Culture of Alberta
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Summer brings many festivals to the province of Alberta. Edmonton's Fringe Festival is the world's second largest after Edinburgh's. Edmonton also hosts some of Canada's largest Folk Festivals, Multicultural Festivals, and Heritage Days (to name a few). Calgary is also home to Carifest, the second largest Caribbean festival in the nation (after Caribana in Toronto). These events highlight the province's cultural diversity and love of entertainment. Most of the major cities have several performing theatre companies who entertain in venues as diverse as the Arts Barns and the Francis Winspear Centre.
Both Edmonton and Calgary have quality symphony orchestras. Many performing venues exist throughout the province, notably Calgary's Jack Singer Concert Hall and Edmonton's Francis Winspear Centre. The Northern Lights Theatre located at Keyano College in Fort McMurray is known throughout western Canada for its quality performances and curriculum. Several well-known theatre artists got their start in an Alberta theatre.
Although Alberta lacks a preponderance of notable large art galleries, many small galleries which focus on local artists and artisans exist in the major centres. Canadian and northern Canadian art and crafts are notable in their popularity. Local sculptors, painters, weavers and many other artisans show original works throughout the province.
Architecturally, the province takes pride in the work of Douglas Cardinal, whose curved designs lend Red Deer College and other Alberta facilities a distinct flavour. Calgary is known for its New York- or Toronto-style glass-and-steel high-rises while Edmonton boasts many facades from the early 1900s. Sadly, many of the valuable historical buildings of both cities were destroyed in a 60's attempt to "modernize." However, Edmonton's extensive reconstruction of Fort Edmonton, together with themed streets for period architecture (often including the original buildings) ensures that the past is alive and well in the city at Fort Edmonton Park.
Alberta boasts one of the few successful and accredited distance learning universities (Athabasca University) in Canada. Of the schools of higher learning one cannot ignore the two major colleges, Northern Alberta Institute of Technology and Southern Alberta Institute of Technology which produce annually thousands of qualified, ready-to-work graduates in disciplines as varied as 'Mechanical Technology' and 'Baking'. Alberta also is home to a number of Universities, including the University of Alberta( Ranked 59th in the world) as well as the University of Calgary, University of Lethbridge, Grant MacEwan University and Mount Royal University
Many films and some television shows have been shot in Alberta. Clint Eastwood's Unforgiven and the CBC's Jake and the Kid are notables among many. For years, the TV program Viper was shot in downtown Calgary. Though it could be said that few films and television shows are filmed in Alberta compared to the rest of Canada, this is really a matter of finances and grants from the various provincial governments and can change on a whim or an election. Some notable oases in this desert are Banff, a Rocky Mountain resort town that is home to the annual Banff World Television Festival, and the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology in Drumheller which has a remarkable collection of dinosaur fossils found in the Alberta badlands.
Tourism is also important to Albertans. Millions of visitors come to Alberta each year just for the Stampede and for Edmonton's K-Days (formerly called Klondike Days). Edmonton is also the gateway to the only Canadian route to the Yukon gold fields, and the only route which did not require gold-seekers to travel the exhausting and dangerous Chilkoot Pass.
Visitors throng to Calgary for ten days every July for a taste of "Stampede Fever". As a celebration of Canada's own Wild West and the cattle ranching industry, the Stampede welcomes around 1.2 million people each year. Only an hour's drive from the Rocky Mountains, Calgary also makes a visit to tourist attractions like Banff National Park something which can easily be done in a day. Calgary and Banff together host nearly 5 million tourists yearly.
Edmonton is Alberta's number one tourism destination in several key categories and Alberta's top-ranked metropolitan destination in other categories. Edmonton is the number one destination in overall person-visits to Alberta and the number one destination in person-visits from other provinces. Edmonton is also Alberta’s number one metropolitan destination for U.S. visitations and revenues.
Alberta also has a large ethnic population. Both the Chinese and East Indian communities are significant, and Alberta is home to the largest Francophone population west of Ontario, most of whom live in the north of the province. As reported in the 2001 census, the Chinese represented nearly four percent of Alberta's population and East Indians represented better than two percent. Both Edmonton and Calgary have large Chinatowns. Indigenous Albertans make up approximately three percent of the population.
The major contributors to Alberta's ethnic diversity have been the European nations. Forty-four percent of Albertans are of British descent, and there are also large numbers of Germans, Ukrainians, and Scandinavians. Edmonton's August Heritage Festival brings together nearly four hundred thousand participants from over seventy cultures around the world living in or near the city.
Both Edmonton and Calgary have Canadian Football League, National Hockey League, and National Lacrosse League teams. Soccer and rugby union and are also played professionally in Alberta. However, Alberta's last Triple-A baseball team, the Edmonton Trappers, left the province (and Canada) after the 2004 season.
- "Unscripted", Chris Wiebe, AlbertaViews magazine, September 2005. [Improv theatre in Alberta.]