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Thursday, 9 August, 2001, 16:30 GMT 17:30 UK
Defending 'Deadmonton' from British blitz
Edmonton skyline
Big skies. But is Edmonton really "Deadmonton"?
The Canadian city hosting the World Athletics Championships has been dubbed "Deadmonton" in an article by a Daily Telegraph correspondent.

Local reporter David Staples, from the Edmonton Journal, jumps to the defence of his city.

Edmonton is Deadmonton, according to one London newspaper.

Ever since Daily Telegraph writers arrived here, they've been on a curious mission to denigrate the city.

Most notable is the Telegraph's Robert Philip, who chided the Commonwealth crowd for cheering loudly for average Canadian athletes, such as pole vaulter Stephanie McCann.

On Sunday, the crowd roared with approval when McCann set a new Canadian record. The height, however, was far below a world-class vault, and didn't qualify her for Monday's final.


Edmonton's identity comes from the cold, the vast sky, the empty spaces, the river

"Personally, I think McCann is the lucky one," Philip wrote, "as she can now return to her university in California; the rest of us have six more days in Deadmonton."

What to make of this Brit blitz on our city? Well, some of them apparently don't make for gracious guests, but we can hardly force them to have fun.

If they want to hole up in their hotels, explore their TV remotes and dream of over-cooked vegetables, warm beer and that elusive invite to their boss's private club, that's their business.

'Spacious'

But many British guests are pleased with Edmonton, which is no surprise as a certain type of person often falls for the city.

This type is usually more family and outdoor oriented, not a rat-racer or social climber. Something about Edmonton's big sky, lack of pretension and prosperity grabs them.

"It's very spacious," said one British fan, Elaine Hunt of Guildford. "It's just beautiful and fresh. We're just so cramped in England."

Szymon Ziolkowski wins Hammer gold medal
In a spin: Newspaper comments caused a stir in Edmonton
Edmonton is the farthest major city from the American border. Its identity comes from the cold, the vast sky, the empty spaces, the river; the same elements that define Canada.

But Edmonton is also Alberta's fight town, its political fault line, its pressure point. The city is a rig worker arguing with a university professor over taxes.

It's an agnostic disagreeing with an evangelical Christian over abortion.

It's all their children meeting at school, becoming best friends, changing each other and their families.

Bono's 'Ton

The community must come together because there's no place to hide here, no gated communities, no suburbs of only rich or only poor, no class system defining generation after generation.

The Chuck, I've heard this city called, and I like that nickname as a symbol of the mass Ukrainian migrations here.

Jonathan Edwards
Some Brits were pleased to be in Edmonton
The 'Ton, U2's Bono called it. I like that, too. The 'Ton of opportunity, of ambition, of fight.

Edmonton is built around a valley and the North Saskatchewan river, the route of the fur traders, the first road to wealth here. And now the green place, Canada's largest park, where people here are renewed.

Edmonton is the quiet near the wilderness, the smallness under the dome of the sky, the city on the edge of the world, the Gateway to the North.

If the solitude of this country's empty spaces comforts you, you'll be happy here in Canada's most Canadian city.


Talking PointTALKING POINT
Dead end
Where's the most boring place on Earth?
See also:

03 Aug 01 | Our man at Edmonton
Stir crazy days in Canada
08 Aug 01 | Our man at Edmonton
Spare seats in the house
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