Founded as a province on September 1st, 1905. Home of the West Edmonton Mall, in the capital city of Edmonton, North America’s largest shopping mall and the 10th largest in the world, covering 3.8 million square feet. Home to one of the greatest diversities and abundances of Late Cretaceous dinosaur fossils in the world, and, indeed, the province has a dinosaur named after it, the Albertosaurus. Common names include Liam, Noah and Ethan, for men, and Olivia, Emma and Emily, for women. Home of the Wood Buffalo National Park, the world’s second largest national park at 17.3 thousand square miles, home of the world’s largest free roaming herd of wood bison. Where the rock band Nickelback were formed, in the town of Hanna. Home of the Baitun Nur Mosque, completed in 2008, Canada’s largest. Birthplace of legend Michael J. Fox, born in Edmonton. And, on June 3rd, 1967, Paul Hellyer, then the Minister of National Defence, officially opened a U.F.O. landing pad in the town of St. Paul. The sign alongside says, ‘[this was] designated international by the town of St. Paul as a symbol of our faith that mankind will maintain the outer universe free from national wars and strife. That future travel in space will be safe for all intergalactic beings, [that] all visitors from Earth or otherwise are welcome to this territory and to the town of St. Paul.’ How lovely is Canada, eh? Today, we’re visiting the Wild Rose Country, Alberta.
Alberta is a friendly, traditional and welcoming landlocked province in western Canada, bordered by British Columbia, the Northwest Territories and Saskatchewan, plus Montana. It is the sixth largest province or territory at 255,541 square miles, with the fourth largest population with 4.23 million people. The motto is, ‘Fortis et liber,’ which is Latin for, ‘Strong and Free.’
The province was named after Princess Louise Caroline Alberta, Duchess of Argyll. Initially, it was named ‘Louise’ in her honour, but she requested the province be named after her third name to also honour her late father, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, husband of Queen Victoria. Princess Alberta’s husband was also the Governor General of Canada, the wonderfully named, John George Edward Henry Douglas Sutherland Campbell, 9th Duke of Argyll. Not making that up. Seriously.
This is a province dominated by outstanding natural beauty. The Rocky Mountains along the southwest border offer a forested and wild retreat, whilst the southern prairies offer a landscape almost unrivalled. The boreal forests to the north entice one in with their promises of exploration, as do the numerous rivers and lakes, where you will, most likely, catch more than a glimpse of eager swimmers, fisherman and those enjoying the odd water sport, here and there. There’s even a semi-arid vista awaiting you in the southeastern quarter. But this great diversity is not limited to the landscape.
Albertans love a festival or two, such as the Servus Heritage Festival, held in Edmonton each year, bringing together over 70 cultures from around the world that live in and around the city. The Chinese and East Indian communities are significant in Alberta, as are immigrants from European nations, with 44% of the population of British descent. But large numbers of Germans, Scandinavians and Ukrainians are also present. What perhaps defines this place best is its artistic flare. Famed for Canada’s largest folk and multicultural festivals, plus heritage days. Home of rodeos, too. Highlights of the extreme diversity the province welcomes and Albertans love of entertainment. Most towns and cities are home to theatres and other such performing arts, many of which are performed out in the communities. The province is also home to world class symphony orchestras and many small art galleries, focusing on the local artists and artisans. Local arts and crafts, sculptures, paintings, weavings and other artistic works are hugely popular too, and are greatly admired. Here, you’ll find a cosmopolitan, enterprising and respectful people, highly intelligent and artistic in the extreme.
This staggering province has it all. There are sights to see such as Mount Edith Cavell, just over 11,000 feet at its tallest. How something of such mass manages to be graceful is a paradox that does not cause confusion, but comfort. It radiates elegance, helped on, sure, by the soft surroundings, but it never commands you. A symphony of grace indeed. And then, lest I forget, there’s the dramatic and bonére Moraine Lake, oozing a wonder supratemporal and everlasting. The dominant mountains and the brooding sky are ameliorated by the gentle trees and the brant clear blue waters, reflecting the sky like a shield against the harshness. Such contrast is enthralling, and as such, rather amazing.
And there’s Maligne Lake, a canvas rich in layers of texture and depth, empyrean and beautiful, a pleasant jumblement of assorted items on a buffet you cannot resist. Such is the texture of a picture that the senses are activated, somehow. The mountains as a backdrop wet the palate, the trees titillate the nose with their gorgeous scent, and the sumptuous water one drinks in with one gaze. It’s a composition with an almost beginningless majesty, one utterly divine.
But my favourite sight of Alberta is Peyto Lake, an absolutely stunning canvas of extreme beauty and breathtaking swagger, an ethereal and supernaculum painting of angelic origin and poetical resonance. The unnatural shade of bright and gleaming blue waters are perfect, almost too perfect to conceive as any kind of known reality. Yet there it is. Reaching out to captivate one in one majestic swoop, cocooning one’s heart like a bonny sheath. Truly, truly stunning.
Alberta. The province of art, diversity and U.F.O.’s.
Images (Click on Them to Enlarge)
1) Peyto Lake
2) Maligne Lake
3) Moraine Lake
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