It’s hard to find time for dates these days – but I do remember one perfect date with my husband, back when we spent our slow easy days exploring the city together. Under the summer sun, we strolled through the wading ponds and gardens at the Legislative grounds to catch the century-old heritage streetcar across the river – at 50 m (165 ft) up in the air. We were on our way to the Fringe Festival to eat at our favourite curry truck, see a play and linger at the pub into the night.
On Board the Shining Streetcar
We boarded the shiny 1912 streetcar, the lovingly polished wood and brass shimmering in the warm afternoon light. The volunteer radial railway society spent 17 years restoring the Edmonton #33 to its original condition, bringing the heritage car back into service across the High Level Bridge during the summer. The bell, bright and happy, ring-ting-tinged and we pulled away from the wooden downtown platform. The conductor in his old-style hat and jacket punched our tickets and gave us a lesson in city history, as we emerged from the dark riverbank tunnel, out onto the top deck of the bridge.
The View from the Top
Behind us the grand sandstone domes of the legislature and the Fairmont Hotel Macdonald, an iconic white chateau and hundred-year-old city landmark, perch on the north side. The river snakes below – footpaths winding through wild aspen groves and paved trails threading along the riverbanks. On the south side of the river, the university area waits with independent coffee and tea shops and the best cinnamon buns around. But first, in the middle of the bridge, the driver stops the car and pauses at the dramatic view for photo opps from one of the highest streetcar bridge crossings in the world.
A Night on Whyte
That day, we rode all the way to the end of the three-km (1.8-mile) line in Old Strathcona – to the streetcar barns and museum, the big indoor farmer’s market and lots of live theatre. The busy sidewalks of its main street, Whyte Avenue – are lined with brick heritage buildings that hold the oldest movie house in Edmonton, our favourite restaurants and trendy shopping. This popular neighbourhood has a special liveliness during the Fringe – the second largest theatre festival in the world – busy with street performers, art lovers and hungry foodies.
Just writing this I had a big idea – this fall, it’s ten years since we met, maybe it’s time for a date-night revival. We’ll book early to get tickets for the new streetcar music nights – where local folkies play in a hundred year old car parked on top of the city’s highest bridge at sunset. We’ll spend an intimate evening – the streetcar holds under 40 people – steeped in history and music, watching the pink sky fade to black and letting time get away from us. Then we can stay over on Whyte in the suite where he proposed. This would be just about the coolest date ever – until next time.