaker isn’t constantly switching the paddle from one side of the boat to the other. This means kayaks tend to “track” (i.e. move in a straight line) more easily than other watercraft. While canoes don’t necessarily require more skill to paddle, the fact is even a beginner like myself can feel (and look) pretty masterful in a kayak.

Though there’s no current to fight against, I take my time as one of the river’s greatest draws soon reveals itself. The riverbanks and in the shallows of Big Lake are home to a great diversity of birds. I spot three dowitchers, plump birds on stick-like legs that poke for invertebrates in the mud with their long, sensitive beaks. As I coast toward them, the wary birds swim off into the denseness of the rushes.

Meanwhile, a male red-winged blackbird flies back and forth across the river, perching on the tall rushes on either side. While the females tend to stay out of sight, the males are gregarious attention-getters, with the plumage to match: glossy black all over with bright, orange-red shoulder patches that flutter beautifully when the bird is in flight.

Black terns are another recognizable species, spotted more easily for their distinctive hunting behaviour than their grey-to-dark colouring. Like dragonflies, they hover over the water and frequently dart at the surface when they spot a soon-to-be unfortunate bug or fish. They’re also known for aggressively defending their nests by dive-bombing anyone who wanders too close, to the point that the nearby boardwalk had to be shut down at one point.

A Big Lake

In many ways, a kayak is the perfect way to explore the nooks and crannies of the Sturgeon and the lake it flows through. Those slow-moving waters offer little resistance, allowing paddlers to explore at their leisure. Compared to other watercraft, especially the motorized variety, kayaks have less of an impact on the environment. As self-powered vehicles, they don’t leak gas or oil into water and their lower speeds in shallow waters don’t cause erosion to shorelines.

On the other hand, any vehicle (and the human presence that accompanies it) causes at least some disruption to fragile ecosystems. The fact that kayaks can go places other vehicles can’t—like uncomfortably close to nesting areas—places the onus on the user to enjoy this environment responsibly. It’s one good reason why Alberta Parks has considered enacting a total boat ban for Big Lake as part of the draft management plan for the provincial park that surrounds it.

Such a ban would be disappointing to some boaters, but it would be understandable. The lake, the centrepiece of Lois Hole Centennial Provincial Park, is known for its wetlands habitat, an ecosystem valued for its ability to absorb and purify large amounts of water, process carbon and inorganic nutrients, stabilize shorelines, and provide food and homes to a wide range of plants and animals, especially birds. Wetlands are considered the most biologically diverse of ecosystems, and at Big Lake it’s easy to see why. Up to 237 bird species have been recorded there, with around 180 reportedly using the site annually. Due to this diversity of life, and the importance of the provincial park in conserving the wetlands, Big Lake is recognized globally as an Important Bird and Biodiversity Area (IBA), a listing developed by BirdLife International to recognize important bird habitats around the world.

Back Again

After two hours of paddling, with the water refracting the midday sun and a blanket of heat hazing the surroundings, it’s time to head back to Riel. Like other journeys, things look different on the return. On the horizon, new subdivisions are going up as a fast-growing city, by necessity, swallows up the open spaces around it. One wonders how we’ll experience this and other natural places in the future, and if we’ll be able to balance a newfound appreciation with the competing demands of development,
recreation, and conservation.

Active Recreational Rentals

Open 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., 7 days a week
Call (587) 588-9226
Email sean@activerec.ca
Visit https://activerec.ca/

Sean Demidovich of Active Recreational rents and sells a variety of kayaks. Rentals are $30 for two hours or $60 for solo kayakers for the day and include life jacket, paddle, and some basic instructions. Sean also offers free kayak drop-off and pickup within St. Albert. Delivery and pickup throughout the Edmonton region also possible for an added fee.

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Where There’s S’mores, There’s Fire A rite of summer on the Prairies, the classic campfire lights the way to a glorious evening


Anyone who’s sat around a campfire as twilight turns to night knows how easy it is to lose one’s thoughts in a flicker of flame. After all, there’s something about a blazing fire that takes us away from the world and its worries, to a place in our minds that’s primeval and mysterious. Perhaps fire …Read More
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Anyone who’s sat around a campfire as twilight turns to night knows how easy it is to lose one’s thoughts in a flicker of flame. After all, there’s something about a blazing fire that takes us away from the world and its worries, to a place in our minds that’s primeval and mysterious. Perhaps fire fascinates us because it’s a study in opposites—one moment, it’s dangerous and the next moment, it’s a source of comfort.Whatever it is, those flames have been casting its spell for a very long time.

