EDMONTON TOURIST: ᐄᓃᐤ(ÎNÎW) River Lot 11∞

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I wanted to visit Queen Elizabeth Park for a while now that the Walterdale Bridge is finished along with the surrounding landscape. The path below the bridge is now open on the Northside of the river and it leads to Irene Parlby Park. I haven’t had a chance to explore that trail yet but I did get to Queen Elizabeth Park with my trusty pal Cap.

My family has a long history with this park, from swimming in the outdoor pool, picnics and picking lilacs. I am sad to report the lilac shrubs are no longer at the entrance to the east side of the park. However, the changes that were created to the west side of the park is beautiful.

I drove north towards the river on Queen Elizabeth Road and turned left into the west side of the park. The new parking lot and entrance are all shiny and new.

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I parked next to the shelter and began exploring. I think the location of the shelter is where the old Queen Elizabeth Pool Building used to be. Directly to the west is a marker signifying the location of the old pool. I hope the City continues to tell a complete story of City history. Here is a lovely blend of Treaty 6 Nations art and a brief history and the story of the pool. Interesting fact, there were two moose held captive here for two years with the intention of expanding into a zoo. Happily, they were released.

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Cap and I strolled the circular path that led to the different art installations.

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My first stop was mamohkamatowin (Helping each other). Lovely intricate mosaics depicting various symbols including the beaver, raven and people, all working together to build a community. 42665030_10161082336421337_1631326757678219264_n

A few steps later is the valley lookout.

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My city is quickly changing, I almost don’t recognize the skyline. Continuing on, I came to mikikwan. This is a hide scraper for the past, present and future.

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I stood in front of Preparing to Cross the Sacred River for a long time. I thought the birds were geese but after learning about this installation I learned they were magpies. They are deferential to both petroglyphs and beadwork. I was quite mesmerized.

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Pehonan is a storytelling amphitheatre. The highest seat at the top references the deep past. Its the farthest from reach when you are at the base, but when you are sitting at the top, you have the greatest field of vision with the greatest perspective. When you are closest to the future but not able to see so far into the distance.

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Iskotew is fire. It is written in the Cree language.

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Finally, I saw Reign. Fox and Hare with hadrosaurs traversing the valley floor.

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Each of these installations had benches nearby to give a person time to ponder and think about what is before them. I thought about the history on this land long before I began visiting with my family. It is called ᐄᓃᐤ(ÎNÎW) River Lot 11∞. Reading one of the cairns indicate this was the homestead of Métis farmer Joseph McDonald. His actual home has been moved to Fort Edmonton Park and is located next to the North West Mounted Police building. During the Treaty 6 recognition, I spoke with McDonald’s great-granddaughter.  She said he wasn’t Métis but his children were because he had married a Cree woman, her great-grandmother. He was Scottish and that meant his children were ‘half-breeds’ not Métis. Of course, that all has changed and now her family is referred to as Métis. We spoke for a while and learned about the script and how her grandmother was a medicine woman. To honour that, the Fort plants medicinal plants in the garden outside the home. She was an interesting storyteller and what lovely validation and recognition for her family.

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Captain and I then crossed the busy road to see if there were any other changes to Queen Elizabeth Park. I was happy to see my bench is still in its same spot. I hadn’t been able to sit on since the construction began years ago. I sat for a while and noticed the view is more obscure that is was the last time I sat in this spot.

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The view of the Rossdale plant was more open and the river is now obscure but it’s still lovely. In the past, I have sat in this spot to read, talk with friends or just to think. I am incredibly happy to my park back.

Explore Edmonton: Telus World of Science

When I was a kid, my grandma used to take me and my brother to the Queen Elizabeth planetarium.

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Of course, it no longer looks as spiffy as this, but I rather remember it this way than the rundown version it has become. The mosaics are still super cool though. I loved sitting in the tiny theatre staring at the stars and learning about the constellations. It was one of my favourite memories as a child.

About two months ago I did some volunteer work and was gifted two tickets for the Telus World of Science. I was excited because there are two new exhibits, Dinosaurs and Terry Fox, that I wanted to see.

