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26 Weird, Wonderful And Useful Facts About Edmonton

26 Weird, Wonderful and Useful Facts About Edmonton

Edmonton is the provincial capital of Alberta and not a place I knew much about until I started researching for this blog. I thought of it as a city with nothing but big box stores, because that’s all I’d ever seen as I drove through. And I knew it was bloody cold in the winter. But now I’ve been to the city on numerous occasions and love what it has to offer – especially the trails through the river valley and the dining experiences.

Sometimes what we think and the reality are two different things. I decided to research the city and look for weird, wonderful, useful and funny facts that anybody might enjoy reading about.

Enjoy these 26 fun, interesting and useful facts about Edmonton

Edmonton’s North Saskatchewan River Valley is the largest stretch of urban parkland in North America.

Edmonton is the northernmost North American city with a population over one million.

Edmonton is home to North America’s largest mall – the West Edmonton Mall, spanning the equivalent of 48 city blocks. It was the world’s largest mall until 2004.

26 Weird, Wonderful and Useful Facts About Edmonton

A beautiful sunrise in Edmonton

There are no rats in Edmonton – or in all of Alberta for that matter.

Edmonton has over 30 annual festivals year round. Internationally renowned are the Folk, Fringe and Street Performers festival.

The University of Alberta has produced 67 Rhodes Scholars.

The Art Gallery of Alberta was founded in 1924 and is the oldest cultural institution in Alberta. It maintains a collection of over 6,000 objects.

26 Weird, Wonderful and Useful Facts About Edmonton

Up close to the Muttart Conservatory windows to get one of the great views of the city

Edmonton sits close to the geographic center of the province. It’s the main supply and service center for Canada’s oil sands.

On the first day of summer Edmonton enjoys 17 hours and three minutes of daylight. The sun rises at 5:04 AM and sets at 10:07 PM.

Winter is another story. The sun rises at 8:49 AM and sets at 4:16 PM, providing only seven hours and 27 minutes of daylight.

Read: Things to do in Edmonton over a Winter Weekend

26 Weird, Wonderful and Useful Facts About Edmonton

Skating on one of the many outdoor rinks around Edmonton

The coldest day ever recorded in Edmonton was on January 26, 1972. The temperature was -48.3°C with a wind-chill dropping it to -61°C.

In July 1987 Edmonton was struck by a tornado – which peaked at a wind speed of 416 kilometres per hour (258 mph). It cut a 40 kilometre swath through the city, and in places it was up to a kilometre wide. Twenty seven people were killed and more than 300 injured. It’s one of the worst natural disasters in Canadian history.

26 Weird, Wonderful and Useful Facts About Edmonton

The Ice Castle in Edmonton

Edmonton was established in 1795 as a Hudson’s Bay Company post.

The Edmonton Oilers are a NHL franchise team but they started out as the Alberta Oilers and an original member of the World Hockey Association (now defunct).

Mark Messier, a famous NHL hockey player, was born in Edmonton. Wayne Gretzky played with the Edmonton Oilers.

There are over 70 golf courses in metropolitan Edmonton.

Edmonton is one of the largest cities by area in North America. It’s slightly larger than the country of Cyprus in the Mediterranean.

The Great Divide Waterfall, was installed in 1980 to celebrate Edmonton’s 75th anniversary. It’s 64 metre high, seven metres taller than Niagara Falls. It used to be turned on every long weekend during the summer – and pumped out 50,000 liters of water per minute. 

There are 275 kilometres of paths and sidewalks for cyclists – though they have to be shared with walkers. Also noteworthy are the 460 kilometres of unpaved single track and unimproved trails.

Read: Why You’ll Want to See Edmonton by Bike

26 Weird, Wonderful and Useful Facts About Edmonton

Biking along the North Saskatchewan River in Edmonton

Jasper National Park lies 370 kilometres west of Edmonton, about a four hour drive away.

Edmonton was the home of Wop May – a famous bush pilot who fought the Red Baron in his last dogfight in World War I.

Elk Island National Park is less than an hour from Edmonton. It’s home to free roaming bison, moose, deer and elk.

Read: 5 Fantastic Things to Do in Elk Island National Park

You usually see bison in Elk Island National Park

You usually see bison in Elk Island National Park

 

The High Level Bridge offers the best views of the city. 

