Saturday, August 2, 2014

St. Albert, Alberta

st albert albertaOn this sunny Saturday morning I drove twenty minutes northwest to check out St. Albert, a city of 64,000 people that started as a Metis settlement, close to the HBC’s Fort Edmonton. I was curious to see what put St. Albert at the top of MoneySense magazine’s 2014 list of the best places to live in Canada.

Although the drive from Edmonton is surprisingly short, St. Albert has a small-town feel, complete with a lazy river, railway tracks, and farmland. Just north of the small downtown, I drove through a residential area with tree-lined streets and parks that seemed like a lovely place to live. The neighbourhood transitioned abruptly into grassy plains and I crossed a railway track leading off into the prairies. Alongside the track I stopped at St. Albert Grain Elevator Park, where two historic grain elevators from 1906 and 1929 and a reproduction of the 1909 railway station create a sense of days gone by. Families out for Saturday walks and bicycle rides passed by on a nice paved trail that continues through to downtown and alongside the river bank.
st albert alberta grain elevator park
Grain Elevator Park
st albert alberta sturgeon river
Sturgeon River
I crossed the slow-flowing Sturgeon River, its banks crowded with bullrushes, and joined the crowds at the St. Albert Farmers’ Market. Each Saturday from June to October two streets in the centre of the small downtown are closed to host what is apparently Western Canada’s largest outdoor farmers’ market. With steel drums and folk guitar accompaniment I wandered through the sweet smells of kettle corn and baked goods, admiring colourful cut flowers, fresh farm produce, and handicrafts. The market was bustling and the weather could not have been nicer.
st albert farmers market alberta
St. Albert Farmers' Market
st albert farmers market alberta
local produce
st albert farmers market alberta
B.C. fruit
From the market I drove east to visit St. Albert Botanic Park. As a private function was being held in the park, I just drove along the road running the length of the park. The flowerbeds were overflowing with vibrant blooms and it looked like a great place for locals to take a walk or bring a picnic.

I stopped by Canadian Tire, noting that St. Albert has all the box-store conveniences just a few minutes’ drive from downtown. Driving out of the city towards the silhouette of Edmonton’s downtown, I figured it would be worth the commute to live in this nice area.
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