Pick-a-Park with City Council 

With more than 875 parks across Edmonton, there’s so much to explore close to home! 

Throughout summer 2023, City Council is sharing some of their favourite local parks. Each week, a different council member will Pick-a-Park.

Share your own park pick with us on socials, by using hashtag #PickAParkYeg and tagging:

Twitter: @yegparks @CityofEdmonton

Facebook: @YEGParks @cityofedmonton

Instagram: @yeg_parks @cityofedmonton

ᐄᓃᐤ (ÎNÎW) River Lot 11∞ Indigenous Art Park

Mayor Amarjeet Sohi’s Pick-a-Park

One of Canada’s first outdoor curated Indigenous art parks stands amidst the forest on the south side of the river valley, overlooking the Walterdale Bridge and downtown Edmonton. 

How’d it get its name?

The name ᐄᓃᐤ (ÎNÎW), pronounced (EE-NU), is a Cree word meaning “I am of the Earth.” The importance of giving a name in the language native to the area is to acknowledge its historical significance and proclaim the ancestral lands of the Indigenous Peoples. A Treaty signed between the Indigenous and the British Crown resulted in the territory being opened for settlement. 

The River Lot 11 in the park name helps tell the story of the historic river lot that was in this very location. 

Sketch of Joe McDonald, 1890. Artist unknown. Photo supplied by City of Edmonton Archives EA-10-2972.

Lot 11 stretched from the North Saskatchewan River to University Avenue, and from 104 to 107 Street. It was home to Métis settlers Joseph McDonald and Margaret Fraser. They began homesteading there in 1878, after the family made a personal agreement with the Papaschase Cree for the use of the land. As some of the first settlers on the south side of the river, the couple farmed the land while raising their family. Joseph also worked trading furs and hauling cargo for the Hudson’s Bay Company.  

As the city grew, many of the river lots began to be sold off and subdivided to create places for housing and amenities. 

Plan of Edmonton Settlement NWT created in 1913, image from City of Edmonton Archives. Click to view larger map

In 1907, Edmonton contracted Canada’s first landscape architect, Frederick Todd to suggest what a parks system could look like here. 

Frederic Gage Todd, 1942 © Archives de la Ville de Montréal | City of Montréal Archives / CA M001 VM094-Y-1-17-D1041

He proposed the City should create a “necklace of parks” and reserve land at the top of the bank for people to take in the natural beauty of the river valley below. Between 1907 and 1931, Edmonton’s Engineering Department acquired river valley and ravine lands. Many public parks were developed out of these lands.

Frederick Todd’s 1907 report to the City of Edmonton on developing parkland.
Click to read the full letter

A large parkland from Walterdale Hill to 91 Avenue between the river and top of the valley was created and known as Riverside Park. It became the home to Edmonton’s first swimming pool, the Southside Pool, built in 1922. In 1939, Edmonton City Council renamed the park and pool to Queen Elizabeth in honour of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth’s visit to Edmonton.

Queen Elizabeth Swimming Pool in 1931, photo supplied by City of Edmonton Archives

More than half a century later, high maintenance costs and a big crack in the pool basin forced the pool to permanently close in 2004. There is evidence of the pool remaining today—it’s a wall along the footprint of the original Queen Elizabeth outdoor pool that features a quote from a swimmer.

Beginning in 2013, the City of Edmonton, Confederacy of Treaty No.6 First Nations, Métis Nation of Alberta, Edmonton Arts Council and Indigenous artists partnered together to develop the permanently exhibited Indigenous artworks for the park. It was curated by Candice Hopkins of the Carcross Tagish First Nation, Gaanax.âdi clan who is a noted scholar and artist who has held curatorial positions at IAIA Museum of Contemporary Native Arts (MoCNA) in Santa Fe, New Mexico, National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa, Canada and Walter Philips Gallery in Banff, Alberta. 

“Through beauty, skill and creative vision, the Indigenous Art Park strikes an important balance between celebrating Indigenous artistry and illustrating the colonial history of the land where we call home,” says Mayor Amarjeet Sohi. “This special place provides Edmontonians with an opportunity to connect with one another about public art, and it sparks important conversations about reconciliation and our relationships to the land. The Indigenous Art Park holds space for all of us to learn about and honour the diverse Indigenous cultures, traditions and stories that have shaped Edmonton’s social identity here on Treaty 6 territory for centuries.”

What’s there?

Queen Elizabeth Park is  home to picnic areas, trails, public washrooms, a playground and ᐄᓃᐤ (ÎNÎW) River Lot 11∞. The art park opened in the fall of 2018, featuring six permanent works by local Indigenous artists. “The stories of This Place” is the theme of the park and its art, offering a range of perspectives on how various Indigenous Peoples relate to the space, both historically and today. A paved trail weaves throughout the park to reveal the various works of art. 

