A redeeming feature of Edmonton in Alberta, Canada, is its park system. The North Saskatchewan River snakes through the city and the linear park runs to its south. It is said to be the longest stretch of connected urban parkland in North America, with Edmonton having the highest amount of parkland per head of any Canadian city.
The parks along the way range from formal to informal and the city has named five of its parks after the Famous Five. This is not Enid Blyton but five Alberta women who campaigned for women to be recognised as ‘persons’ who could be elected to the senate. They were Emily Murphy, Irene Parlby, Nellie McClung, Louise McKinnie and Henrietta Edwards.
With John Powell from the Countryside and Community Research Institute (CCRI) I walked down the steep steps to the river from Saskatchewan Drive, just to the east of the Emily Murphy Park.
At the top of the path down to the park there is a look-out point, but the trees must have grown up because you can’t see much there now.
At the bottom of the steps we were accosted by the call of the white-breasted nuthatch.
The river is about 200 metres wide here and the trail goes close to it.
It also goes across a dandelion-covered meadow.
Although technically this is an unbroken trail, in fact it is interrupted by construction, forcing us away from the river at a number of points. We had hoped to walk through Nellie McClung Park to cross the river further north, but road building made this impossible and instead we crossed the bridge close to Walterdale Park (not named after one of the women) and headed up to the State Legislature.
Here there is a more formal park with various monuments. A group of women with their babies in strollers were doing their stretches after a run.
The legislature building has a plaza in front of it with a shallow pool.
We were fortunate to arrive at noon which is when the fountain is particularly impressive (and the bell in the campanile was ringing out jolly tunes).
There are curious mirrors on concrete pedestals which enable people in the pedway (an underground walkway) to see the gardens reflected above them.
John managed to take a selfie without using a smartphone.
The park has a fine statue to the Ukranians who settled here at the end of the nineteenth century, celebrating their hard work in farming the inhospitable prairies.
On Sunday I walked across town to the Mill Creek Ravine Park which runs along a tributary of the North Saskatchewan River. There were plenty of cars in the car-park, probably because there is a swimming-pool there, but there were not many people walking for a sunny Sunday afternoon.
The trails through the woods are unmarked, I found none of the interpretation one would get in a British urban park.
Cyclists have their own trails but they came onto the narrow paths through the woods, ringing their bells politely but nevertheless I think walkers must find them annoying.
I came upon other small parks in my walks through the city, such as the Joe Morris Park off 87th Avenue.
The Edmonton Metro has reported that local businesses want to make the farmers’ market parking-lot into a park to increase the opportunity for festivals. It’s not clear if this is a largely commercial venture (witness what is happening on our London commons) but it would certainly enhance the area if this became green space.