People who know me well know that once upon a time, I was a huge Star Trek fan. I’m talking the original Star Trek. When we moved back from Germany when I was in junior high, we finally had television, and I discovered that I LIKED television!
I was so out of touch with pop culture when we returned to the States that I thought The Partridge Family was about the Old West (look at the costumes on the cover of TV Guide; those looked like the clothes from Daniel Boone). Imagine my surprise when I learned that they were a pop singing group.
Well, anyway, I definitely had some catching up to do.
I’d never heard of Star Trek. But oh, once I discovered it (Captain Kirk in particular), I was hooked. Those amber eyes, that manly body, those heroic escapades… But I digress.
Spock was intriguing to me, but he was never my hero. Too cold. Too analytical. Too skinny. No chest muscles…But again, I digress.
That was when I was young. Now, I am more drawn to Spock than to Kirk. And to his planet Vulcan. (A mind over matter sort of thing.) So, when I found out that there is a Vulcan in Alberta, Canada, a mere two hours away, I had to go.
Vulcan was named by a surveyor for the Canadian Pacific Railway after the Roman God of Fire – Vulcan. Originally, all the streets of Vulcan were named after gods and goddesses of the classical world such as Juno, Mars, and Jupiter. The community was incorporated as a village on December 23, 1912, and then as a town on June 15, 1921. In July 1927, a major tornado destroyed many homes and the new curling rink in the town. That tornado was made famous when a photograph of it approaching Vulcan was used for the “tornado” article in Encyclopædia Britannica. It has since been rebuilt and is tidy and welcoming.
It’s a normal little farming town in Alberta. Except, not.
The town’s name has helped it become a tourist attraction.In the Star Trek television and feature film series it is the name of the homeworld of Spock and his fellow Vulcans.
Capitalizing on this coincidence, the town has a cheesy Star Trek–themed tourist station (the Tourism and Trek Station), which provides tourist information, displays Star Trek memorabilia, provides unique photo opportunities with much-worn cardboard cutouts of some of the more memorable characters from the series, and sells Star Trek-themed mugs and t-shirts. (Okay, yes, we bought some Vulcan ears to wear, but was just thinking ahead to Halloweens in the future.)
Nearby, a replica of the Starship Enterprise from Star Trek V has been mounted on a pedestal which includes writing from Trek alien languages like Klingon.
The town has also created space-themed murals and signs, and hosts an annual community-wide Star Trek convention known as “Spock Days.” This convention attracts hundreds of Star Trek fans from around the world.
In 2013, the TrekCetera Star Trek museum opened in Vulcan. But on our visit, we were told that due to a significant dearth of visitors to the museum, TrekCetera would soon be relocating to Drumheller, the dinosaur center of Alberta. They hope a $300 day in Vulcan would translate to a $3,000 day in Drumheller, which draws multitudes of visitors, whereas Vulcan, being in the middle of nowhere longs for visitors most weekends.
The TrekCetera museum features authentic items from several movies filmed in and around Calgary (Superman, Brokeback Mountain, Titanic, and Thunderbirds Are Go, among others).
But the really big draw is the Star Trek portion of the museum. There isn’t a lot from the original Star Trek series, since most of the props and costumes were destroyed after the series “flopped,” but they do have a fiberglass Borg Assimilation Alcove from the later series, so we can all still be assimilated.
There are also some original series props, which feature some funny text on them. Because props folks weren’t given any credit, they marked their creations for future identification. One piece of science equipment features the theme song from Gilligan’s Island, and a medical kit asserts that Elvis is living on Deep Space Graceland.
At the end of the block from TrekCetera, you’ll find a statue of Spock, which Leonard Nimoy himself unveiled. It’s a sad little corner. Wasted. Easy to pass by without noticing. Spock deserves much better.
It was a fun way to spend a Sunday, seeking out the town of Vulcan, but I can’t see any reason to return. Sadly, not much of a draw.
Enjoy these photos of some of Vulcan’s finest businesses and products.