ᐄᓃᐤ (ÎNÎW) River Lot 11∞ Indigenous Art Park pavillion and park space.

The 2018 work “REIGN” by Mary Anne Barkhouse pays respect to the nature of the land and the original inhabitants of this territory. The bronze and granite sculpture includes representations of dinosaurs, coyotes and hares.  

Reign Sculpture by Mary Anne Barkhouse, located in ᐄᓃᐤ (ÎNÎW) River Lot 11∞ Indigenous Art Park

It wouldn’t be surprising if you also saw an actual snowshoe hare in the park too. You’ll know them by their long, broad, furry feet and their bunny ears. In the summer, their coats are rusty to grayish brown with a black line down their backs, white belly and dark ear tips. In the winter their fur turns almost entirely white, except for black eyelids and black eartips. These little creatures are solitary, but some share overlapping home ranges. They’re important prey, critical to maintaining the diversity of boreal forest ecosystems.

Snowshoe hares can run as fast as 45 kilometres per hour and travel three metres in one hop. They’re not just good on land, they are also excellent swimmers.

Visit ᐄᓃᐤ (ÎNÎW) River Lot 11∞ Indigenous Art Park just down the hill from Saskatchewan Drive in Old Strathcona or access it from any direction on paved shared pathways as well as from Queen Elizabeth Park Road. There is a parking lot with curb cuts making the site accessible.

Heritage Valley District Park

Councillor Jennifer Rice’s Pick-a-Park

An expansive park taking shape in the south end of Alberta’s capital city, complete with an abundance of nature, sports facilities, a rec centre and schools.

How’d it get its name?

The area was established in 2001 when Edmonton City Council opted for the overall development of the area, called the Heritage Valley Servicing Concept Design Brief. The neighbourhood names in Heritage Valley came from notable Edmontonians of the last century. In 2012, the City’s naming committee worked from a list of 100 notable Edmontonians who had an impact on the city within the last 100 years to name the 15 new neighbourhoods. The names they settled on included: 

“Graydon Hill” after Rosetta Graydon, who founded the Edmonton Humane Society. Paisley for the Edmonton International Fringe founder Brian Paisley. “Hays Ridge” after palliative care pioneer Dr. Helen Hays.

Rosetta Graydon, the founder of the Edmonton Humane Society. Photo credit: City of Edmonton Archives.
The neighbourhoods of Graydon Hill, Hays Ridge and Paisley are located in the northwest corner of Heritage Valley.

What’s there?

This park is currently being completed. Already available is the Dr. Anne Anderson High School and Community Centre, which opened in 2021. Inside the centre is a gymnasium, 200-metre running track and fitness centre, plus studios for dance and yoga. 

Exterior of Dr. Anne Anderson High School and Community Centre.

Outdoor sports fields and basketball courts by the school are open. Meanwhile, a Catholic high school, multiple sports fields and other open space amenities are currently in the works, all being connected by paved pathways throughout. 

“Green spaces are vital to support vibrant neighbourhoods,” says Councillor Jennifer Rice. “That’s why it’s so exciting to see Heritage Valley District Park taking shape.”

When the extension of the Capital Line LRT to the south is complete, this park will be just a five-minute walk from the LRT station.

Open sports field.
Concept plan for Heritage Valley District Park.

Throughout the park, native trees and plants will complete the naturalized landscaping. The tamarack tree will be planted throughout the park. The tamarack tree is also known as a “larch” and can grow upwards of 20 metres tall. During the spring and summer months, it may appear like an evergreen tree but come fall, you’re in for a surprise. The thin needles turn a golden yellow, before dropping off in the winter months.

Newly planted Tamarack trees.

Visit Heritage Valley District Park, via James Mowatt Trail SW between 30 & 35 Avenue SW in northeast Edmonton.

Hermitage Park

Councillor Aaron Paquette’s Pick-a-Park

The oval-shaped Hermitage Park is located in the northeast end of the city, stretching nearly three kilometres along the bank of the North Saskatchewan River. It’s full of options for all kinds of adventures from disc golf, art viewing to catching a fish or two.  

How’d it get its name?

The area was named “the home of the hermit” by Reverend Canon William Newton. The Anglican missionary emigrated from England in 1870. 

Canon William Newton circa 1897.
Photo credit: Provincial Archives of Alberta, B9560.

Unable to afford accommodations in Edmonton,  Newton decided to settle along the North Saskatchewan River, what is now northeast Edmonton, at approximately Clareview Road and 129 Avenue. He founded The Parish of All Saints in 1875 and was issued a land grant in March 1894.

The land grant issued to Reverend William Newton for Hermitage on March 12, 1894. Photo credit: City of Edmonton Archives.

There he built a church, home and hospital. 

The hospital building at Hermitage. Photo credit: City of Edmonton Archives.