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The centre first opened in 1984, as a replacement for the Queen Elizabeth Planetarium that had operated as Edmonton’s Planetarium since 1960 but had become limited by its seating capacity of 65. The City of Edmonton selected the Edmonton Space Sciences Centre as the City’s flagship project commemorating the Province of Alberta’s 75th Anniversary. The original building was designed by architect Douglas J. Cardinal. It was the most unusual building I had seen go up in Edmonton. There was a definite space quality about it. The grounds and building have changed over the years, they keep adding to it. Apparently, two new galleries are going in and a complete revamp of the star theatre. This meant the Margaret Ziegler Theatre was CLOSED. My heart broke a little bit. But there was an inflatable star dome so I was happy I could see the night sky show. What they failed to mention was the star dome was for people under four feet who wanted to sit on the floor. That’s not me, so I left disappointed with a side of excitement for the new star theatre to open one day in the future. Imagine my surprise when I heard the Zeidler Dome opens this weekend!

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We went to the Dinosaur gallery. These were animatronics with sound and FEATHERS. First Pluto isn’t a planet and now dinosaurs have feathers. Science is forcing me to unlearn ‘facts’ from science class in the 70’s.

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If I was five I would have been all over this exhibit. Dinosaurs just don’t do it for me. I did learn a fun fact though, Dinosaurs suffered from skull fractures. They were clumsy, bullied and beaten by other dinosaurs. So that was interesting. I walked through the exhibit and took video of the moving creatures. You can find that video on my Edmonton Tourist page on facebook. It would have been WAY COOL if I was five, at 50 it was fine.

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We wandered through the other galleries, not much has changed since my kids were small and we had a seasons pass. The Terry Fox Gallery was worth the trip. I thought I knew all there was to know about Terry Fox and then I saw this water jug. He filled it in the Atlantic Ocean, intending to empty it into the Pacific Ocean. It was sobering.

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His van was on display.

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And his prosthetic leg.

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I had held this before. I had met Darryl Fox, his brother, at an event and he had this prosthetic with him. The weight is unimaginable. That famous blue Adidas shoe had me choked up a bit. His shirts were lined up – the days when everyone ran in cotton.

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And the Companion to the Order of Canada. This is something only amazing Canadians get the honour of wearing. He is the youngest Canadian to ever receive it.

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This was a moving exhibit.

We left the building and walked towards the observatoryIMG_0452.

Next, to the star theatre, this is my favourite place. The dome was open and we looked at the sun – with a special filter, you could pick out the textured surface and sunspots. Then we looked at Venus. Not something you can normally see mid-day. I often spot Venus at sunset.

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If you haven’t been to Telus World of Science lately, give it a go and say hi to Terry. Support science, encourage your daughters to enter into STEM fields. Take time to learn and respect facts. Science is always evolving (- hello? FEATHERS!!! and PLUTO!!!) because we are constantly learning more. I can only imagine what will be uncovered for my grandchildren. Go learn something. 

Explore Alberta: Alberta Railway Museum

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Have you ever explored Canada’s railroad history? There was a time in my son’s life where we would explore the railroads of B.C. and Alberta. We visited the last spike, the spiral tunnels and climbed into steam engines. He was a serious train enthusiast. I suppose it isn’t past tense, he is still a train enthusiast. Just lately he has had some physical barriers he has been dealing with. After a successful surgery, its as if I have my boy back! We decided to celebrate by going to the Alberta Railway Museum’s 50th Anniversary. 

We have visited many rail museums, rode the Kettle Valley Steam Train and gone to numerous model train shows, but never have we ever visited the Alberta Rail Museum. Its located in North Edmonton 24215 34 St NW, so we hopped on the Henday and drove for 30 minutes, missed the turn but then pulled in.

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After checking the website, we knew we could purchase tickets to ride the diesel engine. There was cake at the station, and we ran into a few people we know. One was the father of my son’s best friend. He told us to check out some of his favourite things, like the Mail Car. With the train not departing until 1:00 pm, we had about an hour to explore the cars.

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There were several cars stacked on the rails, some restored and some waiting to be next. But we could walk through the cars checking them out in their various stages of disrepair.

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Our friend was right, the mail car was the coolest.

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There was also a car that was used by the King and Queen of England, it was very velvety. Well, all passenger cars were velvety, the berths were tiny and shockingly complicated.

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The highlight was when our friend took us into the shed that held steam engine 1392. It was being painted, but we could climb right up into the cab to look around. He explained some interesting facts and talked to my son about the use for the different things he saw on the panel. He explained this engine was waiting for the engineer to get his ticket/certification so he could drive it. It cost $1000 a day to run the engine, fuel costs etc., and a specially licensed engineer. The steam train will be in full operation for the August long weekend.