More than 30 species of mosquitoes live in the Edmonton area – and the problem mosquito is called vexans mosquito. Some summers can be miserable outdoors, especially at dusk.

The Canadian Birkebeiner ski festival takes place each year in February. Thousands of skiers from all over the world come to cross-country ski 55 kilometres with a 5.5 kilogram pack on their back, reliving the legend of King Haakon Haakonson.

26 Weird, Wonderful and Useful Facts About Edmonton

Very pretty cross-country skiing at the Strathcona Wilderness Centre just outside of Edmonton

There is lots of great food in Edmonton and ongoing efforts to eat and grow more locally. Some of the best restaurants according to Avenue Magazine are the Budapest Deli and Jung Gak. The Dutchess Bake Shop is definitely worth a visit too.

Further reading on interesting facts in Canada

 

 

 

 

Leigh McAdam is a Calgary based writer, author, photographer and social media enthusiast with over 57,000 followers. Her blog: HikeBikeTravel is frequently cited as one of the top travel and outdoor adventure blogs in Canada.

Author of Discover Canada: 100 Inspiring Outdoor Adventures
Co-author of 125 Nature Hot Spots in Alberta

This Post Has 74 Comments
  1. Hahaha, I’m happy to hear some GOOD things about Edmonton…not too many people seem to have a lot of positive things to say! Awesome.

    1. I agree with you Candice – people don’t have very many nice things to say about Edmonton – at least as a tourist. After researching Edmonton, I think it has quite a bit going for – and you just need to dress for the cold. I have heard that it’s a great place to raise a family.

  2. 70 golf courses! I have to tell my mother about this. Or maybe not, because then we’ll spend all our family vacations in Edmonton. But seriously, Edmonton sounds like a really interesting place.

  3. These are some great facts. I actually didn’t know that Edmonton was bigger than Cyprus. I think a lot of people come to Alberta for to see the Rockies (which is a given) and since Calgary is closer it just makes sense that it’s sort of more of the hub for Alberta travel. But for traveler’s if you come prepared for the winter weather (if your visiting in winter) and prepared for mosquitoes in the summer it’s a nice city. Also I know there are some people who just come to Edmonton to go to West Edmonton Mall (West Ed) but there’s a lot more to the city than that.

    Other fun facts I can think of:

    – The Edmonton International Fringe Festival is the second largest fringe festival in the world (after Edinburgh). It’s also the oldest fringe festival in North America.
    – The High Level Streetcar that operates from May to October makes the worlds highest streetcar crossing over a river when it goes across the North Saskatchewan river on the High Level Bridge.
    – Edmonton was the first city in North America with a population of under 1 million to get an LRT. It run north-south and Edmonton is currently in the process of expanding the lrt and adding another line.
    – West Edmonton Mall also has the largest parking lot in the world. It’s a good idea to write down where you park, although perhaps they have an app for that now.

    – I’ve been to Sugarbowl, Battista’s and Duchess and I can definitely recommend all three restaurants. I also recommend:

    1. Padmanadi – serves Indonesian, Chinese, Thai, and Indian food. It’s a vegan restaurant. I’m not a vegan and I love Padmanadi.
    2. Tres Carnales – seves Mexican food, and it’s good, authentic Mexican food.
    3. Remedy – a great cafe (one location in the Garneau neighbourhood and one dowtown). They have the best chai in Edmonton, and some really great Indian dishes. Lot’s of vegetarian/vegan and gluten free food options, which is nice to see.
    4. Transcend – a coffeeshop that has the best coffee in Edmonton. I love the flat white, but any drink I’ve ever had there has been great. They have three locations in Edmonton, one downtown, one in the Garneau neighbour, and the original in an industrial area on 99th street south of Argylle road.
    5. High Voltage Food and Coffee Bar – has the best donairs in the city. It’s a small restaurant that’s across the street from a car dealership on Argylle road.

    If you want any other recommendations give me an email.

  4. @Alouise THANK YOU for so much useful information!!!!!! That’s very kind of you to contribute your insights into the city.
    And I’ll be jotting down those restaurant names for when I visit.

  5. @TravelEater I’m going to see if I can’t sneak in a trip to the Duchess Bake Shop when I’m in Edmonton in a few weeks.

