Pity the poor Alberta children with no sea to gaze upon—only slimy, algae bloomed lakes to satisfy their ocean wonder! Luckily, there are places like Big Al’s around to show our land-locked little ones the amazing creatures found in the sea. Okay, it’s no substitute for the beach, or even the Vancouver Aquarium, but for a free afternoon, you’re not going to beat it!

I had always assumed Big Al’s was just an aquarium shop that sold fish. And while it certainly does those things, it is also a great place to teach your kids about ocean wildlife, for less money than a visit to Sea World and less horror than watching The Cove.

Perhaps the biggest draw is the shark tank at the back of the store, home to two White Tip reef sharks. There is a shark feeding every Tuesday night at 7:00. I haven’t seen it, so I can’t vouch for the gore quotient, but I know my boys are amped to go back and see it!


Other than peering into Every. Single. Tank. my boys really enjoyed the koi pond. And by enjoyed I mean spent a good fifteen minutes gazing into it, hilariously trying to count fish that a) all look more or less the same and b) just won’t stay still. To me, it was an idyllic little corner to rest. It’s the kind of thing that makes you imagine tea ceremonies on a misty morning with Mt. Fuji looming overhead. Or maybe I’ve watched one too many Samurai movies…


Despite driving by the shop roughly a million times, I only recently ventured in for a look, and I am glad that I did! Be warned though, the temptation to start your own aquarium at home is very difficult to resist. If you have trouble leaving the pet store without tears and/or a kitten,  you should probably just make room in your house for a tank before you go!

Big Al’s Contact Details:

Hours: Monday-Friday:10 a.m.-9 p.m. Saturday&Sunday:10 a.m.-6 p.m.
Address: 3511 99th Street NW
Phone: 780-435-3474
Website: www.bigalscanada.com