We have been visiting Canada, since 2012, mostly in the summer months when it is excruciatingly hot and humid in India. November 2021 was the second winter attempt (previous in 2015) to the accompaniment of “Do you think you can take the minus 30 temp.” Partly true and partly no-brainer as our nemesis, Covid +, had left us with no choice but to jump on the first available flight (when travel opened) headed to Toronto. Check out Fresh of the Boat…...
Two months in Toronto were sufficient to acclimatise to changing weather patterns of Calgary, Alberta. I had spoken too soon as we were welcomed by a freezy blast and our granddaughter’s “You are lucky. It was minus -34 C a few days back.”
Next day…this is what we woke up to….
From inside our heated living room the soft freshly falling snow whispered seductively of angels and ‘forever love’ inspiring a renewed sense of wonder. The fantasy is reinforced as I watch REPLY 1988 (2015-2016), a South Korean TV show, with its ‘awe moment’ of a ‘very much in love couple and their first snow’ moment. Google informs me that S. Koreans believe that the first snowfall brings romantic luck for people in love as their wishes of ‘forever together’ are fulfilled.
In Calgary I comfort myself with the sheer beauty of cascading flurries as this was not the first snowfall of the season and I am happily married for four decades.
Winter is not the season to remain cloistered inside and as I watch the dog walkers, the strollers, ice skaters and joggers I did, what to me was the safest activity….. Stroll the Parks.
Edworthy Park, with over 5 kilometers of hiking and biking trails (part of Bow River pathway) stretching along the Bow River, flaunts playgrounds, picnic sites and shelters, pathways, gazebos, fire pits and BBQ stands, sitting areas, surrounded by trees from Aspen, Willow, Balsam poplar, White Spruce and some nearly 400 year old Douglas Fir. (I am waiting to see the Park in the Spring and summer months). This vast expanse (this is Canada) located in Northwest Calgary along the south shore of Bow River is an enticing snowy wonder with the Canadian Pacific Railway chugging along the length of the Park.
We took the Spruce Drive entrance via a long winding hill that opens into a parking area and off-leash area for canines to frolic to their heart’s content. A clear snowy sunny day that had nudged the Omicron virus to the tag end making way for Calgarians to step out in pursuit of nature freebies. We join the crowd crossing the pedestrian Boothman bridge, an interesting design of round bird’s eye windows or holes in sync with the ambience, to walk alongside the river bank admiring duck antics on floating ice chunks, few brave hearts dipping toes in the freezing waters, running or playing on the frozen shore.
We took the easy trail, the Bow River Pathway, that runs flat and parallel to the river for about 3.5 km. It is meant for people like me and there were many on this day. There are strenuous hikes too, such as the Douglas Fir Trail, a 2.5 km long hike through a dense Douglas Fir forest sheltered by the steep hills around. This trail is referred to as ‘Dead Man’s Drop’ for the dramatic drop from the top or the ‘Drunken Forest’ ( because of haphazard growth of trees and natural spring waters on pathways) or ‘Fake Fir’ trail as Douglas Fir trees are not really fir trees. But this fake forest is a must see as some of the trees are over 500 years old. One can cycle to the trailhead.
It is 4 pm and as the crowds increase we turn back to the parking lot and glad to make it in time before the CP Train came chugging along. The land, approximately 50 feet along the tracks, on either side, is Canadian Pacific private property subject to Trespassing laws. One has to be extremely cautious during approaching trains. For me a counting game of number of cars and I stopped after 40…..
The Park is named after Thomas Edworthy, who had emigrated to the Calgary area in 1883, from Devon England.
Address: 5050 Spruce Dr SW, Calgary, AB T3C 3B2
Bowness Park: The second Park on our list is Bowness Park, a Four seasons park, where nature is on a ‘bonus’ spree.
We were here on a weekend afternoon, wrong choice, as ‘snow’ seemed to be in competition with the footfalls. Someone whispered ‘try weekdays or late evenings’, maybe next time, as there is ample space for everyone in this 74 acre urban expanse flaunting lagoons, walking trails, picnic areas, wading pools, cafe, ample parking and a river right along giving company.
I sit on a bench, strategic location, watching the free spirits blade past on the frozen lagoon. Whichever way you look or walk there is something on….jogging, biking, dog-walking, ice skating, cross-country skiing, curling on the new Crokicurl rink.
Crokicurl, a combination of two Canadian favourites – Crokinole and curling, is the new attraction. The equipment is provided at the site during opening hours. Another introduction are the Ice Bikes, a contraption similar to bikes with two skate blades in front and rear-sitting on bike tire. They looked fun and very popular seeing the queue for trying it out. Summer is for mini-train rides, renting kayaks and boats and swimming in the lagoon.
As we leave, before sunset, a steady stream of visitors make it appear that the sun never sets.
Bowness Park was built by a local land developer, John Hexall, before the First World War, as a weekend retreat for Calgarians
Location:: 8900 48 Ave. NW.