  6. I am a long term resident of the area, and love it here. I have always thought that it is the best place to live in the world as it has everything. I appreciate the parks and wilderness the most. The Cooking Lake Blackfoot area where the Canadian Birkebeiner is raced is one of the best year round recreation areas, anywhere. Though, I do have to come in to shop ,eat and be entertained. your above mentioned establishments and festivals are all excellent as well. Thank you for showcasing Edmonton and all its glory, well done.

  7. I am a long term resident of the area, and love it here. I have always thought that it is the best place to live in the world as it has everything. I appreciate the parks and wilderness the most. The Cooking Lake Blackfoot area where the Canadian Birkebeiner is raced is one of the best year round recreation areas, anywhere. Though, I do have to come in to shop ,eat and be entertained. your above mentioned establishments and festivals are all excellent as well. Thank you for showcasing Edmonton and all its glory, well done.

  8. This is an AWESOME post. My boyfriend has been trying to get me to me to move to Edmonton. Being from Vancouver, I’ve been turned off by the cold weather and lack of mountains and ocean that I’m used to. But lately, I’m warming up to Edmonton and have booked a trip to spend some time there with my man (he’s from Jasper). Reading all these positive comments about Edmonton is helpful.

  9. This is an AWESOME post. My boyfriend has been trying to get me to me to move to Edmonton. Being from Vancouver, I’ve been turned off by the cold weather and lack of mountains and ocean that I’m used to. But lately, I’m warming up to Edmonton and have booked a trip to spend some time there with my man (he’s from Jasper). Reading all these positive comments about Edmonton is helpful.

  10. Great Facts! You forgot to add that Edmonton is one of the friendliest, cleanest cities in the world! With one of the best garbage recycling programs in the world the city is VERY green! And, with one of the most produce farming communities in north america, they produce more food per person than anywhere else in the world!

  11. As an Irish gal who lives in Edmonton I’ll happily trade ya. You can come live here in my house and I’ll go back to Ireland and live in yours…

  12. Edmonton is one of the worst cities in Canada. It has been the murder capital of Canada for one. Edmonton is HOME of the worst hockey team in the NHL. For over 6 Years

  13. Ya we got a mall , that has a waterpark hotel casino bowling alley golf coarse thingy, amusement park movie theater etc. it doesn’t change the fact that Edmonton also has one of the worst maintained roads in Canada. (POT HOLE CENTRAL) I have lived there most of my life and its sure it has nice things around us but what people don’t know is some of the negative. When coming here is precautionary. It has been for me and my family and probably wont change. But I do have to add they are starting to clean up.

    1. @Jay I think it’s important to always get bot sides to a story – and I really appreciate your input both positive & negative. I think I would find the winters harder to bear in Edmonton than Calgary.

  14. But I wouldn’t knock the leafs, especially if you enjoy watching the oilers or the flames for that matter lol

    Edmonton Fans have given up on them.

  15. Don’t get me wrong Edmonton isn’t the worst its just one of them. If the cleaned up some more of the major issues I would give it a 5 star city. but what around Edmonton is beautiful out west that is. the rockies is amazing, jasper to Banff. wow great thing about being Albertan its so close. Same with drumheller, fabulous place to go

  16. Thanks for all of the great positive comments about Edmonton. I happen to think it is a great city also. I lived there for forty years and still visit frequently. It has one of the best recycle programs in Canada and probably even in North America.

  17. @Jay…I moved away and lived in Saskatoon for 5 years…you haven’t seen winter or potholes at their worst. I loved my time there but I’m glad I’m home again in Edmonton. Mosquitos…they’re really not much worse here than most places in all of Canada honestly. We have good years and bad years for them. Crime stats like you mentioned you’ll find in any big city. But the community spirit here is truly unbelievable.

