Are you prepared to boldly go where no man (or woman) has gone before? Me neither, which is why I took a detour south of Calgary to the town of Vulcan, cleverly capitalizing on its name to become a cosmic attraction in the fanatical Star Trek universe. It’s worth pointing out that Star Trek has many Canadian connections: the first-ever episode aired in Canada first (September 6, 1966, in case you were wondering); the Canadian Mint created special coins for Star Trek’s 50th Anniversary, while “spocking” became a brief thing in 2015, whereby a few lines drawn on the $5 bill turning Sir Wilfred Laurier, legally, into Dr Spock.
Star Trek films have been shot in Vancouver and Toronto, and featured Canadian actors in iconic roles like Scotty (James Doohan was born and raised in Vancouver), Picard’s Alison Pill, General Chang (Christopher Plummer) and all sorts of Klingons and Enterprise crew. William Shatner of course is from Montreal, because it just would have been too damn weird if he was born and raised in Vulcan.
A community association launched Vulcan’s Star Trek connection 1991, although road trippers had been stopping to take pictures of the town’s concrete sign for decades. In 1998, a 10-metre replica Starship Enterprise was placed outside the distinctly space-ship looking Vulcan Tourism and Trek Station. Inside you’ll find over eight hundred pieces of Star Trek memorabilia, swishing doors, costumes and Spock ears in the gift shop. There’s also a transporter on Centre Street, a bust of Leonard Nimoy on the corner of Second Avenue, and other quirks that Trekkies will appreciate exploring the town.
Vulcan hosts an annual Star Trek gathering called Vul-Con, bringing enthusiasts and cast and crew members together, including the late Leonard Nimoy who attended in 2010. Located less than an hour and half’s drive from Calgary, it’s highly illogical – as Spock might say – for a small prairie town in Alberta to become intrinsically linked to one of the most popular science fiction series of all time. Captain Picard might add: “Things are only impossible, until they’re not.” Enjoy your visit, live long, and prosper.
SIDE NOTE: In 1967, the town of St Paul unveiled the World’s First UFO Landing Pad, officially welcome all aliens and spaceships to utilize the spaceport. If they need to stretch their legs or find some snacks for the time warp, they can pop into the adjacent Tourist Information Centre for a latte and boutique artisan gifts. All species are welcome.