A heartwarming Apple ad, starring Edmonton (probably)

Twitter detectives spot scenes from their hometown


Edmonton, it’s good to see you again. The city I lived in before moving to Toronto very likely plays a starring role in a heartwarming Apple holiday advertisement, which was released Monday.

In the ad, ‘Misunderstood,’ a teen spends a lot of time on his iPhone 5S during a family gathering. But he has a surprise for the family at the end.


The tell-tale signs of Edmonton are there, the fluffy snow, the suburbs and what looks a lot like the Edmonton river valley, a large swath of park space along the North Saskatchewan River.

Sleuthes on Twitter pointed out their theory, noting that #yeg (the hashtag for Edmonton) was almost certainly the setting for the ad.

Users said the opening scene looks like St. Albert, an Edmonton suburb. And that transit sign in the opening shot sure looks a lot like the ones from the Edmonton Transit System.

Grandma and grandpa’s house in the ad looks like one on Ada Boulevard, in the northwest part of the city overlooking the river valley, points out one Twitter user.

For its part, Apple is remaining mum on the shoot location.

Whether or not the advertisement was shot in Edmonton, the video is exactly how I recall the city in winter: snowy, dark and frozen, but filled with good people.

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A heartwarming Apple ad, starring Edmonton (probably)

  1. They’ve actually got cellular service up in Edmonton? Didn’t know that.

    • We need cell phones, because the landline jacks melt out of our igloo walls.

      • Plus the damn sled dogs chew everything.

        • when we’re not attacking each other with machetes

  2. A working class Xmas in Edmonton…where apparently they’ve never filmed it before?

    • nothing “working class” about it — that’s all stuff that everyone in Edmonton, rich poor or in between, can relate to. I grew up in Edmonton — they really nailed it with some of those images. Brings me right back to my childhood.

      • Well, it was an offhand comment on my part….but plaid shirts, big socks, crowded houses, even the big screen TV etc is working class.

        • I think you need to watch the ad again. Flannel shirts and big socks are *warm*, not necessarily working class. Houses are always crowded when the whole family visits for Christmas – and the home featured is in fact a huge and gorgeous character house in the Highlands neighbourhood, definitely not “working class”. And I don’t think that large flat screen televisions are “working class” — lots of middle class and rich people own them too.

          • Sigh….it’s working class.

            Upper middle class have large homes, central heating, and no TVs of any size in a living room.

            It’s an ad, espresso….the family shown onscreen aren’t even family much less living in the area they show.

          • And why would a low income senior who spends her life commenting on Macleans be so bothered by some working class scenes?

          • Any other ridiculous generalizations you want to make? You’re just being silly now.

          • Yeah, William and Kate allus wear plaid shirts and big socks and watch telly in the living room. The Queen probably shows up with pizza.

            It’s an ad, espresso….and it certainly got you.

          • And what kind of socks would you wear if you ventured outside your apartment in minus 30 weather? A purely hypothetical question of course, since you don’t actually leave your apartment. Ever.

          • As someone currently living in Edmonton I would have to side with @emilyone:disqus on this one. Highlands is definitely a working class neighbourhood. Along the river there are couple character heritage homes but Highlands is all over the map in terms of demographics and a sizeable chunk of it is pretty rough.

            Edmonton in general is made up of the working class, there is plenty of money in Edmonton but it is all new money, so even those landing in an income bracket you would consider to “upper-class” would still tend to take their social cues from the working or middle class.

            Long story short this ad is targeted towards the working/middle class.

            No hard feelings k?

          • So the ad encompasses the two things Emily hates most passionately, working class sensibilities and Alberta. It is no wonder she can’t stand it.

          • It’s a good thing for her that it doesn’t feature plumbers.

          • Thank you.

          • Hi Concrete Cat,
            Welcome to Edmonton! How long have you been in Edmonton? Where are you originally from? Is it Toronto, or “Canada’s southern coast”, as EmilyOne put it?
            Here is a link to a useful document about the Highlands and its historical development:


            You’ll note from the document that the Highlands was developed in 1910 as one of Edmonton’s premier neighbourhoods, and remains the home of some of Edmonton’s best-preserved homes and streetscapes. The people I know who live in this area are lawyers, judges and university professors. Hardly the stuff of “working class” neighbourhoods, at least as I define it.

            I don’t know how you are defining the Highlands, but it seems pretty expansive! Then again, you define Edmonton as “in general made up of the working class” or the nouveau riche, so I guess that no neighbourhoods would escape your definition of “working class”.
            At least it appears that we can agree that the house featured in the ad is in fact a character heritage home, not some crowded working class home. Which really was the point.

            Nice semantic gymnastics at then end, trying to subsume the “working class” into the “middle class”! But I really don’t think that this ad is targeting any “class” in particular. Certainly, none of the international reaction to this ad has focused on “class”, though there have been interesting criticisms of the ad on other grounds.
            Take the walking tour of the Highlands as suggested in the document above. You may learn some new things about Edmonton’s history!