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We spent three hours climbing up and down the cars, weaving in and out of tiny spaces. It was a day that had me wistful for his childhood, but thankful we packed in a lot of memories while we could. This is three more hours to that list.

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Bring your family, ride the train, and learn new things. Go visit the Alberta Rail Museum. I am so glad I did.

Freewill Players: Shakespeare in the Park

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Summer nights in July and my first thought goes to warm evenings. So why wouldn’t I want to sit in the middle of Hawrelak Park and watch a play? Can you think of a better way to spend the evening?

It rained for most of the day and I was feeling cold but eager to head to the Heritage Amphitheatre for one of my favourite festivals of the year. We left the house at 6:30 because even when you pre-purchase tickets for a particular night if the place fills up, you risk having to sit on the grass. It sounds fun, but grass isn’t as soft as I remember as a kid. As it turned out, we were able to secure second-row stage left. The gates opened at 7:45 pm and they scanned our phones, technology is cool. My daughter bought tickets for last night’s performance in the car on the way. I found myself telling her an old-person story, “I’m from a time when you didn’t pre-purchase tickets except for Rock Concerts, and then you had to camp out at the box office to have a chance to see anyone decent.” Buying in the car is still amazing to me!

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I had the forethought to bring a quilt and a scarf. I regretted not bringing my winter jacket and gloves. It was damp and 16C felt very cold for me. I bundled up and snuggled in with the program while my companions decided to take in the preshow Puppet version of the play. We were seeing Comedy of Errors but Shakespeare isn’t written in a style that makes sense without having studied it and focusing on the cadence of the language. You can get the gist of it by watching the show unfold, but having the background is helpful. The Freewill Players have a short 10 minutes synopsis preshow to help people following along. It makes it a better experience if you understand the show.

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The Hubs and Chatterbox went to the puppet tent and had a great time. They both commented on the way back to the car they commented without the puppet show they wouldn’t have had a clue what was going on. I admitted I had no idea what the prologue was about until the final scene, then it all made sense, but I had no trouble following the storyline. I did study Shakespeare for three years in high school (Julius Ceasar, Macbeth and Hamlet) and in University (A Midsummer’s Night Dream, Romeo and Juliette, Taming of the Shrew, Othello, King Lear and The Merchant of Venice). I felt confident I could follow along.

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There were several concession tents, one for food and one for beer and wine. There was also a souvenir tent selling shirts, squirrels and pins. Two different contests were going on, a 50/50 draw (I didn’t win) and a survey that enters you in for a dinner to Chanti’s (I didn’t win that either but the gal behind me did). I did have some popcorn at the intermission because the scullery maid ran across the stage chasing Dromio. She paused and said, “this will take several minutes, so why don’t you go get a beverage and some popcorn?” That sounded like a great idea so I gave $5 to Chatterbox and off she went.

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Not to give too much away, but one of my favourite things about the Freewill Player comedy productions is the Bollywood ending. Its fun and kitschy. Watch for no other reason than to see Jesse Gervais and Hunter Cardinal dance with their partners. They were hilarious.

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Comedy of Errors plays odd dates and Hamlet plays even dates. Pay what you will is Tuesday night and I think I might go see Hamlet or at least catch it on the weekend. I hear it is the best of the two productions and I thoroughly enjoyed Comedy of Errors so Hamlet might be worthwhile for me to head back out.

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Tickets and Showtimes available here. Remember to bring a blanket. Shakespeare in the park ends July 15th.

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Edmonton Tourist: Under the Big Wheel

Winter is still going strong here in Edmonton. I am not going to lie, it is bringing me down. Six months of winter is more than enough. Thanks Old Man Winter, you can stop now. Happily I haven’t removed my winter tires.

As far as second winters goes, this one isn’t all that cold but I still find myself wanting hot coffee. Today I had a date with a great University chum who tells it like it is and asks the great questions that make me think about things from a different perspective. Today we chatted about friendship problems we both have, parallel to the point that loyalty is an issue for both of us. We are loyal and hope for a reciprocal arrangement. It didn’t happen for either of us and then she said, “What did you want to happen?”

That simple question knocked my socks off because I  have been looking at it from the perspective of ‘This happened and I need to do this because I am loyal and the friendship is important to me so I need to forgive.’

