Interesting Facts About Edmonton

Alberta's Capital City

Biking in Edmonton on singletrack beside the river
Biking in Edmonton along the river - just off the main Edmonton River Valley trail

Edmonton is the provincial capital of Alberta and not a place I knew much about until I started researching this blog about interesting facts in Edmonton. 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 Edmonton was bloody cold in the winter.

Now that I’ve been to Edmonton on numerous occasions and love what it has to offer – especially the trails through the river valley and the dining experiences, I would highly recommend a visit.

I hope you learn a thing or two after reading about interesting facts in Edmonton.

Biking in Edmonton on singletrack beside the river
Biking in Edmonton on single track beside the North Saskatchewan River

How Edmonton got its start

Edmonton was established in 1795 as a Hudson’s Bay Company post – trading furs. Edmonton was incorporated as a city in 1904 with a population of 8,350.

Population of Edmonton

Did you know that Edmonton is the northernmost North American city with a population over one million? That’s one of the interesting facts about Edmonton I love.

The average age in Edmonton is 37.7 years. The median age is 35.7. 

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

West Edmonton Mall

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.  The mall is the home of a water park, regulation-size ice rink, indoor amusement park, Blue Thunder Pool – a water park with 3.3 million gallons of water. At the deep end you can catch a wave as high as 1.4 metres! One of the other interesting facts about Edmonton is that the West Edmonton Mall is home to 800 stores, two hotels and over 100 dining venues. The mall is a terrific destination on a cold winter day.

26 Weird, Wonderful and Useful Facts About Edmonton
A beautiful sunrise in Edmonton

Random interesting facts about 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.

One of the interesting facts about Edmonton is that it was the home of Wop May – a famous bush pilot who fought the Red Baron in his last dogfight in World War I.

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

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 in Edmonton 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.

Another of the interesting facts about Edmonton is that they have an outdoor museum dedicated to Neon Signs. The signs are located on the east wall of the Telus Building on 104th St and 104th Avenue.

The High Level Bridge offers the best views of Edmonton.

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. It’s no longer active.

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

Interesting facts about the amount of daylight in Edmonton 

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.

26 Weird, Wonderful and Useful Facts About Edmonton
Skating on one of the many outdoor rinks around Edmonton

Weather events in 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.

The highest recorded temperature in Edmonton was 37.4°C on June 30, 2021.

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


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

Interesting facts about sports in Edmonton

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). They have won the Stanley Cup five times.

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.

Beautiful fountain outside the Alberta Legislature Building
Beautiful fountain outside the Alberta Legislature Building in Edmonton

Bike trails in Edmonton

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

26 Weird, Wonderful and Useful Facts About Edmonton
Biking along the North Saskatchewan River in Edmonton

Edmonton is close to Elk Island National Park

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

You usually see bison in Elk Island National Park
You usually see bison in Elk Island National Park

Jasper National Park is four hours away

Jasper National Park lies 370 kilometres west of Edmonton, about a four hour drive away. I was amazed to see people skiing at Marmot Mountain – as part of a long day trip. 

Jasper at first light in February
Jasper at first light in February

The famous Birkebeiner ski festival

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

Eating in 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 Eat North in Edmonton are RGD RD and Tryst Wine and Small Plates

The Dutchess Bake Shop is definitely worth a visit too.

The Dutchess Bakeshop is famous for their macarons
The Dutchess Bakeshop is famous for their macarons

Botanical garden in Edmonton

The University of Alberta is home to a beautiful botanical garden, about 30 minutes south of the downtown. Edmonton is a Zone 3 for plant hardiness – compared to Vancouver which can is Zone 8.

The Botanical Gardens in Edmonton
The Botanical Gardens in Edmonton

Further reading on interesting facts in Canada

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Fun and interesting facts about Edmonton, Alberta

  1. 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.


  2. 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

  3. 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.

  4. 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!

  5. 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 🙂

    1. @Byron I couldn’t agree with you more. People are what define a city and great people make great cities.

  6. @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.

  7. @Rheal And thank you for your upbeat comment. Edmonton by all accounts is a fantastic city to live in. I love how proud the residents are – and all the tips they’ve given me.

  8. 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. And I appreciate your restaurant suggestions.

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