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'The key to a really incredible Edmonton': Artist makes own tourist map to counter Lonely Planet review

Vikki Wiercinski wants to create a guide that is a love letter to the city's hidden gems

Plaza Bowling is a third-generation local company renowned for its vintage feel, updated with craft beer, indie music and late night weekends.

Kevin Tuong / For Metro

Plaza Bowling is a third-generation local company renowned for its vintage feel, updated with craft beer, indie music and late night weekends.

In the wake of a popular travel guide’s lukewarm assessment of Edmonton, a local artist is making a map of her own by drawing on the people who know the city best.

Artist and graphic designer Vikki Wiercinski is asking Edmontonians to submit examples of what they love about their city, and plans to create an alternative map to the one in Lonely Planet.

“I can see where they’re coming from,” said Wiercinski, referring to the guide’s description of the city as “modern, spread out and frigidly cold for much of the year.”

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“I don’t think its lost on anybody that Edmonton has a lot to make up for but in many ways it can be a lovely place. There’s beautiful experiences to be had.“

Even though she’s currently across the world, participating in an artistic residency, Wiercinski heard about the disparaging write-up.

Speaking to Metro from her studio in Finland, she said her overseas perspective gives her insight on what a tourist to Edmonton really needs to know.

“I’m traveling and using a Lonely Planet to figure out where I’m going, what I want to do,” she explained. “I just spent three days in Stockholm and a day in Helsinki which are world-class cities that the entire world drools over and I’m very aware that Edmonton is not that, but I think it gets written off a lot.”

The Edmonton-based artist has since set-up a simple, public online form so locals can make submissions for her tourist guide.

“I’m deep Edmonton, a lot of people I know are deep Edmonton - we’ve been here all our lives. I want this (guide) to be what exactly it is about this city that brings us under-the-radar joy,” she said.

“The rich ways we make our own fun around here.”

She  wants it to be something that if you were hosting a guest in your AirBNB in Edmonton, you’d give it to them to help them have a unique experience of Edmonton - not something that’s been sanctioned by a tourism board.

So far, after posting the call online on Monday, she’s already received more than 20 responses.

Wiercinski will be collecting suggestions until October when she returns from her residency overseas. She plans to set to work creating a physical foldout map with an online version, which will credit all the contributors.

She expects to have the yet-to-be-named tourist guide ready and available at the Royal Bison Art and Craft Fair, which runs in late November.

Her hope is that when someone is new to the city they can get their hands on “the key to a really incredible Edmonton. It’s a love letter to the more independent and remarkable parts of the city – they do exist.”

A starter guide to seeing the city like someone who's 'Deep Edmonton'

These are five of the best submissions Vikki Wiercinski has gotten so far that she hopes to add to her map that will be part tourist guide and part 'love letter' to the city's best unsung hotspots.

A chickadee in a tree

Torstar file

A chickadee in a tree

1. Hawrelak Park: One submitter has dubbed the walking trail near the pedestrian 'Chikadee lane' for a pretty cute reason--the birds will actually eat out of your hands.

Plaza Bowling

Supplied

Plaza Bowling

2. Plaza Bowling: This beloved alley has been in the family for three generations. The vintage touches are intact but these days they've modernized with craft beer, indie music and late night weekends.

The High Level Streetcar.

Flikr/Mack Male

The High Level Streetcar.

3. High Level Bridge Streetcar: Where else can you expereince travelling (literally) back in time on this slow moving street car that crosses the river several times a day all summer long.

The Lingnan.

Flikr/Mack Male

The Lingnan.

4. The Lingnan: This city institution is know for its dazzling interior and old-timey cocktails. Writes the submitted: "I don't know how this place is not packed every single day."

The fountains at Giovanni Cabato.

Kevin Tuong/For Metro

The fountains at Giovanni Cabato.

5. Giovanni Caboto Park: This is where one submitter goes when she misses Europe. It's got a beautiful fountain, amazing old trees, and unparalled people watching.

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