Glaciers, Dinosaurs and Billion Dollar Rocks: a Growing Fascination for Alberta, Canada | RedPaper.in
By: Shoba Raja | via Write-for-RedPaper
From India, which is where I live, Alberta was just a remote province of Canada – until our son moved to Edmonton four and a half years ago.
During our first visit there my husband and I admired Edmonton’s clean well laid out streets, buildings and the beautiful Saskatchewan River valley. We wandered through West Edmonton Mall, which boasts of being North America’s biggest, where families frolicked in its “indoor beach” that is complete with waves striking the shore! The city’s character however came alive for us when we witnessed the regimental funeral of a young policeman who died during a standoff with a criminal. It seemed as if the entire city had come out to pay their respects. Edmontonians, lining Jasper Avenue, were solemn silent in their collective grief.
London headquartered Hudson’s Bay Company that controlled much of the fur trade in North America. On 8th October 1904 Edmonton was incorporated as a city.
We have now travelled a fair bit beyond Edmonton and I feel a growing fascination for Alberta. Named after Princess Louise Caroline Alberta, fourth daughter of Queen Victoria, this Western Canadian province has an incredibly versatile geography encompassing Mountains, Glacial lakes, vast Prairies, Farmlands, Parklands and Badlands. The sheer vastness of the landscape is breathtaking, and depending on the time of the year it appears green or brown or white or multiple colored in autumn! Driving across Alberta is an experience in exhilaration and awe – every single time
We took our first trip out of Edmonton in April 2014 for a drive through the Rocky Mountains. We drove past huge farmlands with their tall grain elevators, past lakes that were still frozen solid and white. We gazed awestruck at the magnificent Athabasca glacier, took in a deep breath at the pristine beauty of Banff and Jasper national parks, and took a walk on white frozen ‘ground’ that was actually Lake Louise!
The majestic beauty of nature was all around us and I felt kind of rebuked for having believed Alberta was simply Canada’s ‘oil country’.
This fall we discovered some of Alberta’s intriguing evolutionary history. Nestling in the Red Deer River valley is the town of Drumheller, often referred to as Dinosaur Valley because of the high concentration of dinosaur fossils found in the area. The Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology here has one of the world’s largest collections of dinosaur skeletons and showcases the amazing diversity of life on earth. Steadfastly loyal to its Jurassic legacy this quaint town has a ‘friendly dinosaur’ literally in every street corner – courtesy the DinoArt Association!
The arid multilayered slopes of the surrounding Badlands offer a spectacular display of the area’s geology that is climaxed, as it were, by the extraordinary looking natural rock formations called Hoodoos.
Between 1911 and 1965 when “coal was king”, Drumheller’s geology shaped its identity as the “wonderland of the West” where migrants from Europe, USA and eastern Canada came to work in the 139 coal mines that operated here. Atlas Coal Mine, the last one to shut down in 1984, is today maintained as a historical site. Metal railcars, the tall stark wooden coal tipple and the stillness of the mineshaft give a glimpse of the dark unmentionable side of Drumheller’s history as you learn about the hard life of the miners, brawls and accidents.
The decline of the coal boom in the area began with the discovery of “black gold” in 1947 near Leduc, South of Edmonton. The major discovery of crude oil here transformed Alberta’s economy making it one of Canada’s richest provinces.
Although climate change discourses have had a somewhat sobering effect on our enthusiasm, we have already planned a trip to Leduc #1 the site of the ‘Billion Dollar Rock’ discovery ……..
……………… that’s for our next visit to Alberta!
Feature Image: Travel Alberta