Edmonton is the capital of the Canadian province of Alberta. Edmonton is on the North Saskatchewan River and is the centre of theEdmonton Capital Region, which is surrounded by Alberta's central region.
The city had a population of 812,201 in the 2011 census, making it Alberta's second-largest city and Canada's fifth-largest municipality. This population represents 70 percent of the total 2011 population of 1,159,869 within the Edmonton census metropolitan area (CMA), Canada's sixth-largest CMA by population. Edmonton is the northernmostNorth American city with a metropolitan population over one million. A resident of Edmonton is known as an Edmontonian.
Edmonton's historic growth has been facilitated through the absorption of five adjacent urban municipalities (Strathcona, North Edmonton, West Edmonton, Beverly and Jasper Place) and a series of annexations ending in 1982. Edmonton serves as the northern anchor of the Calgary–Edmonton Corridor. Known as the "Gateway to the North", the city is a staging point for large-scale oil sands projects occurring in northern Albertaand large-scale diamond mining operations in the Northwest Territories.
Edmonton is a cultural, governmental and educational centre. It hosts a year-round slate of festivals, reflected in the nickname "The Festival City". It is home to North America's largest mall, West Edmonton Mall (the world's largest mall from 1981 until 2004), and Fort Edmonton Park, Canada's largest living history museum.
Edmonton is located on the North Saskatchewan River, and sits at an elevation of 671 metres (2,201 ft). Edmonton is the most northerly city in North America with a metropolitan population of over one million. It is at the same latitude as Hamburg(Germany), Dublin (Ireland), Manchester (United Kingdom), and Magnitogorsk (Russia). North as it is, it is south of the geographic centre of Alberta, which is located near the Hamlet of Fort Assiniboine. The terrain in and around Edmonton is generally flat to gently rolling, with ravines and deep river valleys, such as the North Saskatchewan River valley. TheCanadian Rockies are located approximately 220 km (140 mi) to the southwest.
The North Saskatchewan River originates at the Columbia Icefield in Jasper National Park and bisects the city. It empties via the Saskatchewan River, Lake Winnipeg, and the Nelson River into Hudson Bay. It runs from the southwest to the northeast and is fed by numerous creeks throughout the city, such as Mill Creek, Whitemud Creek and Blackmud Creek; this creates numerous ravines, some of which are used for urban parkland. Edmonton is situated at the boundary betweenprairie to the south and boreal forest to the north, in a transitional area known as aspen parkland. However, the aspen woods and forests in and around Edmonton have long since been reduced by farming and other human activities, such as oil and natural gas exploration.
Many events are anchored in the downtown Arts District, centred around Churchill Square (named in honour of Sir Winston Churchill). On the south side of the river, the University district and Whyte Avenue contain theatres, concert halls, and various live music venues.
The Francis Winspear Centre for Music was opened in 1997 after years of planning and fundraising. Described as one of the most acoustically perfect concert halls in Canada, it is home to the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra and hosts a wide variety of shows every year. It seats 1,932 patrons and houses the $3-million Davis Concert Organ, the largestconcert organ in Canada. Across 102 Avenue is the Citadel Theatre, named after The Salvation Army Citadel in which Joe Shoctor first started the Citadel Theatre Company in 1965. It is now one of the largest theatre complexes in Canada, with five halls, each specializing in different kinds of productions. On the University of Alberta grounds is the 2,534-seat Northern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium, which were undertaken over a year of heavy renovations carried out as part of the province's 2005 centennial celebrations. Both it and itssouthern twin in Calgary were constructed in 1955 for the province's golden jubilee and have hosted many concerts, musicals, and ballets. The Edmonton Opera uses the Jubilee as its base of operations. On the front of the building is a quote from Suetonius' Life of Augustus: "He found a city built of brick – left it built of marble."
The Old Strathcona neighbourhood is home to the Theatre District, which holds the ATB Financial Arts Barns (headquarters of the Edmonton International Fringe Festival), The Walterdale Playhouse, Catalyst Theatre, and the Varscona Theatre(base of operations for several theatre companies, including Teatro la Quindicina, Shadow Theatre, Die-Nasty, and Oh Susanna!). Edmonton was named cultural capital of Canada in 2007. The Ukrainian Dnipro Ensemble of Edmonton, organized in 1953, preserves the Ukrainian musical culture within the parameters of the Canadian multicultural identity.
