1st Site Visit – Exploring Red Deer

In June 2012 we took our first trip to Red Deer to look at the feasibility of a River of Light on the river and to research what new concept would shape the next instalment.

When we got there, we found a beautiful river, a strong community and lots of rich history. Over a 4 day period we explored the proposed 10Km stretch of the river for the event guided by our host Sheila Bannerman of the Central Alberta Historical Society. We took in the first river crossing of the city at Fort Normandeau, Dickson Dam, the Kerry Wood Centre & Bird Sanctuary and even had an afternoon float down the river in a canoe.

Key Water Locations



The River in full Flow

It is the 24 June and the river was flowing fast at 156 cubic-meters per second. At this time of year in the water cycle the snowpacks from the surrounding glaziers have been melting, so there are huge volumes of water moving through the natural waterways.


By all accounts locally, this was certainly higher than usual flow rates. Let’s hope the river is more forgiving next year – we haven’t yet considered a high speed River of Light through a city!

The Old Logging Channel

As we were walking along the north-side of the river near Bower Ponds we noticed a natural channel that took us into some woodlands. We had found the old logging canal that was once part of the Great West Lumber Company Saw Mill that would have originally connected to a network of nearby logging ponds. Completely consumed by nature, traces of the past echoed clearly as you walked through the channel. With the nearby sound of the river drifting on the wind, it wasn’t hard to be transported back to a time gone by.

Although not connected to the channel anymore, there is still a remaining logging pool that can be seen at Bower Ponds today. Lying almost forgotten in the north-side of the parkland, it stands as a poignant reminder of Red Deer’s logging past.

Water Towers on the Skyline

How can we resist not doing something to highlight these water features on the skyline…

A prominent feature of the city skyline is the Norton Spheroid, known locally as the ‘Onion Tower’, an iconic water tower first spotted from the hotel window. Officially opened on January 30th, 1959, it is not in service anymore and remains completely empty.

Spheroid – 500,000 Gallons
Ground Storage – 2,300,000 Gallons

The Mount View Water Tower sits on the boundaries of the city to the East. It stands tall and proud on top of the mount – like an unlit beacon looking down onto the city. To be able to illuminate a second water tower as part of the project would be incredible, particularly because this one, creates the perfect backdrop for the River of Light event viewed from David Thomson Highway Bridge.

Introducing the team in Red Deer


Pictured right: Sheila Bannerman chair of the Red Deer 2013 Centennial Committee. From left: Creative Director of Creatmosphere, Laurent Louyer, Production & Technical Manager, David Abra, Barb Maier, our local production hand, who was part of the production team in Calgary during the River of Light in 2010, and Denice Dever, Creatmosphere’s Project Manager.


Local press help to spread the word

A big thanks for the write-ups at the Red Deer Express and the Red Deer Advocate – it was really great for you to come down and hear more about the  project.


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