What’s there?

The large parkland is filled with some paved pathways plus some natural trails. The parking lots provide pick-up and drop-off sites as well as curb cuts to ensure rolling strollers and mobility aids are able to access the park via paved pathways. Hermitage Park has one picnic site available for reservation during the summer, with 24 drop-in picnic tables for no-fee use.

The 18-hole Hermitage Disc Golf Course is on the south end of the park. It opened in 2021 for Edmontonians to try aiming and throwing a plastic disc at a target. How many throws it takes for a player to reach each target is tallied. The winner is the player who needs the fewest number of total throws to score. Just like golf! 

At the centre of the park is the stocked fishing pond, free for public use. Rainbow trout are added to the water and anglers with an Alberta Sport Fishing Licence are welcome to catch up to five fish each. Non-motorized watercrafts are allowed on the main pond, including canoes, kayaks and rowboats, but people can also fish right off the dock. Boats and fishing tackle are not provided. 

Fishing pond in Hermitage Park.

All around the various ponds, plants are used to stabilize the slopes along water banks and prevent erosion, as part of the City’s naturalization activities.

On the north shore of the fishing pond is the sculpture entitled Pillar of Love, which is a bronze statue made by local artist Barbara Eichner-Shaw in 1989. It is to memorialize the devastation caused by the massive tornado that ripped through Edmonton on July 31, 1987, killing 27 people. The artwork depicts several human figures embracing in a circle to acknowledge the suffering experienced, as well as the contributions of the workers and volunteers involved in the rescue, recovery and rebuilding process. 

Barbara Eichner-Shaw’s sculpture, Pillar of Love, stands on the north shore of the fishing pond.

There is also an off-leash dog area at the north end of the park, complete with wooden picnic tables and benches, dog waste bag dispensers and waste receptacles.

The off-leash dog area in Hermitage Park.

Throughout the park, you may be able to spot rose hips. They are the fruit of the native wild rose plant. The nickel-sized berries appear after the blooms have dropped from the plant. They ripen red in August and September and are best eaten then—but spit out the seeds because the inside of the seed contains tiny hairs that are irritating if ingested. The low bushy shrub is common in open woods and fields throughout the prairies. It’s an important food source for snowshoe hares, rodents and deer.

Rosehips dot Hermitage Park.

“Hermitage Park is one of the best-kept secrets in our City—a true hidden gem in the Northeast,” says Councillor Aaron Paquette. “This unique and gorgeous park is an amazing spot to see a variety of migrating birds pass through. But if it’s fish you’re more interested in, the stock ponds are a great place to drop a line. The large, open spaces make it a favourite choice for family picnics. My family loves the dog park, which is second to none! You are guaranteed to meet a lot of cool people and pups.”

Visit Hermitage Park, just north of the Yellowhead Trail on the west banks of the North Saskatchewan River, in northeast Edmonton.

Jan Reimer Park

Councillor Sarah Hamilton’s Pick-a-Park

The nearly 200-acre park sits between the Fort Edmonton Footbridge and Terwillegar Park Footbridge in the westend of the city. 

How’d it get its name?

The park has existed longer than its current name. It was called Oleskiw River Valley Park at first, which is the name of a nearby neighbourhood. 

Cyclist rides along the path in Jan Reimer Park.

Then in 2021, it was announced the park would be renamed to celebrate the first woman elected mayor of Alberta’s capital city, Jan Reimer.

Jan Reimer attending the Edmonton Historical Board Recognition Awards at Fort Edmonton Park on September 10, 1981. Photo credit: City of Edmonton Archives.

Reimer was elected to city council in 1980, then re-elected in 1983 and 1986. In 1989, she ran for mayor and won. She was re-elected for a second term as mayor in 1992. 

During her time on council, Reimer advocated for changing the title of alderman to councillor to be more inclusive. She worked to improve how the City managed waste, including eco stations and the collection of recyclable materials.

She helped to establish the Edmonton Arts Council and the Aboriginal Advisory Committee, which is now the Indigenous Relations Office. She was also a part of initiatives to improve the water quality of the North Saskatchewan River, to preserve the river valley and extend the trail system. 

“Jan Reimer is a true trailblazer,” says Councillor Sarah Hamilton. “So it’s fitting that a park in Edmonton’s legendary river valley, a vital natural resource she championed during her time on City Council, is preserved in her name.” 

Since leaving municipal government, she has been leading the Alberta Council of Women’s Shelters as executive director.

Naming Committee approval and map of Jan Reimer Park.

What’s there?

A paved path runs through the large parkland south of the Fort Edmonton Footbridge to the Terwillegar Park Footbridge. 

With naturalization efforts in place, many native trees and plants flourish here, running alongside the Edmonton Country Club and golf course. There are some newly planted forests and existing mature woodlands. The towering stands of balsam poplar, trembling aspen and white spruce form a protective barrier along the riverbanks, helping prevent erosion and contributing to the park’s ecological integrity. 