There are many museums in Edmonton of various sizes. The largest is the Royal Alberta Museum (RAM), which was formerly known as the Provincial Museum of Alberta until it was renamed in honour of Queen Elizabeth II's 2005 Alberta centennial visit. The RAM houses over 10 million objects in its collection and showcases the culture and practices of the diverse aboriginal tribes of the region. The main building, overlooking the river valley west of the city centre in the Glenoraneighbourhood, was opened in 1967 and is now in the early stages of large-scale redevelopment.
The Telus World of Science is located in the Woodcroft neighbourhood northwest of the city centre. It opened in 1984 and has since been expanded several times. It contains five permanent galleries, one additional gallery for temporary exhibits, an IMAX theatre, a planetarium, an observatory, and an amateur radio station. TheEdmonton Valley Zoo is in the river valley to the southwest of the city centre.
The Alberta Aviation Museum, located in a hangar at the City Centre Airport, was built for the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan. Its collection includes both civilian and military aircraft, the largest of which are a Boeing 737 and two CF-101 Voodoos. It also has one of only 3 BOMARC missiles in Canada.
The Prince of Wales Armouries Heritage Centre is also home to the Loyal Edmonton Regiment Military Museum. The museum is dedicated to preserving the military heritage and the sacrifices made by the people of Edmonton and Alberta in general. The museum features two galleries and several smaller exhibits. The collection includes historic firearms, uniforms, souvenirs, memorabilia, military accoutrements, as well as a large photographic and archival collection spanning the pre-World War One period to the present. The museum features an exhibit on the role of the 49th Battalion, CEF in Canada's Hundred Days Offensive. The Telephone Historical Centre is a telephone museum also located in the Prince of Wales Armouries Heritage Centre in central Edmonton. In addition to a collection of artifacts tracing the history of the telephone, the museum has its own theatre featuring a brief film led by the robot Xeldon.
The Alberta Railway Museumis located in the rural northeast portion of the city. It contains a variety of locomotives andrailroad cars from different periods, and includes a working steam locomotive. Since most of its exhibits are outdoors, it is only open between Victoria Day and Labour Day.
Fort Edmonton Park, Canada's largest living history museum, is located in the river valley southwest of the city centre. Edmonton's heritage is displayed through historical buildings (many of which are originals moved to the park), costumed historical interpreters, and authentic artifacts. In total, it covers the region's history from approximately 1795 to 1929 (represented by Fort Edmonton), followed chronologically by 1885, 1905, and 1920 streets, and a recreation of a 1920smidway. A steam train, streetcars, automobiles and horse drawn vehicles may be seen in operation (and utilized by the public) around the park. The John Walter Museum and Historical Area (c. 1875 to 1901) is on the Canadian Register of Historic Places. The University of Alberta operates its own internal Museums and Collections service.
The Art Gallery of Alberta (AGA) is the city's largest single gallery. Formerly housed in an inconspicuous 1970s building downtown, the AGA collection had over 5,000 pieces of art. The former AGA building was demolished in July 2007 to make way for construction of a new facility designed by Randall Stout. It was estimated to cost over $88-million and the amount that Edmonton City Council donated towards its construction was met with some controversy. The AGA officially opened on January 31, 2010. Independent galleries can be found throughout the city, especially along the 124 Street/Jasper Avenue corridor, known as the "gallery walk".
In 1892 Edmonton was incorporated as a town. The first mayor was Matthew McCauley, who established the first school board in Edmonton and Board of Trade (later Chamber of Commerce) and a municipal police service. Due to mayor McCauley's good relationship with the federal Liberals this helped Edmonton to maintain political prominence over Strathcona, a rival settlement on the south bank of the North Saskatchewan River. Edmonton was incorporated as a city in 1904 and became the capital of Alberta in 1905.
Unions and radical organizations such as the Industrial Workers of the World struggled for progressive social change through the early years, with the first reformer, James East, being elected in 1912, followed by the first official Labour alderman, James Kinney, the following year. Many thousands of workers participated in the Edmonton general strike of 1919 and a strong block of Labour representatives were on council after the next election: James Kinney, James East, Sam McCoppen, Joe Clarke and Rice Sheppard.
Labour representation on city council would become a near-majority in 1929, and, during the Great Depression, a full majority from 1932 to 1934. Jan Reimer became the city's first female mayor, when she was elected in 1989.