In 1795, the Hudson's Bay Company established
Fort Edmonton, a trading post where the Cree and the Blackfoot brought their much-coveted furs for barter. Over the course of some 200 years, Edmonton has evolved from this desolate outpost into a proud provincial capital. Thanks to the Klondike Gold Rush in the late 1800s, the building of the Alaska Highway in the 1940s, and the discovery, also in the 1940s, of phenomenal amounts of crude oil within a 40-kilometer (25-mile) radius of the city, it has earned a status as a transportation hub, supply center and industrial capital. But, beneath this business façade, there is much more to this small city, dubbed the "Gateway to the North."
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Unlike its southern counterpart, Calgary, Edmonton is a decidedly low-key metropolis, with an earthy sense and little of the flash that is Calgary's hallmark. Where Calgary is corporate, Edmonton, the provincial capital, is a government town. More liberal, it also has a marked no-nonsense, blue-collar feel to it. People are down to earth, unpretentious, and almost alarmingly friendly and hospitable.
In many ways, Edmonton feels like a small town that happens to have a million people living in it --...
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