Bowness Park is a hallmark, historical City Park in northwest Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
After nearly five months of convalescence, it is a great personal relief to get outdoors in Spring-like conditions during an unseasonably warm Calgary January and begin the process of reconditioning compromised muscles in preparation for pending mountain adventure.
The Grand Reopening of Bowness Park is scheduled for Saturday, February 7, 2015 between 11 AM and 3 PM. One of the highlights for the official Grand Reopening is a skating party on Bowness Lagoon.
Curiosity attracts me to investigate new facility, and ice conditions on a 2 KM (1¹⁄₃ mile) hike from home. An impressive, new heritage sign enhances the entrance.
Bowness Park is a hallmark retreat in northwest Calgary, gifted to the city in 1911 as part of John Hextall's development of Bowness community. For decades it has been a popular and quiet refuge from surrounding urban sprawl.
The current renewal project began in 2012 and, in spite of the devastation of June, 2013 floods, has proceeded with modest impact. The new concession building and café is an impressive replacement adjacent to Bowness Lagoon where ice is in far better condition than expected in recent mild conditions. There is a single skater circling the frozen pond.
The new concession and café building is surrounded by an impressive expanse of rubber covered decking and ramps to allow skaters access to and from the frozen lagoon.
The deck hosts picnic tables, benches and gas fire pits for comfort. The nearby boat rental facility has been renewed and augmented by maintenance sheds.
There is a short walk through and past large parking areas to snowbound path adjacent to the Bow River. The east end of Bowness Park will not be open for the grand reopening. There is further work to be done in that area.
On the walk west there are grand views of the Bow River and, on the opposite (north) side the Bearspaw Pumping Station which provides water to the nearby Bearspaw Water Treatment Plant.
An informative sign outlines improvements underway at Bowness Park.
They include a new entrance bridge over the west canal attached to Bowness Lagoon and a new building hosting concessions and the café. The Parks Depot is being relocated from the Bowness Park entrance to Baker Park on the opposite (north) side of the Bow River.
Bowness Park roads and parking have been revised to improve traffic flow. New pathways connect to Calgary's 800+ KMs (500+ miles) of existing regional pathway. This labyrinth of city pathway is truly impressive. Hiking and biking opportunities are nearby from every part of the city. Mountain hikers are born here.
A formal trail has been created along the edge of the Bow River. On the north side of the river a new parking area has been created near the Bearspaw Water Pumping Station to encourage Bow River boat and raft launching as an alternative to Bowness Park. Tree removal and new planting will encourage a healthy and sustainable cottonwood forest. The mini-train for the children is due to be restored later in 2016.
Sidewalk on Bowness Road is an alternative route home on this day to avoid icy sidewalks and streets. The real hazard is having the psychological depth and resolve to make it past Angel's Drive-in, where heavenly odors coerce, actually suck, people off the street to enjoy the traditional burgers and fries that have attracted Calgarians, and others, for decades. They have chicken wraps now.
The place is a legend. I make it past but it is challenging. There is a help wanted sign in the window. For the mature metabolism it would be a good place to die.
City of Calgary citizens will welcome the return of Bowness Park. It is an institution more than a century old and it will be great to have it back.
Remember, the Grand Reopening ceremony is scheduled for Saturday, February 7, 2015 from 11 AM to 3PM. The weather forecast is a mainly sunny day with a high of +5° C (41° F), or it will be something else we are perfectly capable of handling. There is no such thing as bad weather. There is only being dressed inappropriately.
Be sure to bring your skates. You can visit www.calgary.ca or the Bowness Community Association for updates about the official reopening. It is sure to be fun and a great day for children.
Photographs for this post featuring the reopening of Bowness Park in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, were taken on January 26, 2015.