Vegreville Things to Do
Sorry, no photos.
My friend Lynne (Ravens Wing) and I recently visited Vegreville primarily to see the giant pysanka (Ukrainian Easter egg) but on our way out of town on Highway 16A we noticed a sign for the Vegreville Regional Museum. As is our wont we swung the campervan (RV) into the ample if somewhat deserted carpark and went for a look. On the way we noticed a good selection of old farm equipment which you can see in one of the images.
We went into the main building which I have since found out on the attached website was was formerly the " internationally renowned solonetzic soils research station of Agriculture Canada" (whatever under the sky that might be) and closed in 1995. Perhaps solonetzic soils are no longer of scientific interest, I really don't know. Whatever it was, it is a decent sized structure and I am glad to report that it is fully wheelchair accessible so full marks to them for that. On the way in I was slightly dismayed to see a no photography sign which explains the paucity of images here. I completely understand not using flash in a museum as it degrades the artefacts and I would never use it unless I had previously asked permission but I don't see what harm non-flash does.
We were greeted by a friendly member of staff who informed us that admission was by donation (we donated obviously) and proceeded to look round what turned out to be a very interesting local museum. I have mentioned elsewhere that whilst the indigenous peoples have obviously been in Canada for millenia the "European" history of the country, particularly in the West, is relatively short and really amounts to little over a century. This is somewhat of a double edged sword in that there are no exhibits from, say, the Middle Ages as you would have in Europe or Asia but there are a lot of more "modern" artefacts as they have not had so long to decay, become lost or whatever. I find it fascinating that the vast majority of towns I have been to in Alberta were only incorporated after all four of my grandparents were born.
I have also noted elsewhere that there is a palpable sense of community pride in Alberta (and Canada in general) and whilst the history may not be long it is presented so very well and that is again the case here. Vegreville is particularly proud of the Rt. Hon. Donald F. Mazankowski, P.C., a Vegreville man who was at one time the Deputy Prime Minister of the country. The name of this local worthy gives a clue to another aspect of Vegreville history and that is the pride they have in their multi-culturalism. The four major groups of pioneers were English, French, German, and Ukrainian who lived, and apparently still do, pretty much in harmony. I suppose even surviving in such harsh conditions gave them all a common purpose and the museum is very big on stressing that.
I suppose you could charge round the place fairly quickly but I love to dawdle in Museums and we were there for a good hour. If you are interested, here are the logistics, again taken from the town website.
JUNE, JULY, AUGUST
Tuesday - Friday 11:00 am - 5:00 pm
Saturday & Sunday 1:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Open CANADA DAY July 1st
September – May: phone for current hours.
Well worth a look.Related to:
- Budget Travel
- Family Travel
- Museum Visits
There is some confusion here.
I always like to keep my tips here on Virtual Tourist as accurate as possible and tend to use the internet quite a lot to research various places I have visited. On a recent trip to Vegreville to see the giant pysanka or Ukrainian Easter egg in the Elks kinsmen Community Park my friend and I noticed a Tourist Information Centre which appeared to double as the campground office for the adjacent municipal campsite. We decided to have a look inside as I find such places in Canada to be uniformly excellent. We were dealt with quickly and courteously and availed ourselves of several of the numerous free pamphlets, maps etc. on offer. I can thoroughly recommend this place but it was whilst researching this tip that I ran into a little difficulty.
Any information I can find online indicates that the Tourist Information Centre, for what is not a very large town, is located on Volodymyr Drive but various maps show this to be some distance from the Park and I can find no information about the Centre I visited. The picture clearly shows the place so it is not a figment of my imagination so I can only conclude that either Vegreville boasts two such operations or it has changed location so recently that nobody has updated a website yet, although I find the latter unlikely.
Whatever the situation, it is well worth a visit for excellent information about the town and surrounding area.Related to:
- Budget Travel
- Family Travel
A great park for all the right reasons.
Visitors to Vegreville will undoubtedly have come to view the giant pysanka (Easter egg) which is the town's main attraction but I suspect many will take the requisite photos of it and then return to their vehicles to drive on elsewhere. That would be a mistake in my opinion as the pysanka sits in what is really rather a pleasant park, the Elks - Kinsmen Community Park.
Apart from being a pleasant, spotlessly clean and well-tended open space, there are a couple of interesting things to look at not to mention the excellent Tourist Information Centre with extremely helpful staff and the public washrooms. There is a stocked trout pond which the attached excellent website suggests is suitable for seniors and children so perhaps not for the very serious angler although a day sitting beside it in the very decent weather we were having would undoubtedly have been pleasant enough.
My eye was immediately drawn to a caboose rail car which sits just beside the Tourist Information Centre. It is no secret to those who have read my other pages here on Virtual Tourist that I am a bit of a railway enthusiast and never pass up a chance to have a look at a rail museum of a bit of rolling stock. If you are not a railway buff and don't know what it is, a caboose car (it has many other colloquial names) was basically a "home from home" for the railway staff employed on freight trains. There are bunk, cooking and fairly basic washing facilities as well as one or more usually two chairs set well up a ladder so the freightman could watch for possible obstructions on the track, shifting cargo or any other potential problem. We don't have cabooses (if that is the correct plural) in the UK, presumably because they would not have fitted under the many low bridges we have and I am totally enamoured of them. Frankly, I could happily live in one!
