Ralph Klein Park is a very unique and surreal experience in far SE Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
Ralph Klein was a colorful, controversial and opinionated Major of the City of Calgary who worked tirelessly for the best interests of the city in an often unique and outspoken way. His legacy is attached to this park which is located just slightly shy of the edge of the Earth.
The modern environmental management and education facility is accessed via Stoney Trail SE with exit on 114 Avenue SE followed by a quick jog south on 86 Street, SE to the entrance into the well signed, fenced and gated park. Private residence on the right corner of the entrance is not part of Ralph Klein Park.
The paved parking area at the end of the short access road is off to the left. Surrounding landscape is unusual and patently austere. The educational structure is a fascinating and architecturally unique photographer's dream.
Many would visit the pavilion first to learn about the site. My choice is to wander around and about the facilities exterior to discover the unique characteristics of the environment while composing unique, colorful and angular compositions which exist nowhere else on the plant. This is a fascinating place full of mysterious and unique images. Here, ignorance can be an advantage towards simply enjoying the unique and austere nature of the generally barren site where visibility stretches to far horizons in every direction.
After wandering every nook and cranny of the exterior grounds, walkways, and stairs, all that remains in the central location is the unique buildings interior. The well appointed and modern building contains a number of colorful class rooms and a conference facility to support on-site environmental education and to promote and justify an environmentally responsible lifestyle. There are several exhibits which explain the importance and function of wetlands.
For me, the ah-ha moment occurs at a mock-up of the Bow Valley Watershed. The discovery remains for you to appreciate.
The exterior of the building contains many exhibits, ramps and balconies amalgamated into a fascinating modernistic conglomeration which offers unique and fascinating views over foreign and unfamiliar features including a nesting goose, an intermittent waterfall and a large and poignant artistic feature.
Adjacent to the main structure on a gated, separate island (and inaccessible this day) is a formidable and poignant work of art known as the Hawk Hill Calgary Sentinels created by the prominent artist Beverly Pepper.
The Ralph Klein Environmental Education Centre and Legacy Park is a component of the Shepard Wetlands Stormwater Diversion Project which captures residential and commercial city drainage in a series of large ponds which consume about 30.4 hectares (75 acres) designed effectively and effectively to meld into the surrounding environment.
Hopes for a walking route around the outside of all the storm ponds is quelled but, from the parking area, there is a short trail which loops close to a storm pond and provides the ability to investigate the size and scope of the water storage areas along with the creeks, passages and tunnels which integrate the entire complex.
The trail provides a walk with benches between the parking area and a pavilion near the gated entrance to the park. Return to the parking area is achieved by reversal along the path or the more direct route via the entrance road. Worth the time. The entire facility is remote to most of the city but sufficiently unique and interesting to make it worth the time to visit