I have a confession to make. Back in 2008, when my husband and I had just finished our degrees and the world economy was in a downward spin, he was offered a job. Good news. Great, even. But – and it’s tough to admit – this central-Canadian girl swallowed hard when she heard it would mean moving to Edmonton. Edmonchuck. Deadmonton.
They are unfortunate nicknames that don’t fit the city I now know, love and, yes, champion (pun intended) to people around the world.
So it might be the most northerly metropolis in North America, but it’s certainly not a Siberian gulag or sleepy backwater. In fact, Edmonton combines the best of the different places I’ve lived, creating a wonderful geographic fusion.
It’s the same size and feel as Ottawa – my childhood home – with its abundant parks, government workers, and festivals. But it’s also a little libertarian like Wyoming, where I hung my hat for two years.
There are times I swear I’m back in Dawson City, Yukon, where I spent half a winter writing in Pierre Berton’s childhood home. It’s especially strong when I’m walking my dog through the snowy back alleys of Mill Woods and smell a wood fire, or happen to catch a glimpse of the northern lights, while hanging out in a backyard hot tub.
And if I squint just right looking at Whyte Avenue, I’m back at university in Montreal. On a rainy fall afternoon, I could easily be in the Kerrisdale or Kitsilano neighbourhoods of Vancouver.
Edmonton also indulges my international tastes. Missing France? I head to Duchess Bake Shop. And I promise you won’t find better butter chicken in Leeds than at one of our great Indian restaurants.
After two years of enjoying all this city has to offer, I have a new nickname for it: Home.
Danielle Metcalfe-Chenail is the author of For the Love of Flying. She is currently working on two books, Polar Winds: A Century of Flying Canada’s North (forthcoming from Frontenac House), and a Second World War-era novel, Chasing Skies. She is a member of Avenue‘s Top 40 Under 40, class of 2012.