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Edmonton Wayfinding Project: The Art of (Not) Getting Lost

How do you orient yourself in an unfamiliar place — without relying on a car or smart phone? The answer is wayfinding: anything that informs your navigation, such as directional signage and indicators. Relative to other major urban centers, Edmonton lacks any consistent wayfinding design — but that’s beginning to change.

Courtesy Edmonton Wayfinding Project

Courtesy Edmonton Wayfinding Project

When Tim Querengesser moved to Edmonton in March 2013, he noticed it was difficult to navigate the pedway, transit, and pedestrian walkway systems with the existing wayfinding signage. Inspired by citizen-driven wayfinding projects in other cities like Legible London, he started The Edmonton Wayfinding Project (EWP) to advance conversations with the city and engage locals in the discussion about creating better pedestrian wayfinding in Edmonton.

Good wayfinding can help visitors and locals alike navigate and explore the city more easily. Visitors to a city are often car-less, and are inclined to call a cab to take them to their destination because of an apprehension of getting lost. Querengesser says the presence of a detailed wayfinding design would change that: “wayfinding can be used in two ways, in a way that makes it easy to understand how to get from point A to point B, and in an adventure way like, ‘I want to go explore and see what I find’.”

To gather local input on wayfinding, EWP has a feature exhibit through June 2014 at Harcourt House gallery. Their first installation was a chalkboard wall map that people could interact with to create an insider’s perspective of the city. “We think of things in stories and a map is a story, it shows we all think of the city in our own way,” Querengesser explains. “It helps us think of Edmonton as more than just a grid of streets and cars. Our map shows that it’s shops and parks and humans and events… it’s where things happen.”

Querengesser says innovations like Google Maps do not negate the need for good wayfinding: “on Google maps everything looks the same. 104 St. and 106 St. look the same on the map but in real life 104 St. is this pedestrian-heavy, vibrant destination with some of the city’s popular shops and restaurants, and the farmers’ market, and you don’t get that sense from the digital map.” Wayfinding, Tim explains, serves as place-making to create an identity for a location by naming it. For instance, areas like Whyte Ave. and Garneau are popular, well known destinations in the city that encompass several shops, restaurants, and entertainment venues that are local favourites.

In its pilot stage, EWP has built and presented a functional, to-scale prototype, presented a public art installation, had their project accepted for the 2014 International Information Design Conference in London, England, and has designed a consistent set of symbols and labels for use on their directional signage. Now, the City of Edmonton has taken note and begun the first stages of its wayfinding program, Walk Edmonton. Wayfinding signs have been placed around Edmonton’s downtown core and the city is asking users to provide feedback in a survey.

Take the wayfinding challenge and go for a walk! Don’t anticipate getting lost, but rather expect to discover something new. You might just find a new favourite restaurant or unique shop en route to your next destination.

To learn more about The Edmonton Wayfinding Project, visit their installation at Harcourt House, visit edmontonwayfindingproject.com, or visit the City of Edmonton’s Wayfinding Project Page.

 — Breanna Mroczek

For the Thrill Seeker: 5 Thrilling Edmonton Attractions

Skydiver in freefall high up in the air
You only need 60 seconds to pack in all the thrills that skydiving has to offer! Whether you want to take the plunge for the first time or are an experienced jumper, dive from Canada’s fastest jump plane to experience an exhilarating 120 mph freefall. Skydive season starts April 1, and several jumps take place daily. Edmonton Skydive, 59523 RR 260, Westlock County, 780-884-5867, edmontonskydive.com

NEED FOR SPEED Race your car or motorbike down the one quarter mile drag strip Fast and the Furious style at Castrol Raceway during JB’s Power Centre Street Legal races every Friday night. If snow is keeping you off the tracks, head to Speeders Indoor ProKarts track to race electric powered pro-karts. Castrol Raceway, Highway 19 & Highway 2, Nisku, 780-468-3278, castrolraceway.com. Speeders Indoor ProKarts, 13145-149 St., 780-451-4377, speeders.ca.

HIGH FLYING FUN Soar 450 feet across the world’s largest indoor zipline with Line Tech Ziplines. You’ll get a view of the World Waterpark, where thrill seekers will want to try water slides like Cyclone where a trap door opens to release riders into a vertical free fall, before they encounter a gravity defying loop. West Edmonton Mall, 8882-170 St., 780-489-8147, linetechziplines.com.

