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10 Reasons to visit Alberta during Canada’s Sesquicentennial (150th anniversary) in 2017

Author: Jody Robbins

Dividing her time between Calgary and Canmore, Jody Robbins is an award-winning writer who loves après-ski equally as much as snowboarding. When not kicking back in the Rockies, she’s often found travelling the globe with her family.

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Royal Tyrrell Museum

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It’s not often you get to use a word like sesquicentennial. I actually had to look it up. Equally, it’s not often a country gets to celebrate its 150th birthday and Canada is revving up for one heck of a party in 2017. Mark your calendar for some of Alberta’s contributions. 

Heritage Park restores a piece of Canadian history 

Canada’s largest living history museum, located in Calgary, is restoring a 1905 wooden Colonist Rail Car, a truly Canadian national treasure and one of just two left in the country. An accompanying exhibit and bilingual performance launching July 1 will bring to life the experience of thousands of settlers who travelled across Canada via Colonist Cars. Stop by Heritage Park to watch the restoration process, happening over the next two years. 

The Royal Alberta Museum  

When its doors open in late 2017, the brand new Royal Alberta Museum in Edmonton will be the largest of its kind in Western Canada and a welcome addition to the downtown Arts District. The architecture of the building reflects Alberta’s diversity of landscapes and culture. The museum will feature the province’s natural and human history, with an emphasis on education and public programming. Hint: don’t miss the Bug Room.  

A new look at dinosaurs 

Opening May, 2017, Grounds for Discovery at the Royal Tyrrell Museum in Drumheller will be a must-see exhibit from a museum that has been at the forefront of paleontology for years. Mark this one on your calendars, dino-lovers.

Expansions at Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village 

This open-air museum depicting the life of Alberta's early Ukrainian settlers will open the Galician Farmstead in 2017. The farmstead tells the story of Ukrainians who came from the crown land of Galicia - once part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, now part of western Ukraine. Also, Stelmach House Learning Centre (the home built by the grandparents of Alberta’s former Alberta premier Ed Stelmach) is being restored to its former glory, and will tell the story of the challenges faced by early Alberta’s early pioneers. 

A watery rendezvous 

The Confluence Heritage Society of Canada will inspire you to celebrate the importance of Canada’s waterways as a means of exploration, transportation and development. Two canoe events in Alberta will celebrate the co-operation between First Nations and early Canadian fur traders. The North Canoe Brigade is a white-water run from Saskatchewan Crossing in Banff National Park to Rocky Mountain House National Historic Site, taking place June 24 to 28. The Rupertsland Express Canadian Heritage Canoe Race begins at Rocky Mountain House National Historic Site on June 30, and winds up in The Pas, Manitoba on July 22.  

Lighting up winter 

Showcasing Calgary’s urban landscape from new perspectives, this winter light festival takes place over the Family Day long weekend in February. One-of-a-kind installations, projections, and interactive art from national and local designers warm up the winter scene. In recognition of Canada’s anniversary, an oversized chandelier sculpture made of clear chopsticks will celebrate Chinese culture and the migrant workers who built the Canadian Pacific Railway. 

Celebrating Alberta’s impact on Canada 

This new exhibit at the Provincial Archives of Alberta, opening July 1, 2017, reflects on the evolving role Alberta has played within Canada. Exploring Canadian events of importance that occurred because of the innovation of Alberta and its people, the exhibit provides an opportunity to celebrate the province’s unique contributions to Canada. 

Legislature looks back 

Instead of taking a Euro-centric narrative that ignores the story of Canada’s Indigneous peoples, the Borealis Gallery’s sesquicentennial exhibit in the provincial Legislature building in Edmonton will celebrate Canada’s longer history, its many boundaries (both real and perceived), our dark past and shared future. A highlight of a year filled with special events, The Dream We Form By Being Together will run from June 29-October 9, 2017.  

The McLaughlin Story: from immigrants to auto barons 

Two Alberta museums that tell the story of transportation in the province are mounting a two-component exhibition illustrating Canada’s historical automobile success story. Cardston’s Remington Carriage Museum will showcase the McLaughlin family’s earlier history with the largest collection of McLaughlin horse-drawn carriages in Canada. The Reynolds-Alberta Museum in Wetaskiwin traces the evolution from carriages to cars with the largest Canadian collection of McLaughlin and McLaughlin-Buick automobiles. Both exhibits run May 20, 2017 to October 9, 2018. 

Enjoy Canada’s national parks for free 

Alberta boasts some of Canada’s most iconic national parks, and admission to those parks is free throughout 2017. From the Canadian Rockies national parks of Banff, Jasper and Waterton Lakes, to the wonders of Elk Island National Park and the untouched northern expanse of Wood Buffalo National Park, 2017 will be a year to celebrate the importance of Canada’s protected parklands. This could be the sweetest deal of 2017 – your pass gets you into every national park in Canada. Road trip! 

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