The park plays an important role as a sanctuary for diverse animal and plant species as a surviving grassland. The expansive park can be accessed from a gravel path off of Woodward Crescent NW, where there is a curb cut, or from Terwillegar Park, Whitemud Road via the Fort Edmonton Footbridge or the Wolf Willow Ravine.

Fort Edmonton Footbridge connecting the east to the west side of the river and onto Jan Reimer Park.

Along the path, you may catch a glimpse of a small resident of the park, the plains garter snake. Also called a grass snake, it’s native to North America. You’ll know it by the orange stripe along the top of its back and yellowish-green stripe on each side of its body.

A plains garter snake along the path in Jan Reimer Park.

The small, nonvenomous reptile usually grows to just 100 cm long. The snake eats insects, earthworms and amphibians. If handled, they struggle and give off a foul, musky smell—best to enjoy them from a distance. You won’t see them in the wintertime, as they hibernate after finding a warm place, which can be a rocky spot, an old animal burrow, or human-made structures.

Visit Jan Reimer Park between the Fort Edmonton and Terwillegar Park Footbridges in southwest Edmonton.

Mactaggart Sanctuary

Councillor Tim Cartmell’s Pick-a-Park

More than 100 hectares of nature with many winding rugged footpaths in this wilderness are tucked in the valley separating the Magrath Heights and Twin Brooks communities between 23 Avenue NW and Anthony Henday Drive.

Sign at the north end of Mactaggart Sanctuary.

How’d it get its name?

The parkland was donated to the City by local developer Sandy Mactaggart more than 30 years ago. 

Mactaggart was born in Glasgow, Scotland in 1928 to a wealthy family. When he was 11 years old WWII broke out and he was sent to Canada. After the war, he attended Harvard to study architecture, followed by a master’s degree in business. 

How’d it get its name?

The park is named after John Alexander McDougall. He moved out from Ontario in 1897 to open Edmonton’s first general store on Jasper Avenue. He went into business with Richard Secord that same year, and together they ran a fur trading business in competition with the Hudson’s Bay Company. McDougall & Secord Ltd. became known as a trading and real estate investment company.

While attending the Ivy League school, he became friends with a French student Jean de La Bruyère. The pair had big aspirations and after graduating, set off for Edmonton in 1952. Within two years, they had launched a development company, combining their last names to make: Maclab. 

The Maclab company was involved in developing the subdivisions of Gold Bar, Ottewell, Delton, Hermitage and Twin Brooks. During this time, Mactaggart acquired the land where the sanctuary is today. When he bought the land, he promised the previous owner it would remain untouched. Little is known about the person Mactaggart purchased the land from, but local lore says the man lived in a shack insulated by newspapers. 

Sandy Mactaggart officially transferred the land title to the City of Edmonton in 2010 to make the land available to all Edmontonians to enjoy. 

“Finding balance between development and the preservation of natural places is the legacy of Mactaggart Sanctuary,” says Councillor Cartmell. “By having parkland woven into our neighbourhoods, residents can get into nature just outside their front door.”

A rugged dirt path running through Mactaggart Sanctuary. 

What’s there?

The protected nature reserve has unimproved walking trails throughout it. The Whitemud and Blackmud Creeks meet at the far north end of the sanctuary where the Smith Crossing Pedestrian Bridge overlooks the waterways, just before 23 Avenue. The bridge is currently under construction until Fall 2023, temporarily limiting access from the north end of the park. 

Construction underway to improve the Smith Crossing Pedestrian Bridge.

A paved path, along the top of the valley in the west-side Magrath Heights neighbourhood, has a few access points to lead you down into the nature sanctuary. The trails on the east-side Twin Brooks side of the valley are gravel.

Joggers enjoying the paved trail in the Magrath Heights neighbourhood.

Throughout the nature preserve is the trembling aspen. It’s the most widely distributed tree in North America. The native tree with smooth, light green or whitish bark is abundant throughout Alberta and can grow up to 30 metres tall.

Aspen trees in Mactaggart Sanctuary.

The trembling aspen gets its name from the way the leaves flutter or tremble in even a slight breeze. The hardy tree has an extensive root system, allowing it to regrow or even expand after fires, insect outbreaks or short-term droughts.

Visit the Mactaggart Sanctuary at 820 119 St NW in south Edmonton.

Central McDougall Park

Councillor Anne Stevenson’s Pick-a-Park

In one of Edmonton’s oldest neighbourhoods, this rectangular park is just north of the downtown core. “Throughout the decades, this park has provided a place for everyone to gather, relax and play,” says Councillor Anne Stevenson.

McDougall & Secord building in 1907. Photo credit: City of Edmonton Archives.

