Snow topped canopied trees, shiny games on the street, twinkling Christmas lights - these are just some of the seasonal sights you’ll see in the charming family neighbourhood of Crestwood. Situated in west Edmonton, it has schools, shops, the River Valley, ravines and it’s a short bike ride, drive or leisurely stroll to the Edmonton Valley Zoo. While there’s plenty to do and experience all year round, winter is especially welcome in this area of town. Known for its wooded paths, playgrounds and parks Crestwood is the perfect spot for families who love living their life outdoors.
A Breath of Fresh Air
“We chose this neighbourhood definitely for its walkability,” says Ava Hogle, with toddler Ben, just outside the Crestwood community hall. “We load up the stroller and go for walks with Ben to Andy’s IGA grocery store, or the ravine, stop for hot chocolate at the Blackbird Café, and every time we go out we see someone we know.” The expectant mom and piano teacher has lived with her family in Crestwood for the past three years. “We’re outdoorsy kind of people and just love the sense of community. It’s different from our old neighbourhood, it feels like you always have friends around.”
Ava and Ben often pop into Tot Time for preschoolers at the hall, and on warm winter days like today, there’s time for a swing in the new park nearby. “There’s actually two more redeveloped parks at the schools all within close distance, so it’s great,” she says. “We’ve basically ditched our car,” she laughs. Walks are all part of the routine with Ben now, and they are especially looking forward to visiting Candy Cane Lane –- a famous stretch of the neighbourhood that gets all decked out for the holiday season. “We really like to go out to Candy Cane Lane in the day – and it keeps Ben busy. He likes to count all the decorations! Whether you enjoy it in the afternoon or evening, Candy Cane Lane is one unique attraction that has put Crestwood on the map.
Candy Cane Lane
“Well, it was a huge draw for me – I always loved it and can’t believe now I only live a block away” That’s Diana Steele, the President of the Crestwood Community League, who’s lived in the neighbourhood for over a decade and is an enthusiastic supporter of Candy Cane Lane. The event of the season is a spectacular sight covering eight blocks in the Crestwood neighbourhood. Candy Cane Lane kicks off with a special 50th year celebration Dec. 7, 2018 and runs until Jan. 1, 2019. Here you’ll see flashing lit up houses, trees and lawns; sleigh rides, fire pits, musicians and carolers. Edmontonians from all walks of life flock by car, tour bus or on foot to take in the amazing wonders. “It hits all the senses,” says Diana, “You see the lights, smell the fire, feel the snow fall, hear the clip clop of the horses – it is just overwhelming. And to experience it through the eyes of the little kids, it’s really magical.”
Photo Credit: Ian Jackson & The Globe and Mail
Candy Cane Lane started as a neighbourhood effort in the 1960’s. Families first dressed up their post-war bungalow homes with a variety of holiday decorations and hand painted wood cut outs and signs (that they are known to leave behind in the garage if they move!) Over the years it grew in popularity and size –- there’s even been a documentary produced that aired on HGTV. In addition, Candy Cane Lane is major fundraising event for the Edmonton Food Bank, as the second largest contributor to the charity.
Currently situated on 148 St between 100 Ave and 92 Ave it takes a lot of behind the scenes planning to pull off an event like this. At least 50 members of the community come together, and the organizing starts in the summer. And you don’t have to live on the specific streets to be able to take part –- volunteers from the neighbourhood hand out hot chocolate, direct traffic and take care of spectator’s needs; and local business and organizations offer their support. Crestwood’s Cane Lane truly is a symbol of imagination, togetherness and kindred spirit.
Photo Credit: Edmonton's Food Bank
“It’s a sweet little community,” says Diana Steele. “And our “Forever Edmonton” home,” says Ava and Ben. Crestwood is full of lots of other fun winter surprises and activities.
Here’s some suggestions from locals that top the list of great things to do in Crestwood:
Hit the Outdoor Rink: Crestwood is a big hockey community, and the outdoor rink is usually one of the top three rinks to open first in the city. Insider tip: On a lucky night, you might run into some famous NHL hockey players who like to drop in to shoot pucks with the kids!
Did Someone Say Snowball Fight? Crestwood is known for its small boulevard green space parks, like the new Donald Dobbie Green named after a neighbourhood resident who made great contributions to the community. It’s the perfect place for kids to toss around the football, or build a fort and let the snowballs fly.
Sweep! The Crestwood Curling Rink is a down-home friendly gathering spot. Enjoy Craft Beer and curling Friday nights with friends — Saturday morning there’s curling lessons for kids. The 60 + year old curling club has produced provincial and national champions, but their main focus is on having fun.
Take a Toboggan Ride: McKenzie Ravine draws you in to spectacular scenery and beautiful nature walks on one side of 146 St., but head to the west side, and it’s a secret spot families to glide in the snow. Grab your toques and toboggans and head on down for an afternoon of rides and slides.
Hearty Eats & Treats: When you’ve worked up an appetite, stop in for a gourmet burger from Century Hospitality Delux Burger Bar; or grab a hot sheppard’s pie from Careit Urban Deli, a local boutique food establishment with mouth-watering meals to go.
Get In the Spirit: Café Blackbird is an amazing local spot for live music, fine drinks and delicious appetizers. Be sure to check out the annual Christmas Carroll sing along in December, hosted by Canadian Juno Award Winner, American Music Award Winner and 80’s rock sensation Alfie Zappacosta (from the Dirty Dancing soundtrack). Once on tour, he was so charmed by the Edmonton area he left Toronto and settled his family nearby where they’ve lived for the past 30 years.
This fine reputation and success of Crestwood today, is built on a solid foundation of community past. Did you know – the Crestwood Community League, which offers many programs and activities in its beautifully renovated hall, is over 100 years old? It is the oldest community league in Canada! The local residents of the time, who came from New York, adopted the model and started the community initiative here. From it the Edmonton Community League Foundation was born and today all neighbourhoods in this city benefit from the forward-thinking of the great residents of Crestwood.
So, when contemplating buying a house, consider relocating to this charismatic, wonder-filled neighbourhood. Full of sparkle and lights, and of neighbours and friends who really are more like family. Crestwood – the lovely community that any time of year, makes you feel special, warm… and at home.