Strathcona Science Provincial Park

K and I enjoyed a nice walk in this new-to-me park today. As we approached the park we passed a golf driving range, a nordic skiing area, and a snowboarding park. Because of the season, the winter sport areas were not in use, but when we arrived at the parking lot for the Strathcona Science Provincial Park we found several cars with bike racks. When we walked around the park it became apparent that this is a great place for off-trail cycling.

Most of the walking trails did not give good views of the river and the path down to the pedestrian bridge was so steep that I didn’t want to attempt it. I knew I would have difficulty getting back up.

The cyclists that we saw, however, were having a great time whizzing about the unofficial bike paths that meander in among the trees and closer to the ridge above the river. Wikipedia describes the park as “safe but overgrown” and that suits all-terrain cyclists just fine.

As we walked back to the car, K pointed out a hillside and said “It’s the Microsoft hill!” I knew exactly what he meant. Those of you old enough to remember will recognize this as being almost exactly the same as the image Microsoft used as a screensaver.

We both wondered why the park is named as a science park so when I got home I looked it up online. It turns out that it was once used as an interpretive centre back in 1980 but those buildings are now closed. That is a great pity because the site has an interesting history. It was the site of an annual aboriginal camp that was close to the river for transportation and trade. It also provided opportunities for bison hunting.

The area was made into a provincial park in order to protect it from encroachment by industrial development. To the east are multiple oil and gas refineries and terminals. As we drove away from the park we stopped to take photos of this one.

The contrast between the industry on one side of the road and the park on the other is profound, and I tip my hat to the provincial government for saving the park space. I would like to see those interpretive centres reopened, but I suspect that the location does not attract enough visitors to make that worthwhile.

image via Google Maps

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