Closer to Home: a picnic in Hawrelak Park

Editor’s note: once a week here at Transforming Edmonton we’ve been sharing some of our favourite places in the city. The pandemic has shortened the travel horizon for many. And that’s okay, because there are plenty of gems in different parts of our city that are worth a visit. Each week a different City of Edmonton team member gives you a story about a fave spot closer to home. This is Lawretta Hart’s view.

A picnic in Edmonton is one of my favorite things to do in the summer. I believe an ideal picnic is having a great location, inviting a few close people, having a game plan and having some delicious food and drinks.

Here is a picnic pic from a recent visit to Hawrelak Park.

My picnic still life at Hawrelak Park

The perfect picnic

To have the perfect picnic, preparation is key. It took me a few weeks to prepare and get all my essentials and I am glad it all turned out great! I wanted a traditional picnic basket so I spent a lot of time searching various stores and online markets. I found my perfect basket on Facebook Marketplace.

I also wanted to be cost efficient, so I recycled an old blanket. I had to bring my favorite board game (Ludo) so I could have some fun time in between eating and discussing.

It’s important to choose a spot that’s flat, offers a great view, and has a few trees to provide shade. I made sure I packed my bug spray to protect me from the mosquitoes and my throw pillow so I could rest on a soft surface.

My mom ❤️

The first time my mom visited me in Edmonton, I took her to Hawrelak Park. She immediately fell in love with the scenery. Visiting the park became our every year summer tradition. She was unable to visit this year because of the travel restrictions. So, we phoned her when we got to the park and had a virtual picnic—we in Hawrelak, she in Nigeria. 

It made me feel closer to home.

The magnificent New Life… New Beginnings sculpture by Richard Tosczak greets visitors at the entrance to Hawrelak Park.

My favourite thing to see when driving into the park is the “New Life… New Beginnings” sculpture by Richard Tosczak. It reminds me of my mom and a mother’s love for her child.

There are other mothers and daughters in the park, too.

Here is a memorial garden dedicated to the wife of former Edmonton mayor William Hawrelak. This garden caught my attention because of all the beautiful and colorful flowers around the stone. For me, the flowers represent life even in death.

Memorial garden dedication, Hawrelak Park

Commemorative trees and plaques

Wandering around the park, I found some commemorative plaques and trees planted by various individuals to honor their loved ones. This is a great way to remember and preserve the memories of people we love.

On the City’s website, there’s more info about the commemorative tree program:

Make a list

At the beginning of every year, I make a list of activities to do and places to visit in summer. This year, my list consisted of local places and activities. Visiting Borden, Dawson and Hawrelak parks were my favourite things to do because I learned something new every time I visited. 

These parks are too big for me to cover in one day, so I visited multiple times and each time there were always new things to see or hidden or private picture spots to find. Pro tip: when searching for local activities, my go-to is the City of Edmonton activities, parks & recreation webpage. It is very detailed and updated regularly.

I also have a cookies policy during picnics!

Best experience this summer ?

Picnicking in Hawrelak Park was my best experience this summer.

I chose my favourite hat because it’s very wide and effective against the sun. And it complements my sundress. ?

I chose this picnic spot with no chairs because I love nature. Being on the ground, feeling the earth, hearing the sound of the trees as the wind blows and seeing the insects helps me connect with nature.

Hawrelak Park has taught me that connecting with nature every once in a while is a type of well-being intervention.

More on Hawrelak

If you’re planning to have a different type of picnic ( large family party or a BBQ with friends), Hawrelak Park has the facilities available. It is a great place to get away from the city without having to leave the city. 

Hawrelak Park is located at 9330 Groat Rd. You can find more information and how to book a picnic site here.

Editor’s notes: The pic at the top of the post was taken on August 16 at the entrance to William Hawrelak Park. Remember, if you’re hosting a gathering, there are some easy tips from Dr. Deena Hinshaw to make it a safe one.