Her question made me pause and think. I love that quality in this friend, she makes me think.  Then the server came and asked what we wanted to order.

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Right…breakfast! We decided to go to Old Strathcona and have brunch at Under the Big Wheel. A farm fresh organic kind of place with a really large Penny Farthing bicycle hanging on the wall. I am assuming that was the big wheel, not the red plastic kind of my sister’s childhood.

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We both ordered coffee, she had a mocha and I had a latte because I am on a quest for the best one in the city – side bar: It was good, really good but I place it third on my list.

It was served in a very unconventional way – as was the entire experience – Unconventional.

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It came in a tall highball glass or something you would have cold chocolate milk in. It was hot on the hands but felt nice on my cold fingers after walking here in the wet snow. Because it was in glass, the coffee didn’t stay hot for long. That would be the biggest reason it is only third on my list. I like coffee hot and to stay hot. But it was good enough to have two. I rarely do that.

So where was I? Right! What did I want to happen? I wanted my friend to stick up for me, not be neutral. She agreed. Her friend was neutral too. We both would have been okay with “What you did was really crappy and I don’t like it.” but still be their friend…because it isn’t high school. Or if you thought I was being crappy – say so! I respect that!  She also agreed that would have been a better solution for her as well. So meanwhile here we are sharing similar experiences and our Server comes back – can I just say, our server’s lipstick was on point? It was the perfect shade of red for her alabaster skin. I digress… Our Server comes back and asks if we had decided. Of course not, we were catching up! We quickly glance down at the menu and she says, ” have you been here before?” Nope, first time. “My personal favourite is the waffle, our Belgium waffles are amazing” There was a gal behind us at a different table shouting out, “OMG THE WAFFLES ARE AMAZING” I enjoy that kind of enthusiasm and recommendation, so I had the eggs benny on a waffle – it was called The Savoury Waffle. I had a choice of smoked salmon, sausage bacon or cooked spinach (who wants to eat that? Cooked greens just taste like Chlorophyll to me. Too green. I prefer my greens uncooked with the exception of Beet Leaf (not Cabbage) Rolls and baby bok choy in soup. I picked bacon because, well, bacon. My friend chose the Traditional Breakfast, it was very conventional.

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Both were tasty. The hollandaise sauce was not the usual and I couldn’t put my finger on it, what made it taste different? It was good, but different than the norm. The waffles were light and fluffy, the gal behind me did not lie.

Where were we? Right…. loyalty. I also disclosed that I was thinking about words that had been said to me and playing them over in my mind. She agreed that she does the too. Only I don’t think about where the person was coming from when they said them, it was more of a how those words affected me and caused me to behave in certain way or do things maybe I wouldn’t have done if I hadn’t been so hurt and how could I have reacted better?. These were traumatic experiences I kept reliving and then looking at how I could have done things better/different. We agreed this wasn’t helpful to moving forward. But yet we still did it. I suspect most people do this.  Some people can just let it go easier than others.

We also talked about how awesome our dogs are. Hers are new to her family an mine is celebrating his 3rd adoption day with us on the 27th. I call it his birthday because he didn’t have to be a wild dog any more and hunt for his food. He found out very quickly he prefers being retired and living a spoiled life.

The best part of this breakfast was the server let us visit and chat as long as we needed. She kept coming back to see if we needed something more – just salt for the eggs and another latte, but it was really restful. I really did enjoy this spot for brunch, the food was great.

I have visited a few other spots around town to test out their coffee. I went to Anvil, a new spot in Ottwell. Decent but over priced. It tasted fine but didn’t wow me.

I also visited Wild Earth Bakery, cookies were good coffee was fine, also didn’t wow me.

If you decide to come to Edmonton for coffee and want to meet, let me know, I would love to experience coffee with you!

My list of favourites so far in order:

  1. Mandolin
  2. Cafe Bicyclette
  3. Under the Big Wheel
  4. Little Brick
  5. Anvil
  6. Wild Earth

Where do you like to go for your favourite coffee?

Edmonton Tourist: Mandolin Books and Coffee Company

The sun was out and spring felt like it was here. After being in a stadium for 5 days with 7000 kids, I was happy to get out in the fresh air and explore a little of my city. Plus, I wanted a coffee, a really great cup of coffee. To me great coffee comes in the form of a Café Latte. Hot, creamy with a strong coffee flavour. My favourites in the city are Café Bicyclette, Block 1912, Transcend, and now Mandolin.