The company also did major business in buying “Métis scrip.” Scrip was a system devised by the Canadian government in 1870 and was given to Métis people for their land rights. McDougall and Secord bought scrip from Métis people, at times below its value, and then re-sold it at a profit. 

Métis scrip issued for the purchase of Dominion lands, 1905. Photo credit: Library and Archives Canada/Wikimedia CC.

With this business and their other ventures, McDougall and Secord became millionaires by the time Alberta became a province in 1905. 

The ambitious McDougall went on to establish the Edmonton Board of Trade, becoming its first president. He was elected to Edmonton’s City Council in 1894 and 1895. He served two terms as mayor in 1897 and 1908. In 1909, he ran for a seat as a Liberal MLA for Edmonton and won. 

John A. McDougall in 1910. Photo credit: Edmonton Public School Board Archives.

What’s there?

Paved sidewalks criss-cross from each corner of the rectangular park on 109 Avenue between 107 and 106 Street. Curb cuts are installed on all four corners of the park joining to the paved pathways, providing access to the greenspace. The park is full of activity with a playground, spray park, volleyball court, two brick gazebos, many benches and picnic tables, plus numerous trees.

Part of the playground at Central McDougall Park.

These trees make a great home for the red squirrel—a native species to Alberta. Although small, approximately 30 cm, these little creatures are very territorial, feisty and chatty. The squirrel uses its  big bushy tail to balance on tree branches and to flick around and intimidate rivals. You’ll see them active during the day all throughout the year as they do not hibernate. Instead they keep busy gathering and eating seeds and nuts, mushrooms, flowers, fruits and insects.

Red squirrel. Photo courtesy Wikimedia CC.

Along the south end of the park is a wide shared pathway, connecting to more than 160 kilometres of this infrastructure across Edmonton, ensuring all ages and abilities can walk, roll and cycle safely away from motor vehicle traffic.

Sign for shared pathway along the south end of Central McDougall Park.

Just across from the shared path and park along 109 Avenue is one of the City’s 20 water bottle-filling stations. Connected to a fire hydrant, the hydration station provides access to free, clean, safe drinking water throughout the summer. The program launched with five stations in 2021.

Water bottle filling station just south of Central McDougall Park.

Visit Central McDougall Park at 10630 109 Ave NW, just north of downtown Edmonton.

Sohan Singh Bhullar Park

Councillor Keren Tang’s Pick-a-Park

A triangular pocket park tucked in the southwest corner of Mill Woods, roughly the size of three tennis courts.

How’d it get its name?

The park is named after an early immigrant to Canada, Sohan Singh Bhullar. When he was just 18, he came to Canada in 1907 from the agricultural province of Punjab, India. He started out in British Columbia, before moving to Lethbridge, Alberta, where he worked on a farm. Later he bought and farmed his own land. 

He married Effie Jones in 1926, a Black Canadian whose family had moved from the U.S.to farm in the Athabasca region as founding families of Amber Valley, about 160 km north of Edmonton. Together, Sohan and Effie had seven children. In 1953, he and his family settled in Edmonton.

Sohan Singh Bhullar and Effie Jones with their daughter Helen in 1928. Photo credit: Poushali Mitra from Helen Heslep’s family collection.

The family supported many South Asian immigrants and students in Edmonton in the 1950s and 1960s, housing and helping them as they transitioned into Canadian society and the workforce. Sohan continued this work up until his death in 1968.

Seventeen years later in 1985, Bhullar Park was unveiled. As the South Asian population in Edmonton began to expand, adding his full name to the park and sign was deemed necessary to celebrate the specific man and his special community contributions. The updated park name of Sohan Singh Bhullar was approved in 2011 by the Naming Committee and made official in June 2013.

“Sohan Singh Bhullar Park is a quiet, small park tucked away in Richfield. The last time I was there was to join the community in a vigil for a Sikh international student tragically killed in Nova Scotia,” says Councillor Keren Tang.

“The park has significant meaning particularly to the South Asian community. Sohan played a huge role, along with his wife Effie and children, in building the community and interculturalism here in Edmonton. Sohan Singh Bhullar Park is a great example of how ‘Names can help a community feel seen,’ as the Let’s Find Out podcast said on an episode dedicated to this park, and making sure Edmonton continues to be a welcoming city for everyone.”

Park sign at Sohan Singh Bhullar Park.

What’s there?

The triangular grass park has evergreen and elm trees throughout. Paved pathways line all three sides of the park, connecting residents and visitors to the neighbourhood schools and amenities nearby.

The black-billed magpie enjoys this park too. Their head, tail and much of their wings are black with hints of iridescent blue or green. Flashes of white are on their sides. They can grow up to half a metre long (45-60 cm) from tip to tail, with their tails making up half of their total body length.

A young black-billed magpie.

