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Baby Matters

Picnics in the Park

May 1st, 2015

By Delaine Dew

It’s Picnic Time! 

Oh Edmonton.  You never cease to amaze me with your weather shenanigans.  You can provide muddy puddles for splashing in and within a span of a week, snow up to a toddler’s knees and the opportunity to exercise the art of digging for toys covered in snow in the backyard which were left out due to mom’s overly optimistic outlook that spring was well on its way.  Not to mention that everything will melt and turn into rain boot splashing fun a week later.

By the time this article goes to press I hope that spring has decided to stick around, and we can start enjoying all the wonderful spring and summer activities Edmonton has to offer.  For my little one and I, that includes outdoor picnics anywhere we can find a safe, shady and fun place to lunch.

We have found great spots in Edmonton (and St. Albert – I would NEVER leave you guys out) to picnic and play at, our favourites being the Grizzly Bear Lodge Park and Kinsmen Spray Park at the Kinsmen (9100 Walterdale Hill), the Woodlands Water Play Park in St. Albert (165 Sturgeon Road), the Alberta Legislature Building grounds and outdoor wading pools (107 Street and 97 Avenue) and the Greenfield Community League Playground and Spray Park (3755 114 Street).  However, our ultimate favourite spot to picnic in Edmonton is Fort Edmonton Park, and I will explain why.

I remember the days waaaay before I became a mom, when the May long weekend was synonymous with road trips, camping, and sleeping until noon.  Now though, the approach of the May long weekend means one major thing for my daughter and I – Fort Edmonton Park is open for the season!  Now I say my daughter and I not to exclude my husband, but he just doesn’t have the same passion for history and picnics like I do, and will usually tolerate one or two Fort Edmonton picnics per season; I am not embarrassed to admit that my little girl and I frequent Fort Edmonton three to four times per month….last summer it got to the point where the costumed interpreters recognized us … anyway, I digress.

This year, Fort Edmonton Park opens on May 16 at 10 a.m.  If you anticipate visiting more than two times during the spring/summer season, I would highly recommend purchasing an annual pass – it pays for itself in just over two visits and has numerous perks like 15 per cent off merchandise, advance ticket access to special events like the ever-popular Halloween Spook-tacular, and my personal favourite – express entry for those busy days at the Park.

One of my friends once said to me, “I haven’t been to Fort Edmonton since elementary school.  All I remember is old houses and a train.  What do you guys do there anyway?”  Oh my little grasshopper, what is there NOT to do there?  When my daughter and I went (over and over again) last summer, we would typically wheel the stroller down 1920 Street, visit the Mellon Farm where we usually play with the old fashioned toys upstairs and say hello to the “time traveling sheep” (they frequent between 1885 and 1920).  We keep strolling until my daughter sees something she wants to explore or a building she wants to go in – her favourites being the Fire Hall on 1905 Street, the Gyro Park on 1905 Street and what we call “the old fashioned houses” along 1905 Street (the old Ferkins house is rumoured to be haunted…eeeps!).

We typically set up our picnic around Egge’s Stopping House on 1885 Street, after grabbing lemonade from the Jasper House Hotel on 1885 Street.  I really can’t think of a more idyllic place to picnic – right in the middle of nature, history, the friendly bell of the streetcar passing by, and the far off chug of the steam train as it winds its way around Fort Edmonton.  Where else in Edmonton can you picnic like that, walk a few steps to say hi to goats, cows, pigs and chickens (they live at the Ottewell Homestead on 1885 Street with the time travelling sheep), wander through a giant Fort (we call the Fort “the BIIIG house”) and take a train ride back?  It’s a really special place.

I always find the picnic spots within the Park to be very peaceful, even on very busy days.  If you happen to forget your picnic, there are several places within the Park where you can buy food and beverages, and the friendly employees can direct you to a great picnic spot.  I hope you give Fort Edmonton Park a try, especially if you are one of those Edmontonians who have not visited the Park since an elementary school field trip (for shame!), and if you want some extra company, chances are on a nice day my daughter and I will be there with our picnic basket in hand.  We’d love if you would join us!  Just don’t forget the mosquito repellant.

Delaine is a mom to a beautiful little girl, a wife and lawyer in Edmonton. She enjoys running, reading, watching bad TV with her husband and most importantly, being a mom. Delaine recently started a blog “Moms of 1” (www.momsof1.com) with a friend of hers and is having fun blogging and connecting with other moms.

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