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Elk Island Park

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Alberta's Elk Island National Park
on the Trans Canada Yellowhead


Jerry W. Birdby Jerry W. Bird

Where buffalo roam. If you ask, one of the park guides can relate the fascinating story of how Elk Island National Park got its name, and became a popular attraction. In this wooded sanctuary which straddles both sides of the Trans Canada Yellowhead Highway, over 400 buffalo roam. They share the park's rolling hills, wetlands and grassy meadows with moose, mule deer and elk. Did you know that Canada has two distinctive breeds of buffalo - the woods and plains variety? Both are represented here - but kept at a safe distance and protected by an iron fence. Poplar, spruce, aspen and birch line a network of hiking trails, connecting with lakes and sloughs that teem with waterfowl. Elk Island National Park's Sandy Beach recreation area has a 9-hole golf course. A thatched-roof dacha houses the Ukrainian Folk Museum, saluting the major ethnic group that settled this area. Nearby Communities on the Trans Canada Yellowhead HIghway include:

Fort Saskatchewan
Mounties and Mutton? The red coated Mountie on Fort Saskatchewan's city logo, reflects its history as a North West Mounted Police fort; other elements being a grain head for agriculture and a drill bit, saluting Sherritt Gordon, the city's first industry. The "mutton mowers" program using sheep for vegetation control within a city - a first for Canada - is now in its 11th year. The city sits on a layer of salt beds that stretch across Alberta to its eastern border. Its economy is fueled by key industries including Dow Chemical and Sherritt Inc. Fort Saskatchewan is on the pipeline corridor from Fort MacMurray oil sands to Sarnia, Ontario.

Strathcona County
Strathcona County's Beaver Hills area includes Cooking Lake, Lake Edmonton and a bevy of smaller lakes. Its wildlife population includes fox, lynx, bobcats, wolves, beaver, muskrat, moose, bear, martin, mink, elk, mule deer, white tail deer, and a few caribou. Principal communities are Fort Saskatchewa and Sherwood Park. A popular meeting place and residential area, on Edmonton's doorstep, Sherwood Park was the site of the Trans Canada Yellowhead Highway Association's 56th Annual Convention. The delegates found it ideal, being next to one of Canada's most complete multiplex sports facilities under one roof. The very latest member of Strathcona County's eleven golf courses is the Northern Bear Golf Club, a new Jack Niklaus Signature Course. Wayne Gretsky of NHL and Olympic Hockey fame, headlined its first tournament in 2002.

The area's past comes alive at the Strathcona County Museum and Archives; Kalyna Country Ecomuseum and the Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village. Sherwood Park's Heritage Mile, features Smeltzer House, Ottewell Centre, Salisbury United Church, Monument Park and the Smyth Farm. Exhibits cover early settlement, grain and dairy farming, the railroad era, sawmills and aviation. For family fun there's farm visits, horseback riding, U-pick berry fields, sleigh and hay rides. Strathcona County is home to many stables where trail rides, riding lessons, and hayrides are available.

Natural attractions are Elk Island National Park, Strathcona Wilderness Centre, and Cooking Lake. Modern day amenities include Strathcona County Kinsmen Leisure Centre, Millennium Place Aquatic Centre with an indoor wave pool, lazy river, water play structure, and a 10 lane competition pool. Bird watchers enjoy the County's numerous nature spots, such as Ministik Bird Sanctuary, Collingwood Cove, Hastings Lake, Kawtikh Retreat, North Cooking Lake, North Bruderheim, Astotin, Baseline Pond, Bretona Pond and others