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Alberta is my favorite Canadian province for its combination of beauty and interesting sites. There are tons of things to do in Albert, especially during a summer vacation. So I thought I would put together my Bucket List of the top 11 places to visit in Alberta. But first some basic facts about Alberta. Origins of the name Alberta - Named after Princess Louise Caroline Alberta (1848-1939). daughter of Queen Victoria. There are 13 UNESCO World Heritage protected sites in Canada and five of those sites are in Alberta and four of them are on my list. The first European to see the Calgary area was David Thompson in 1797 CE. However the first settler did not settle in the area until 1873. Over 130 years later and Calgary is now a large prairie city with a thriving economy based mostly on OIL. In 1988 Calgary was the host of the Winter Olympics. There are a number of exciting activities to do and attractions to see.
The most well known are as follows - Fort Calgary, the Calgary Stampede and the Canada Olympic Park. Picture Source - Wikipedia Commons - The Calgary Stampede began in 1912 and in 2012 it will celebrate its centenary (100 years). It is a celebration held every summer of the cowboy and ranching way of life, with carnivals, a rodeo and various roping competitions as well as a parade. Visitors come from all over Canada and the world to see it. This park is under UNESCO World Heritage protection despite only being a provincial park. I think that Dinosaur Provincial Park should be a NATIONAL park. Over 65 million years ago this was a lush place with rivers, trees, lush green grass, and lots of dinosaurs. Now the geology consists of weird outcroppings and shapes, called Hoodoos, and the grass has long since disappeared. This area is a paleontologists dream. There are dinosaur bones to be found all over the place. Edmonton is the capital of Alberta and the seat of the provincial government.
The biggest attraction that Edmonton has to offer is the WEST EDMONTON MALL - one of the biggest shopping malls in the world. Wayne Gretzky statue that was erected after the 1988-89 season (when he left the Oilers) outside of Rexall Place (Edmonton Coliseum). Fort McMurray is the largest unincorporated municipality in Canada. It used to be a city from 1980 to 1995 when it joined with the Wood Buffalo region and lost its incorporated status. But Fort McMurray still acts as a city - even though it has a regional district council instead of a city council. Fort McMurray was founded on oil - which was discovered around 1930. The oil of this region does not flow like liquid oil, but is combined in a mixture of sand, water and bitumen, which is now called OIL SANDS. This mixture must be heated to high temperatures before being processed to separate out the oil from the sand.
Visitors may also participate in skiing (Fort McMurray spends 8 months every year under snow). Grande Prairie is a city in northern Alberta and the main town (or unofficial capital) of what is known as the Peace River Country or just Peace Country. The Peace Country area covers a huge flat plains area north and east of Grande Prairie (and also extends west into British Columbia). Picture - The Millenium Sun Dial was built in the year 2000 for the millenium celebrations. It is a working sundial and is located on Highway 43 right outside of the Visitor and Information Centre for Grande Prairie, Alberta. This site is under UNESCO World Heritage Protection. If you don't already know, the early First Nations Indians of Canada used to round up the buffalo and force them into a stampede towards a cliff. Those buffalo that went over the cliff and either died or were injured, their bodies were butchered for meat, furs and tools. It seems a cruel method of obtaining meat for food, bone tools and furs for clothes. The Canadian Rockies are home to 7 protected parks. There are 4 national parks - Jasper and Banff national parks in Alberta, and Yoho and Kootenay national parks in British Columbia. There are also 3 provincial parks in the Rockies, all in British Columbia. All 7 of these parks together make up the Canadian Rockies UNESCO World Heritage Park. You cannot visit Alberta without visiting Banff, Jasper, Whistler Mountain and Lake Louise. There is plenty to do.
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