TRIPLE THE FUN If you’re always in line to try the fastest, most topsy-turvy rides at amusement parks, you won’t want to pass up a ride on the Mindbender! It’s the world’s largest indoor triple-loop roller coaster, reaching heights of up to 14 stories and speeds up to 100 km/h. If you’re not too dizzy after the ride, head over to Space Shot to get launched 120 feet high in less than two seconds, all before plummeting back to the ground below. Galaxyland at West Edmonton Mall, 8882-170 St., 780-444-5300, wem.ca.

NATURE AT HIGH SPEED Take a drive off the beaten path and experience the great outdoors on a snowmobile or quad — either one might be suitable for the weather this time of year! Visit altasnowmobile.ab.ca or aohva.com for information on trails and rentals near the city. Pioneer Offroad Rentals, 7907 Davies Rd., 780-454-1010, pioneerrentals.ca. Expedition Rentals, 7012-82 Ave., 780-932-2746, expeditionrentals.ca.

Beauty Picks for Spring at LUX Beauty Boutique


Natasha Ross and Danielle Decruyper of Lux Beauty Boutique

LUX Beauty Boutique
 is a beautiful local shop overflowing with top beauty products and has quickly become the go-to spot for local and visiting cosmetic junkies alike! You’ll find products you didn’t even know your beauty routine needed, but will be all the better because of them. Natasha Ross and Danielle Decruyper — two of the in-store beauty experts and makeup artists — share their picks for keeping your routine fresh for spring:

What trends are we seeing in nail colours for spring?
Pastels are really in this spring, in all hues. It is less about the sparkles and nail art and more about pure color in beautiful tones. Deborah Lippmann just released their Spring Reveries collection, which is filled with gorgeous tones that exude the feeling of springtime. My favorite is La Vie en Rose, it’s a pale pink tone with a light shimmer that looks amazing in the sunlight. Layering tones is also really big this spring. Try a coat of a sheer pastel nail lacquer on top of a more vibrant colour you already have — the results are gorgeous.

What about makeup trends for the season?
Spring is all about freshness and renewal, and this really reflects in the makeup for the season. Light, sheer tones are going to win and flatter everyone. Plus they are really low maintenance. Luminizers and cream blushes create a dewy finish, and lip color is moving away from matte and more into light and sheer finishes. Paul & Joe’s new lip colors, especially Poppy and Peony, which are citrus orange sheer and bright pink sheer finishes, give your natural look a little somethin’ extra. 

Can you recommend a great spring fragrance?
How can spring not be about floral fragrances? The key to this season is that scents are being mixed, matched and blended to create a full garden of notes. MCMC perfume oils are very outdoorsy and the oils blend together nicely to create personalized scents. Library of Flowers also recently released mini perfume sets that encourage you to be adventurous and create new fresh scent libraries.

Hip(ster) Hangouts in Edmonton

The cozy rustic interior of Three Boars Eatery. Photo courtesy Three Boars Eatery.

The cozy rustic interior of Three Boars Eatery. Photo courtesy Three Boars Eatery.

Exposed wood, craft beer, chalkboard accents, creative cocktails, and clipboard menus… You can’t help but feel cool in a place where an Old Fashioned is a staple on the drink menu and the dining room exudes a rustic, chic feel. Please your palate at one of these hip eateries in Edmonton!

The vintage Victorian motifs and vinyl record library are striking features of The Common, though the chicken and waffles will be the most memorable part of your dining experience — in a good way! Its ambiance, innovative menu, and cocktail list make it fit for dinner, drinks, and dancing. 9910-109 St., 780-452-7333, thecommon.ca. 

The Sugarbowl’s gooey, oversized cinnamon buns are the definitive menu item at this popular breakfast spot. It transitions nicely into an all-day dining room and late night retreat with upscale comfort food and craft beers by the bottle. If you don’t have much of a sweet tooth and prefer a savoury late night nosh, go for a bowl of their addictive smoked paprika popcorn. 10922-88 Ave., 780-433-8369, thesugarbowl.org. 

Score one of the 38 seats at the tucked-away Three Boars Eatery and you’ll find a weekly-changing menu based on the seasonal ingredients that the chef picks up at local farmers’ markets. Plan on sampling a few plates — they’re designed for sharing — or just having a light meal. If you simply want to relax with a drink, the bartender will be more than happy to concoct something special for you. 8424-109 St., 780-757-2600, threeboars.ca 

Interview: The Head and the Heart

Photo by Curtis Wave Millard

Photo by Curtis Wave Millard

The Head and the Heart has already got a warm welcome from Edmonton fans, and their tour doesn’t start until March.

