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Edmonton is North America’s most northernmost city. Despite being the administrative capital of the Alberta Province, it is second to Calgary in size. But that doesn’t mean it is a small city by any means. For the longest time, it has been the hub of northern and central Alberta’s oil and gas industry. Its oil sand reserves are only second to those of Saudi Arabia, which explains why most of the region’s economic activity involves petroleum, tourism, and agriculture. There is also a blossoming technology sector that cashes in on Canada’s premier reduction and research credentials. All of that aside, it is the friendly nature of the people of Edmonton that makes it a must-visit place.
Edmonton is a town built by immigrants. The earliest groups of people came from as far as eastern Europe, with the most notable being the Chinese railway builders. The historical factors that attracted people to Edmonton in the past—employment and business opportunities, are the same reasons people move here today. From a small town, it has grown to a multicultural society of over a million people.
Before the arrival of the Europeans in the 19th century, archaeological evidence suggests that Edmonton was a settlement for different aboriginal tribes. After the European settlement, the main catchment activity was fur trading with two companies, the Hudson’s Bay Company and the North West Company, carrying the bulk of the trade. Shortly after the Canadian government bought it out, infrastructure like railways made it an agricultural distribution hub, but it’s what happened in the 20th century that defines the city today. Having initially served as a military staging ground during the wars, it was the discovery of petroleum in Leduc that would change the city’s fortunes.
Edmonton enjoys a humid continental climate. The seasonal temperatures tend to be extreme, but it’s unlike what you will experience in the neighboring cities of Winnipeg or Regina. In summers expect the highs to sometimes exceed 86 °F (30 °C), and in winters, the mercury can sometimes drop beyond -4 °F (-20 °C). These seasonal extremes notwithstanding, you will have plenty of sun in Edmonton, with sun hours reaching approximately seventeen and a quarter-hour in the summer solstice. Winters here last from November to March, while summers stretch from the last weeks of June to late august. The other seasons are relatively short and variable.
Despite the high summer sun, the humidity is not unbearable. This is the best time to visit as you can take advantage of the long bright days to explore every nook of the city. It is also peak tourism season, and you are likely to meet great people to share your experiences.
In Edmonton, the first place people visit is the massive West Edmonton Mall for recreation shopping and business. But if the mall is not your thing, you will love the experience of Edmonton scenery from the many parks in the city. The most popular one is the Fort Edmonton park, but you could go to Elk Island National Park for kayaking, hiking, skating, cycling, and to see substantial American Bison. As a city of festivals, Sir Winston Churchill Square is where you catch most of them.
If your visit coincides with K-days, Sourdough Raft Races, the Edmonton International Fringe Festival, and many others feel free to join in, you won’t be disappointed. For the arts and culture lovers, The Art Gallery of Alberta is a great start, but you could find more like the TELUS World of Science or Alberta Aviation Museum. You can also find theatres in the Old Strathcona district or other performing arts around the city. Lastly, (definitely not least) your taste buds will thank you if you grab local delicacies from the many food trucks, pop-up joints, and fine dining establishments all over the city.
Edmonton International Airport (EIA) is the major transport hub in Edmonton. Despite there being several places to land smaller planes and even bush planes, the International port connects you to major cities across the world. Several major and budget airlines operate from it, and you can find flights to pretty much most of Canada from here.
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