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Kathryn MartellLost Creeks and Wetlands of Edmonton


For this study, "lost" is defined as a creek or wetland, or section of one, where water no longer exists on the surface; the 'health' or integrity of extant water bodies was not assessed. The University of Alberta Map Library includes a series of 1924 aerial photographs of Edmonton. Historical accounts and maps were compared to more recent maps and actual creek visits to quantify the loss of creeks and wetlands in Edmonton.

Lost creeks and wetlands of Edmonton, Dec 5th, 2001
Lost Creeks and Wetlands of Edmonton, Dec 5th, 2001. Blue lines denote existing surface water; red lines indicate lost water, and the green line is the study area boundary. Background is 2001 air photo mosaic, courtesy City of Edmonton.

The analysis showed that many creeks and wetlands have disappeared as the city of Edmonton has grown. Research at the Edmonton Archives and readings of historical books highlighted the cultural connections that early Edmonton residents had with these water bodies, notably McKernan's Lake, which was once a popular picnic and skating spot. Areas with significant impacts include Fulton Creek, Groat and MacKinnon Ravines, and Second Rat Creek (a major tributary of Kennedale Creek), and marsh areas in industrial developments on the city's outskirts. Many of the creeks and ravines were lost in the 1960's to road and bridge construction. Several marshes and wetlands had already been drained by 1924, largely for agricultural purposes. Current city expansion of industrial areas is encroaching on remaining marshy areas.

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