Edmonton, Alberta, the capital and second largest city of this Canadian province. It is 175 miles (282 km) northeast of Calgary. Edmonton lies in the northwesternmost part of the Great Plains at an altitude of 2,182 feet (665 m). The North Saskatchewan River bisects the city.
Edmonton is a distribution, trade, and transportation center for the Peace and Athabasca river valleys and the Northwest Territories. The rich agricultural area around the city produces wheat, livestock, dairy products, and a variety of other farm products. The area also has coalfields and extensive deposits of oil and natural gas. The Trans-Mountain pipeline carries oil west to Vancouver, British Columbia. Another pipeline carries oil east to Superior, Wisconsin, and Sarnia, Ontario.
The service industries provide the largest share of jobs in Edmonton. Also important are wholesale and retail trade. Factories here produce a variety of goods, including furniture, machinery, sheet-metal products, soap, paint, clothing, petrochemicals, and refined petroleum.
Edmonton is served by two major highways, the Canadian National Railway, and a spur line of the Canadian Pacific Railway. Edmonton International Airport is 18 miles (29 km) south of the city. Edmonton Municipal Airport, a short distance northwest of downtown, is used for regional flights. Public transportation is provided by buses and a rapid-transit rail line.
Covering more than 18,000 acres (7,000 hectares), public parks make up a significant part of Edmonton. The largest is Capital City Recreation Park, which has about 20 miles (30 km) of paths for bicycling and jogging. Other large parks include Queen Elizabeth, Emily Murphy, White Mud, Victoria, and Coronation. In Victoria Park, overlooking the river, stands the Provincial Legislature Building. The Edmonton Space and Science Center, Canada's largest planetarium, is in Coronation Park.
West Edmonton Mall is one of the city's leading attractions. It has more than 800 shops, an amusement park, a water park, an ice rink, and an aquarium. Other attractions in Edmonton include the Valley Zoo and the Muttart Conservatory, which houses a variety of plants in four pyramid-shaped greenhouses.
Northlands Coliseum is home to the Edmonton Oilers professional hockey team. The Edmonton Eskimos of the Canadian Football League play at Commonwealm Stadium. Each July the city celebrates Klondike Days, a festival devoted to re-creating life in Edmonton in the 1890's.
Edmonton has a variety of museums. The Provincial Museum has exhibits pertaining to the natural history of Alberta. The Edmonton Art Gallery displays works of many Canadian artists. Fort Edmonton Park is an open-air museum with exhibits depicting the historical development of the city.
The University of Alberta is the province's largest institution of higher learning. On the university's campus is the Jubilee Auditorium, which is home to the Edmonton Opera the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra, and the Alberta Ballet.
Edmonton has a mayor and council. The city operates all utilities.
Fort Edmonton, built in 1794 as a furtrading post by the Hudson's Bay Company, was 25 miles (40 km) down the river from the present site of Edmonton. Destroyed in 1807 by the Blood Indians, the fort was rebuilt in 1819 on the city's present site. Edmonton's early development was due to its position on a waterway. More important later, however were the railways and oil discoveries. In 1891 a spur line of the Canadian Pacific reached Edmonton. The Canadian Northern (later absorbed by the Canadian National) reached Edmonton in 1905. When Alberta became a province in that year, Edmonton was made the capital. Oil was discovered south of the city, near Leduc, in 1947. The tremendous business boom that followed established Edmonton as the center of Canada's oil industry.