Fort Edmonton Park features elaborately costumed staff skillfully showing history to visitors through acting, antiqued buildings true to Edmonton’s past, and activities one could find throughout the distinct era of the 1800’s to early 1900’s. Situated on the south bank of the North Saskatchewan River, there are many hotels in Edmonton which make getting to the park a breeze for visitors. Not as simple? Digging into the hidden facts behind this unique destination. Test your knowledge of Fort Edmonton Park with these lesser known informational treasures.
1. The Capitol Theatre only looks old.
While the façade mimics the original 1929 theatre for old-time charm, this building is a brand-new, multi-million dollar project finished in 2011. With many cinema events planned for 2016, this theatre (pictured) attracts crowds, with a modern, technologically-advanced interior and 243-person seating capacity.
2. The train requires hard work.
Most claim that the park’s must-visit attraction is the Engine 107 steam train. It is nearly 100 years old, but did not arrive at the park until 1977. Instead of using wood for fuel as it once did, it is now powered by recycled motor oil. To operate, the train requires approximately 2,000 gallons of water to produce steam and 200 gallons of fuel daily (the engine alone weighs 112,000 pounds).
3. Royalty has visited Fort Edmonton many times.
Notably, Diana, Princess of Wales and Charles, Prince of Wales dressed up in traditional period garb and graced the park on their tour of Canada in 1983. Photos of the elegant duo can be seen online and in the park’s train station gift shop.
4. Things can get spooky.
According to local legend, the Firkins House on 1905 Street is home to a young ghost boy and strange female figure who roam around and show up in pictures. If you’re a believer in the paranormal, beware-reports around the entire park have described unexplainable noises and shadows.
5. The original fort is not onsite, and finding it is a bit of a scavenger hunt.
As disappointing as it may be to some visitors, Fort Edmonton Park is not the actual fort, although it does feature old wood and original buildings relocated from their original construction sites. While Fort Edmonton was founded in 1795, structures were built, destructed (due to being too far away for adequate business or flooded), and rebuilt until the 5th try finally stuck in 1840. According to a blog post on Fort Edmonton Park’s official website, on Walterdale Bridge’s north side, you can see graves, a statue, and interpretive signs in the old fort cemetery, confirming the 4th fort’s whereabouts. The true 5th fort can be found behind the Alberta Legislature building. Down a set of stairs behind the building, you’ll find a square of cleared land-the original fort’s location.
If you’re heading to Fort Edmonton Park, consider staying in one of IHG®’s Edmonton hotels, which offer wonderful amenities and a welcoming environment for any traveler.