Alberta – Angry Canadian

Each month, the Sip Advisor will alphabetically travel Canada, discovering the best each province has to offer in a variety of subjects. We will also featuring a drink the area is known for. Today, we begin our journey in Alberta, sometimes called the Texas of Canada. Does this comparison hold true? Let’s find out:

Nicknames: Alberta is known as the Wild Rose Country, based on its provincial flower. The wild rose appears on licence plates in the province. The moniker has also been adopted by Wild Rose Brewing, based out of Calgary.

Motto: “Strong and free” – Typically, when you’re strong, you’re free!

Food: While Alberta is known for its beef industry (used in Canadian McDonald’s burgers, among other products), it should be noted Chinese restaurant staple Ginger Beef was invented in Calgary. Silver Inn chef George Wong is said to have created the dish of deep-fried beef strips in a sweet and spicy sauce in the mid 1970’s. Since then, it has spread to other Asian eateries.

Drink: The Caesar, Canada’s far superior cousin to America’s Bloody Mary, was created in Calgary, in 1969, at the Calgary Inn. Although similar recipes predate this variation, this rendition, made by restaurant manager Walter Chell, was the first time the cocktail was comprised of the unique recipe we know today, with the Caesar name. May 13, 2009 was proclaimed Caesar Day in Calgary.

Caesar

Site to See: For outdoorsy types, the Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks are a must-see destination. The World Heritage Site is comprised of four National Parks (Banff, Jasper, Kootenay and Yoho), offering stunning landscapes. For indoor entertainment, there’s West Edmonton Mall, complete with indoor amusement park, water park, ice rink and more. Finally, for young and old alike, Dinosaur Provincial Park allows people to embrace their love of dinosaurs.

Street: The Icefields Parkway (also known as Highway 93) runs through both Banff National Park and Jasper National Park, connecting the two. The route allows access to glaciers and lakes, including such picturesque sites as Lake Louise, the Athabasca Glacier and Athabasca Falls, Peyto Lake, Bow Lake and Maligne Canyon. Along the way, people can also spot various wildlife.

TV Show: Heartland, based on a series of 26 novels by Lauren Brooke (although the books are set in Virginia), ran for 15 seasons and 234 episodes, becoming the longest running one-hour scripted drama in Canadian TV history. The show centers around Amy Fleming and the activity on her family Ranch in Alberta. Most filming for the series was done in High River.

Movie: The majority of the Disney movie Cool Runnings – loosely based on the real-life story of an unlikely Jamaican bobsled team competing at the 1988 Winter Olympics – is set in Calgary, which hosted those games. Starring John Candy (in one of his final roles) as disgraced bobsled coach Irving Blitzer, the film was a hit and a personal childhood favourite of mine.

Cool Runnings

Book/Author: Todd McFarlane is one of the most well-known comic book artists/writers in the world. His work on Spider-Man in the late 80’s and early 90’s led to great success and McFarlane forming his own publishing company, Image Comics, which released McFarlane’s Spawn property. Outside the comic world, McFarlane has popular businesses in McFarlane Toys and Todd McFarlane Entertainment.

Fictional Character: X-Men wildcard Wolverine was born in Cold Lake in the 1880s, according to the mutant’s backstory. Wolverine is among the most popular super heroes of all-time, having appeared in numerous comic iterations, as well as other media, such as the X-Men movie franchise (portrayed by Hugh Jackman), which led to a trilogy of solo films for the character.

Fictional City: Adult animated cartoon Crash Canyon is about a society of people who have all wound up stuck in an Alberta canyon and are unable to return to their regular lives, due to the canyon’s high walls. The series lasted two seasons and I wish, like the show, that golf tees were currency, as it would justify my brief golf phase as a teenager.

Actor/Actress: Nathan Fillion, star of shows such as Firefly, Castle and The Rookie, was born in Edmonton. Fillion’s role in Firefly, as ship captain Malcolm Reynolds, earned him cult favourite star status. In his hometown, the Edmonton City Hall was renamed the Nathan Fillion Civilian Pavilion on August 7 and August 8, 2021, resulting from a fan petition with over 27,000 signatures.

Nathan Fillion

Song: Alberta Bound, originally performed by Gordon Lightfoot, is about being en route to Alberta, with the singer heaping great praise on the province. Lyrics include: “I’m Alberta-bound, This piece of heaven that I’ve found, Rocky Mountains and black fertile ground, Everything I need beneath that big blue sky”. The song has been covered by other artists such as Bryan Adams and Paul Brandt.

