Dave Cruickshank is a long time radio producer, web developer and live video director. He is also an amateur theatre actor and future operator of the Monarch Theatre (Canada's oldest purpose-built Movie Theatre) in Medicine Hat. Good then!
MEDICINE HAT, AB - When it comes to travel, many people envision exotic destinations, serene beaches, or historic landmarks in foreign countries. The concept of exploration seems to be attached to places far away from our everyday lives. But what if I told you that the joy of discovery can be found right in your backyard? Yes, taking a city tour of your own city offers a delightful and often eye-opening experience that's not only convenient but also budget-friendly.
This was made abundantly clear when I decided to bundle the family up and take a long overdue ride on our very own Sunshine Trolley.
We often take for granted the places we see daily: the local park, the century-old theatre downtown (Canada's oldest movie theatre!), Western Canada's oldest brick house, or that "building that used to be [something else]". Even seeing again for the first time all the the brick, metal or chainsaw-hewn art installations scattered throughout the city. Acting as a tourist in your own city lets you see these familiar sites through a new lens. You start to notice details you've previously overlooked—perhaps the intricate architecture of a local pottery factory or the variety of flora in a public garden.
Bill Cox, our tour guide (along side with our intrepid bus driver, Ace), is a life-long resident of Medicine Hat. He regaled us with stories of locations from his childhood, how they have changed over the years, and how the city has evolved in so many ways... for better or worse.
Many of us know more about famous landmarks abroad than those in our own city. Taking a ride aboard the Sunshine Trolley allows you to reconnect with your own culture and history. You learn stories, facts, and historical tidbits that give you a deeper appreciation of your roots. This enriches not only your understanding of the city you call home but also your sense of community and belonging.
Did you know that the entire Connaught Golf Course was relocated from it's original home on the Southwest Hill to it's current location to make way for an entire neighbourhood for home-coming World War I veterans? Or that our signature giant Tepee was originally the ceremonial location of an olympic torch?
Local tourism is incredibly adaptable. You get a renewed look at so many familiar locations pointed out by a friendly host in as little as an hour and a half. This makes it an excellent option for families with children or for those with busy schedules who can't afford to take extended time off.
So, before you book that ticket to a far-off destination, consider the undiscovered world right outside your doorstep. Grab a ticket, make your way to the Visitor Center, and let yourself fall in love with your city all over again. The joys of exploration aren't limited by distance—they're only limited by your willingness to see the beauty in the everyday.
The Sunshine Trolley guided tours are hosted Thursdays and Saturdays in the summer for only $20.00 per person, and if you didn't get a chance to take a tour this year, it's a good chance to put it on your calendar for next summer!