Always being on call for work has its challenges, but for public affairs officer Duncan MacDonnell the simple solution is to live downtown. Summer—or wildfire season—can be especially busy at Alberta government’s department of environment and sustainable resources. Luckily, when Duncan is needed, he’s rarely more than a five-minute walk from the office.
But living centrally means more than a quick commute to the civil servant, who doubles as a professional photographer. “Downtown is incredibly vibrant. I love to shoot film and I never run out of things to photograph.”
He adds, “I don’t buy the idea that downtown is the young, urbanite kind of place. … You’ve got this great diversity of both people and places and that’s a huge factor for why I live where I do.”
Here are just a few of his favourite highlights around his home and office.
- Constable Ezio Farone Park, 11004 97 Ave.
Duncan walks just about everywhere, so what better path to take than this one with sprawling trails and beautiful views of the river valley? He regularly heads to this popular park for exercise or to wander around with his camera and a roll of film. Weekends are his favourite time to visit because although it isn’t a big park, it’s usually alive with picnickers and athletes—a vibrancy that gives him a “special feeling.”
- The Common, 9910 109 St.
This gastro-lounge is his go-to place to business lunch or unwind after work, especially on Wednesdays. He appreciates the vintage-meets-modern decor, including a wall of vinyl records and ’80s Hollywood portraits. It pairs well with their extensive single malt scotch menu. But his favourite is the fish and chips. Chef Jesse Morrison-Gauthier reinvents the tempura battered fish weekly with what’s fresh, so Duncan never tires of this constantly evolving plate. “I’m a huge fan…which is saying something from a guy from the coast.”
- The Metro, 10250 106 St.
Friday nights see Duncan shooting pool with buddies at this billiards lounge. The laid-back bar never makes them feel old or uninvited, even though it’s weekends are heaving with young adults. “We’re just these harmless old guys that love to play pool and the Metro is very welcoming to us.”
- City Market Downtown, 104 St.
Some come to shop; Duncan comes to shoot. He loves starting Saturdays with a jaunt to the farmers’ market to capture some photos of the bustling environment, and immerse himself in it. On his way out, Duncan will pick up ingredients for the night’s supper from such suppliers as Edgar Farms (the asparagus are legendary) and Irving’s Farm Fresh (whose sausages are delicious and dizzying in their variety).
- Rose Bowl Pizza & Rouge Resto-Lounge, 10111 117 St.
Duncan often frequents “the best pizza place in town” with work friends and associates, and savours the carne pizza so much that he rarely tries anything new. The authentic thin crust pizzas are hard to decline, but he also comes for the brief time-travel one experiences lounging in its retro and funky ’70s-style bar.
Do you live and work in Central Edmonton? Tell us your favourite highlights in The Route. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.