It’s a city that I can honestly say I never really had a burning desire to get to.
That was a mistake.
Having spent three days in the city, Ish and I agreed that next summer we want to return. Why? So many reasons but here are a few:
1. Jazz Festival: We only caught the last night of it but it was a Tegan and Sara concert that blew us all away. We weren’t fans of the Canadian duo when we got there. We are now. The concert was held in the garden of the Delta Bessborough hotel and felt like an intimate concert with friends rather than the big city concert experiences we’re used to. Even better? When the kids got tired, we simply headed up to our room on the fourth floor and watched the end of it from there. I’m one of a few people who can say the duo serenaded me to sleep. Other acts that we missed included Macy Gray, Arrested Development, Aaron Neville and more. Next year: Same time, same channel.
2. The Delta Bessborough hotel: You check into this hotel thinking it’s like any other rail hotel: historic, beautiful and same old, same old. Not so. The history behind the Bessborough is the stuff of great movies. From the life story of the first guest who now has a lounge (Stovin’s) named after him to the puzzling extra elevator door (that has never opened) in the lobby, this place is full of intrigue. I loved that Sales and Marketing Director Stefan Deprez knew the history and had great stories to share.
3. The Meewasin Valley Trail: There is nothing better than when a city realizes its potential. With a riverscape that is breathtaking why not invest the money in bringing the people to it? That seems to be the thinking behind the pedestrian friendly River Landing where education and fun mix with public spaces that bring everyone from babes in arms to seniors with walkers down for a stroll. I loved the area most for the rolling hills on the other side of the river. Exactly the opposite of what I was led to believe was in the prairies.
4.Wanuskewin Heritage Centre: I would’ve sat here all day listening to Lorin Gardypie talk about his history – personal and ancestral. The First Nations’ Traditional Men’s Dancer explained with honesty and candour his road to dance and the intimate details of his craft. And the fact that he did so in a centre that is committed to helping young people of all ancestries better understand the role of the First Nations community in our common history and experience was as mesmerizing as his colourful robes and dancing eagle feathers.
5. Mendel Art Gallery: The art was intriguing – including a singular piece from my friend Carol Perehudoff‘s dad (I’d later bump into a full exhibit at the Glenbow in Calgary!) – but it was the fact that we could make our own art here that I loved best of all. The simple room with a few tables littered with paper, pastels, markers and crayons was enough to get the boys’ imaginations flowing and the fact that the gallery allows the kids to hang their masterpieces on the walls of the room mean that even I couldn’t resist telling people “I have a piece in the Mendel.”