Edmonton Area History

The land in and around modern-day Edmonton dates back to the 18th century when European fur traders descended on its western plains. Traders from both the Hudson’s Bay Company and North West Company were intrigued by the abundant water and wildlife, which led to the construction of a series of forts. One of those structures, Fort Edmonton, became the site of central operations after the two companies merged and consolidated their efforts.

With the fur trade dissipating, a permanent settlement was slow to occur, which meant the town of Edmonton was not officially established until 1894. Though the Canadian Pacific Railway constructed rail lines through Calgary in the 1880s and 1890s, a line wouldn’t make it to Edmonton until the early 20th century, contributing to the town’s lack of growth.

But in 1904, Edmonton officially became a city, and new communities in the area began to pop up. Soon after, it merged with other nearby cities, growing both Edmonton’s physical footprint and its population. However, the onset of World War I halted the real estate and population craze, and the city saw only modest growth until the oil boom of the 1940s and 1950s. Edmonton would become known as the “Oil Capital of Canada,” and the city’s size grew dramatically as a result of this flurry of activity.

In the decades following, Edmonton’s prominence fluctuated with the world’s oil prices, but by the 1990s, diversification of industry began to take shape. Edmonton flourished into a haven for high-tech jobs and the downtown corridor rebounded after years of neglect. More recently, the city center has been lauded for its art scene and entertainment district. Additionally, new residential construction has taken off both within the city limits and on the outskirts of town as urban sprawl has occurred. In 2008, the metro area became the most northern city in North America to exceed one million in population.

Entertainment/things to do in Edmonton

Depending on the season, Edmonton offers an assortment of fun activities both indoors and outdoors that are adored by locals and visitors alike. Perhaps the most visited attraction in all of Edmonton is the West Edmonton Mall. Built in 1981, the mall was once the largest of its kind in all the world and is still believed to be the largest in North America. In addition to shopping and dining, the mall features an indoor amusement park, waterpark, skating rink, miniature golf, and much more.

Fort Edmonton Park is another frequently visited site for its historical recreations of what life was like in Edmonton at various points in the town’s history. The park has both original and rebuilt structures over nearly 160 sprawling acres of land.

Elk Island National Park allows visitors the chance to enjoy hiking, cycling and wildlife viewing. Some of the animals you’re likely to see at Elk Island National Park include more than 250 species of birds, bison, and elk.

TELUS World of Science – Edmonton features interactive galleries, a planetarium, and a variety of science-related exhibits that are fun for all ages. The center also has an IMAX theater, which includes the largest screen in all of Alberta, and is used to broadcast both educational documentaries and Hollywood blockbusters.

Another indoor favourite is the Francis Winspear Centre for Music. Located in Edmonton’s Arts District, the Winspear Centre plays host to the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra. Additionally, art aficionados enjoy meandering the halls and seeing the works inside the spectacularly designed Art Gallery of Alberta.

The city also has several professional sports teams, including the Edmonton Football Team, who play in the Canadian Football League, the Edmonton Oilers of the National Hockey League and FC Edmonton (soccer) of the Canadian Premier League.

The Edmonton economy 

The oil and gas industry has long been an economic driver for Edmonton, and it remains so today. Most actually consider Alberta to be second in the world in energy extraction behind only Saudi Arabia. The city has also developed a reputation for technology and for being a hub for research and education. In fact, the National Institute for Nanotechnology resides on the campus of the University of Alberta in Edmonton.

Because of its size, the West Edmonton Mall is one of the largest creators of jobs in the area, with the mall anchoring a burgeoning retail scene. Several high-profile financial institutions are also headquartered in Edmonton or have satellite offices within the city.

Public transit is operated by the Edmonton Transit Service, which includes light rail and bus transportation. The city is a major hub for the Canadian National Railway and helps connect passengers to other parts of the country on a commuter train called the Canadian. The Edmonton International Airport serves the city and is a gateway for air travel to northern Alberta, northern Canada, the United States, Europe, Mexico and the Caribbean.

There are several post-secondary institutions in Edmonton, including the University of Alberta, a school established in 1908 that now has nearly 40,000 undergraduate and postgraduate students.

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