Headed into Edmonton for a morning appointment, we opted to fit in a short walk in William Hawrelak Park, tucked into a sweeping bend of the North Saskatchewan River. The location would provide views of the river, while offering better chances for physical distancing on both trails and roads.
The area was initially going to be developed as a 500 lot subdivision, but, when the Strathcona Land Syndicate forfeited their taxes, the city obtained the land in 1922. It sat unused until 1954, when then mayor William Hawrelak proposed a 350 acre riverfront park in the area.
Digging of the manmade lakes began in 1959 and was completed in 1964, but the area still had few facilities. Mayfair Park officially opened on Dominion Day (now Canada Day), July 1, 1967 (Canada’s centennial year). It was renamed Hawrelak Park in 1982, after mayor William Hawrelak, who died in 1975, while serving as mayor of Edmonton.
The park has long held a special place in our hearts, as my first date with Patty happened at my office Christmas party at nearby Mayfair Golf and Country Club in December 1975. Since that time, we have walked here many times, brought our kids here for walks and attended many Edmonton Heritage Day festivals, which have been running here every August long weekend since 1976. Due to Covid-19, it did not run this year.
We were a bit anxious about what condition the trails would be in, due to the incessant rain, so dressed appropriately with waterproof footwear and rain jackets. We managed a short 50 minute stroll before heading off to our appointment. The park was pretty deserted on this rainy day, except for a few runners and seniors walking.
Here are the photos from that day (July 8, 2020).