The band played to a sold-out, enthusiastic crowd at the 2013 Edmonton Folk Music festival. Locals were so eager for return that their upcoming April 10, 2014 show at McDougall United Church sold out so quickly that the concert was quickly moved to a larger location — the acoustically impressive Winspear Centre. This was news to The Head and the Heart’s vocalist/guitarist Jonathan Russell when I phoned him for an interview: “A larger venue, really? So are we playing for, like, 600 people now?” When I told him that the venue holds 2000 people — ok, 1932 to be exact — he was shocked. “What? Amazing. Awesome. That is… that’s a pleasant surprise. Right on, Edmonton.”

The Head and the Heart — a six piece folk-rock band from Seattle — will be touring music from their October 2013 album Let’s Be Still, which Russell says is very welcome after playing music from their debut album at so many shows and festivals. “It was a good problem to have, that people just kept wanting to hear our old record and we were able to tour it for so long. But I’m so glad we finally got the time to record new songs. These new songs are still relevant to my life so it’s nice that when I play them live I believe in what I sing. We’re like a new band with this new album, everything is so refreshed.”

Russell says that Let’s Be Still was written with live performances in mind, sensing they’d be able to perform this album for large audiences. ”It is easier playing in the bigger venue with the lights, fog machine… all that stuff. You just believe in the song as it creates this ambiance. I personally really enjoy… not necessarily acting out the songs, but, you know, being in character. Doing what you can on the stage to convey certain ideas in the songs and make a seamless performance from one song to the next. You don’t want the audience to slip out of the moment.” Expect a great live show from this band — with a full stage set, numerous instruments, and six talented musicians, it’s an impressive set.

It was clear fans loved The Head and the Heart at the Edmonton Folk Music Festival, and the feeling was mutual: “The Canadian folk fests we do are always so good,” Russell says, “and we meet so many new musician friends from those experiences. But it’s nice to headline your own show. You know people are there to see you and that instills a sort of confidence — you can be really open with the crowd and trust that they’ll know what you’re doing.”

“Well, I guess I’ll see 2000 of you in March,” Russell says to end our conversation, still overwhelmed by the response. Don’t miss a chance to be a part of the crowd enjoying live renditions of singles like “Shake” and “Another Story” — you won’t be able to resist getting up from your seat and moving along to their folky, soulful rhythms.

Catch The Head and the Heart on their cross-Canada tour March 27 – April 10, and at the Squamish Valley Music Festival in August.

The Head and the Heart | April 10, 8 pm | Winspear Centre, 99 St. & 102 Ave. | General Admission $37; Tickets available by calling 780-428-1414 or online at www.winspearcentre.com




Interview: Royal Wood

Royal Wood 1a

It’s only January, but Royal Wood already knows it’s going to be an exciting — albeit busy — year.

His Western Canadian tour is already underway, his new album The Burning Bright will be released on March 18, 2014, and then he’ll be back on the road for concerts and music festivals from May into the new year.

That’s right, he’s already planning ahead to 2015. See? It’s going to be a busy year for this Canadian folk/pop/alternative artist I suggest you listen to his music yourself to get a sense of his genre-bending sound: sometimes upbeat and addictive (“On Top Of Your Love”), sometimes throbbing with emotion (“Do You Recall”), sometimes breathtakingly simple (“Juliet”).

Royal will preview some new material during his Western Canadian tour — including the already-released single “Forever and Ever” — but will treat fans to some familiar favourites. “I plan my shows as if I were an audience member,” Wood says, who knows that fans come to the shows to hear “the hits”, which they can engage with more than songs they’ve never heard. Wood’s Western Canadian tour will be “a big spectacle of a show . . . I’m touring with a full band, lights, everything… I tried to make something world class.”

The new material debuted will be songs from The Burning Bright, an album that Wood describes as “honest, raw, and vulnerable.” Wood wrote most of the album on a creative sabbatical, of sorts, in Ireland. “I’m so connected to this album . . . I’d just paint or write or play piano and just create. As an artist you hope every record is different, and this is the most introspective one I’ve made. I finally feel like I’ve made art for art’s sake. With the last record I got pulled into the business side . . . but with [The Burning Bright] I’m more artistically satisfied.”

While writing the album, Wood took a hiatus from social media and the internet. Now, Wood’s a little more inviting of social media. “[As an artist] it’s necessary,” Wood explains, “and it can be enjoyable, I’ve had memorable moments . . . and I’ve got my Street Team who do incredible things with social media . . . but there’s nothing like face to face communication. I don’t want to hear how you are over text. I want to meet for coffee and talk to you to find out. [The internet] has made art disposable . . . anyone can make something and give it away for free. But one thing that can’t be copied is a live show. It’s a very special moment for me — and, I hope, the audience — being there on stage. I like that.”

With explanations like that, I’d like to meet Wood for coffee to hear more — and you’re going to want to see him, too.