Philosophical musings aside, most can agree that few things set the mood for an evening of relaxing companionship like a hearty fire. Whether you’re at a campground, cabin, or just chilling around your backyard fire pit, a crackling fire is a perfect way to wind down your summer days. It all starts with some firewood and a sturdy axe. Make sure you leave a few thick, slow-burning logs to toss on as the fire starts to dim. Just don’t forget the marshmallows, once you’ve got a decent fire happening.

Building a Campfire 101

The ingredients of a campfire are simple: heat, oxygen, and fuel. The heat is easily supplied with a lighter or matches, and the oxygen is all around you, so that leaves the fuel.

You’ll need three types: tinder, kindling, and chopped firewood. The tinder should be easy to ignite—paper, leaves, even lint will do. Make a loose pile that can breathe easily, then build your kindling around it. Kindling consists of smaller pieces of wood like sticks, branches, or wood chips. These will catch fire easily, but burn longer than tinder.

Next, light the tinder in several places, and fan or blow on it to supply more oxygen. As the flames grow and the kindling catches, start feeding it with firewood—carefully, and with smaller pieces first, until the fire’s well on its way. Kick back and enjoy your night by firelight.

Where to Get Firewood

For the occasional fire builder, it’s easy to buy firewood in the Edmonton area, where many stores, supermarkets, and service stations sell it in bags and boxes. A bundle of wood is typically 0.75 cubic feet, roughly containing up to nine pieces and selling for less than $10. Depending on how big or how long-burning you want your fire to be, five to ten bundles should do for an evening’s fire. Like most things, buying in greater quantities is more economical, and if you’re planning on a lot of fires this summer, bigger might be better.

Also available at many stores are composite logs. Made from sawdust and wood waste cut into log shapes, these products are arguably a greener alternative, as they burn longer and more efficiently than firewood, and give off less carbon monoxide. A six-pack of three-hour logs typically costs between $15 and $25.

Upscale Your S’mores

When the fire’s good and roaring, the natural inclination is to bring out the smokies, the traditional main course of many fireside feasts. And you can’t forget a kiddie favorite like the s’more, consisting of two graham crackers, one golden oozing marshmallow and one chunk of chocolate. But adults might want to tinker with the s’mores formula to suit more mature tastes. So it doesn’t hurt to experiment with dark or flavoured chocolate, substitute oatcakes or cookies for the graham crackers, or dunk your creation in a salted-caramel sauce. You’re only limited by the number of marshmallows left in the bag. Here’s a recipe to get you started.

“Gourmet” Cherry Chocolate S’mores

1 artisanal marshmallow (because we’re being fancy here)

2 butter cookies (but not shortbread, which will crumble)

1 square cherry-flavoured chocolate (the really expensive kind)

1 tbsp cherry preserves (that’s jam)

Toast marshmallow over an open flame. Top one cookie with chocolate, artisanal toasted

marshmallow, cherry preserves, and the remaining reserved cookie. Eat.

Firepit Rules and Regs

In Edmonton, the Community Standards Bylaw regulates fire pit usage. According to this bylaw, fire pits must be installed a minimum of three metres from buildings, property lines, and anything that can burn. They should be less than 0.6 metres high and a metre wide, and they should have enclosed sides and a mesh screen with openings no larger than 1.25 cm. Care should be taken to minimize the amount of smoke a fire creates, and, as elsewhere, fire bans must be respected. For fuel, only use charcoal or clean, dry wood (in other words, no pallet fires in your backyards please). For more info, check the City of Edmonton website or one that’s pertinent to your municipality or county.

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AN ANGLER’S PARADISE Fishing in Alberta


Despite being landlocked, Alberta has a lot to offer when it comes to sport fishing. There are over 600 freshwater lakes in this province and about 250 rivers, each with its own unique joys and challenges for anglers. And these days, there’s a lot more to a fishing trip than spending long days alone with …Read More
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Despite being landlocked, Alberta has a lot to offer when it comes to sport fishing. There are over 600 freshwater lakes in this province and about 250 rivers, each with its own unique joys and challenges for anglers. And these days, there’s a lot more to a fishing trip than spending long days alone with your thoughts. It can also be the perfect reason to travel this beautiful province of ours, making memories with friends and family and learning new skills as you go. And, of course, few things are more satisfying than catching your own dinner. Thanks to the help of the Internet, it has never been easier to learn the ropes, find the best spots and learn how to be a responsible fisher. Here’s where we started. Take a look.