Band/Musician: Alberta has produced a number of female artists who have gone on to great careers domestically and internationally. Singers/songwriters include Joni Mitchell, k.d. Lang, Jann Arden, Tegan and Sara, and Feist. Among them, Mitchell has been described as “one of the greatest songwriters ever” and one of “the most important and influential female recording artist of the late 20th century”.

People: I was surprised to learn that actor and marijuana activist Tommy Chong was born in Edmonton. Chong is best known for his stoner comedy duo, Cheech & Chong, with Cheech Marin. The two released several popular movies and albums together, but my favourite role for Chong was as baked hippie Leo Chingkwake on That 70s Show.

Animal: Charlie was a mule that survived the 1903 Turtle Mountain landslide, which killed 70-90 people who called the mining town of Frank home. The mule managed to endure underground for more than a month by eating bark and drinking available water. Sadly, Charlie was overfed oats and brandy by his joyful rescuers, resulting in the mule perishing.

Leo

Invention: The SMART Board was developed Calgary husband and wife team David Martin and Nancy Knowlton in 1991. No longer would teachers and instructors alike have to struggle with chalkboards, overhead projectors or whiteboards. By 2016, the tandem’s company, SMART Technologies Inc., was purchased by the Foxconn Technology Group for $200 million.

Crime: Known as the Edmonton Shooting, in 2014, 53-year-old Phu Lam killed his wife, stepson, in-laws, a family friend and a neighbour. His victim count totalled eight people, making it the deadliest mass murder in the province’s history. Lam would take his own life following the homicides. In 2021, Lam threatened to do exactly what he later carried out. At the time of the crime, he was in heavy debt due to a gambling addiction.

Sports Team: Calgary, with the Flames (NHL) and Stampeders (CFL), and Edmonton, with the Oilers (NHL) and Elks (CFL), host all of the province’s professional franchises. The rivalry between the two cities is dubbed the Battle of Alberta for games between the NHL teams, while the Labour Day Classic is contested each September between the two CFL squads.

Athlete: Figure skater Jamie Salé was born in Calgary. Salé became internationally recognized when she and partner David Pelletier were awarded Olympic gold medals following the 2002 Salt Lake City figure skating scandal, which saw a brided French judge fix scores leading to a Russian team victory. Other top Alberta athletes include Alphonso Davies, Grant Fuhr, Jarome Iginla and Mark Messier.

Smart Board

Famous Home: A mecca for professional wrestling fans, the Hart Family home in Calgary is where such stars as Bret Hart and Owen Hart were born and raised, while other world famous grapplers were trained in the home’s basement, affectionately known as the Dungeon. The list of legends to graduate from the Dungeon include Chris Benoit, Chris Jericho, the British Bulldog, and Jim and Natalya Niedhart.

Urban Legend: The Banff Springs Hotel, in scenic Banff National Park, is known as one of Canada’s most haunted locations. Opened in 1888, the resort is home to a number of ghosts, including a bride (famous enough to have her own coin and stamp) and bellman, based on former employee Sam McCauley, who passed away in 1975, but is said to still help hotel guests.

Museum: Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame can be found in Calgary. The museum highlights Canada’s role and history in the sporting world, as well as the many athletes that have represented the country. Opened in 1955, close to 700 inductees have been enshrined into the Hall of Fame, split between athlete and builder categories. The building is hard to miss, painted in Canadian flag colours of red and white.

Firsts: In 1916, Alberta’s Emily Murphy, a women’s rights activist, was the first female judge in Canada and the British Commonwealth. Thereafter, in 1917, fellow activists Louise McKinney and Roberta MacAdams were the first and second females elected to a legislature in the British Empire. MacAdams would go on to be the first woman to pass a piece of legislation.

Hart Foundation

Company: A favourite eatery of the Sip Family, Boston Pizza was founded in Edmonton, in 1964. The chain was originally known as Boston Pizza and Spaghetti House, ironically established by four Greek (not Italian) immigrants. One of the first Boston Pizza franchisees and one of its current owners is Jim Treliving, best known for being one of the investors on Dragons’ Den.

Events: The 1988 Winter Olympics were hosted in Calgary, with skiing events taking place in Kananaskis Country and Canmore. Canada failed to win any gold medals as host country, but the facilities built for the event resulted in Calgary becoming a hub for Canadian winter sports training development. These Olympics also produced the aforementioned Jamaican bobsled team and Michael ‘Eddie the Eagle’ Edwards.