The magpie has been around the Edmonton area for three to four million years. These birds are descendants of a group of Eurasian magpies who crossed the Bering land bridge. Early on, the birds dined on ticks carried by bison. 

Buffalo in Banff National Park, Alberta in 1890s. Photo credit: Glenbow Library and Archives Collection, Libraries and Cultural Resources Digital Collections, University of Calgary.

Now they live in the western half of North America year-round. The clever and resourceful birds stick close to humans and their habitats for food. 

Visit the Sohan Singh Bhullar Park at 8603 38 Avenue in southeast Edmonton, just south of Whitemud Drive.  

Fulton Creek Marshland

Councillor Jo-Anne Wright’s Pick-a-Park

A 21-hectare wetland tucked between the neighbourhoods of Tamarack and Maple in southeast Edmonton, just south of Whitemud Drive.

How’d it get its name?

The name comes from the homestead built by the Fulton family. Leander Fulton came out west from Nova Scotia in 1883 and settled on traditional lands of Cree, Blackfoot, Métis, Tsuu T’ina and Dene Peoples. A year later, he was joined by his wife and children.

The family’s farm was near a creek in the area which is now called Clover Bar. The waterway got to be known as Fulton Creek and the marsh upstream that fed it also got the name Fulton.

The Fulton farmhouse overlooking the road crossing Fulton Ravine. Photo taken 1931. Photo credit: City of Edmonton Archives.

As Edmonton grew, the upstream wetland was drained purposely in the 1990s to make way for the Maple community development.

Houses in the Maple neighbourhood lining the east side of Fulton Creek Marsh.

The marsh was reconstructed in 1997-1999 when upgrades to the roadway, Whitemud Drive, were done. The reason to reestablish the wetland was to store stormwater and reduce downstream flooding of Fulton Creek, which flows north from the marsh all the way to the North Saskatchewan River.

Marshes are great at preventing flooding, it’s part of their natural design. They are a type of wetland and are exactly what they sound like, land that is wet. Other kinds of wetlands include bogs, fens and swamps.

Marshes sometimes have standing or slow moving water in them, sometimes they don’t. The water levels fluctuate by season and even can dry out periodically. This allows the wetland to collect excess water and prevent flooding, which also helps minimize soil erosion. When water enters a marshland, the cattails and floating vegetation help filter and trap nutrients and neutralize contaminants.

One of many bird houses dotting the edge of the water of Fulton Creek Marsh.

Once the Fulton Creek area was returned to marshland, it was protected officially in 1998 to conserve the native plants and support the wildlife.

“The Fulton Creek Marshland is an example of how preserving and weaving green space into the fabric of our neighbourhoods has major benefits,” says Councillor Wright. “The City’s commitment to keep Fulton Creek Marshland thriving ensures flooding is prevented, biodiversity is supported and community members have spaces to be active for generations to come.”

What’s there?

Various types of waterfowl nest, feed and rest in the area along with several amphibian and small mammal species. Deer, coyotes and muskrats have been seen in the marshland.

The common cattail is a plant that flourishes at Fulton Creek Marsh. Cattails live for multiple seasons in freshwater. Cattails have long blade-like leaves that grow one to three metres tall. The completely edible plant doesn’t have brightly coloured petals, instead they are brown and densely packed at the top of the stems. 

The native plant, the common cattail growing in Fulton Creek Marsh.

A paved path runs along the south and east side of the marsh with benches along it. There are five entry points from the surrounding neighbourhoods to get to the edge of the wetland.

A paved path from the Maple neighbourhood to Fulton Creek Marsh.

Curb cuts providing access for mobility aids and strollers are on the south end of the park. An informal dirt trail runs along the north and west side of the wetland’s perimeter. 

Visit the Fulton Creek Marshland at Maple Road NW between 12 Street and Maple Way NW in southeast Edmonton. 

Borden Park

Councillor Ashley Salvador’s Pick-a-Park

More than 100 years old, the rectangular Borden Park stretches close to a kilometre alongside 112 Avenue in east central Edmonton, and is filled with space to explore, exercise and relax.  

How’d it get its name?

The park was on the edge of the city when it opened back in 1906 and it had a different name — East End Park. In 1914, the park got its current name to mark a visit to Alberta’s capital city by Robert Borden, Canada’s eighth prime minister. 

You can see Borden on the Canadian one-hundred-dollar bill. 

$100 polymer note featuring Sir Robert Borden.
Photo credit: Bank of Canada.

The park was a popular place for Edmontonians to visit throughout the 1920s and could draw up to 7,000 people in a day. There was a midway, complete with “The Green Rattler” wooden roller coaster, one of the city’s first outdoor pools and the city’s first zoo. 

The Green Rattler Roller Coaster and Borden Park Swimming Pool
in the 1920s. Photo credit: Glenbow Archives.

