It’s not like the planet Vulcan of Star Trek fame: barren, fiery, and covered in volcanic architecture. Instead, the Vulcan County on Earth is quiet, green, flat and covered in silos and the occasional abandoned farmhouse or barn. In the midst of all this, is a tiny little town with the same name, recently made famous by it’s connection to the world of Star Trek.
The drive to Vulcan from Calgary is a relatively easy one — it’s roughly an hour southeast (120 km) of the city on a well-maintained highway with little directional change. The Vulcan community, like most rural Albertan communities, has a long and storied homesteader and agricultural history. These days, however, most people know of Vulcan for it’s Trekkie Tourism and as the official Star Trek capital of Canada.
On our journey the question most frequently asked was: Is the town named after the planet? It’s a good question, and not knowing Alberta’s history one might think so; however, the town was named by a surveyor in 1915 after the Roman God of Fire.
As you approach the town, you immediately see a replica of the Starship Enterprise on the right. It’s not marked with the Star Trek NCC-1701 registry number, but rather FX6-1995-A. The FX6 is the designation of the Vulcan’s RCAF base (for three years Vulcan was used as a WW2 training base). The “1995” signifies the year in which the ship was built.
Next to the Enterprise is a second space ship that houses the Vulcan Tourism Interpretive Centre. Much to the delight of collectors and fans, the centre is also loaded with a plethora of Star Trek memorabilia, including items on loan from Leonard Nimoy’s private collection. In April 2010, Nimoy was in Vulcan to unveil a bronze Spock bust and hand-cast, which are both on display in the Interpretive Centre.
In the back, there is a dress-up station where anyone can don costumes, prosthetic face parts, Klingon armour (if desired), and re-arrange character cardboard stand-ups from all over the Star Trek universe into various situations. If you’re feeling really keen, you can pose with Spock’s Sehlat, play with phaser technology or debate the health benefits of Raktajino with Worf, Picard, Dax or Quark.
The best time to visit Vulcan is in June. During the second weekend, the town holds its annual Star Trek Convention, an event that attracts many fans and characters from around the world. If you’re a sporty person, Vulcan’s Tinman Triathlon (first weekend in June) is an easy and fun-spirited foray into the world of triathlons; and, little ones can even partake in the Tinbit triathlon.
Kid Rating: 1 out of 5 because there’s not much to do at the station and I don’t know who Star Trekker is.
Adult Rating: 3 out of 5 because it’s a quick and easy trip from Calgary and there’s not a lot of planning required. The drive was pleasant and quiet; the staff were very friendly, professional, and helpful. It also rates high on the unique scale.