The city's community services department is knee-deep in river activity. There is voyageur canoeing (the city has four 12-passenger boats), and fishing camps. Karina Ma, the program manager for river valley programs, says about 3000 people took advantage of the voyageur canoe program last year, and 300 people checked out fishing. You can get further information on the programs at edmonton.ca by clicking on the parks and river valley link. Better yet, check out the 14th annual River Day on June 11, where you can try your hand at fishing, voyageur canoeing, stand-up paddling and a bunch of other river fun stuff. River Day happens at Rundle Park Family Centre from 10 – 3 pm.
Yes, you can fish in the river. And, if you really want, you can eat what you catch—in moderation.
According to the City of Edmonton's river recreation guide, you can find burbot, goldeye/mooneye, lake sturgeon (which, by the way, can live up to 100 years), mountain whitefish, northern pike, sauger, walleye and five species of sucker (yum!). But be warned: river fish may contain amounts of mercury that are considered unsafe for human consumption. That doesn't mean that you can't eat what you catch if you really want to, though women of childbearing age, and children under the age of 15 should not eat river fish, and those who are determined to dine on their catch should eat no more than one meal of these fish per week.
Better yet, employ the catch-and-release technique. (Remember that you need a fishing license, which can be obtained through any Alberta Sustainable Resource office.) Popular shore angling locations within the city are Goldbar Park, Dawson Park, Hawrelak Park, Whitemud Park, Fort Edmonton Park and the Rossdale Water Treatment Plant.
There are all sorts of options available for anyone who wants to enjoy everything the river has to offer, from vigourous canoeing to relaxing on the Edmonton Queen.
If you're interested in canoeing or kayaking, there are two clubs in the city you might want to consider joining. The Ceyana Canoe Club (ceyana.ca), incorporated in 1978, is the largest canoe club in the city. It offers courses in canoeing, as well as a number of day, weekend and longer trips.
Membership is $35 a year. The Northwest Voyageurs Canoe and Kayak Club (nwvoyageurs.com) offers introductory courses in canoeing. On Wednesdays from June to September, the club holds public drop-in sessions at Rundle Park.
If you want to try your hand at canoeing, but you're not sure you want to make a hobby of it, you can try a guided tour. Black Gold River Tours (blackgoldrivertours.ca) offers a variety of boating excursions, beginning in Devon and Edmonton, and ranging from one-hour trips to four-hour excursions. Edmonton Canoe (edmontoncanoe.com) is a tour company based in Devon that hosts a range of canoe trips, including a "Sunday afternoon paddle" past Edmonton's skyline. Canoeheads (canoeheads.com) is a canoe rental and shuttle service with a variety of packages. If canoeing is a little too sedate for you, or you just don't want to do the work, Klondike Jet Boats (780.486.0896) offers high-speed tours of the river valley.
If you've already got a canoe or a kayak, the city maintains two trailered boat launches, at Capilano Park and Laurier Park. There are five other boat launches for canoeists or others, at Whitemud, Terwillegar, Fort Edmonton, Emily Murphy and Dawson parks.
And of course, if you're into drinking and dining or just cruising around on a warm summer day, there's always the Edmonton Queen riverboat (edmontonqueen.com), which after a few rocky years is now firmly ensconced as a city tourist attraction.