If you’re arriving in Red Deer from either the north or south, stay on Highway 2 until the large red-and-white Red Deer Visitor and Convention Bureau building comes into view (from the north, take the 32nd St. exit and loop back onto Hwy. 2 northbound).
In addition to being a good source of information, it is home to the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame and Museum (Hwy. 2, in the same building as the Red Deer Visitor and Convention Bureau, 403/341-8614, summer daily 9 a.m.–6 p.m., the rest of the year daily 10 a.m.–5 p.m., adult $3, child $2). Displays highlight the feats of Albertan sporting heroes such as hockey legend Wayne Gretzky, multiple-time World Figure Skating Champion Kurt Browning, and Red Deer girl Jamie Sale, who, with partner David Pelletier, was belatedly awarded a skating gold medal at the 2002 Winter Olympics after the infamous judging controversy.
But it’s not all about winter sports—you can also admire the achievements of Albertans like Sharon Wood (the first North American woman to summit Mount Everest) and Jason Zuback (multiple world long drive golfing champion). From this point, it’s possible to walk (or drive via 32nd St.) to Fort Normandeau (403/346-2010, mid-May–June daily noon–5 p.m., July–Aug. daily noon–8 p.m., free). This replica is built on the site of a fort constructed in the spring of 1885 in anticipation of the Riel Rebellion—a Métis uprising led by Louis Riel.
The downtown Red Deer and District Museum (4525 47A Ave., 403/309-8405, July and Aug. Mon.–Fri. 10 a.m.–5 p.m. and Sat.–Sun. 1–5 p.m., the rest of the year daily noon–5 p.m., donation), which reopened in early 2010 after extensive renovations, tells the story of the area from prehistoric times to the present, with emphasis on the growth and development of the last 100 years. If you have youngsters in tow, head for interactive Children’s Zone; if you have a love of the tacky and wacky, search out the display of The World’s Most Boring Postcard, a title bestowed on a postcard depicting the museum exterior.
© Andrew Hempstead, from Moon Western Canada, 3rd Edition