Edmonton has lots of great parks and yesterday I visited one that is a popular site for festivals, walks, skiing, skating, and picnics. Hawrelak Park has hosted ice castles, Shakespeare festivals, Heritage Days, and the International Food Festival.
It is named for a popular Mayor; William Hawrelak who was quite a character. He was mayor “for a dozen years between 1951 and 1975. He was also forced to leave the mayor’s seat twice for using his position as mayor to benefit himself financially, once resigning and once being removed by the Supreme Court of Alberta.” (Justin Bell) He managed to retain his popularity in spite of his self-serving shady land deals, and I wonder why such a beautiful park wasn’t named for someone more ethical. I suppose his popularity must have lingered longer in the public consciousness than his misconduct.
I also wonder why I haven’t visited this park before now. It is truly delightful. I enjoyed a walk around the lake and would have taken a second turn around it if it had been a little warmer. The lake covers 5 hectares in the 68 hectare park. There is an island in the middle with mature trees. When the ice is thick enough, people can skate on it but when I was there the signs indicated that it isn’t safe for skating right now.
Beside the lake are a pavilion, a shelter building, some picnic sites, and a community league plaza with a delightful fireplace to warm returning hikers and skiers.