The laws and regulations surrounding sport fishing in Alberta are numerous, but the basics are simple. If you’re between the ages of
16 and 65, the first things you’ll need before getting out on the water are a Wildlife Identification Number and a fishing licence. You can purchase these online or at participating retail locations, such as Canadian Tire. Each body of water has its own season, as well as its own limits on which fish you can keep and how many, so before you head out, familiarize yourself with the specific rules that govern your destination.

Although you can go fishing just about anywhere that fish are found, some locations make for better fishing trips than others.
Here are a few regional favourites.

Pigeon Lake
• Friendly to campers, families and pets
• One of the best destinations for catching
• Walleye in Alberta (Special Walleye Licence required to keep catches)

Wabaman Lake
• A catch-and-release lake, perfect for those who love to fish but aren’t interested in the cooking part of the process Calm waters   
 ideal for introducing kids to the sport
• Camping and boat rentals nearby
• Home to Pike, Yellow Perch and Whitefish

Lac la Biche
• Beautiful island campground that allows you quick and easy access to the water
• Home to Perch, Whitefish and Burbot Bow

River (Calgary)
• Provides a challenge for those wishing to improve their skills
• Top fly-fishing destination in Alberta
• Home to many varieties of Trout

Athabasca River
• Camping friendly
• Ideal for shore-side fishing
• Home to Burbot, Goldeye and Northern Pike

If you’re new to fishing, it may seem like there are a lot of fishing regulations that might detract from the fun of the sport. But not only are these regulations easy to follow, once you get a handle on them, you’ll appreciate that they serve an important purpose. Alberta’s 600 lakes and 250 rivers are a precious resource that needs to be guarded so that residents can enjoy the sport for generations to come. Respect for the waters, respect for the fish populations and respect for the regulations go a long way to preserving both the beauty of nature and the fun of the sport. So grab your fishing rod, grab some good friends and head out to the water.  There is a whole province just waiting to be explored.

Online Resources You’ll Want to Consult

Albertarelm.com—Visit to register for a fishing licence online.

Albertaregulations.ca—Learn the specifics of all the fishing laws in Alberta.

Albertafishingguide.com—A location database, showing species, catch limits, seasons and sizes for each body of water in Alberta.

Mywildalberta.ca—Provides updates on advisories, bans and restrictions.

AHEIA.com—Provides lessons and certifications  regarding responsible fishing and wildlife conservation.

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Elk Island National Park


Our homegrown wilderness wonderland There’s something so special about a bright, beautiful July day. Maybe it’s the warmth of the sun, the gentle summer breeze or the smell of freshly cut grass, but we feel nature all around us. We yearn to escape the city’s hectic pace, forget our troubles and take in the outdoors—even …Read More

River Valley Fun


Exploring our ribbon of green By Markwell Lyon & Robert Michon The nation’s largest expanse of urban parkland lies right here in Edmonton. The River Valley parks form an unbroken “ribbon of green,” stretching 48 km and covering 18,000 acres. The River Valley provides Edmontonians with an array of activities and events, especially during the …Read More

TIPS FOR RENTING A VEHICLE


Vacations should be relaxing, but they can get pretty stressful when you’re spending too much of your holiday checking bus schedules or flagging down expensive cabs. The solution: renting your own set of wheels. But before you hop into any car on the lot, check out these tips for getting the most out of your …Read More
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Vacations should be relaxing, but they can get pretty stressful when you’re spending too much of your holiday checking bus schedules or flagging down expensive cabs. The solution: renting your own set of wheels. But before you hop into any car on the lot, check out these tips for getting the most out of your rental.

Find the Rental Deals

There are dozens of rental agencies littered all around most airports of the world. But the first agency you come across will rarely offer the best deals, and what you gain in convenience is often reflected in the price. If you’re looking to save some money, consider taking a shuttle bus or a taxi to the city’s core, and do some shopping around.

Once you’ve found a suitable price, do a quick Internet search for the rental company in question. Pair this search with words like “promotion,” “offer code” or “coupon.” You’ll be surprised how many additional discounts are available through online promotions.

