June 22, 2023

40 years of creating memories  

Since June 22, 1983, the Edmonton Convention Centre has created a legacy in the community, bringing Edmonton together to celebrate excellence, milestones and unforgettable experiences. Today, we’re home to over 500 events each year! Some Edmontonians have grown up with us over the decades, beginning with attending Festival of Trees as children, and then their graduations, weddings, professional events and more. Some have even come back with their children and grandchildren!

We continue to work with incredible partners who contribute to growing Edmonton as a global destination and delivering world-class events for hundreds of thousands of guests each year. From our employees, to clients, foodies, music lovers and many more, the Edmonton Convention Centre is a piece of Edmonton’s fabric which has interwoven passions and people from all walks of life. Over the course of 40 years, we’ve housed Canada’s top chefs, fed hundreds of thousands of guests, supported Alberta businesses, opened our doors during times of crisis and planned for a greener, more sustainable future.  

For 40 years, Edmontonians have supported us as an integral part of the community, and we’re proud to share this milestone with our community. We look forward to celebrating many more milestones over the next 40 years as your convention centre. 

40 Things No One Told You About the Edmonton Convention Centre  

  1. Our official groundbreaking took place on February 22, 1980 when the first shovel hit the dirt!
  2. On June 30, 1983 Prince Charles and the late Princess Diana visited Edmonton’s downtown convention centre–she celebrated her 22nd birthday in Edmonton the very next day!
  3. During a typical dinner service, a server may walk 36 km while carrying 35 lbs of food per course, totaling 1,800 lbs per function! In a month, we can use up to 600 lbs of chocolate, 6,000 eggs and 400 litres of cream. Our award-winning team can serve 6,000 guests in a night!
  4. We’re an award-winning venue! In 2023, our culinary team collected two gold medals at the National Senior Chefs Culinary Challenge and the Global Chef Challenge, and a bronze medal at the Canadian Culinary Championship. In 2021, we were recognized among the 2021 EXHIBITOR Centers of Excellence and the City of Edmonton Corporate Climate Leader of the Year award. We were recognized with the in 2019 with the Education & Service award by the International Association of Venue Managers (IAVM) and in 2018, we were named one of North America’s top give performing venues by IAVM.
  5. 45% of our food suppliers are regional producers and growers who help us produce 250,000 meals each year and inject $750,000 back into Alberta’s agricultural economy.
  6. In 2020 during the global pandemic, we answered the call to open our doors to Tipinawâw from October to April–a 24-hour temporary pandemic accommodation. Tipinawâw successfully facilitated more than 90,000 check-ins for access to day services and over 35,000 check-ins for overnight access, with 150 individuals successfully achieving long-term housing.  
  7. Our venue is buzzing with an urban beehive that produces approximately 20 pounds of honey each year.
  8.  In 2021, our iconic atrium welcomed 2,035 gold-coloured hand-crafted ceramic birds for the art installation Migratory Path by Lethbridge artist Catherine Ross. The piece represents what it means to connect with one another within a community–see this unique sculpture soaring in our atrium on your next visit.
  9. In 1983 we hosted our first concert with Tina Turner! Since then, our VIP performers include Guns ‘n Roses, Tragically Hip, Meatloaf, Pearl Jam, Megadeath, Backstreet Boys, Marilyn Manson, ‘N Sync, Motley Crew, Imagine Dragons and many more! Soundgarden filmed their “My Wave” music video in our halls during their 1994 concert and Metallica played their first Edmonton concert with us in 1987!
  10. In an average year, our comprehensive waste management program diverts approximately 124 compact cars worth of waste from landfill (177,116 kg).
  11.  The most eccentric rider we’ve received was Marilyn Manson’s request for a dressing room as cold as a meat locker and covered in black from floor-to-ceiling! Our staff bent over backwards to ensure the walls, furniture, and decor were black in colour and the room temperature a perfect 16 degrees Celsius.
  12. During the pandemic, our culinary team served 182,880 meals over the course of 183 days to vulnerable populations and we worked closely with the Edmonton Food Bank to receive ingredients after years of providing donations from our events.
  13. We’ve seen a lot of weddings over 40 years, including our employees and our very own Executive Chef Serge Belair who got married in our iconic atrium after meeting his wife in our kitchen.
  14. In a typical graduation season, between convocation ceremonies and dinner banquets, approximately 50,000 high-school graduates and their families will celebrate their graduations with us. Over the course of six weeks, our culinary team will serve more than 23,000 pieces of chicken, 30,000 desserts and over 6,300 pounds of potatoes.
  15. In 1984, we were awarded “Facility of the Year” and “Venue of the Year” in 1998!
  16. We rose above the waters! In 2012, half of our facility was rebuilt in less than 10 weeks after rainstorm damaged cause by “The Great Flood.” As a result, we learned about drying and used a few fans to host over 1,200 delegates 10 weeks later, including former Premier Allison Redford, Alberta MLAs and federal MPs!
