Begin your historic tour right where the city originated, at Fort Edmonton Park. Travel back in time aboard a steam train, buggy or streetcar and then step into the authentically re-created streets of 1846, 1885, 1905 and 1920 for a full sensory experience of what life was like long before digital technologies. Try your hand at bartering with a merchant to get the best return for your furs, ride an antique midway attraction, sample freshly baked bannock, and chat with costumed interpreters about life in the past.
Next on your list of stops should be the Royal Alberta Museum, a must-see for historic enthusiasts. Discover the treasures of Alberta’s cultural and geological past with the museum’s three permanent exhibits showcasing everything from pictographs to prehistoric plant-eaters. The Syncrude Gallery of Aboriginal Culture is one of the largest explorations of First People’s history on the continent, with stories spanning 11,000 years and more than 3,000 artifacts. And there are plenty of programs for the kids, including the interactive Field Station that gives visitors the opportunity to fill the shoes of a scientist.
[NOTE: The Royal Alberta Museum is currently closed while they pack and move to their new downtown location, slated to open in 2018.]
Ever wonder what it is like to sit inside a Cold War jet fighter? The Alberta Aviation Museum has your opportunity. Discover why Alberta has been deemed the “Gateway to the North” at this museum that showcases the incredible progress of technology and the culture of flight through informative tours, rare artifacts and interactive exhibits. Ask about the time when Edmonton Mayor Joe Clarke threw the opening pitch for a baseball game… may be worth mentioning that he did so from the passenger seat of ‘Wop’ May’s airplane as it flew over the field and then under the High Level Bridge.
You can take a ride across the same 100-year-old bridge that ‘Wop’ flew under in a beautifully refurbished streetcar dating back to the early 1900s. Each streetcar in the Edmonton Radial Rail Society's fleet has its own unique history, and are all refurbished from different parts of the world, with names like Osaka #247 or the ex-Melbourne tram #930. Get off at any stop you want, and keep returning until you've ridden them all! The High Level Bridge Streetcar takes you right from the Alberta Legislature in downtown Edmonton over to one of Edmonton’s most historic neighborhoods, Old Strathcona.
Go waaaayyy back to one the kids will never stop talking about. Visit Jurassic Forest, located just 15 minutes outside of Edmonton, and witness life-size and startlingly realistic dinosaurs in this prehistoric preserve. Visitors can enjoy guided safaris, observe dinosaurs in action, dig for ancient remains and explore 2 km of discovery trails through an old-growth forest.
Any historic itinerary wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village. Explore over 30 historic structures that depict the history of east central Alberta and tell the story of Ukrainian immigrants who settled in this region in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Interact with costumed role players who re-enact the historic routines and activities of real-life Ukrainian pioneers. Smell fresh bread baking in a traditional pich (clay oven), hear the clanging of a blacksmith at work on his forge, play a game of horseshoes with the kids or help a farmer tend to his heirloom garden.
The funny thing about history is we rely on stories passed down from those who are no longer with us... or maybe they are? Take an Edmonton Ghost Tour and explore your supernatural side. Be sure to keep your eye out for otherworldly sightings–there are more than a few stories about spirits that have been haunting Edmonton neighbourhoods!