“So, Miss Sarah Brown, where are you from??”
“Strathcona County! That’s what’s up!”
When people ask me where I’m from, I always proudly say that Strathcona County is my home. This is where I went to school, where I found my best friends, where I learned how to drive, where I grew up. Strathcona County holds countless memories for me in my mind and of course my heart. I grew up in the centre of this region called Sherwood Park, where the county hall, community centre, and other monumental buildings are held. But even though it’s big enough for all those commercial industries and services, it’s still small enough to find your friends just around the corner. In the past couple days, I travelled the streets of Strathcona County, snapping photos and talking to the citizens to show YOU why I call this place my home.
On my first stop, I went straight to the newly built and improved Community Centre. Walking in to the air conditioned building, I find County Hall where people are carelessly working at their desks and pedestrians staring at me while I walk past in my sash and crown. Finally I found a beautiful spot for a picture on a staircase right in the middle. Along the stairs and the wall, gorgeous First Nations artwork is found and I feel accepted being part of that culture and knowing that Strathcona County is diverse.
After the short photo shoot, I went down a hallway, waving at the secretary, to find the library. Seeing all the books and bringing back recollections of reading Dr. Seuss and Robert Munch, I quickly race to the children’s section. The library in Sherwood Park is constantly improving bringing new and exciting books to read. Their mission is to encourage literacy and learning, foster connection as a whole, and to also offer programs and services to teach, engage, and of course to entertain. This library here in my community seems to be the whole package, no wonder I feel at home when I walk through the doors. Anyways, the first thing I see in the children’s section is the puppet theatre, so I take my little brother, John, and start a puppet show for my mom. And boy is it ever fun acting like a kid again!
After the library, I walked just across the street to Festival Place. This vibrant center was made for the arts, community, and business and is a point of union for culture, ideas, and energy. I dance here all the time for my competitions, festivals, and recitals so it was nice to revisit the theatre I found my passion on. You can come to Festival Place anytime you’d like because there’s always an event or activity going on.
Next on my list was Broadmoor Lake that’s just neighbours to Festival Place. Now this is one of my favourite places to be in Strathcona County because it’s beautiful and outdoors. In my opinion, this is the heart of the community because it brings people closer as a society, has an overall gorgeous appearance, and you feel this essence of welcoming when you walk along the paths. That is why it is one of my favourite places to be.
The day after, I decided to take a visit to Smeltzer House. Now it may seem like an ordinary brick house, but in truth, it is one of the founding buildings in Strathcona County. Also, the house is now designated as a visual arts centre and a registered historic site. Walking by and in the house, I could feel the history and knowledge of this building. It was honestly one of the coolest houses I’ve been in.
Then I took a drive by the very famous Strathcona County sign on the side of Baseline Road. It was truly an honour standing beside this very sign not only knowing that this is my home, but that I will be representing my community in Toronto in July.
After the sign, I took a stop to Millennium Place in Sherwood Park. This recreational centre is a place where I love to be. There is a swimming pool, skating and hockey rinks, two soccer fields, an indoor gymnasium, a running track, fitness centre, you name it. Millennium Place is a fantastic place to be active and fit, but to also hang out with your friends in the food court. But after spending time at MP, it started to rain so heavily that I had to call it a day.
The next day, I decided to take a drive down to Ardrossan, another section in Strathcona County. This is where I found the ARAS’s (Ardrossan Recreational and Agricultural Society) memorial hall, which is basically like a community hall, but smaller. They support and enhance the quality of life for the community by providing agricultural, recreational, and cultural activities and opportunities. Whenever I walk by the hall, I feel welcomed even though I live in a different community.
My next stop was to travel to Elk Island National Park down the Yellowhead Highway. This park can feed your imagination while walking down the paths, make you feel rejuvenated after breathing in the fresh air, can release your inner childhood while exploring the forest, and it can even free your spirit. While I was walking along the road, I spotted a huge herd of buffalo and bison just grazing the grass. I didn’t even blink my eyes for I was in fear I would miss a moment. It was just so exciting feeling in contact with nature.
My final stop was to the famous Greenland Greenhouse. Filled with beautiful flowers and plants, I found a path to walk along and see inspiring display gardens. There, they have informative classes, holiday, home and garden decor, and an extensive plant selection. It was just gorgeous walking through the rows of flowers picking my favourites.
Strathcona County may have 35 schools, with approx. 88 thousand residents, and may hold Canada’s largest oil refining complex, but it’s home in my heart. This is where I’ve laughed the hardest, where I fell in love with dance, where I spent my very first day at school, where I feel welcomed and loved. This is where I grew up.
– Sarah Brown <3