By Marla J. Daniels
There’s simply too much at Fort Edmonton Park to see in one day! Located on 64 hectares (158 acres), Fort Edmonton Park is Canada’s largest living history museum, known internationally as an “open-air museum”. Set along the North Saskatchewan River, with 80 furnished buildings and exhibits, the Park is divided into four distinct eras, each with costumed interpreters playing characters who lived in the area during Edmonton’s early years.
- 1846 Fort: The fur-trading era as represented by the Hudson’s Bay Company Fort
- 1885 Street: The settlement era (pre-railway)
- 1905 Street: The municipal era (post-railway)
- 1920 Street and Midway: The metropolitan era
Each era offers visitors a variety of experiences relevant to the life and times, including rides such as a horse-drawn wagon, 1908-1912 streetcars, and 1920s amusement park attractions.
Please note: Our beloved 1919 steam train is not running for the 2018 summer season, however, there is an accessible shuttle bus for those individuals with limited mobility.
How to Plan Your Best Visit
Based on visitor surveys, we know that three to five hours is the average length of time spent enjoying the Park, but we also see guests who explore the Park over two full days! During the summer season, Fort Edmonton Park is open daily from 10 AM to 5 PM. Here are three example itineraries to help maximize your best visit to Fort Edmonton Park:
- 3-4 Hour Weekend Tour: On Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, wear your most comfortable walking shoes! Plan to arrive around 12:30 PM and board our free shuttle bus, near the Train Station, for a 5-minute ride to 1885 Street, and then a short walk to the 1846 Hudson’s Bay Company Fort. Meet in the Fort Courtyard (by the flagpole) at 1 PM, to join a drop-in walking tour with one of our knowledgeable tour guides. This 2-hour park-wide guided tour ends on 1920 Street at the Capitol Theatre – just in time to culminate your visit with the 3:30 PM showing of “Northern Light: The Edmonton Journey”. This 20-minute 4D movie about the history of Edmonton, from the ice age to the present, is free for all visitors of the Park. If there’s time for a treat, cross the street to Bill’s Confectionary for an ice cream cone! Then make your way back to the Train Station to browse in the gift shop for a memento of your visit.
- 7 Hour Family Fun Day: When the Park doors open at 10 AM, head to the Johnny J. Jones Midway for some old-fashioned fun at the fair. Or catch the streetcar for a nostalgic trip down 1920 and 1905 Street and disembark at the Capitol Theatre, to catch the 4D movie “Northern Light: The Edmonton Journey”. After that, play a round of miniature golf on 1920 Street, and then take a lunch break at Johnson’s Café at Hotel Selkirk or at the Masonic Hall on 1905 Street. While exploring 1905 Street, don’t miss the Shooting Gallery and Penny Arcade. On 1885 Street, stop in at Kenneth McDonald House and ask the costumed interpreter what kinds of toys children played with during that time. In the afternoon, join the teamsters for a horse-drawn wagon ride in front of McDougall’s General Store or visit the residents and farm animals at Ottewell Homestead, where you might find a pony ride an afternoon highlight. At the Cree Encampment, chat with our Indigenous interpreters and learn beading techniques. Spend the last hour of the day discovering what life was like in 1846 at the Hudson’s Bay Company fur-trading fort. Don’t miss the last shuttle bus departure on 1885 Street, near Bellerose School, for your journey back to the Train Station where the gift shop is open until 5:30 PM for souvenir shopping.
- 24 Hour Staycation: Book a room at Hotel Selkirk on 1920 Street, and enjoy complimentary Park admission with your overnight stay! If you plan your stay on a Thursday night, reserve tickets here for the Cinema Series film at the Capitol Theatre. Following the 7:30 PM film, enjoy quiet moments strolling through the Park and stop in for a nightcap at the Hotel Selkirk’s Mahogany Bar. The next day, get an early start and enjoy the morning tranquillity before the Park gates open at 10 AM. Jasper House Bakery, on 1885 Street, is the perfect place to stop for a morning coffee and snack before or after a horse-drawn wagon ride, exploring our historic streets, and chatting with the costumed interpreters. Plan your hotel checkout time so that you can enjoy a leisurely lunch at Johnson’s Café. The afternoon is yours to discover more of Fort Edmonton Park, ride the streetcar, enjoy the midway attractions and even visit the Capitol Theatre one more time to see the 4D movie “Northern Light – The Edmonton Journey”.
More Ways to Plan Your Trip to Fort Edmonton Park
- Afternoon Pioneer Tea at Hotel Selkirk – Wednesdays, August 1-29, 2018
- Themed weekend programs throughout the Park
- Dinner at Johnson’s Café
Interested in a particular theme for a self-guided visit? There are 10 different pamphlets available at the Train Station for you to choose from!