The park started to decline after a fire damaged some of the park attractions. The roller coaster closed in 1935, while the Edmonton Zoo stuck around a couple more decades before being torn down in the late 1950s to make way for an expansion of Northlands. The current Valley Zoo was built as a replacement.

Bear at Borden Park Zoo in 1931. Photo credit: Edmonton Archives.

It took seven decades, but in 2006 a plan was hatched to reinvigorate Borden Park. The revitalization process got underway in early 2011. 

What’s there?

Many pathways throughout the park are continuous, unobstructed routes easily enjoyed and explored by people living with a disability. There are wheelchair accessible drop-off and pick-up spots with curb cuts in the parking area to allow mobility aids to roll more easily onto the pathways. Inside the mesmerising mirrored Borden Park Pavilion is a public washroom accessible to wheelchairs.

Mirrored pavilion with a wheelchair accessible washroom.

The paved pathways weave between the wilderness-themed playground, a formal flower garden, ball diamonds, the Municipal Historic Resource bandshell for concerts built back in 1956, tennis courts and a soccer field. Plus, there’s lots of grass and shade to just relax in or have a picnic. Borden Park has countless benches and picnic tables, plus four group picnic sites available for reservation during the summer.

Some of the pathways running throughout Borden Park. 
Map of Borden Park.

The park is also home to various public art works, thanks to the Edmonton Arts Council. This includes the distinctive, towering and wildly colourful sculpture, Vaulted Willow (known as ​“Willow”) by American artist Marc Fornes. It’s made of 721 aluminum stripes with 14,000-plus aluminum rivets.

Vaulted Willow by artist Marc Fornes installed in Borden Park.

Borden Park also has a constructed natural swimming pool. The first of its kind in Canada. It’s designed with a beach entry, meaning there is a very slight slope into the pool, providing visitors with a long, slow, gradual entry making it accessible for all abilities. A water wheelchair is also available for use. The pool is chemical-free and is cleaned using layered rock filters, wetland plant beds and UV rays from the sun to disinfect the water.

Borden Natural Swimming Pool beach entry.

“The long, varied history of this park is an example of how Edmonton continues striving to make places to be enjoyed and accessed by many. As Exhibition Lands grows up around it, it will continue to be cherished for years to come,” says Councillor Ashley Salvador. “Whether you’re into sports, live music, visual art, the great outdoors, or Canada’s only naturally filtered public pool, Borden Park has something for everyone.”

Visit the Borden Park along 112 Avenue between 73 and 78 Street in east central Edmonton. 

Norwester Park

Councillor Andrew Knack’s Pick-a-Park

The square park in northwest Edmonton, just inside the Yellowhead Trail, is about the size of the Oilers’ home arena, Rogers Place. The park opened in 1973.

How’d it get its name?

The whole area surrounding the park is Norwester Industrial, a name referencing the fur trade industry in early Edmonton. The workers for the North West Trading Company were known as Nor’westers. The fur trading company started in 1780, exchanging manufactured goods with Indigenous Peoples for pelts and furs. There was stiff competition between the Hudson’s Bay and Northwest Company until they joined together in 1821. 

Skin Lodges of the Dog Ribb Indians in Front of the Hudson Bay.
Company’s Fort, Great Slave Lake. Circa 1901. Photo credit: City of Edmonton Archives.

As the neighbourhood name, Norwester Industrial, implies, today there is industry and many businesses in the area. It’s home to the offices of Treaty 8 First Nations of Alberta, Edmonton Opera, Edmonton Goodwill Impact Centre Outlet Store, Horizon Gymnastics and more.

Park sign at Norwester Park.

What’s there?

Since 2019, the park has become a destination for disc golfers. A nine-hole disc golf course dots the park. Also known as frisbee golf, the sport is played by aiming and throwing a plastic disc at a target, known as a basket, then throwing from where the previous toss landed, until the end destination is reached. 

The targets are made of hanging chains above a wire basket, designed to catch the discs, which fall into the basket to score. The number of throws a player takes to reach each basket is tallied. The player with the lowest number of total throws wins the round — much like golf.  

Disc in basket at Norwester Park.

The park’s two naturalization areas, full of trees, shrubs and grasses, make up about one-third of the park and help form the disc golf course. These forested sections provide shady areas for people and animals alike. The wooded areas help manage noise levels from nearby roads and provide windbreaks for snow capture and dust reduction.

Naturalization map of Norwester Park. Yellow = Naturalization zone.
Search parks near you to find out about naturalization efforts: 

One of the plants in the park is the native red osier dogwood. The perennial shrub survives the winter and blooms again each year. It can grow up to 3 metres tall. Butterflies, birds and small mammals feast on this plant and deer even graze on it year-round.

Dogwood shrub a native plant to Edmonton and resident of Norwester Park.