  17. We welcomed our 5 millionth visitor in 1996 and our 10 millionth visitor in 2008.
  18. In 2008 we were recognized with the “Human Rights Award for Excellence” by the John Humphrey Centre for Peace and Human Rights and in 2010, we received the Recycling Council of Alberta Corporate Leadership Award in recognition of our environmental initiatives.
  19. Combined, our three Exhibition Halls are larger than a Canadian Football League football field, and could accommodate a Boeing 727 aircraft! They are uniquely built with no support columns anywhere in the 82,000 square-foot room.
  20. Until 1906, Grierson Hill area was home to 10 coal mines–the largest was Humberstone’s Mine, located 160 metres east of where we are today.
  21. Building the facility below Jasper Avenue reduced foundation problems, minimized intrusion into the river valley, and reduced the area exposed to the natural elements, resulting in energy conservation!
  22. In 1998 The Riverview Room opened, adding 3,800 square-feet of intimate space to the facility.
  23. In 2006, Hall D opened, adding an additional 26,000sq square-feet of meeting space to attract major international events to Alberta. The expansion of Hall D in the Edmonton Convention Centre placed us among the four largest convention centres in the country at the time.
  24. We’ve hosted two Grey Cup festivals filling our venue with sports enthusiasts! In 2010, we hosted the 98th Grey Cup Festival and in November 2018, we hosted the 106th Grey Cup Festival!
  25. Our backyard was home to both the 2015 and 2018 Red Bull Crashed Ice, with a combined total of nearly 100,000 guests descending into Edmonton’s River Valley!
  26. We’ve had some of the world’s finest chefs in our kitchen and many have gone on to open their own beloved culinary businesses in Edmonton’s culinary landscape. Many local chefs also become guest chefs in our kitchen.
  27. In 2020, we achieved our Climate Smart certification and are well on our way to reducing our greenhouse gas emissions 30% by 2035 as part of our Greenhouse Gas Reductions Plans.
  28. In 2009, we became the first organization in Edmonton to sign-up for the Edmonton Food Bank’s Second Helping Program. Since then, we’ve donated nearly 6,600 lbs of food to those in need each year.
  29. We’ve welcomed many famous individuals through our atrium over 35 years! In 1998 we hosted the Universal Rights & Human Values Reception & Banquet attended by Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
  30. In 1974, Grierson Hill was recommended for Edmonton’s first convention centre for its good transportation links, hotel proximity, available land and aesthetic appeal.
  31. We were the first convention venue in Canada to launch a fully plant-based menu offering customized alternative dining experiences for guests while reducing the carbon footprint of the events we host and the meals we serve.
  32. The family of J.R. Shaw donated our bison sculpture, Paskwamostos, to us in February 1999. It was created by Joe Fafard, representing strength, food, clothing and shelter. You can find this astounding sculpture located on our south end, overlooking the Valley on Treaty 6 land.
  33. From 1983-1992, we housed the Aviation Hall of Fame and during this time, a 1918 Curtiss JN-4 Canuck biplane was suspended in our main foyer. This aircraft made history in 1919 when George Gorman used it for Alberta’s first airborne commercial delivery of the Edmonton Journal!
  34. We were uniquely constructed as first known project in Alberta to use permanent tie-back anchors to stabilize the area adjacent to a building. They extend 225 feet into the Earth preventing the building from sliding into the North Saskatchewan River!
  35. We’re literally entrenched into downtown’s core! Jasper Avenue was dug up and re-built over top of our facility–our roof supports the roadway! One of our most unique features is that 70% of the building (300,000 square-feet) is located underground. From ground level to the top of the atrium, our cascading building measures over 10 storeys high!
  36. Our building was designed to meet the needs of cultural facility by architect B. James Wensley beginning in 1974. He was awarded the Alberta Association of Architects Citation in 1983 for his work on the facility.
  37. In 2016, during the Fort McMurray evacuations, our team helped move a massive event from Edmonton EXPO Centre to our facility with just 24-hour notice. Our team pulled together to have the doors opened and plates ready to go for guests at 5 p.m.the next day for the Junior Achievement Awards!
  38. We’re extremely energy efficient! Our solar installation is the largest of its kind in Canada, producing nearly 300,000 kwh of renewable energy every year – enough to power 32 Albertan homes. Only our south side is exposed to the outside. With such a large portion of the facility encased by soil, it provides an insulation effect, reducing heat loss in winter and heat gain in the summer. Our reflective roof in Hall D also helps to keep the heat away!
  39. The plants in our beautiful atrium convert 4,000 pounds of CO2 annually.
  40. Originally named the Edmonton Convention Centre from 1983 to 1997, our naming rights with Shaw Communications saw the venue named the Shaw Conference Centre until January 1, 2019 when we returned to our roots as the Edmonton Convention Centre.

THANK YOU for creating memories with us over the last 40 years!


Return to News