A Look Through Canadian History: Fort Edmonton Park
When I was preparing my trip through Canada, my aunt kept mentioning she wanted to take us to Fort Edmonton Park. I would ask her what kind of park that was, and every time she said, “It’s a really cool park. It has different streets like the 1920s, and the 1800s.” Uhhh, what? Haha I had no idea what to expect! As it turns out, Fort Edmonton Park is a journey through living history that takes hours to walk through! The park is fascinating for any history-buff! There are four sections to the park that recreate Canadian history, 1846, 1885, 1905, and 1920.
Fort Edmonton Park entrance leads to an old-fashioned train station and carnival midway. The train will take you to the first stop in 1846, and the park is so big that on a hot day it would benefit you to take the train. The park itself is so rich with history that even the train that takes you to it has been featured in movies, it’s own historical relic. The film The Assassination of Jesse James, starring Brad Pitt, was filmed using this train car!
The Midway features vintage style art and carnival games, and all of the employees/volunteers throughout the entire park are dressed up in the traditional look for their time period. There are rides including a ferris wheel and carousel, not to mention a candy store! The entire park features tons of different places to pop in and have some snacks or candy!
Throughout this 1846 fort you can explore, talk to people who are in traditional garb performing traditional activities such as making bracelets or trading fur, and just wander around! Fort Edmonton Park would be a great place to bring children for an educational, but fun trip!
To get through the rest of the park you can walk to each section, the park flows very nicely, and the next stop will take you to 1885. 1885 has a little farm, horse-drawn carriages, as well as many shops and restaurants. We didn’t spend a ton of time in 1885, but spent most of our time in 1905, which was my favorite era!
1905 is a really interesting time in the park, as well as Canadian history! Around the early 1900s there was a big boom and people started moving in droves to Alberta. There was a shortage in housing then, so the beginning of the 1905 street is a tent city! We chatted with the tent city folks who were baking fresh bread in an old-school oven! Everything is so authentic!
What is really interesting about the 1905 era is that there is a mixing of eras, with authentic houses from that time period to prove it. Side by side are two houses, one is the Rutherford house, a typical Victorian home that was owned by Alberta’s first premier, then next door is the Firkin’s house, built in 1911 that was the height of modern for that time. The differences are astounding, and looking through a fully furnished Victorian home is a fascinating experience. Here you can really see the growth that Alberta was going through. If you haven’t figured it out already, this is a perfect stop for any history-loving nerd like me.
The 1905 street also houses the Masonic Hall, which is a kind of creepy, but even creepier because they keep trying to make it NOT creepy….you just kind of have to see it! There is an authentic 1905 Fire Hall with vintage fire trucks that exude turn-of-the-century style, and last but not least there is a penny arcade!
The 1920s street is the last of the historic Edmonton journey, but I thought it was lacking the most. It has a Ukrainian store, an ice cream shop, and a movie theater. The movie theater was just built recently, and has a 4 D movie about the history of Alberta. The movie is a real highlight of the park. As for the rest of the 1920s row, it’s interesting historically, because one expects the roaring 1920s landscape that we are used to hearing about in the States- the mob, prohibition, it was a crazy time! However, the curators of this park want to keep it very historically accurate, and the 1920s were not that roaring in Canada…it shows!
Overall, Fort Edmonton Park was a blast, as well as educational. I wish that other places in the world gave their city this living-history treatment, it is truly unique and a really fun day. The park is a great experience that I wouldn’t want anyone visiting Edmonton to miss!