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By: Marta Gold
Memories of a lush river valley
Edmonton, like most cities, is full of iconic buildings familiar to people who live here, whether for their location (the Shaw Conference Centre, built into the side of the river valley), their shape (the Flat Iron Building) or their grandeur (the Hotel Macdonald, the Magrath Mansion on Ada Boulevard).
Then there are the less familiar, but no less interesting spots, perhaps known only to those who live or work nearby. Sense of Place is a photo series celebrating these buildings, either by capturing a well-known exterior from a unique perspective, or by featuring an interesting-looking place unknown to most of us.
The subject of this week’s Sense of Place is the dominant natural feature of our city, the North Saskatchewan River and its surrounding valley. But rarely do we get the kind of perspective on the river shown in this photo, shot by part-time photographer Mariusz Sikorski.
“It’s a much different view than it is from ground level,” says Sikorski.
“We never really think about it as a whole. It is a big part of Edmonton, but you don’t really notice how it almost surrounds the downtown core.”
Sikorski shot the view from the balcony of the 21st-floor penthouse at 1 River Park, at 10135 Saskatchewan Dr., directly across the river from downtown, looking north. Working as a machinist by day, Sikorski did much of the stonework for the suite and was also asked to photograph the home’s interior.
When he stepped out on the balcony, he was struck by the view and took a series of seven or eight photos, which he stitched together into this gorgeous panorama.
“It’s a very unique view. There are a lot of high-rises along Saskatchewan Drive there, but not too many people have access to that specific view,” he says.
A light rain was falling when he shot the pictures in the spring of 2009, making the valley look all the more lush and green.
Welcome to Edmonton River Valley.
Edmonton, Alberta and the surrounding communities enjoy the privilege of sharing one of the longest urban stretches of River Valley Parkland in an urban area in North America at 7,400 hectares, located along the North Saskatchewan River. There are 22 major parks and over 150 kilometres of trails on which you can enjoy walks, bike rides, picnics, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and more. This site is here to provide information and links to information regarding the North Saskatchewan River Valley in Edmonton and surrounding area.. Enjoy your visit.
The North Saskatchewan is a majestic and beautiful river winding in a northeastern direction through Edmonton. It originates 1,800 metres above sea level in the massive 325 sq. km Columbia Icefield. It flows across Alberta and Saskatchewan to Lake Winnipeg, into the Nelson River and eventually into the Hudson Bay. Dividing the parklands and the plains, providing a navigable corridor for most of its 1,300 kilometre route, the North Saskatchewan River is one of Canada’s most historic waterways.
In the 18th and 19th centuries, the Saskatchewan River Route was one of the country’s most important fur trading arteries, and in the 20th century, it anchored the urban and economic development of much of Canada’s western prairies. In Edmonton It runs from the southwest to the northeast through the city and is fed by numerous creeks throughout the city, such as Mill Creek and Whitemud Creek. This creates numerous ravines, many of which have been incorporated into the urban parkland.
History of the Edmonton River Valley
Early inhabitants may have gathered in the Edmonton area as early as the end of the last ice age, possibly as early as 10,000BC when as the ice receded woodlands, water and wildlife became available in the region.
In 1754, Anthony Henday, an explorer working for the Hudson’s Bay Company, may have been the first European to enter the Edmonton area. His trip was part of HBC’s interest in establishing direct contact with the Native population of the interior rather than depending on Native middlemen to bring furs to posts located on Hudson Bay. In 1794, the Hudson’s Bay Company and the North-West Fur Company founded Old Fort Edmonton and Old Fort Augustus at the mouth of the Sturgeon River (present day St. Albert). By 1807, both Fort Augustus and Old Fort Edmonton had been destroyed by Blood Indians.
In 1808, New Fort Edmonton and New Fort Augustus were rebuilt on the present site of the City of Edmonton. With the amalgamation of the two companies in 1821, the Hudson’s Bay Company post was retained, as was the name Fort Edmonton. It become the distribution centre for the whole north-west and a major supply stage on the Hudson’s Bay Company trans-Canada route. In the late nineteenth century, settlers were attracted to the area by the fertile farmland in the region, and this helped to further establish Edmonton as a major regional commercial and agricultural centre. Throuhout this entire period the North Saskatchewan River served as the only major “Highway” in the region.
The area became part of the new Dominion of Canada in 1870 and modern Edmonton can be said to have begun in 1871 when it was incorporated as a village. At about this time legislation finally made it possible for private individuals to claim ownership of land. Prior to this all the land rights resided in the Hudson’s Bay Company. In the late nineteenth century, settlers were attracted to the area by the fertile farmland in the region, and this helped to further establish Edmonton as a major regional commercial and agricultural centre. Edmonton was also a stopping point for people hoping to cash in on the Klondike Gold Rush in 1897. Incorporated as a city in 1905 Edmonton became the capital of Alberta a year later on September 1, 1905.
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