Frommer's Alberta


288 pages
Contains Maps, Index
ISBN 978-0-470-15803-6
DDC 917.12304'4





Reviewed by Sandy Campbell

Sandy Campbell is a reference librarian in the Science and Technology Library at the University of Alberta.


This is a first edition of Frommer’s guide to Alberta. The cover boasts, “Experience a place the way the locals do” and “Outspoken opinions on what’s worth your time and what’s not.” The latter of these is the most accurate.

Murray Whyte is quite firm in what he thinks is important in Alberta, but as an expatriate Albertan living in Toronto, he has either forgotten much about Alberta or never experienced it. His is a distinctly southern and urban view of the province. He describes Calgary in 38 pages, while Edmonton gets 26. He wastes space on the Edmonton-Calgary hockey rivalry, and talks about Steve Smith scoring on his own net, but never mentions Gretzky. He dismisses Edmonton’s remarkable summer festivals as “the almost never-ending plethora of summer festivals.” He describes the Calgary Folk Music Festival, while saying that there are “bigger” and “maybe even better ones,” but doesn’t talk about Edmonton’s internationally recognized folk festival.

Whyte relegates the northern half of the province to 14 pages, heavily focused on Fort McMurray. In the few pages dedicated to the central foothills, he takes the reader on a strange tour from Rocky Mountain House, via a rather ordinary route normally travelled only by oilfield workers and local people, to Mayerthorpe,. His purpose appears to be that he wants to talk about the murder of four RCMP officers, although he doesn’t mention the Fallen Four Memorial. Anyone wanting to see the memorial is more likely to drive the highway from Edmonton.

The map at the front of the book is also a suspect representation. Vegreville, spelled incorrectly, is shown although Whyte doesn’t describe the town and its giant Ukrainian Easter Egg tourist attraction. However, Vulcan, which he does cover, is not shown. Red Deer, a large city, isn’t on the map, and the Willmore Wilderness appears more than 100 kilometres from its true location.

While the book is a passable introduction to many of the common tourist sites, users would be well advised to pick up a supplementary guide and a good road map from the motor association.

Before the next edition, I hope that Whyte comes “home” to Alberta and learns more about this diverse and amazing province. Recommended with reservations.



Whyte, Murray, “Frommer's Alberta,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 14, 2024,