I had heard about this place from some people at work. They knew I am a hard core book lover and was serious about my coffee so they thought the combination would be right up my ally. I headed to highlands on 112 Avenue. I used to live in this neighbourhood about 25 years ago and all that was here a a restaurant and wool shop. The 2 block street has undergone some heritage sprucing up, new lamp posts, some cool signage to let you know what used to be in that spot and a mural. This little trip had all the things a nice exploration includes:

  • Points of interest
  • nifty shops
  • pretty neighbourhood
  • coffee

It felt like an afternoon vacation.

My Companion and I walked along the south side of the street first, in search of the coffee, I was charmed by the signage.

I bet that was a great Hardware store! I love old timey hardware shops, Steveston BC and Entwistle AB have some of the best I have ever been to. Highland Hardware is now the Apple Box, a crafty paint shop that has milk paint, I need to remember to head back there when I pain my bench – I want it to be a rusty red.

Continuing along the street we found La Boheme. I always wanted to sign and dance on the tables there like in Rent, but have only eaten there and went to the wine cellar for a tour before I even knew anything about wine. Man, I wish I could go back in time and appreciate it more.

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Then came Mandolin Books and Coffee Company.

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The place had a great selection of used books and antiquarian. I found a Rudyard Kipling book of poems dated 1922. On the front cover was a swastika – pre-nazi Germany swastika meaning ‘lucky’ or ‘auspicious’. This was what it symbolized for 11,000 and now its an ugly symbol of hate. This book was in perfect condition as were so many of the books in this place. But first, COFFEE!.

The coffee here is Catfish Coffee, and I have to say, it is now my favourite coffee in the city. I really enjoy the flavour.

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We went to the counter and ordered 2 lattes, a lemon square and a blondie because this was a vacation and we needed sustenance.

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The baked goods tasted homemade (WIN!) but the coffee was smooth, creamy and strong – everything I look for in my favourite cup.

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It had been a long time since I enjoyed a coffee this much.

We poked around this shop and found some other great finds, like blind dates,

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we found a guy playing scrabble in the back and a mama reading to her offspring.

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There is also a patio out back.

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Once we found books we had to buy, it is a book store after all and I buy books because that is who I am, I ventured back outside and explored the other side of the street.

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We went into this great little candy shop and found vintage candy and poked around the antique store.

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It was the perfect afternoon in a great neighbourhood of Edmonton.

Edmonton Tourist: Irene Parlby Park


I have decided to avoid the rest of the south river parks until the big festivals and events are over for the summer. The crush of people is more than I am looking for. I am enjoying peace and solitude with my Captain. Work and life has been hectic so quiet walks are what I crave.

The Captain and I headed for one of my favourite neighborhoods, Rossdale. I’m totally open to moving there because one of the city’s best kept secrets is Irene Parlby Park. She was one of the Famous 5. The group of women who fought to make women people under the law 100 years ago. 

I have run through this park many times, driving and parking was complicated. There was a ball game at Telus field so restricted parking was in effect. I found a 2 hour spot over by Diamond Park.


We walked about 500 meters south to reach the park.


We walked under James MacDonald Bridge to reach the green space I was looking for. 


It is a non traditional River valley park. There are no picnic spots or fire pits. However, there are lovely small gardens and bench spots for sitting.


Captain and l walked the path not taken along the river first with the intent to double back on the paved multi-use path.

With the river to our left we could see Nellie McClung and Queen Elziabeth Parks across the water.


I was on the lookout for Saskatoon berries but only found Mountain Ash in full berry.


We came to a fallen log that was blocking out path. A makeshift bridge was created to traverse it. It took a while to convince Cap he could make the jump.


We traveled further down the path. It felt like wilderness but homes and the formal path were only yards away.


The main jogging loop has been closed for a few years while the Walterdale replacement bridge goes up. A permanent gate blocks access.


We turned west out of the park to walk the residential block.


This led to the next park entrance and a lovely playground. 


We came to a lovely statue in the middle of a formal garden which turned out to be a Pokéstop. 


We continued north back towards the end of the park and found ourselves sharing the path with other cyclists, skaters and runners.


Such a lovely spot in the middle of the city, yet it was quiet and felt like the middle of nowhere. I’m looking forward to the trails opening up to reach Walterdale. I’ll be back, and often.