Tell us a bit about who you are and what you do…
I am the president of the Edmonton Radial Railway Society. I retired several years ago from health and university administration. Originally from Toronto, I used to ride streetcars a lot when I was a teenager before moving to Edmonton. Having the opportunity to drive streetcars in Edmonton as a volunteer was too good to resist!
How important is the Radial Railway Society to the story of Edmonton?
The Edmonton Radial Railway is the original name of the streetcar (tram) system in Edmonton. Streetcars operated in Edmonton from Dec. 1908 to September 1951. They were the first form of public transportation and were vital for the growing city. The Edmonton Radial Railway Society was formed in 1980 to preserve and interpret the history and technology of street railways with particular emphasis on Edmonton’s streetcar system. Our society attracts visitors from around the world interested in history, streetcars and seeing great views of our city, especially the North Saskatchewan River valley.
What is it about the city that keeps you here?
Edmonton is a large, friendly city with clean air, a vibrant arts and entertainment community, world class educational institutions and close proximity to some of the greatest natural places in the world.
Aside from the street cars, is there a quintessentially Albertan experience you’d encourage visitors to indulge in?
In the summer we enjoy long, warm days exploring our great province including the mountains and prairies, along with our large cities of Edmonton and Calgary. Winter is a time for outdoor activities such as skating, snowshoeing and cross-country or alpine skiing.
Do you have a favourite place in the city to unwind?
Throughout the summer, there are numerous festivals from food to multicultural, theatre and art. With our long, warm days, there is plenty of time to enjoy outdoor entertainment.
We’ve got one day to experience the very best of Edmonton, what should we do?
Travel from downtown to Old Strathcona on the High Level Bridge streetcar (the highest streetcar bridge in the world) enjoying the beauty of the North Saskatchewan River valley. Stroll through Old Strathcona, have lunch and return on the streetcar downtown and spend time shopping, hanging out at Winston Churchill Square, the Art Galley of Alberta or the new Royal Alberta Museum – opening in 2018.
What would your ideal night out in Edmonton consist of?
Dinner at a favourite restaurant, an Edmonton Symphony Orchestra concert at the Francis Winspear Centre for Music, then a visit to a pub on the way home.
What is your favourite time of the year in the city and why?
Summer – Edmonton summers are warm and the days are long. In late June, the sun rises about 5 a.m. and sets after 10 p.m. There are plenty of festivals in the summer, and the long evenings are ideal for strolling.
Alberta is a place of wonderful contrasts; do you think it’s important to experience both the urban and the rural sides of the province?
We have big, amazing cities with everything you would expect of modern urban centres. Rural Alberta goes from prairies to mountains, forests to Badlands and everything in between. Great scenery and great people.
Finally – describe Alberta in just three words…
Big, bold, friendly.
CHRIS’ TOP 5
The Rocky Mountains
Edmonton Symphony Orchestra
Elk Island National Park
The Alberta Badlands