Tag Archives: shopping

Changes in my Edmonton

One of the ways a new city starts to feel like home is noticing all the ways it’s changed since I arrived.  When I lived in Kingston, a small city in eastern Ontario, a lot of people in our downtown and old-society social circles used to give directions by the traffic circle (that’s Upper-Canadian dialect for roundabout) that hadn’t existed since the 1970s, and used to call restaurants by names that weren’t on the sign.  It felt exclusive to those of us who weren’t “old stones” (people whose roots were elsewhere), but after several years I found myself also talking about the traffic circle, the place where the beer store used to be, and so on..

And now I find myself doing the same thing in Edmonton.  I’ve lived in one place for four years, and spent most of my time in the Strathcona/University neighbourhoods.  So I’ve been here long enough to see some changes.

Transit When I arrived there were eleven LRT stops and now there are fifteen.  The opening of South Campus station rearranged some bus routes, so that I used to take the #6 downtown and now I take the #7.  Although lately I’ve gotten so annoyed with watching three #8s go by first that to go home from downtown I don’t wait at the Telus plaza for a bus; I take the LRT to the university and home from there instead.  (MasterMaq discussed this problem in a recent blog entry.) The LRT extension north by the Kingsway seems to be really happening, and the next lines have gotten as far as having station names.

Restaurants  Pad Thai is gone. ouSia opened and I still haven’t gotten around to going there.  A crepe place popped up on Whyte Avenue and went away again.  Langano Skies closed for renovations after the building fire, but is back.  A noodles place across the road changed hands and is now NaanaliciousFour cupcakes places opened in Strathcona/Garneau. Death by Chocolate closed and eventually a Dairy Queen opened.  A Funky Pickle outlet near U of A campus closed, but a Papa John’s opened.  Cargo and James tea disappeared.  Chili’s became O2.  Bars come and go, often too fast for me to visit.  The Savoy became the Gin Mill became Tilted Kilt, and I hadn’t been to any of them.  The Iron Horse sat empty for ages, but didn’t wait for me to become a billionaire philanthropist and buy it to run a passenger- train line to Calgary – it became MKT.  I think there was a live-music bar on the north side of Whyte Avenue which is now some kind of billiards-themed place.  On 124 Street, d’Lish opened and closed, and now there’s something new there but I haven’t gotten there yet.  Downtown, I can’t remember what’s new since I arrived and what I was just slow to discover because I barely crossed the river my first couple of winters here – Zinc opened since I got here, and Underground is new.  La Poutine opened in the Garneau Cinema block – oh, and that reminds me.

Entertainment The Garneau Cinema is now the Metro cinema.  I haven’t been there yet.  I think the Metro cinema used to be in Ziegler Hall at the Citadel, but now Rapid Fire/Theatresports is there.  It used to be at the Varscona Theatre.  The Muttart Conservatory was closed for renovations when I got here, and I think the Art Gallery of Alberta was being rebuilt then too.  The Oilers still play at Rexall Place, except that they’re not playing.  The baseball team that played in Rossdale folded and there might be a new one.

Driving I was here before the big construction project that had 99 Street closed all last summer, I figured out how to work around that, and then it all opened again.  I don’t drive often enough to be confident on road directions farther away, but it seems like every time I drive to IKEA, the route changes, the exit to 23rd Avenue looks different, and the sprawl of South Edmonton Common shopping district has gotten bigger.  I also think that Fox Drive and nearby routes have been under construction the whole time I’ve lived here.

Stores  Two record stores have closed on Whyte Avenue, Southside Sound and the big one I forget the name of, and Permanent Records opened on Gateway.  Alternative Video Spot moved and became Videodrome.  Urban Knitter opened on Whyte Avenue, moved to Gateway, and closed.  Ewe Asked for It and Knit and Purl closed.  River City Yarns opened a second location and moved its first location.  Greenwoods Books moved back to Whyte Avenue (it’s the one store I knew about from before I moved here), and then closed.  Earth’s General Store moved from a central upstairs location on the busy part of Whyte Avenue to a bigger place with parking farther away from the crowds.  Lucid Lifestyle moved from a storefront to a pop-up kiosk to a different storefront.  Blush Lane Organic Market and other interesting outlets opened in a new building where Pad Thai’s parking lot used to be.  A Shell gas station closed on Whyte Avenue.  It looks like some progress was made on remediating the other gas-station site on Whyte by 106.  A Vespa-scooter dealer with bar closed.  I think Blockbuster Video closed, but I haven’t checked.  The Shoppers Drug Mart at Whyte and 109 moved across the road to a bigger two-story space, and the old space sits mostly empty.  Home Depot just south of Strathcona doesn’t have a Harvey’s in its lobby any more; just more things to buy.  Scottish Imports moved from Whyte Avenue to 124 Street just when I was becoming aware of 124 Street as a destination.  My hairdresser (Mousy Brown’s), on 124 Street, opened a second location in Old Strathcona.  And now I’m one of those people who call things by their old names, because I just learned about Treestone Bakery around the time it was changing hands and becoming Boulangerie Bonjour.