          • I forgot to mention — if you do take the walking tour of Highlands, put on some flannel and big socks! It’s -25 out there! :)

          • It’s none of your business where I am from or how long I have been here. Nor is it relevant to this discussion. Seniority is not a basis to judge if someone is correct or not.

            I am well up to date on the history of Highlands, I looked at more than a few houses in the neighborhood.

            You should go do a walking tour of Highlands yourself, you will realize pretty quickly it is far from the premier neighborhood you remember from 1910.

          • Here is a link to another useful document — the 2013 annual ranking of Edmonton’s best neighbourhoods by Avenue magazine, published August 26 2013:


            Highlands was ranked at #4. Here is the description of Highlands :

            “Statuesque historic homes occupy a large portion of Highlands — standing as a testament to the neighbourhood’s more than 100 years of history — while modern dwellings are peppered throughout. The architectural mix is a visual treat for those who live there, but also serves as a reminder that even a neighbourhood that treasures its past can be accepting of the future. And with the Mature Neighbourhood Overlay looking to infill parts of historic neighbourhoods such as Highlands with the aim to increase density, the future definitely will include new residents in the area.

            But sometimes the newcomers in Highlands aren’t new at all: they’re the people who have history there. “What surprised me was finding out how many families in this neighbourhood were something like third-generation families — some fourth-generation,” says Susan Petrina-Prettie, past president of theHighlands Community League. “People raise children here and then the kids go off to university. The kids maybe couldn’t afford to come back to Highlands when they first get out of school, but eventually find their way back.”

            So what brings them back? Petrina-Prettie says it’s the hometown feel. “It’s like a mini-city inside of big Edmonton. There is a ‘downtown’ core area that is integral to the community.” Petrina-Prettie is referring to the independent businesses, shops and restaurants along 112th Avenue. It’s here that the community comes together; the coffee shop is the area’s go-to place for local gossip and news.

            Every Thursday from the beginning of May to the end of September, 112th Avenue and 65th Street host the Highlands Outdoor Farmers’ Market, where the businesses and local vendors sell their goods. The area’s also home to the community-spirited, and family-oriented Highlands Street Festival.

            The mini-city charm of Highlands is up for a makeover, however, as Edmonton Transportation and Infrastructure Committee plans to reconstruct 112th Avenue as a four-lane roadway. According to Petrina-Prettie, some residents of Highlands are concerned that the busier roadway and wider lanes will make the avenue a more dangerous place for pedestrians. That’s not the only concern they have either. The city’s residential infill plan is also raising a few eyebrows. “Some people are concerned that splitting existing lots in half will result in some unimaginative architecture,” says Petrina-Prettle. “There are two sides, but I think the overall concern is that things could get ugly.”

            Ugly or no, not everyone in the neighbourhood is resistant to the change. More people in Highlands will mean more customers for businesses and more students for schools. Like any small town — even if it’s only one in spirit — the town has to grow in order to thrive. Petrina-Prettie points to theHighlands Edmonton Public library an example. “The EPL celebrates its centennial this year, but they’ve been building a brand-new building.” She says, “In order to have a vital community, you need transformation. There needs to be a vital flux of new ideas or things tend to stagnate.”

    • it’s the snow – the lush powdery snow in great gobs, and the light – brilliant blue reflecting off the icicles and snow-covered trees. A crisp clean cold brilliant sky – and the crunch of the snow underfoot. I’m going back in a week to visit my family. Thank you Apple for this most lovely Christmas card.

      • You’re welcome.

        But I’m not Apple….they just sold you something.

        • I don’t recall buying anything from Apple since seeing the ad, nor do I plan to. So I’m not sure what you mean.
          Where are you from, EmilyOne? Is it Toronto?

          • You will. You now have warm and fuzzy feelings about Apple, and sooner or later the nostalgia will smoke your credit card.

            I am 4 hours away from Toronto….on the south coast of Canada.

          • I don’t have a credit card – I pay cash for the things I need. Oh wait — does that make me working class? (Hint: I’m not.)

          • HInt….it doesn’t matter if you pay for it with beaverpelts, bitcoin or gold wafers….you will pay for it….which is the point.

          • Oh please share your class with us, I’m interested to know how elevated you believe your status to be…….which will bear a direct, inverse relationship to your likability – just like M1.

          • Nobody tips the scales of dislikability like M1 does.

          • I’m a dirt-poor graduate student. What class does that make me?

          • Sorry, class is not a scale I use or believe in. Maybe ask Lady M1. Assuming she can hold her snotty nose long enough to tap out a reply to the dirt-poor, that is.

  3. Never reveal your sources. Surprise is everything with Apple.