Strathcona Science Park

Last Sunday I took an early morning ride out to the semi-abandoned , post-apocalyptic looking Strathcona Science Park that sits at the Eastern edge of Edmonton.

I find this park to be a weird and wonderful trip back in time. It was created in 1979 to protect an archeological site from industrial encroachment. It enjoyed a brief life as public science center but this was soon ended (by provincial budget cuts,  I suspect) and it has remained frozen in time since then. My wife remembers a junior high school trip when her class went to the park to explore the varying science displays in each of the bunker-like subterranean pods.  On a bicycle related note, she recalls that it was the first time she saw a bike hooked up to produce electricity. The park is still maintained by the province in a minor way. The grass is cut and the garbage cans emptied. However, the interpretive buildings and the archeological lab and site have been abandoned and allowed to slowly crumble into a decrepit state.  The first time I cycled out to this park it seemed to me that it was the ideal site to shoot a low budget post-apocalypse SF film.

I have a fondness for public park architecture of this period , no doubt instilled during the numerous camping trips my family went on when I was a child. Ah, nostalgia. Though it is a sad waste of resources, it also seems ironically appropriate that a park established to protect an archeological site is itself crumbling into a historic relic.

As a tribute to a fine blogger ( Yes, I mean you Steve!) I have included a few pictures of signs with historical information about the park’s site.

This vintage sign is misleading. I do like the illustration, though.

This is the first sign that all may not be well. However, there are lots of mountain bike trails in the woods right along this stretch.

Beautiful sunny Sunday morning.

Well, this looks OK. The flags are a bit tattered, though...

Some historical plaque goodness!

...and more!

Hey, this seems pleasant!

Don't worry Mr. Park Official, I haven't used a pair of roller skates in decades.

Golly, I'm such a rebel!

These bunker buildings are pretty nifty looking. There are several of them on the grounds.

The two entrances are on the side of the big loading door in the middle. They are pretty overgrown too. Hey, what does that sign say?

Oh! Well, there's only one thing to do when you read a sign like that.....

....and that is to climb up onto the roof! Yep, looks pretty bad.

Here is some more of that earth berm / bunker vibe.

...and more of that.

Ummm....Mr. Park Official, Sir? This section of the cycling trail could use some attention

...and also this.

...and this also. On the other hand, the cattails are pretty.

The abandoned Archeology Lab! Do forgotten archeologists lurk within plotting their revenge?

A boardwalk and a dig site. Cool!

This looks OK....

....or maybe not. At least it didn't collapse while I was on it.

Lastly, a nice view over the river.

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15 thoughts on “Strathcona Science Park

  1. I love the SSP. I have very vague memories of being in the exhibit buildings as a kid, but now it’s a lesson on how quickly nature can take back what we build. The boardwalk has been fixed up recently since the lookout point and sitting area was burned down and the hexagonal platforms were partially washed out in a land slide.

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    • Ah, I didn’t know that. I rode out to the park once years ago but didn’t find my way down to the boardwalk until a more recent trip. I have always been fascinated by ruins and indeed one of their points of attraction for me is seeing nature move back in.

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  2. You can’t go wrong with historical marker photos in your blog. That’s quite an interesting place. I wonder if there has ever been an archeological dig of a former acheological building. Definitely a self-licking ice cream cone there!

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  3. Just checked this forgotten decaying time capsule out today, very cool! Great Pics!
    I have always been fascinated with abandoned places that once held so much promise & fond memories, eerily interesting.

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  4. It does look like one of the pod buildings is still in use for something… the very first one you see when you come into the park’s entrance. I tried to look inside but couldn’t see much – just a sign about a defibrillator, and I could hear a faint beep from an alarm. Plus, it looks like the roof was replaced within recent years. Also, this summer there was a government sign posted on the archaeology lab door with a phone number you could call to request access to the building. I wonder how one could get access… it would be very interesting to see what’s inside.

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    • Yes, I think the main building isn’t completely abandoned but it might just be used as the base for the minimal grounds-keeping that happens at the park. The sign on the Archeology Lab sound like an interesting development. I’d be interested to see the inside of any of the buildings.

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  5. I visited the park on Sept 8, 2013. It is in about the same state, possibly a little worse. I completely missed the Boardwalk, however. And the post-apocalyptic vibe is very strong with the wheezing refineries across the road from the picnic area. Thanks for the pics.

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  6. I’m glad these pictures are still here because this park has been almost entirely demolished. It was such a creepy and interesting place to visit. All that’s left is the one pod building by the parking lot, the earth berms in the middle, and some of the archaeology trail. I read an article that the last pod building is being used as storage by the Sunridge ski hill. However, when i went through the park yesterday, it doesn’t look like anybody has been in that pod for awhile. There were leaves cluttered by the entrance, and I was able to see a bit inside as the inner door was propped open. It looks empty inside. Since the province apparently (according to a Globe and Mail article) has plans to bring the park back to a “natural state”, I won’t be surprised to see this last pod get demolished in the near future. They have already installed new toilets near the parking lot.

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  7. I’ve been out there a few times this summer (2016). I first visited it in ’79-’80 and it didn’t hold much for me as the ‘science’ in the pavilions was rather elementary.
    However, the boardwalk which was at the south end of the trails has now been replaced with a gravel pathway and the original 2-level platform valley lookout is long gone. The lower platform was closed first as lack of maintenance led to its demise. Then the upper platform was closed and then pretty soon the entrance from the boardwalk was ‘capped’ and it became a ‘dead-end’ and the sole look-out over the valley.
    In the early 2000’s you could still see some remnants of the support posts but even those are all gone as well as the fencing that surrounded the archeological dig site.

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