    Festival City indeed! In fact, in the spring/summer months it can be hard to plan your days out because there’s just so much to do!! Taste of Edmonton at Churchill Square downtown would be a great place to stop to sample some of the food this city offers up. I was born and raised here and still haven’t made it out to many of the great restaurants here. We have a number of cultural clubs that host an array of events and if it’s the culture you want to discover, Heritage Days over the August long weekend draws thousands of visitors every year in Hawreluk Park. If it’s sports you’re into, there’s more than hockey! We have a pretty great lacrosse team, soccer is huge here for all ages, and did you know that Edmonton alone is home to 2 kick ass roller derby leagues? Oil City Derby Girls (also hosting a men’s team, the River City Riot) and E-ville. Just north of us in St. Albert there’s also the St. Albert Heavenly Rollers. Music, dance, food…we really do have it all and a if you don’t mind a bit of a drive we’re close to so many more things. I have a love affair with the mountains and it makes me sad leaving Jasper and seeing them in the rear view mirror, but I’m always glad to be home too. I bitch and moan too every single year about snow, cold, driving in all that crud and my kids getting cabin fever, but when it comes down to it I’m glad I live here. Don’t get me wrong, if I could spend my winters in Mexico, I would in a hearbeat! Ha ha ha ha…

    1. @Sam I have heard the same thing about the community spirit – and to me that’s one of the biggest positives about Edmonton. I love your comment and really appreciate the time you put into writing it. You are obviously very proud of your city. We need more people in the world like you!

  18. @Sam I have heard the same thing about the community spirit – and to me that’s one of the biggest positives about Edmonton. I love your comment and really appreciate the time you put into writing it. You are obviously very proud of your city. We need more people in the world like you!

  19. I thought winter, roads (snow removal and pot holes), the healthcare system and traffic was bad in Edmonton… then I moved to Saskatoon. It was worse!!! (ok, maybe their healthcare system was better). I’m now living in St. John’s NL and while the people are friendly and the ocean is beautiful, I’ve traded the snow for wind and precipitation (LOTS and LOTS of SNOW) and even WORSE pot holes (they just put a pylon on the pot holes, everyone goes around them). Edmonton is actually a wonderful city. People are friendly, the rivervalley is beautiful, the schools are great and there is so much to do. We are a wonderful place in Canada to live. We have all the amenities and our winters are definitely better than Saskatchewan and Manitoba (our neighbouring provinces). We have a lot of good paying jobs in Edmonton and area as well.

    1. @Skip That’s a very good point about all the very well paying jobs. I haven’t yet walked or biked the river valley but it does indeed sound beautiful. Interesting that you thought the health care system in Saskatchewan might be better. Thank you for your great comment.

  20. As someone who has lived in Edmonton most of her life, I think it’s one of those cities that is better to live in than visit. I love travelling but I think Edmonton is a great city to live in, raise a family in, and start a business in. Being a ‘festival city’ has a lot to do with it… there is something to do every weekend and everyone comes out to all the festivals no matter what the weather is. The winter activities are just as fun and well-attended as the summer activities. Our public school system also offers amazing school choice and almost every school has at least 2 or 3 ‘specialties’ (immersion, arts, science, sports).

  21. The Waterfall hasn’t run since 2009, but there is a project to put LED lighting on the High Level soon. There is divided opinion on if this is a good idea or not. LED lighting has been put on the new headquarters of the Alberta Treasury Branches, and I think that turned out well.

    I think one of the great strengths of Edmonton is the creative community we have here. Music, theatre, dance, art, there are tons of groups and events, and stuff going on all the time. It can be overwhelming trying to pick what to do sometimes.

    On the culinary front, there are a lot of great places to eat. Food trucks have begun to become a fixture in the city from spring through the fall, and there’s a smartphone app to help you keep track of them. Restaurants are popping up, places like Corso 32, the Marc, Range Road, Daravara, and the Blue Plate are fantastic. There are more farmer’s markets popping up around the city, where you can buy fresh produce.

    The river valley is a great place to go for a walk, and enjoy the outdoors, year round (when it’s cold, it actually is a dry cold, and you can dress to keep it out, unlike the damp, coastal kind of cold! lol) The off leash parks are amongst the happiest places in the city!

    As you mentioned Elk Island is close, and if you go there, you are pretty much guaranteed to see some really big wildlife, usually pretty close up. There are also farms in the region that have elk and/or bison, and in my experience the farmers are really friendly.

    1. @Jeremy Thanks for your brilliant comment. I like the fact that Edmonton has so many festivals. I’d like to make it to the Fringe Festival one year. I spent three days at Elk Island a few years ago and loved the park. And I appreciate your restaurant suggestions.

