10 weird and wonderful things you never knew about Sherwood Park

If you want to shoot a bow and arrow while riding on horseback through a raspberry vineyard, Sherwood Park is the place for you.

CBC Radio show Edmonton AM is broadcasting live from the huge hamlet on Friday

Strathcona County has one of the highest per capita horse populations in the country. (Sylvia Thomson/CBC)

If you want to shoot a bow and arrow while riding on horseback through a raspberry vineyard, Sherwood Park is the place for you.

While the area may be stereotyped as a quiet commuter outpost, the community has hidden depths.

With a rough and tumble history and some modern quirks, this rapidly growing bedroom community is much more than a sleepy suburb.

With the CBC Morning show Edmonton AM broadcasting live from Sherwood Park on Friday, CBC News decided to take a look at some of the little known facts about the community.

1. It's not a city

With a population of more than 70,000, Sherwood Park is one of the largest and fastest growing communities in Alberta, but it has resisted the temptation of being crowned a city.

The community has enough people to be considered Alberta's seventh largest city, but it has retained the status of a hamlet.

2. It was settled by a train-hopping horse wrangler

The community was established in 1955 on the farmland of Maurice Smeltzer as a bedroom community for industrial sites cropping up east of Edmonton. 

Smeltzer, born in 1867 in Huron, Ont., first came to Edmonton with a delivery of work horses. He arrived on one of the first trains to reach the area that would eventually become Strathcona County.

He returned with another string of horses in 1892 and settled on a 480-acre homestead, the boundaries of which would become Sherwood Park.

The Smeltzer house is still standing and has been designated an official historic site.

3. It wasn't always called Sherwood Park

The community was originally named Campbelltown, but was pressured to change it by Canada Post. The federal postal service argued the town's title was causing confusion, due to the existence of several other communities in Canada by the same name.

One resident even recalled being sent a cheque from Edmonton that arrived via Campbelltown, England.

After much objection — and misdirected mail — the community's name was officially changed in 1956.  

4. In the early days, there was a female-only fire brigade
An undated photograph of Sherwood Park's female-only fire brigade. (Strathcona County)

In the early 1950s, shortly after it was established by developers, the women of the community were often left to their own devices while men worked long shifts at the refineries. 

In order to protect the community, a female-only volunteer fire brigade was formed to serve the area during the daytime hours. They were a spectacle of brawn and bravery wherever they went. 

"Strangers in the area were surprised to see a fireman take off his helmet and calmly take the rollers out of 'his' hair," Marg Jordheim was quoted as saying in 1985. She served with the brigade for 20 years.

5. It has a lot of horses

With over 6,200 horses in 2011, Strathcona County has the second highest number of horses of any municipality in Alberta and has one of the highest per capita in Canada. Welcome to the neigh-bourhood.

7. It has a winery

Who needs Italy when you have a winery in your proverbial backyard?

Founded by University of Alberta heart researchers Rick and Amy Barr, Barr Estate Winery produces fruit wines from locally-sourced raspberries, strawberries and rhubarb, and is open to the public for private tours.

8. There is an archery range 
Archers travel to Sherwood Park to hone their skills at the local range. (Alex Brockman/CBC)

If you feel like honing your inner Katniss Everdeen, head on over to the Sherwood Park Archery Range. The members-only club has both an indoor and outdoor range for those who want to master the medieval art of bows and arrows.  

9. It has a biosphere

Not unlike a biodome, Sherwood Park's biosphere is an ecologically protected area, but you won't find it behind glass.

Located in the southeast corner of Sherwood Park and extending east of Elk Island National Park, the Beaver Hills area is a heavily treed Boreal mixed wood forest habitat with an unusual "knob and kettle" lanscape.

The Beaver Hills Biosphere received UNESCO biosphere designation in 2016 at a world congress of biosphere lovers in Lima, Peru. 
Sherwood Park is more than just a sleepy suburb. The huge hamlet even has a winery. (Barr Estate Winery)

10. It's home to a real life Nottingham

In what appears to be an obvious ode to the legend of Robin Hood, one of the neighbourhoods in Sherwood Park is named Nottingham.

The real, royal Sherwood Forest is in Nottinghamshire, England, and was made famous by its historic association with the heroic outlaw.

Close enough, I say.

Come join Mark Connolly and the crew this Friday morning as we broadcast live from this most interesting hamlet for the "Spring Break" edition of Mark About Town.

  • Mark About Town - Millennium Place
  • Time: 5:30 a.m. - 8:30 a.m.
  • 2000 Premier Way, Sherwood Park

With files from Sherwood Park, Strathcona County