Mill Creek Ravine/Festival Flying Canöe Volant

Creating a Winter Wonderland

Sources: Erin de Zwart 2023

Fairy Tale Lights

Photo : Erin de Zwart 2023.

It's amazing how much light and color can transform a place. During the day, Mill Creek Ravine is a pleasant wooded area. But during the Flying Canöe Volant Festival, it transforms into a timeless, dream-like place.

A Multicolored Teepee

Photo: Erin de Zwart 2023.

A clearing in the ravine serves as a gathering place for festival-goers, who gather around a teepee to listen to traditional music, or go into the tent to hear storytellers weave their magic.

Text version of the audio

Mill Creek Ravine runs south to north for over five kilometers and empties into the North Saskatchewan River.  It was originally used by Native people to fish. The creek was called Stony Creek, then Bird Creek, and finally Mill Creek. The name comes from a flour mill established in 1878 near the river. 

The ravine was once home to a portion of the Edmonton, Yukon & Pacific Railway, which ran down the ravine and across the Low Level Bridge, built in 1900. In 1954, most of the rail line across the ravine was abandoned, but four of the original wooden railroad trestles are still in use in the trails. Local residents and nature enthusiasts successfully fought to prevent the city from installing a highway through the ravine in the 1960s and 1970s.

In 2012, the first edition of the Flying Canoe Volant Festival was held, a winter event that showcases the culture and traditions of First Nations, French-Canadian and Métis peoples. 

Developed by Daniel Cournoyer, director of La Cité francophone, the festival is designed to celebrate local history and the magic of a long winter night. A colourful display of lights guides visitors into the ravine, where they encounter large teepees, musicians and storytellers who blend past, present and future to the rhythm of their art. Each year, more than 60,000 visitors experience a different side of Edmonton's history, while enjoying the ravine on dark winter nights. 

Extract of
Francophone Heritage in Edmonton

Francophone Heritage in Edmonton image circuit

Presented by : Conseil de développement économique de l'Alberta (CDÉA)

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