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Fall Colours by Irina Kruglyakova
Fall Colours
Sketch by Irina Kruglyakova, no date

Edmonton’s river valley and green spaces are an important element of our heritage and identity.  As stated on the City’s webpage: As the largest urban park in Canada, with more than 160 kilometres of maintained pathways and 20 major parks, the River Valley is a natural wonder for all Edmontonians to be proud of.

Edmonton's River Valley (pre-1907) - EAA-54-1
Edmonton’s River Valley (pre-1907)
By R. James, City of Edmonton Archives, EAA-54-1

However, it wasn’t always so. Some of our present day beloved natural areas used to be garbage dumps, including Grierson Hill, Gallagher Park Hill, Dawson Park, Hawrelak Park, and Mill Creek Ravine. The river valley and ravines were also populated by industry: garbage incinerators, coal mines, lumber yards, brick factories, meat-packing plants and gravel pits. 

In the 1920s, concerned Edmontonians such as Gladys Reeves lobbied and volunteered to recover and preserve our city’s river valleys and ravines. They also helped to beautify our neighbourhoods through the efforts of the Horticultural and Vacant Lot Garden Association and the Edmonton Tree Planting Committee.

MacKinnon Ravine by Brena Raynard
MacKinnon Ravine 
Sketch by Brenda Raynard, no date

In 1985, the City passed the River Valley Bylaw which states: As Edmonton grows and changes and as land becomes more valuable the River Valley may become threatened by commercial and industrial uses, as well as by civic uses such as public utilities.  In spite of this, threats to the river valley continue. We can follow the example of early citizens and advocate to protect our beloved green spaces.