While some of these specific changes make me sad, I love living in a city that’s prosperous enough that I can look forward to new ventures, and that’s big enough that I still have lots and lots to explore beyond the fifteen blocks of Whyte Avenue I’ve gotten to know.

What Edmonton changes make you happy?  Which ones make you sad?

Today I took a day off, without doing anything for work or for home. It was great, and looking forward to it was great too.  I enjoyed a whole day of solitude without taking notes or checking my messages.

I headed out around mid-day. It was just above freezing, and I was comfortable in the stripey knitted jacket. I took buses to downtown, where I headed to Zinc and the Art Gallery of Alberta. When I was cutting across Churchill Square by City Hall, the empty square and the colour of the sky and the lack of greenery or Christmas lights to soften the concrete floor and towers reminded me weirdly of Revolution Square in Havana. I don’t know why a lot of school buses were lined up on a street, and I don’t know why a lot of (US?) military vehicles were lined up on an avenue. But while I was taking pictures, a woman came up behind me and said “Are you posting those on Flickr?” I said, um, not this minute (I had actually contemplated whether to get out the big camera to take the pictures home, or use the phone to post immediately on Facebook, so I was a little confused.) “But you’re going to, right? How are you going to tag them besides ‘edmonton’? ” Caught off guard, I said oh, Churchill Square, I guess, and the woman said “Great! Because I forgot my camera!” and walked away.

The Art Gallery has just re-opened in a dramatic new building. In the lobby is the restaurant Zinc, which I’d read about when it opened. It is extremely stylish, with the menus mounted on zinc plates and the place setting knives balanced on edge. Plating was more conventional, my server was competent without being intimidating, obsequious, or over-friendly, and my lunch was good. I had a glass of some Malbec, a couple of tiny buns with flavoured butter (fennel, shallot, and orange), and what they called the Un-burger with a side of gallery salad. The burger meat was elk and caribou, garnished with mushrooms and caramelised onions. It was really good. The salad was straightforward, greens with blackberry vinaigrette. Cost $29 something before tip. Some people were eating alone at the bar and reading. I think all the clients were better dressed than I, but it says something good about my confidence that I only noticed this at the end when I was looking around to describe the atmosphere.

The gallery exhibits included one of Yousef Karsh portraits, a couple of sound installations, Goya prints, and Degas sculptures and drawings of bodies in motion. They didn’t seem to have static exhibits of the permanent collection. The gift shop’s best feature was some really neat stuff for kids. Most of which I resisted buying. Next I walked to the Alberta Craft Council gallery/store, which was neat but I didn’t like it as well as the one in Newfoundland.

The rest of my planned shopping errands were in the 124-Street area of interesting shops. One thing that I wanted to buy was not quite available, so they will call me, and in the intervening time I will think/feel more about whether I want one, and I’ll tell you about it later. I still haven’t found a crochet hook that will pass through the little beads I bought to put in a lace shawl, so I don’t know if I need bigger beads or an even tinier hook or another method. But I got a long-cable needle for the yoke of a sweater I’m working on, and I patted some yarn and didn’t buy any. Then I spent a long time in MEC, figuring out which tent I would buy when I buy my next tent and which sleeping bag I would buy when I buy my next sleeping bag, but deciding I wasn’t ready to buy either. So I spent my Christmas gift certificate from Mum on a shirt, a replacement buckle for my backpack, and some Lindt milk chocolate. It felt like I should use this last gift on something more lasting, but I’ll have opportunities for that with the inheritance.

And then I came home. While I was waiting at the Telus-plaza bus stop, I took time to read the maps and confirm that besides the 7 and 57, I can also take the 70 down 99th. And unless I am waiting with people from OffWhyte and want company, it’s probably just as fast to take the 8 to Bonnie Doon and catch a 4 back from there.

zinc1 zinc3 churchill square 1