Story by Karen Evenden
EDMONTON — Alberta is known worldwide for a number of attractions including the Great Canadian Rockies, Lake Louise, Drumheller and the West Edmonton Mall. In addition to these magnificent sights, discerning visitors can find a number of other more unusual places to include on their itineraries.
1. The Town of Vulcan
Vulcan is one hour south of Calgary and one hour north of Lethbridge on Highway 23. A surveyor named the town Vulcan in 1910, after the Roman god of fire. The town has since taken advantage of its unforgettable name by creating a fun and unique Star Trek-related identity and is now regarded as the “Official Star Trek Capital of Canada.”
2. The Torrington Gopher Hole Museum
Located 160 km northeast of Calgary, the Torrington Gopher Hole Museum contains approximately 40 dioramas set in neatly constructed wooden boxes, each representing a gopher hole. Inside the holes are taxidermied gophers, dressed in costumes and depicting everyday situations such as a gopher wedding, a trip to the gopher hairdresser and even gopher Star Wars characters.
3. The Lacombe Corn Maze
Albertans fondly embrace their prairie setting and often make the most of the materials in hand. Man-made mazes frequent the province and visitors can experience sunflower, corn and sorghum mazes. The Lacombe Corn Maze, 3 km west of Lacombe and between Calgary and Edmonton on Highway 2, is one of the largest in the province. The maze covers 15 acres and stands over nine feet.
4. Em-Te Town
Em-Te-Town a privately built western frontier ghost town complete with Hogs Breath Saloon, jail house, harness shop, log buildings, livery stable, bank, church, emporium, and restaurant. Visitors can enjoy numerous activities at the facility, and visit for the day or stay overnight in a motel, cabin or tepee.
5. Zombie Walk
The Zombie Walk Edmonton takes place on the second Friday in October when hundreds of otherwise normal, geeky folk don zombie clothing and makeup and drag themselves through the streets. The spectacle of the undead stomping through the city, on public transport and in the malls is somewhat creepy but cool; especially as, in a very un-zombie-like way, the participants collect for the food bank en route.
6. Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump
Worth a mention just because of the name, Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump is known worldwide as a remarkable testimony of prehistoric life. The UNESCO World Heritage Site shows evidence of a tradition practised by Aboriginal peoples of North America’s Great Plains for nearly 6,000 years. Their knowledge and understanding of their land and of animal behaviour led them to execute bison by chasing them over a cliff edge to the camp below.
Lloydminster is in the Central Parkland Region in both Saskatchewan and Alberta. It is Canada’s only “border city,” with the provincial border running through the centre, creating a truly unique municipality. Residents of Lloydminster live in either Alberta or Saskatchewan, depending on their address and pay taxes and medical expenses accordingly.
8. Saumer Time Alpaca Ranch
For something warm and fuzzy and a little out of the ordinary, people can visit the Saumer Time Alpaca Ranch in Onoway. The hands on Alpaca farm tour is a unique, relaxing and informative experience where visitors learn about the charming camelids of South America. You can even purchase an Alpaca of your own!
9. Evansburg – Home of the Grouch
Originally a coal mining town, Evansburg has a population of 603 people, 29 dogs, 41 cats, and one Town Grouch. The first “Grouch” contest was held by the Royal Canadian Legion in 1979, in conjunction with the village’s 25th anniversary. It’s now an annual event and a part of the Pembina Valley Family Daze festival. The winner is licensed to pester, harass, antagonize, criticize, complain and grumble without fear of reprisal for an entire year.
10. Oversized roadside attractions
Oversized roadside attractions are something of a necessity in North America and Alberta is no exception. Indeed, Albertans take great pride in trying to create unique, even quirky creations. Some of the more interesting include a bull rider (Brownvale), a beaver (Castor), a T-Rex (Drumheller), an upside-down church (Calgary), a starship (Vulcan) and a pyrogy (Glendon).