Initially apprehensive to learn that I might be training in Edmonton in February (2006), I checked their weather every day or so preceding the trip. It was rarely below -7 degrees centigrade (that's around 20 degrees farenheit) and usually above or around freezing. It was not snowing. How can this be?
I feel most Americans take Canada for granted, having formed some vague opinion of our neighbor during our school years, and then dismissing it along with much of the information to which we are exposed. And without any specific reason or compunction to consider it, I suppose I understand that. But Canada is more than, as I once heard Martin Mull say jokingly, "America Jr." They are vital, strident, aspiring people, as we are, in an environment surprisingly similar to that of the states to their immediate south. Amazingly, the climate is mild and soil fertile, too, for a short time. Their farmland thrives. When I flew into Edmonton International Airport, there was just about NO snow on the ground. Remember -- this is February.
So here's what I found: Edmonton, Alberta is a beautiful, modern city situated above the winding Saskachewan River. The course I taught was held north of downtown near the municipal airport, and during my morning drive the skyscrapers in the short distance were all shiny like platinum. It must have been a trick of the sun, but it was beautiful.
A five-dollar bill. Prettier than ours at the time.
It wasn't this green
I was able to spend part of an afternoon at Alberta's Legislature. It was a traditional, had some warmth but was stately. In 2005 they celebrated one hundred years as a Province. They have good reason to be proud.
Edmonton boasts North America's largest mall (at the time) -- the aptly named West Edmonton Mall - it's in west Edmonton. It was nice, but opulent, actually. I believe I would like them to quit holding that "largest mall" competition.
There are fewer maple trees in western Canada. They're mostly in the east. I didn't know that.
You may be surprised to hear that I played disc golf at Rundle Park, a massive, multi-use recreation area along the river's north side. I luckily met up with a couple locals that let me tag along, showed me the holes (a real time-saver for a "newbie") and offered me some local color. Nice.
Some of the holes (baskets) whad been removed, near some of the nice homes bordering the park. That doesn't speak well for the players or the neighbors, or both I suppose. I suspect it might be the former, or other park-goers, because it appears that they have a delinquency problem. I base this on the following: Near the shuttered "club house" is a noise-making device braying a shrill, but localized sound. Quite annoying to be near for any length of time. I surmise the idea is to ward off loiterers and other undesirables. I had never seen that before, but I begrudgingly admit it is ingenious.
The last night in Edmonton involved dinner at the revolving restaurant and some shopping. I shared that experience with one of my students from Vancouver. He was was too young to rent a car, and had lived in Edmonton growing up. After that he wanted to revisit the Edmonton Mall (my second time). Sure, why not?
I have fond memories of the trip and the city. If you have an opportunity to visit Edmonton, you should do so.