Edmonton has the most extensive river valley urban park and trail system in North America, and Mill Creek Ravine is part of that system. (For a great in-depth article on the history of the Mill Creek Ravine, look here.)
I call this painting “Bagshot Row, Mill Creek Ravine” because this stretch of the trail, to the north of Whyte Avenue, reminds me of Bagshot Row in J.R.R. Tolkien’s classic novels The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. This spot feels magical to me, and I like to imagine that “once upon a time”, Hobbits might have lived here, before the arrival of the Big People.
Over the past 40 -plus years, I’ve enjoyed many of the parks and walked many of the trails but my favourite is and probably always will be Mill Creek. I remember hiking down to the east side of the creek from my dorm room in the residence of what was then (1973) College Universitaire St-Jean (newly added to the University of Alberta and later to become Faculte St-Jean). The ravine was raw back then, undeveloped – except for the swimming pool just to the south – with only a handful of dirt paths beaten down in the brush along the creek.
Today of course it’s much more user-friendly, but for all the paved paths and signposts, there are parts of the trails where you would never know you’re in the middle of the city. With a bit of imagination, it feels like being transported back in time, or into another world altogether.