Get to Know Your Vehicle

A lot of rental cars will come with bumps and scratches from previous excursions. To avoid being accountable for these damages, make sure to perform your own inspection of the car before you drive it off the lot. Take note of any dents, scratches, engine trouble or anything else that just seems off. Then mention it. Document any discrepancies with your camera, and alert the agent who is carrying out your transaction. Whether it’s an honest oversight or a blatant scam, a quick survey of your vehicle will prevent a lot of unwanted rental headaches.

Be Insurance Savvy

You’re not obligated to buy insurance from the rental company, but most will offer you car insurance, and some will even pressure you to buy it. So do your research before you agree to any additional fees. If you’re already paying insurance for your own vehicle, it’s likely that your coverage extends to rentals of a similar vehicle type. If you’re unsure, call your insurance company to find out exactly what coverage you’re already paying for, and ask if it might be a good idea to agree to the additional fees.

Understand Your Contract

Are you allowed to take your rental car onto unpaved roads? Do you have a maximum kilometre limit? Is your rental one-way, or do you have to return it to the same agency from which you borrowed it? These are all important details that will be outlined in the fine print of your contract, so make sure to read it fully before you sign. Don’t hesitate to ask the rental agent for clarification on any confusing points.

Investigate the World of Car Sharing

If you’re planning on spending your trip in one city, you might want to consider a short-time subscription to a car-sharing service. Each service differs slightly, but standard practice has you paying based on your total distance travelled. Car shares can often be more convenient, cheaper and use subscriptions rather than contracts, so you’ll pay for only as much time as you use. The only major downside is that car shares restrict their users to travel within specific cities, so if you’re planning a road trip, it’s often better to stick to traditional rental models.  t8n

Did You Know?

In Canada, we’re familiar with minimum age requirements when it comes to car rentals. But in many countries, rental agencies impose maximum age limits, meaning that seniors and teens find themselves in the same boat when trying to rent a car.

Fun Fact

A 2014 survey found that car-share services in Canada own a total of 5000 vehicles and serve over 289,000 users. That number has only grown.

[post_title] => TIPS FOR RENTING A VEHICLE [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => tips-for-renting-a-vehicle [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-04-08 17:49:08 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-04-08 17:49:08 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.summercity.ca/?p=9293 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [_excerpt] => Vacations should be relaxing, but they can get pretty stressful when you’re spending too much of your holiday checking bus schedules or flagging down expensive cabs. The solution: renting your own set of wheels. But before you hop into any car on the lot, check out these tips for getting the most out of your … ) 1

THE MODERN VACATION SLIDE SHOW


8 tips for sharing your adventures online Remember the seemingly endless slide shows your grandparents shared with family whenever they returned from their vacations? Thankfully, those days are gone. These days, it’s a lot easier and more entertaining to share your vacation adventures with friends, family—and even strangers—online. With a few simple tools and rules, …Read More
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8 tips for sharing your adventures online

Remember the seemingly endless slide shows your grandparents shared with family whenever they returned from their vacations? Thankfully, those days are gone. These days, it’s a lot easier and more entertaining to share your vacation adventures with friends, family—and even strangers—online. With a few simple tools and rules, you’ll be on your way to choosing the right platform and sharing the world as you see it. Here are 8 tips to get you started.

1. Decide Why You’re Sharing

Grandpa never intended to put everyone to sleep with his slides, but he did want to share his joy with you. Why do you want to share? Deciding will help determine what things to share (images, text, video), how often (daily, weekly) and how much (word count, video length, etc.). If medieval architecture is your passion, sharing pictures of old churches is probably appropriate. If your travel goal, however, is to share your perceptions of

Central American life, you’ll probably be better off writing about the people. Make a plan, and stick to it.

2. Know Your Audience

Who are you intending to share with? Family? Friends? Complete strangers? The Internet makes sharing with everyone easy, but you decide on your audience. If you’re posting just for friends, you can be more relaxed with your writing and editing. If, however, you want to appeal to a wider audience, consider a bit more care, and be aware of the dangers of oversharing. Remember, it’s almost impossible to delete anything once it’s online, and nothing is truly private. Always be circumspect about which details you put out there.

3. Choose a Platform

There are so many ways to share online (see sidebar). Some travellers like to blog during their trips, posting daily summaries so readers can follow along. Others prefer to share their special moments instantly on social media (Facebook, etc.) and let the audience knit together their own narrative. Video blogging (vlogging) is also popular and a great way to share “home movies.” Thanks to technology, creating a good-looking video is quite easy.

