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Borden Park has been an important Edmonton attraction for over a century. Established in 1906, the 22 ha park was first named East End City Park, but was re-named for Sir Robert Laird Borden (1854-1937), the eighth prime minister of Canada (1911-1920), after he visited Edmonton in 1914, on the eve of the First World War.
In the early 20th Century up to seven thousand people were reported to congregate in the park on sunny Sundays. Picnics, musical concerts, and baseball seem to have been the preferred activities in those days.
One of the city’s first three swimming pools was situated in Borden Park. The first Edmonton Zoo was located in Borden Park, as were a popular tearoom, rides such as a carousel, roller coaster and tunnel of love known as “the Old Mill”. The roller coaster was a feature from 1915 up to 1935, when it was dismantled.
"Borden Park has continued to be an important
outdoor venue for Edmontonians,
though the attractions offered have changed
somewhat since its establishment almost a century ago".
- Naming Edmonton
Borden Park originally consisted of 140 acres of mostly swamp far outside the City limits. However, City planners recognized the importance of the health and well-being of the public and the environment. Borden Park now encompasses 20 hectares at the corner of 112 Avenue and 79 Street.
The early 1900s
The early 1900s was the golden age of Borden Park. It was the destination for family events and was home to many attractions including:The early 1900s was the golden age of Borden Park. It was the destination for family events and was home to many attractions including:
- A fairground with rides such as a carousel, roller coaster (1915-1935), and tunnel of love known as "the Old Mill"
- The first Edmonton Zoo
- A popular tea room
- An outdoor pool - one of Edmonton's first 3 swimming pools
Up to 7,000 people were reported to congregate in the park on sunny Sundays. Picnics, musical concerts, and baseball were the preferred activities in those days.
Borden Park has remained virtually untouched since the 1950s, although the City of Edmonton continues to maintain it and residents continue to visit. But with the diminishment of its once vibrant appeal comes pressures on the land: Borden Park needed a reason for being and a face lift.
In 2006, in an effort to protect and revitalize this important piece of Edmonton’s history and regain a once vibrant and active outdoor space, the City of Edmonton partnered with members of the surrounding communities to prepare the Borden Park Revitalization Plan. The resulting plan protects the history of Borden Park while preparing it for the future. The revitalization of Borden Park commenced in the spring of 2011. Construction of the final component, Borden Park Natural Swim Experience, will complete in summer 2017.