“Although the park name comes from colonial history and the fur trade,” says Councillor Andrew Knack, “the park itself is inclusive, fostering a place for recreation, gathering and enjoying forest spaces full of native plants by all who visit.”

Visit the Norwester Park just off 170 Street, near Yellowhead Trail in northwest Edmonton. 

Poppy Park

Councillor Erin Rutherford’s Pick-a-Park

Griesbach residents lovingly refer to the north entrance of the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) Commemorative Park as “Poppy Park.” Just off of McCrae Avenue sits four raised flower beds, full of soon-to-be-blooming poppy plants. These gardens are maintained by Partners in Parks volunteers.

The playground just a few steps away incorporates poppy flowers in its design.

The playground at Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) Commemorative Park.

The crimson flower, like the park where these flowers grow, and the surrounding streets named in honour of decorated soldiers and key military campaigns, commemorate those who have served Canada. 

“I’m so proud of the new gathering place in the ward – Poppy Park in Griesbach. Pocket parks create an important addition to the neighbourhood to recreate, socialize, and create community identity, says Ward Anirniq’s Councillor Erin Rutherford. “Poppy Park connects our present while honouring and reflecting on our important military past.”

How’d it get its name?

The young northwest neighbourhood of Griesbach was developed in the late 2000s, with the community league founded in 2011. The name comes from the military base, CFB Griesbach, which was once on the very same site. Griesbach is the last name of a veteran of the Second Boer War, WWI and WWII. Major-General William Antrobus Griesbach later became an Edmonton council member and the mayor, and even served as a Member of Parliament and as a Senator.

Major-General William Antrobus Griesbach in 1941. Photo credit: City of Edmonton Archives.

What’s there?

The half kilometre-long RCAF Park has a playground, a walking trail running along the east side of the man-made Roundel Lake, with three military monuments dotting the park. 

Native grasses, trees and shrubs grow all around the monuments. The park’s naturalized landscaping reduces maintenance costs, stormwater runoff and risk of flooding. Plus, these plants support native pollinators, birds and wildlife to flourish.

Naturalized landscaping along the walking path at Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) Commemorative Park.

The most northern monument is the Ad Astra Plaza, a symbolic runway and a 10-metre-high stainless steel sculpture. Unveiled in 2015, the towering monument represents an aerobatic flying manoeuvre known as a “star burst.”

The 10-metre-high stainless steel sculpture Ad Astra monument at RCAF Commemorative Park.

The two other plazas further down the walking path showcase the Air Force’s ties to the city. The plaza halfway along the path is in the form of a Griffon helicopter, which is used by Tactical Helicopter Squadron. The plaza at the far south end of the park is in the shape of the famous Mosquito fighter-bomber, which was flown by the City of Edmonton Squadron during World War II. 

The RCAF Commemorative Society, Canada Lands, Castle Downs Recreation Society and the Griesbach Community League all contributed to the creation of the monuments.  

Visit the Poppy Park in the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) Commemorative Park just off of McCrae Avenue between Colonel MeBurn Road and Veterans Way

Marilyn & Richard Nichols Green

Councillor Karen Principe’s Pick-a-Park

Roughly the size of a soccer field, this tear-drop shaped park is nestled in the northeast mature neighbourhood of Delwood. The Community League was established in 1965, after many of the original area homes were built between the end of World War II and 1960.

The dark orange pin shows the location of Marilyn & Richard Nichols Green at 81 Street NW between 133 and 135 Avenues. (map)

How’d it get its name?

The park in Ward tastawiyiniwak ᑕᐢᑕᐃᐧᔨᓂᐊᐧᐠ was recently named in honour of dedicated Delwood Community volunteers, Marilyn and Richard (Dick) Nichols. For more than 50 years, the couple contributed to their neighbourhood. Marilyn passed away in 2018.

Marilyn and Dick Nichols as newlyweds.

The name plaque, created by the local community league, was unveiled on Saturday, June 17, 2023. Councillor Principe was there to celebrate with Dick. 

A large rock bears the plaque for Marilyn & Richard Nichols Green.

“This park is a testament to what it means to live and thrive in community. It is a place to visit and enjoy, relax and connect with neighbours,” says Councillor Principe. “It highlights the vital role and lasting legacy of committed community members who make a place in the city a home.” 

Councillor Karen Principe with Dick Nichols at the naming ceremony on June 17, 2023.

What’s there?

The grass pocket park has a bench and garbage receptacle tucked in its north corner. 

There are many trees and shrubs there too, including white spruce. 

This type of tree is native to Edmonton. It grows up to 15-30 metres tall and stays green year-round. It has many names including: skunk spruce, cat spruce and Black Hills spruce.

A white spruce soaks up the sun.

Visit the Marilyn & Richard Nichols Green at 81 Street NW between 133 – 135 Avenue.