Miscellaneous: The Calgary Stampede, one of the world’s largest rodeos, is known as the “Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth”. Numerous free pancake breakfasts and barbecues are served throughout the 10-day long event, hosted every July since 1923. One million visitors are estimated to attend the event each year and it’s on the Sip Advisor’s bucket list to attend one day.

Angry Canadian

Angry Canadian

  • 2 oz Canadian Rye Whiskey
  • Dash of Maple Syrup
  • Dashes of Angostura Bitters
  • Garnish with a Maraschino Cherry

This Old Fashioned variant was invented by Calgarian Steve Johnston in 2013. I liked the hint of maple syrup you could smell with each sip of the cocktail. I could have used the drink being a little more complex, but it’s a good start to this journey across Canada.

October 24 – Friendly Ghost

Happy Haunts

Some people are really into haunted houses, buildings, and areas, but the Sip Advisor would prefer to keep his distance from any ghostly dwelling that is not located at a Disney theme park. That said, these places can be incredibly fascinating and I don’t mind learning about them from a distance. Here are some of the most haunted places around the world:

#5: Poveglia Island – Venice, Italy

Can you imagine an island being so haunted that it has been abandoned? Such is the case for Poveglia Island, which sits near the maze-like port city of Venice. During the days of the Bubonic Plague and later the Black Death, Poveglia became a quarantine site, where countless numbers of sick folks were sent to die. These unfortunate souls are said to haunt the island, while there are also rumours of an asylum existing on Poveglia, during the 1800’s, where patients were treated horribly. Locals will not go to the island, believing that they will be cursed if they go ashore and fisherman will not work in the area, with fears that they will unearth dead bodies in their operations.

funny-haunted-house

#4: White House – Washington D.C., USA

Despite a history dating back more than 200 years, one wouldn’t naturally think of the American president’s residence as a site of ghostly activity, but it is in fact home to countless paranormal doings and is one of the country’s most haunted homes. Among some of the sights and sounds witnessed at the White House are Abraham Lincoln standing by the fire in the bedroom named after him; Andrew Jackson laughing or swearing up a storm in the Rose Room; and Abigail Adams floating through the East Room, where she hung the presidential laundry. And nothing is spookier than soiled undergarments!

#3: Banff Springs Hotel – Alberta, Canada

I always like to get some Canadian content into these articles and the Banff Springs Hotel seems like the perfect location to achieve that, thanks to tales of a family being murdered in room 873 (which has since been blocked off by bricks) and a tragic bride, who is often seen with flames coming from her wedding dress. Finally, there’s the ghost of Sam Macauley, the resort’s former bellman. Apparently, his spirit has remained on the job, helping guests to their rooms, while even unlocking doors and turning lights on. He only disappears when visitors try to tip him or make conversation with him. That’s my kind of bellman! While lacking the sex and murder of American Horror Story: Hotel, this site is still pretty damn spooky.

Next-time-youre-in-a-hotel

#2: Tower of London – London, England

Home to some of the most gruesome events in history, the Tower of London is a must-see attraction when visiting the metropolis… but you might get more than you bargained for (even with the pound’s exchange rate!). Some of the Tower’s ghostly inhabitants are quite infamous, including Anne Boleyn, who was beheaded in 1536 and has been seen roaming the site sans skull. Another area of serious paranormal activity is the attraction’s White Tower, where two small children have been spotted on numerous occasions. It’s rumoured that the apparitions are former princes that were deemed illegitimate and murdered, their skeletons found underneath a staircase.

#1: Sea of Trees – Aokigahara, Japan

Globally known as the Suicide Forest (as if that wasn’t enough to send chills down your spine), this woodland, located at the base of Mount Fuji is believed to be haunted by those that ended their lives amongst the overgrowth. The forest has become such a popular suicide spot – averaging 100 suicides each year – that signs can be found at entrances to the forest, pleading with distraught people, reading: “Your life is a precious gift to your parents” and “Please consult with the police before you decide to die”. A yearly body search is performed by police and volunteers, to clear the forest of remains.

Super Saturday Shot Day: Friendly Ghost

Writing this article confirms that the only spirits I want any experience with are of the alcohol variety! Have I missed a favourite haunted locale of yours? Let me know, although I may leave the ghostbusting to you!