Wood’s show at The Arden in St. Albert is sold out, but there are still tickets available for his Friday, January 24 show at the Maclab Centre in Leduc via www.tixonthesquare.com. If you missed him this time around, don’t worry — his next tour begins in May 2014 and continues through 2015. An exact schedule of dates will soon be announced.

Jerusalem: The IMAX 3D Experience

JER Film Stills 007_Damascus_Farah.091784

Experience one of the most historically significant and culturally diverse cities in the world without getting on a plane — the striking imagery and immersive effects of IMAX 3D will bring you into the heart of the city in the  film Jerusalem.

Daniel Ferguson — who directed, wrote, and produced the film — studied religious theology in university. “I had never really found anyone to have an intelligent conversation about religion with,” he said. But after taking some religious studies courses with some “very cool professors”, Ferguson realized how fascinated he was by the study of religion. He’s now worked on several film projects and when approached to work on this one, was delighted by the opportunity to tell a story of Jerusalem that took an approach beyond the usual references to political conflict.

The film was not an easy one to make; it took over three years, 12 trips, and plenty of negotiation with religious and political authorities in the city to make. Ferguson says it was difficult to get access to some of the sites they wanted to film, but timing — and being able to make several trips to Jerusalem, a diverse, collaborative crew and the persuasive power of the IMAX brand all contributed to their ability to get the shots they needed to tell the story.

While the film certainly depicts the traditions of Muslim, Christian, and Jewish religions, it doesn’t advocate for any religion and it does a good job of taking an apolitical approach. It’s more of a human interest story, showcasing some of the customs, rituals, traditions, and lifestyles that take place daily, and during special religious occasions, throughout the city. Travel buffs will love the stunning footage and sweeping aerial views of the city — a rare sight, since planes are not allowed to fly in the airspace over Jerusalem.

Fans of the popular show Sherlock will recognize the British-accented voice of the narrator: Benedict Cumberbatch guides viewers through the film with explanations and insights of the footage. When Cumberbatch isn’t narrating, three teen girls from Jerusalem lead us through the important practices and rituals that are a part of their daily and annual routines. The result is an honest, informal perspective that presents Jerusalem as it is to these young women, rather than how it is perceived to be by any outside party.

JER Post Prod J7A1915

Ferguson and Cumberbatch in post-production.

Jerusalem 3D is the first film to be shown in the newly renovated digital IMAX theatre at the Telus World of Science — Edmonton. Visit www.telusworldofscienceedmonton.com for a list of daily showtimes. IMAX films cost $8.50 – $12.95, and are discounted when General Admission to the rest of the exhibits is purchased.

Edmonton’s Best New Restaurant 2013: RGE RD


RGE RD is Where Edmonton’s Best New Restaurant 2013
Photo by Pedro Escobar

You never quite know what to expect when you wander into RGE RD, the newest and most highly anticipated addition to Edmonton’s dining scene — other than highly creative and utterly delicious creations of some sort or another, that is. Chef and owner Blair Lebsack is passionate about the whole farm-to table concept or, as he puts it, “the farms we work with dictate the menu. We don’t tell them what to grow; we work with what they give us.”

Look for fresh, seasonal and local. Look for a constantly changing menu, and look for the unexpected. Oh, and yes, definitely look for steak. As for the type of steak, well…

You see, RGE RD brings in whole cows and works from there. Tenderloin might take centre stage one night, rib eye another, and flank another and… well, you get the idea. With a wood-burning oven, a grill and some cast-iron pans at his fingertips, exactly how Lebsack might cook that steak is anyone’s guess. It will be served with some sort of beef-y ragout (think beef/onion/mushroom), though, and it will be accompanied by something warm and comforting and surprising (think creamy mashed potatoes with radish greens). Oh, and according to Lebsack, it will be “the best steak in the world.” What goes with the best steak in the world? Beer [from Hog's Head Brewery in St. Albert] , of course!

After a steak like that you might think you’re completely satisfied, but how could you not dig into something as yummy as the Chocolate S’mores? Ooey, gooey, house-made and topped off with a fabulously innovative smoked ice cream – you won’t even miss the campfire! 10643-123 St, 780-447-4577; rgerd.caJan Hostyn 


6 Edmonton Restaurants for Gluten Free Diners

No need to go hungry in Edmonton if you need to eat gluten free! Here are 5 diverse dining options in Edmonton with plenty of gluten free selections.

