Top 10 Things I Liked About Edmonton


That’s right, folks, we are pulling up stakes, loading of the Red River cart and heading back to the bright lights of Toronto.

Yessir, we’ve had enough of this oil loving, profit at all costs province and decided to make our fortunes in a less heady economic environment.

“But Ben,” you say, “surely there must be something you liked during your stay in the Wild Rose province?”  And you’re right…so here’s my top 10 things I liked about my time in Edmonton and Alberta.  While these are kind of in order of preference, they’re not really.

Top 10 Things I Liked About Edmonton

1. William Eddins

The conductor of the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra is a transplant from Minneapolis, so he gets bonus points right there.  He had a terrific way of connecting with the audience and creating a relaxed atmosphere.  Plus, the exuberance with which he conducted was contagious and you couldn’t help but be engaged – and he gets major bonus points for the “bum wiggling” incident.

2. Martini’s Bar and Grill

It took me months to locate a comfortable bar that I wanted to go to on a regular basis.  Let’s just say that while Edmonton has places to drink, there are very few places I wanted to drink.  And those who know me realize my standards aren’t that high.

But it took far too long to locate a non-shiny shirt, non-thump thump, non-scary white guys, non-cowboy bar.  Martini’s is reputedly Ralph Klein’s favorite watering hole and with it’s proximity to the legislature I can see why.  Also, on Friday afternoons they roll out an enormous plate of fried food on the house.  Ben heaven.  Oh, and the martinis there aren’t half bad.

3.  The River Valley

Our friend was kind enough to organize an exercise group that worked out in the river valley all last summer.  There is nothing like the feeling that your lungs are about to explode and imminent death is approaching to really make you appreciate the natural beauty Edmonton has managed to retain in the river valley.

4. City Councillor Don Iveson

It was refreshing to see that at the municipal level in Alberta there was at least some opportunity for young, intelligent, liberal minded politicians to have an impact.  And the fact that this 28-year-old rookie was able to unseat a good ol’ boy makes it even more sweet.

5. My colleagues at Alberta Health and Wellness

I never expected to enjoy working as much as I have this past while.  The people I work with on a daily basis are all intelligent, innovative, fun-loving, and non-conformist.  In comparison to the rest of Alberta we are all a pack of dirty hippies, and I’ve loved every minute of it.

6.  The Canadian Rockies

Really the main draw for moving out here, outside of the whole job thing, was the fact that we would be closer to the Rockies.  That said, Edmonton is a lot further from them than you’d think at first.

In any case, I really enjoyed having them as close as they were and was able to have my fill of skiing.  The highlight of our various trips, though, was the long weekend my wife and I took over Canada Day and drove from Edmonton to Jasper to Banff down the Icefields Parkway.  Few road-trips can compare to the beauty of that drive (except maybe going through Gary, Indiana.)

7.   The Mundare Sausage

Few things in this world can compare to the majesty of the Mundare Sausage.  One look at its length and girth lets you know that you are in the presence of greatness (that’s what she said).  Of the many contributions Ukrainian immigrants have made to Canada, surely this is the most important.


8.  Mill Creek Ravine

After finally sorting out our housing arrangement, we settled in a nice neighbourhood south of Whyte Ave. right at the tail end of Mill Creek Ravine.  Originally the ravine was home to a rail line which ran from the river on up to the southern spur of the Canadian Pacific line out of Edmonton.  All the bridges that the trail runs on are the original trestles, which is great.  If you’re a dork.  Like me.

9.  Alberta Legislature and grounds

No matter what I think of the government sitting in the legislature, I can not dispute that the Alberta Legislature building and the surrounding grounds are some of the most attractive in Canada.  Do I dare say that it is even more attractive than Queen’s Park?  That’s right…I said it.

In any case, any place that has a field for lawn bowling is okay by me.

10.  Scott McKeen

A bastion of humor and wit in an otherwise dour and conservative media scene, Scott McKeen’s passion for the city of Edmonton, along with his ability to see the problems that really needed fixing to make Edmonton better (hint: it has nothing to do with building more subdivisions) was a breath of fresh air.

For those interested I would recommend you read some of his articles.  He also gets bonus points because I ran into him on two different occasions and found him as witty and friendly in person as he is on the page.


Well, that’s that.  Stay tuned for the Top 10 Things I Disliked About Edmonton…coming soon!

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9 responses to “Top 10 Things I Liked About Edmonton”

  1. jimsey says :

    the vegreville egg really feels offended about being left off the list, and being upstaged by his second cousin twice removed.

  2. Mom says :

    As the mother of the transplant, I was very happy to visit Ben and Gwen while they lived in Edmonton. I liked it so much I am going for a visit their last few weeks in the city.

    The country is beautiful, his colleagues were very gracious and they did appreciate what Ben brought to the work place.

    However, it will be nice to have him four hours from his birthplace and birth mother. We have missed the Ben and Gwen mix in the family gatherings.

  3. Mark says :


    Your gain is definitely our loss. He’s one in a million.


    I had loads of fun with the hoop today. :)

  4. Humberto says :

    good use of the word “bastion”

  5. Scott McKeen says :

    Jeepers and gorsh. I stumbled across this blog and feel flattered at these kind words. It is the nature of journalism and opinion writing that we see more angry commentary than kind words. So when we see a bit of praise, we lap it up like ice cream.
    Final thought: I hate to see such an astute reader leaving Edmonton.

    Scott McKeen

  6. Annette says :

    Okay – I’ll dry my tears and forgive you all the mean things you said about Edmonton (I am one of the hippie co-workers, right?).

  7. Jess McP says :

    Hey! I’m a little behind in my Ben-blog reading so I just heard that you guys are headed back to Ontario. That’s great! Hope we get a chance to get together sometime this summer.

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