Stretching along the North Saskatchewan River and its small urban tributaries within the City of Edmonton is the largest interconnected parks system in North America. The North Saskatchewan River winds its way through Edmonton and is the city’s most distinctive and beautiful geographic feature; archeological evidence suggests that it has been a site of human activity for 15,000 years.
The river valley avails Edmontonians of many cultural and recreational opportunities through its extensive system of connected parks, which bring the wilderness into the heart of the city and is much beloved as a treasured public space. As one Edmontonian put it, “Our river is often remote from the hustle and bustle of the city through which it flows.” If the river valley park system seems remote from the city, its existence and historical evolution has been inherently dependent on it. How the river valley park system came to be created and preserved in the face of pressures from urban and resource development is an important story, one that requires further study and more public awareness. This project will focus on the story of the river valley within the city limits, documenting the history of human interaction with the natural environment in an urban setting.
As we build this atlas, we hope it will be an accessible and dynamic interpretive tool for understanding the human presence on the river’s banks. Eventually the atlas will be populated with maps, stories and articles, oral histories, photographs, and video documentaries.
The principle investigators for this project are William Van Arragon, Assistant Professor of History at The King's University College, Michael P. Ferber, Assistant Professor of Geography at The King's University College, and Katie Wallbaum, a History major at King’s who wrote a majority of the historical articles included in this atlas.
This beta version was funded through a $5,000 grant from the Network in Canadian History and Environment (NICHE) and is being hosted by the King's Centre for Visualization in Science (KCVS).