No need to go hungry in Edmonton if you need to eat gluten free! Here are 6 diverse dining options in Edmonton with plenty of gluten free selections.
Photo Courtesy of Craft Beer Market

1. Narayanni’s
This South African-Indian fusion restaurant serves mouthwatering made-from-scratch foods prepared with just the right amount of a tantalizing blend of spices. All of the entrees are gluten free — as are a selection of soups, salads, appetizers, and desserts — and there is an excellent selection of vegetarian and vegan options, too.

• Narayanni’s, 10131-81 Ave., 780-756-7112, narayannis.com
• Map and reviews

2. Gluten Free Diner
Their name makes it obvious that this a welcoming spot for those needing to eat gluten free, and the food is equally no-nonsense! Enjoy favourite comfort food dishes like burgers, sandwiches, and all-day breakfast creations like pancakes and waffles. Everything is prepared with gluten free ingredients in a gluten-free facility.

• Gluten Free Diner, 10015-82 Ave., 780-757-8570, gfdiners.com
• Map and reviews

3. Noorish
Hipsters and yogis love to gather at this health-and-wellness joint, which serves up organic, fresh foods and superfood elixirs. Every dish — except for one — is gluten free and vegan, and absolutely bursts with flavour with salads, noodle bowls, and “burger” variations adorning the menu. Even carnivorous types will be satisfied going meat-free for a meal here. If you’ve saved room for dessert, don’t pass up an opportunity to try the Divine Kiwi Lime Pie. The elixir beverages are likewise addictively delicious and packed with nourishment and replenishing ingredients.

• Noorish, 8440-109 St., 780-756-6880, noorish.ca
• Map and reviews

4. Highlevel Diner
This cozy diner has extensive Celiac Breakfast and Brunch and Celiac Lunch and Dinner menus for you to indulge in their fresh, homemade comfort food. Celiacs can also enjoy weekly specials including the locally famous Ukrainian Plate on Thursdays (with gluten free pyrogy), Fish and Chips and (gluten free) Beer on Mondays, and the Sunday Night Prime Rib Rib Dinner.

• High Level Diner, 10912-88 Ave., 780-433-1317,  highleveldiner.com
• Map and reviews

5. CRAFT Beer Market
Most dishes at this beer restaurant — which are upscale twists on favourite comfort foods like burgers, pastas, flatbreads, and soups — can be prepared with gluten free breads, buns, and/or pastas to accommodate celiacs. Even better? All of their breads are made in-house, except for their brunch breads which are made at the local Popular Bakery. Quench your thirst with one of six varieties of gluten free beers, brewed in international breweries.

• CRAFT Beer Market, 10013-101A Ave., 780-424-2337,  edmonton.craftbeermarket.ca
• Map and reviews

6. Remedy Cafe

Known as the place in the city for a great mug of chai tea, there’s plenty of Indian full meal items to enjoy that can all be made with gluten free wraps, rice, or pita. Looking for something light? There’s an assortment of gluten free squares, cakes, muffins, bagels, and cookies to snack on.

• Remedy Cafe, three locations in Edmonton, remedycafe.ca

10 Spots for a Great New Year’s Eve Dinner in Edmonton

Celebrate the past events of 2013 and anticipate all that’s to come in 2014 with a New Year’s dinner in Edmonton! Whether you’re looking to get dressed up and head to an elaborate soiree, or for something a little more low key, these 10 spots are serving up meals that are sure to satisfy — be sure to make a reservation, New Year’s Eve is always a popular night for dining out!

Craft Beer Market is serving up a tasty Brewmaster's Dinner for New Year's Eve in Edmonton!

Craft Beer Market is serving up a tasty Brewmaster’s Dinner and Beer Pairing for New Year’s Eve in Edmonton!

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Holiday Gift Ideas Edmonton

Here are 10 sure-to-please gift ideas for everyone on your list this holiday season — all with a unique local twist!

1. A Reindeer!
Santa’s not the only one with reindeer! Adopt a reindeer (or a cute snowy owl or otter!) at the Edmonton Valley Zoo for a one-time fee and aid in improved habitats and enrichment materials for your animal. Though your new pet has to stay at the zoo, you’ll get a photo and plush animal to keep, as well as an adoption certificate and invitation to the annual Parent Appreciation event.
Cost: $75
Available at: Edmonton Valley Zoo


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Your Guide to Harry Potter: The Exhibition in Edmonton and Interview with Oliver and James Phelps

It’s finally here! Harry Potter: The Exhibition is showing in Edmonton at the Telus World of Science November 23, 2013 – April 6, 2014. Visit www.telusworldofscience.com for more information including tickets, hours, and location.

Where Edmonton got a sneak preview of the exhibit and a chance to talk with James and Oliver Phelps, who portray Fred and George Weasley in the Harry Potter films. Read on to find out what to expect from this magical attraction!


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