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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 think of it as a city with nothing but big box stores, because that’s all I’ve seen as I drive through. And I know its bloody cold in the winter.

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.

Here’s what I’ve learned 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.
"Water-slide in the West Edmonton Mall"

Water-slide in the West Edmonton Mall – Photo credit: Everett Mar on Flickr

  • 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.
  • 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 and sets at 10:07.
  • Winter is another story. The sun rises at 8:49 and sets at 4:16, providing only seven hours and 27 minutes of daylight.
"A cold winter's day in Edmonton"

A cold winter’s day in Edmonton – Photo credit: Heidi G on Flickr

  • The coldest day ever recorded in Edmonton was on January 26, 1972. The temperature was -48.3C with a wind-chill dropping it to -61C.
  • 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 kilometer wide. Twenty seven people were killed and more than 300 injured. It’s one of the worst natural disasters in Canadian history.
  • 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’s turned on every long weekend during the summer – and pumps out 50,000 liters of water per minute. (Doesn’t seem to be active any longer.)
"The Great Divide Waterfall"

The Great Divide Waterfall – Photo credit: Garth Bishop on Flickr

  • 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.
  • Elk Island National Park is less than an hour from Edmonton. It’s home to free roaming bison, moose, deer and elk.
26 Weird, Wonderful and Useful Facts About Edmonton

You usually see bison in Elk Island National Park

  • 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.
  • 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 kilometers with a 5.5 kilogram pack on their back, reliving the legend of King Haakon Haakonson.
  • There’s 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. I’ve also heard good things about the Dutchess Bake Shop.

Other posts in a similar vein you might find interesting:

Leigh McAdam

Author of Discover Canada: 100 Inspiring Outdoor Adventures
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Author Leigh

Avid world traveler. Craves adventure - & the odd wildly epic day. Gardener. Reader. Wine lover. Next big project - a book on 100 Canadian outdoor adventures.

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Join the discussion 79 Comments

  • Raki says:

    Very happy to know about it :D Thank you very much for sharing… appreciate your efforts! :)

  • Lisa says:

    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.


  • Ethan Klaver says:

    That about sums it up.

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