We’re nearing the end of the Canadian visits from the grandparents, and both sets have had a truly wonderful first-time experience of this vast country. Not only has it been lovely having familiar faces around – it’s amazing how much you miss not just being able to ‘pop round’ or arrange an impromptu weekend visit every now and then – but the seniors in the family and the youngest 3 members, have thoroughly enjoyed spending time together. Common factors are clear winners with both sets – demands for ice-cream, desserts, cakes and biscuits – I’ve had to be the umpire and affect some degree of sensibility otherwise the oldest and youngest generations would be eating them continuously! Grandparents have clearly been leading the kids astray … 😉
My in-laws are in their mid-80’s and had never envisaged a trip to Canada, believing that physical limitations and sheer old-age, preventative factors. However, following a series of prompts by us and eventually, just buying tickets with the dates for their travel, meant there was nothing for it, but for them to board the plane – and they arrived without incident and importantly, all completely intact.
That was nearly 3 weeks ago and during this time we’ve seen an abundance of superb weather and also some excellent trips out – both near and far. It’s made us explore and find things to do that all parties enjoy, and for the last 3 weeks it’s been particularly challenging as accessibility with wheelchairs has had to be incorporated into the mix. I’ve had to balance limited physical abilities alongside the abundance of energy my 3 kids display and need to burn off on a daily basis.
So, we’ve had some delightful trips. One was to the Muttart Conservatory in Edmonton. It’s set in the River Valley just outside downtown Edmonton, and has 4 glass pyramids. For those familiar with ‘Eden’ in the UK, it’s very similar but on a much smaller scale. That said, the Muttart Conservatory is an accredited museum and is home to one of Canada’s largest botanical collections.
There are 3 biomes, each displaying a specific climate year-long. Temperate (very similar to the climate in Edmonton), Arid (desert and drought-like), and Tropical (humid and hot) each host an array of botanical delights that have their own appeal. The kids loved wandering around and looking at the different varieties. The fourth pyramid is entitled ‘Feature’ and provides a themed display which changes approximately 7 times a year. At the moment, it’s theme is ‘Journey to Middle Earth’, and along with a ‘hobbit’ home, wizard, dragon breathing out plumes of smoke through its nostrils, along with cascading waterfalls – it was truly amazing. There was a photo with both dragon and my mother-in-law that both myself and my father-in-law had a chuckle about as we both had the same caption in mind. Suffice to say, I’ve not included it here, I’ll leave it to your imagination – you’ve only got the painted dragon to feast your eyes on below. The latter pyramid was definitely the most striking of the four, but with wheelchair access available throughout the displays, it meant all members of our party could see everything and experience it together. Brilliant.
Fort Edmonton was another day-trip affair. Edmonton’s heritage park takes you back to 4 eras. The original Fort built in Edmonton from 1846 signifying the fur-trade era is an impressive structure, and shows how tough it must have been to live and survive in such a harsh climate without the joys of central heating or warm clothing.
A street depicting 1885, and the hardships the first settlers had to go through is full of original buildings from this time which have been re-sited and located in the park alongside each other. This is followed by a street from 1905 and Edmonton’s growing municipality, and then finally 1920 with ice-cream parlours, motor vehicles and movie-theatres. It’s brilliantly done, staff are dressed in clothing from their specific eras and take the form of residents in each of the communities.
There’s a steam engine and street tram providing rides and assisting in the transportation across the park, plus a fair and midway – attraction park with carousel rides and other amusement delights from the early 1900’s. Well worth a visit – but leave yourselves a day for the privilege and don’t forget to pack a picnic 🙂
Further afield, and a trip to Western Canada isn’t complete without a visit to the mountains and the awe-inspiring Rockies. Jasper was as beautiful as ever – we’ve been there 3 times now in the last 12 months, and has become our favourite destination of choice. Lovely to see the mountains without snow for a change, whilst the most impressive view was when my oldest kid and I took a walk around Lac Beauvert at 6am in the morning. The sun casting red glows on the peaks of the mountains above and only the sound of the animals for company – staggeringly beautific and iconic.
This was followed by a brief jaunt to Lake Louise, a mega tourist attraction, but when you arrive at the lake you completely understand exactly why. Nestled in between the mountains, the lake is the most gorgeous turquoise colour you can imagine, and it’s a view you can never tire off. The older generation were staggered by the breathtaking scenery and along with a car journey that takes you through the Icefields Parkway – one of the most scenic drives in Canada – were stuck for words. It even took their minds away from the lure of ice creams for a brief period!
Back in Edmonton, we’re now taking things easy for the last few days of the grandparents stay with us and I’m sure it’s a trip they’ll never forget – for numerous reasons. More importantly, it’s given everyone a replenished sense of connection with one another, shared experiences, and unforgettable memories. It just goes to show, that no matter how old you are, you can experience things you never thought possible – and truly benefit from the process.
It’s going to be quiet next week …… !! 🙂