While my summer in the Northwest Territories was absolutely amazing, I have to admit, I was a bit overly excited about the idea of searching up things to do in Edmonton. After digging past all the West Edmonton Mall-based tourism, I was able to discover I’d be in town right in time for the Fringe Festival, which is basically a big series of theatre and comedy shows across the city. But first, I was meeting up with my long-lost travelling buddy, the lovely lady behind shaunanagins.com and much needed catch up session over nachos was in order.
After some food, we were signed up to see three shows: The Edmonton Comedy Festival Presents / Sex, Religion and Other Hang-ups / Apocalypse Saskatchewan. The acts from ECF were hilarious and if anyone is going to be in Edmonton from October 16-19, I would definitely recommend checking out the actual festival. Our next show was scheduled to begin 30mins after ECF and was about a 10min walk away. However, being new to the city and still stuck on “northern” time (similar to “island” time), we ended up making it there 4mins after the start time. I didn’t expect this to be a big deal, we had paid in advance and had seats reserved already. However, the volunteers manning the entrance must have been drill sergeants and arrogantly denied us entry, sneering and belittling us for being so insane as to possibly hope we could still get into the event.
The next day, we set off for Apocalypse Saskatchewan (arriving 30mins early, just to be safe) in hopes that the festival would redeem itself. The show had been described as “Corner Gas meets zombie apocalypse” (translation: the best in Canadian TV meets the best in supernatural post-apocalyptic beings). The show itself ended up a bit awkward and stale, with 3 slightly crazy men imagining a zombie invasion through a paranoid delusion. The show had some good moments, but still didn’t compare to our first showing.
The premise ended up featuring 3 retired men who had gone a little too far over the hill and though paranoid delusion, imagined a zombie apocalypse – not exactly what I had expected. The show also re-used its jokes several times and the end result was slightly stale. On the plus side, as each act got to choose their own venue, Apocalypse Saskatchewan chose Filthy McNasty’s pub and I enjoyed a delicious burger and 2.75$ beers – mindboggling for someone used to over-inflated northern prices!
After our festival outings, the next stop was the Royal Alberta Museum. They were featuring an exhibit on the development of Chop Suey in the Canadian Prairies, which I was dying to check out! Even with all my self-induced build-up, the museum didn’t disappoint and ogled over their “bean sprout” area with wide eyes
Since I’d already seen a Chinese food exhibit in Singapore, it was interesting to compare the development between the two places. Chinese immigrants flocked to Singapore in large numbers to perform manual labour for better wages. Those who opened restaurants often served these workers and food was prepared in much of the same way that it would have been back in China.
In Alberta however, Chinese immigrants were required to pay a significant head tax to enter the country. As a result, less people were able to immigrate and those that did often came in search of work that didn’t require as much manual labour. Although cooking would be considered “women’s work” in China, many male workers chose to open restaurants. Since Chinese populations weren’t significant enough to support these businesses, many serviced a Canadian clientele and found that many of their recipes needed to be altered (and sweetened) in order to appeal to western taste buds.
Although Chop Suey was the main attraction, the museum also had another special exhibit on chairs. The exhibit came from the USA and referred to America as “our country” quite often, but the chairs themselves were super-funky.
Finally, after having worked in a northern life museum for the past summer, I couldn’t pass up the First Nations exhibit. Looking back, it was probably more than I could handle. I erupted into long and intricate explanations of basically every artefact we passed and squealed excitedly and messaged my museum boss when I saw the Royal Alberta Museum had a photo of the rabbit skin parka in Fort Smith and even mentioned the town and its Conibear traps.