Friday, November 11, 2011

A Fine House In Edmonton

Jasper is just a few hours' drive from Edmonton
I haven't been to Edmonton in many years, but I have really good memories of visiting there, back when I lived in Alberta. I remember the downtown was full of interesting stores, bookshops and theatres with a few nice old buildings mixed in. And it was just the sort of size I like, for I am rather like Goldilocks these days when it comes to cities - I like them not too big and not too small (odd, I know, for a born-and-raised New Yorker, but there it is). And it is also close to Jasper Provincial Park (about 225 miles away).

We went to Jasper one weekend with some intrepid friends who taught us how to camp - and I really liked it. We camped on a gorgeous stretch of sand next to a stream, and I actually had a good night's sleep in the tent. Plus we got to hike in the mountains and got closer to a glacier than I have ever been, before or since. It is a wonderful place, and I hope to be able to get back out there one of these years.
Government House, Edmonton, AB
There are several interesting neighborhoods in downtown Edmonton. I wish I had taken a better look at places like Westmount, Garneau and Strathcona (across the river, but still part of the city) where there are many old houses and even a few mansions. In particular, when I go back, I want to visit the lovely Jacobean Revival style Government House. It was built in 1912 and was the official residence for the lieutenant governors of Alberta from 1913 until 1937.

Government House was used as a military hospital during the World War II period and afterwards, housed convalescing veterans  - a most fitting thing to think of today, on Veterans' Day. It is now a provincial government conference center (or, to use the correct Canadian spelling, centre). One of the nicest of its features is the porte-cochère - the porch-like structure on the right, literally a porch under which a carriage could sit. So that when you were driving up to attend a formal dinner, you could avoid getting snow or rain on your ball gown. A most civilized architectural invention, don't you think?

[Images from Wikimedia Commons.]