If you’re an AMA member, you know that it can be rewarding to join a club with others who share your interests. The best associations bring people together to share knowledge, build relationships and, of course, have fun. Whether you’re looking for advice on your next woodworking project, want to get involved in a local photo walk or simply want to test your aim as a competitive axe-thrower, these hobby clubs in Alberta groups may help you to enjoy your favourite pastime even more.
SOCIETIES FOR SHUTTERBUGS
Your camera isn’t only a lens through which to see the world, it’s also a tool with which to forge new relationships. Sure, scouring YouTube tutorials and reading how-to guides is one way to improve your portfolio, but photography becomes a social experience when you join a group of like-minded shooters in Edmonton’s Images Alberta Camera Club, Calgary’s Foothills Camera Club and Red Deer’s Central Alberta Photographic Society. (Not based in one of those cities? Hop on Google and you’re likely to find a camera club in your area.)
TRAILBLAZING FOR SNOWMOBILERS
Exploring the winter wilderness on a snowmobile is a favourite pastime across the province, but it wouldn’t be possible without a vibrant collection of regional snowmobile associations. These organizations and their members do much of the heavy lifting when it comes to maintain Alberta’s more than 5,000-kilometre snowmobile trail system, and the overarching Alberta Snowmobile Association administers the distribution of annual trail passes (a requirement for anyone who wants to legally ride the trail system). More locally based but still dynamic clubs organize rallies, safety courses and other opportunities to connect with other riders. In Northern Alberta, check out the Whitecourt Trailblazers, which boasts more than 550 members and cares for 465 kilometres of trails.
LEAGUES FOR LUMBERJACKS
It may seem counterintuitive, but the acquisition and honing of “traditional” skills has become very contemporary. One such skill that translates nicely to a group setting is axe throwing. A number of operations in Alberta cater to budding lumberjacks and jills with multi-week leagues, where individuals put their abilities to the test against other amateur throwers. Among them, check out BATL—the Backyard Axe Throwing League—in Calgary, plus Bad Axe Throwing and Jack Axe in Edmonton, the latter of which also offers timbersport activities like pole climbing and dry-land log birling.
MEETUPS FOR BOARD GAMERS
It’s not always easy to organize enough friends for a few rounds of Settlers of Catan, let alone an evening of “living card game” or pen-and-paper roleplaying. Some of Alberta’s top comic-book and gaming stores are here to help. In Edmonton, weekly (drop-in) meet-ups of the Game2Game social club are hosted at Table Top Café and The Gamers’ Lodge. In Lethbridge, adherents of the classic card game Magic the Gathering, ahem, gather every Friday at Kapow’s gaming space, which also features weekly drop-in gaming sessions.
ASSOCATIONS FOR AMBLERS & EXPLORERS
No matter if you’re in the Rockies, the southern plains or the northern woodlands, joining a hiking club is a great incentive to get out and enjoy fresh air and good company. Check the Alberta Hiking Association’s website for a group in your area, and note that most hiking clubs (as opposed to walking clubs) are geared toward more intensive trekking. Mountaineers may also want to consider joining a regional section of the Alpine Club of Canada. Or go beneath the earth instead: the Alberta Speleological Society connects anyone interested in the exploration (and conservation) of the Rocky Mountains’ many caves.
GOOD COMPANY FOR CONSERVATIONISTS
The province’s diverse landscape is home to thousands of species of plants and animals—from butterflies fluttering through the grasslands to the mushrooms found in mountain forests to the caribou that range across northern Alberta. They’re all worth learning about and, of course, conserving for generations to come. Joining one of many of Alberta’s naturalist societies is a great way to do both. Or ease into things by spending the day at educational sites like Edmonton’s John Janzen Nature Centre and the Muttart Conservatory, as well as Lacombe’s Ellis Bird Farm, which offers programming on the protection of birds and bird habitats during the spring and summer.
GROUPS FOR GARDENERS
For those whose interest in nature is particularly strong when it comes to their own backyards, horticultural societies and gardening clubs across the province are great for meeting aspiring and expert green thumbs. There are groups that gather everywhere from Airdrie to Stony Plain, but the biggest ones, naturally, are in Edmonton and Calgary. Both clubs offer workshops and events, and even member discounts at participating garden centres.
FELLOWSHIP FOR FISHERS
Whether you’re an experienced angler or just got your first rod, joining a fly fishing club can be a great way to learn new tricks of the trade and discover top spots for casting your line. The Edmonton Trout Fishing Club has been operating since 1953; its membership has built up a wealth of knowledge over the years. Calgary’s Hook and Hackle Club also boasts opportunities to learn about fly tying and related skills, and offers a handful of organized fishing trips throughout the year. Or hook up with one of five Alberta chapters of Trout Unlimited Canada, which work to promote responsible fishing and conserve the province’s rivers and wild trout habitats.
CLUBS FOR CARVERS
The image of the solitary woodworker, quietly whittling away on his or her back porch, couldn’t be farther from contemporary truth. The age-old art continues to be vital today; its traditions are kept alive and its practices pushed forward by amateur craftspeople and professional artist-designers alike. Various associations in Alberta help bring together woodworkers to share knowledge, learn new skills, offer safety tips and even produce exhibitions of their work. Check out the Central Alberta Woodworkers Guild, which meets in Lacombe, or the Calgary-based Southern Alberta Woodworkers Society. For those who work exclusively with a lathe, there’s also the likes of the Chinook Woodturning Guild in Lethbridge, while Edmonton’s Northern Alberta Wood Carvers Association caters to woodworkers who wield chisels, gouges and knives.
HOW TO SAVE
Picture paying less: It’s easy to upgrade your photographic gear (and skills) with AMA Rewards partners. Visit locations of The Source to save up to 20% on the lowest-marked price on a variety of products. McBain Camera offers a 15% discount on its photography workshops, plus 10% savings on camera bags and tripods. Or shop Henry’s on the AMA eStore an earn 2% in reward dollars on your purchase.
How does this garden grow: Get inspired for next year’s planting with a visit to the Muttart Conservatory. Members save 10% on admission to the botanical gardens housed in distinctive glass pyramids, plus save 10% on purchases at the Conservatory’s Marigold Gift Shop.