I was happily exploring he caboose which is open every day of the year when I heard the unmistakable sound of a train horn and wandered outside to have a look. Vegreville sits on a fairly main line which seems to be used predominantly for freight these days and it was the coming of the railway that triggered the growth of the town as in so many other places in Alberta. I walked out onto the rear observation area to catch my first glimpse of a Canadian freight train and it literally amazed me. It was absolutely huge. I have seen others since and they still thrill me (even if you are sitting at a level crossing waiting for one to pass!) but the idea of standing on a beautifully restored caboose and taking the obligatory video of a massive Canadian freight train was just incredible for me. I have posted the video on my Canada page.
The reader may not be lucky enough to catch a passing train, or indeed may have no interest in such things but the park is still well worth a visit. Apart from the attractions already mentioned, there is a playground and tobogganing hill should you be there in winter.
I also saw a camping / RV ground which looked very clean and tidy but the road was calling and we had to move on so I cannot write a tip about it but it apparently boasts 93 pitches (RV and tent) with power and picnic facilities and also an RV dump station should you need it.
I find it interesting that the park (opened in 1988) is called a Community Park and I believe Vegreville also boasts a Rotary Peace Park although we didn't visit that. the concepts of community and peacefulness are palpable in central Alberta and are regrettably lacking in large sities like London where I live. Don't get me wrong, I love London, it is a fascinating place to live but it is so nice to travel in the rural West of Canada and basically slow down for a while.
By all means come to look at the pysanka, which is well worth a visit, but don't ignore this rather wonderful public space.Related to:
- Historical Travel
- Family Travel
- Budget Travel
Boston Pizza: Not a bad chain.
On our current trip round Western Canada (I write this whilst still there), my travel companion Lynne (RavensWing) and I found ourselves in Vegreville one evening after having had a bit of a trip round the many wonderful things that area has to offer. We were in a campervan (RV) where the general situation is that Lynne does all the driving and mechanicing and I do all the cooking which some people find a little odd but whch works for us. I love cooking, especially on the gas (propane) stove which we have as opposed to the electric I am forced to have at home, but for whatever reason we decided we would get a takeaway meal that night and went to the Boston Pizza which was within a couple of minutes walk from where we had parked up for the night.
We were greeted by a very friendly lady at the desk who offered us a table but we explained we wanted it "to go" as I believe the expression is here. We perused the menu which, contrary to the name of the place, boasted a lot more than pizza. Certainly pasta dishes featured but there were various other options like chicken wings, various hot sandwiches, tacos, burgers and a host of other goodies.
Lynne opted for the smoked Montreal sandwich and I decided upon a pasta dish, well it was supposed to be a pizza / pasta place, wasn't it? It was a pulled pork penne which I have to say was delicious but I ran into a problem I always have in Canada in that is the size of the portions. It was gargantuan and would have kept a sumo wrestler happy for a day or two. I do not exaggerate when I say that I ate my fill that night to the point of almost bursting and there was still enough left over to make me two more decent sized snacks later. Lynne's sandwich was similarly huge (especially with a side order of chips / fries) but, being Canadian she managed to make a far better job of it that I did of my meal. I really do not know how North Americans can eat so much. Anyone who has ever watched Man vs. Food on TV will know what I mean!
I am not generally a fan of chain establishments as I find them a little impersonal cetainly where I live but I have to say that in Canada I have visited quite a few BP's (as they are locally referred to), normally only for a drink as they all have attached lounges, and have found them to be consistently good. Certainly the decor is fairly standard but the service is unfailingly prompt and friendly, the beer is well-kept and served, often with local specialities on tap, and they have a pleasant atmosphere. I have had some great conversations with people in these places.
I had peeked into the fairly empty dining area which looked pleasant enough but my attention had obviously been caught by the lounge bar. Lynne decided she didn't fancy a drink and so settled herself on the comfy looking seating supplied for takeaway customers and I sallied into the "inner sanctum" to find myself the only patron. The barmaid was alone in the place doing something on her 'phone. I shall not name her here in case that is not allowed and I do not want to get her in trouble for either that or the other wwonderful thing she did later.
I was asking what beers were available and she duly named them all, obviously knowledgeable about her product range which is a thing not always seen with bar staff. I was immediately drawn to the raspberry beer as I do love fruit beers and a pint of that seemed to be in order. It was utterly gorgeous. As she had nothing much else to do we got to chatting and at one point I asked her if I could have a beermat as a souvenir. Sure, no problem, but then she goes to the end of the bar and starts rummaging about in a box. The next thing I know she has presented me with two beer glasses from the Granville Island Brewery who had brewed the beer I was drinking. They were perfectly wrapped in tissue paper and in a Boston Pizza takeaway bag so I didn't break them on the way home.
Again, I do hope I don't get her in trouble for this but it meant so much to me and totally reinforced my impression of Canadian hospitality. If any BP senior executives are actually reading this (unlikely I know) that young lady actually generated you a fair bit of income as I now always go to a BP outlet if I see one where I am stopped for the night. Sure they are formulaic but if the formula is good to start with then I am happy with that.
Boston Pizza is a decent choice in any location that I have found them and worth seeking out.
Favorite Dish: The pulled pork penne as described was delicious as was the sandwich which i tried a little of.Related to:
- Food and Dining
- Wine Tasting
- Beer Tasting
An Enormous Rotating Easter Egg
Favorite thing: Don't forget to visit the Pysanka (Ukrainian word for Easter egg) on your way through Vegreville, Alberta, Canada, on the Yellowhead highway. At 25.7 feet long, 18 feet wide, and 31 feet high, it's the largest easter egg in the world.
Website: www.vegreville.comRelated to:
- Family Travel