4. Know Your Timeline

Consider when you intend to post. Grandpa’s slideshow happened after the trip was over, but with social media, people can enjoy real-time updates. But that means you will likely just be sharing a short note or posting a quick picture. If you choose to write a more detailed blog or want to focus on vlogging, there will be a time gap before your audience enjoys it. Mixing real-time updates with a blog that is days or weeks behind can become quite confusing. Consistency is the key here.

5. Choose Your Tools

Travelling with a laptop can make some things easier, but isn’t the point of a vacation to get away from it all? However, with a little discipline, smartphones or tablets can be easy to use with the data functions turned off. And the cameras on newer phones are amazing at making it easy to post images. Of course, if photographs are your thing, a traditional camera is a must; just be aware that downloading and sharing those images will require more of your energy and your computer’s.

6. Make Notes

Even people with great memories need reminders. If you have a particularly poignant moment or learn something new and interesting, take a moment to jot it down. With the advent of smartphones, you can do this electronically, but also consider keeping an old-fashioned pen and notepad handy. Use the ubiquitous pile of brochures and tour maps to recall your day, too. Snapping a quick picture of a sign or location that you can erase later can also help keep your information organized.

7. A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words

If you are writing a blog, rely on pictures to show the things that defy description. Don’t post multiple images that might look alike to your viewers; try taking images of interesting things that also have family or fellow travellers in them. That way you get the best of both worlds. Remember, too, that some pictures need captions; don’t assume people will know what they’re looking at.

8. Stay Connected

Figuring out how you’ll get online is worth a bit of forethought. Smartphones generally have some sort of worldwide data roaming, but often with hefty cost. Thankfully, if you avoid uploading lots of pictures, updates shouldn’t use much of your allotment. To avoid using precious data, keep on the lookout for Internet cafés. For smaller updates, free Wi-Fi can often be found in restaurants, hotels and shops. Remember, it’s worth being extra cautious when using someone else’s Internet; take care not to leave any logons or passwords on the system.  t8n

Be Yourself!

Your voice is important. People will enjoy your adventure much more if you inject your personality into your shares. Make it about your unique perspective and you might meet people out there who like to see the world the way you do.

Platforms, Platforms, Everywhere Platforms

Looking for ways to share your adventure? You’ll find plenty.

Here are a few to get you started:

Blogs—generally more text based; open to everyone; will give you a domain like mytrip.blogspot.com or holidayinfrance.wordpress.org to share

blogspot.com, wordpress.com, tumblr.com

Vlogs—video-hosting sites; can be public or private

Check out Youtube.com, Vimeo.com

Social Media—generally require you to invite followers; can be public or private; simple image sharing, automatically resizes images for quick uploading

Check out facebook.com, twitter.com, instagram.com

Specialized Travel Sites—generally offer things like notifications, auto-mapping, help in planning your trip and sharing with like-minded travellers; free and paid versions

Check out travelpod.com, mytripjournal.com, travellerspoint.com, tripatlas.com

[post_title] => THE MODERN VACATION SLIDE SHOW [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => the-modern-vacation-slide-show [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-04-08 17:47:24 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-04-08 17:47:24 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.summercity.ca/?p=9289 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [_excerpt] => 8 tips for sharing your adventures online Remember the seemingly endless slide shows your grandparents shared with family whenever they returned from their vacations? Thankfully, those days are gone. These days, it’s a lot easier and more entertaining to share your vacation adventures with friends, family—and even strangers—online. With a few simple tools and rules, … ) 1

The Prints and The Paper


Getting eclectic on 124th Street By Markwell Lyon      The Prints and the Paper, located on 10725-124th Street, is a difficult place to pin down. Equal parts graphic art gallery, independent bookshop, stationery seller and picture framer, it feels like the gift shop of the coolest museum you’ve ever visited. Not by accident, either. …Read More

Alberta Aviation Museum


The Alberta Aviation Museum New look, new stories, new adventure! By Robert Michon With the recent closure of Edmonton’s City Centre Airport, you might have wondered if the airfield’s historic aviation museum would be shutting down, too. Well, wonder no more. Not only is the museum staying open, the staff and volunteers have been hard …Read More

Fort Edmonton’s Movie Nights


Soak Up Some Cinema – Relive History at Fort Edmonton’s Movie Night By Shawna Dirksen A  summertime getaway can be a beautiful thing. However, with busy highways, long lines at the airport and tourist-packed destinations, taking a summer vacation doesn’t always mean an escape from the hustle and bustle of daily life. Luckily, in our …Read More