When I met the trio of red-jacketed tour guides in a pocket park on 104 St. and Jasper Ave. for a free, 90-minute walking tour of downtown, I wasn’t sure what to expect. After the chipper guides of the Downtown Business Association’s Core Crew led some introductions, we began a brief, but informative look at what Edmonton’s downtown has to offer.
With a lot of ground to cover, the tour gave a quick taste of some Edmonton landmarks, while still mentioning many others for you to discover on your own time. Each stop gave us a good vantage point, and a flurry of facts.
Among these were architectural insights, such as how Churchill Square’s design mimics the Alberta landscape or that the inspiration behind the Art Gallery of Alberta’s distinctive design was the North Saskatchewan River, farmers’ fields, the Northern Lights, and the city’s grid-like street system. Glancing at some of Edmonton’s oldest buildings, the tour was also a reminder that Edmonton contains quite a few historic architectural styles.
As an Edmontonian, I was surprised by how much I still had to learn about my city and was proud of Edmonton’s distinguishing achievements. Did you know that the Edmonton Journal won a Pulitzer Prize for their defence of freedom of the press? Or, that the Edmonton Public Library was given the top honour of being named the Library of the Year last year?
I was proud of the people of Edmonton, as the guides spoke of the original auctioned-off furniture that was donated back to the Hotel Macdonald upon its reopening, and the enormous donations that made the Winspear Centre and its concert organ possible.
Running Mon – Thu at 1 pm and Fri at 10 am, the tour is great for visitors who want to get a feel for Edmonton or locals who want a greater appreciation of downtown on the cusp of its promised renaissance. Get a gorgeous view of the River Valley, find the fossils in the limestone at City Hall (and peek up at Don Iveson’s office), take a look at Churchill Square’s latest event (currently: Taste of Edmonton), and take a moment to appreciate our beautiful city!
- Wear comfortable shoes to avoid sore feet on this 3.7 km tour.
- Treat yourself to a latte at Credo Coffee (10134-104 St.), or a delicious pastry at Dauphine Bakery (10129-104 St.), by the tour’s meeting place.
- Dress for the weather; the tour is mostly outside.
- Get more information about the city at the Edmonton Welcome Centre, where the tour ends, and pick up the latest issue of Where Edmonton Magazine.