  22. @Andrea You sound like a very proud Edmontonian – if I’ve got that right. You should work in PR for the city. I think the fact that there is something to do every weekend makes it very interesting. You just need to get the word out a bit more so we Calgarians come and visit.

  23. it’s not just the places, but the PEOPLE that make the difference, once ya get past the haters, it’s a beautiful place to live … loved all the positive things 🙂

  24. can now add as of July 1/2014 our 55,000 LED lights on the high level bridge, also can throw in something about beaumaris lake, hawrelak park and the end of the world!

  25. Time to do better research, the great divide hasnt been turned on in YEARS. It hasnt been functional in the 5 years ive lived here.

  26. I’ve just competed in the ITU World Triathlon Championships 1st September 2014 and wish I had read this site beforehand as you can’t get better advice than a Local! Loved the Hawrelak Park where the race area was held, loved the Edmonton hospitality. I did find getting around without a car a little difficult. North/South on the LRT brilliant, but heading east/west a little more challenging especially on a long weekend. Would love to visit in Winter and skate on the lake we swam in today 🙂 Thank you Edmonton Canada. You did a great job

  27. Thank you I am a Minority Here In edmonton people Born and raised in the city that are still Living here are truly out numbered by those who have moved in? This Excludes kids under 18. I actually have heard most of the stuff above. Little known fact is the reason the waterfall was shut down is because The North Saskatchewan River is Home to the Sturgeon and (if going by what they said is the reason why slucing for gold along the stretch of river within the City is not allowed) then it’s also the breeding grounds for the sturgeon. The Waterfall was plumbed into the City Water Supply and Because it’s treated with Chloramine (stable for up to 2 weeks before it breaks down into Chlorine and Ammonia) There was some concern raised that this was Hurting the fish in the river. The conclusion was that it’s too detrimental to continue so it’s been shut down ever since.
    Also about the lights Edmontonians a few years before the 100th Birthday of the bridge were able to purchase for $500CAD a Light bulb to be installed on the Bridge to be lit up on its anniversary.
    In the summer there is a Trolley that operates over the bridge on the tracks there. It’s a historical attraction put on by Edmonton Public Transit.
    The Bridge and Corresponding Railroad Park nearby are part of the history that Made Edmonton the Capital City instead of Calgary. When the Railway was Completed going from Coast to Coast Calgary due to its presence on the route was being considered as the capital of Alberta So rail line from Calgary to Edmonton Was quickly Built and as a result Edmonton was Chosen as the New Capital.

    Interesting Fact
    The River Valley is a Wildlife Corridor that sees Bears Cougars(very very rarely) Moose Deer and many other Creatures pass through, I remember more than once we gave had Conservation officers Called in because A Bear or Moose wandered Into the City instead of through it.

    Best Views of the River Valley are
    A park found near the far East end of Jasper Avenue. Continue along the side street till you hit a park there us a break in the trees along the river about 500meters in. The other one is Right by the Grounds of what Was the Royal Provincial Museum of Alberta.
    Best Downtown City View. Top Of Conners Road.

    City had the Nickname City Of Champions…. This was Coined in the 1980s but Not as most believe as a result of the Winning Streak of the Oilers or Edmonton Eskimos. We couldn’t possibly be That arrogant! It was because of the MASSIVE efforts of nearly everyone in the City in response to the Tragedy of Black Friday otherwise known as the Tornado that hit us. We once again Demonstrated this with the recent events that happened to Fort McMurray. It’s just who we are. The Name fits but the Newbees and most of those younger than 35 don’t remember. So recently City Council decided to abandon the name in response to some ignorant public opinions. Sorry I don’t mean to rant.

    The New Art Gallery Interesting fact…. It was Designed by a Californian Archetect to represent the Northern Lights….. yup.

    There Are more Costco’s servicing Edmonton and area (Sherwood Park and St Albert) than any other City in Canada. 6 in total.
    Okay I think that’s more than enough. Add got the better of me again and while I could edit it shorter it would probably just end up longer. Thank you for those interesting Tidbits! Some of which I didn’t know.

    Last Thing. The Royal Alexander Hospital Downtown is home to THE center of organ Donation transplanting Due to its close proximity to what was the Edmonton municipal Airport and a secondary Airstrip at Nameo airport just outside the city’s
    northern border and the International Airport as well.

    NICKNAMED GATEWAY TO THE NORTH.

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