For some 4,000 years, Canada’s First Nations people have visited and camped on the site of present-day Edmonton as part of their seasonal round of hunting. The first European explorer passed near the site in 1754. Near the end of that century, the Hudson’s Bay Company established a trading post called Edmonton House. Slowly, a town began to grow outside the fort’s walls. Edmonton was incorporated as a City in 1905 and was named the new provincial capital the following year. The city boomed early in the century and again in the post war years fuelled by growth in the energy sector. It continues today as one of Canada’s fastest growing cities.
While more than a million people now call Greater Edmonton home, it has lost none of the small-town friendliness and western hospitality for which it has always been famous. Together with a growing economy, Edmonton’s welcoming atmosphere and natural beauty have attracted newcomers from all over the world. Today, more than 60 ethnic backgrounds are represented at Edmonton’s annual Heritage Festival, a four-day celebration of cultural diversity.
Edmonton is a great sports and cultural city thanks to the support and generous encouragement of our Provincial Government. It is one of more than 30 major festivals that keep the city humming year-round, as music, art, theatre, dance, performance and culinary art take turns at centre stage, including the internationally renowned Folk Music, Fringe Theatre and Street Performers Festivals. Edmonton’s arts district brims with live entertainment, theatre, symphony and the architecturally stunning Art Gallery of Alberta.
Eleven major post-secondary institutions can be found in Greater Edmonton, the flagship institution being the University of Alberta, Canada’s second-largest university campus and third-largest post-secondary institution by gross revenue and home to more than 35,000 full and part-time students. Other major institutions include MacEwan University and the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT).
Alberta also invests more per student in the kindergarten to Grade 12 learning system than any other province, while Edmonton Public Schools has been recognised as the best-managed and most innovative school board in North America.
- North Saskatchewan River Valley is North America’s largest urban parkland, 22 times the size of New York City’s Central Park. Its 150 km of trails are ideal for walking, biking, picnicing, Segway rides, and more.
- West Edmonton Mall is North America’s largest entertainment and shopping centre, with over 800 stores, 100 eating establishments and ten attractions.
- Fort Edmonton Park is Canada’s largest living history museum, featuring more than 70 period buildings and was the setting for Brad Pitt’s Assassination of Jesse James.
- Old Strathcona is a provincial historic area with a year-round farmers’ market, eight theatre companies and a lively nightlife scene, as well as one of Canada’s top five shopping districts.
- Art Gallery of Alberta is in the heart of Edmonton’s arts district. Hosting international exhibits and housing 6,000 permanent pieces of art, the building’s design was inspired by the Northern Lights and the city’s undulating magnificent river valley.
- Elk Island National Park has a higher density of hoofed mammals per square kilometre than any other wild area in the world, with the exception of Africa’s Serengeti Plains.
Edmonton is no stranger to international football. Playing host to the FIFA U-20 World Cup Canada 2007, Edmonton matches drew a total of more than 240,000 fans. Close to 50,000 attended the memorable Canada-USA final at the FIFA U-19 Women’s World Championship Canada 2002 – still the largest crowd ever for a FIFA women’s youth match.
Edmontonians continue to embrace football in a big way, in the seats and on the pitch. At last count, the city had 26 clubs and almost 27,000 registered players. After a near-ten-year hiatus, professional soccer made its triumphant return to Edmonton as 2011 marked the inaugural year for FC Edmonton. Playing in the North American Soccer League, FC Edmonton competes against teams from across Canada and the US.