Fish Creek Provincial Park is a popular location for Calgarians looking to trade the hustle and bustle of the city streets for the quiet relaxation of nature without even leaving city limits.

“I enjoy Fish Creek Park because it’s nature in the middle of the City, people are always so happy, walking dogs, riding bikes, rollerblading, fishing,” said Stephanie Daniels who was recently married in the park. “I loved the little (wedding) venue.”

The land that would become Canada’s largest urban park was first settled in 1873 by John and Adelaide Glenn. Irish born John was a jack-of-all-trades, working as a trader with the Hudson’s Bay Company, a guide leading the North West Mounted Police to what would become Fort Macleod, and a rancher who raised cattle and grew crops in the fertile soil where the banks of the Bow River met Fish Creek.

In 1892, the land on which the Glenn’s original cabin stood was purchased by William Hall who built the Bow Valley Ranche house still standing today. The Bow Valley Ranche as it came to be called, became, according to www.bowvalleyranche. com, a focal point of gatherings for the elegant class of ranchers whose lifestyle was unique to the time.

In 1902, Hull sold the ranch to Senator Patrick Burns. A name synonymous with Calgary as Burns was one of the Big Four who provided funding to Guy Weadick for the first Calgary Stampede. Perhaps crucial to the forming of Fish Creek Park was Burns’ sense of conservation, as he had his foreman erect fences around groves of aspen and poplar to protect them from cattle and had about 2,000 poplar trees planted along the MacLeod Trail adjacent to the ranch. The ranch stayed in the Burns’ family until 1970. In 1973, the Alberta Provincial Government purchased the Bow Valley Ranche from the Burns Foundation for part of the development of Fish Creek Provincial Park.

The Bow Valley Ranche house today serves as a restaurant, recreational space and educational stewardship while active Calgarians and their families frequent the park. Aside from taking in the natural views from foot or by bicycle along the more than 80 kilometres of pathways in the park, visitors can also check out the Bow Valley Ranche Visitor Centre, the Fish Creek Environmental Learning Centre, Sikome Lake or go for a picnic.

Extending 20 kilometres west from the Tsuu Tina Nation reserve to the Bow River in the East the park is accessible to the public and borders more than 14 Calgary communities.

Canyon Meadows Golf Club
The private Canyon Meadows Golf Club opened in 1957, the seventh course in the city after the Calgary Country Club, Earl Grey, Inglewood, Bowness, Elks and Shaganappi. The 18-hole course has served as the venue for several big events such as the Calgary Flames Celebrity Golf Tournament for Charity, the Stephen Ames Cup and the Alberta Seniors Championship. Since 2000, the club has gone through several renovations including a new golf services building, clubhouse remodel and course rebuild.

Coach and Horses Ale Room
Located conveniently off Macleod Trail in the community of Millrise, the Coach and Horses Ale Room offers up the ambiance of an old time pub with friendly staff. For sports fans, the pub has 16 high definition televisions and three pool tables. As well as 27 beers on tap, the restaurant includes a varied menu with pub favourites such as Shepherd’s Pie, fish and chips, bangers and mash and Irish stew.

Protecting the Fish Creek Watershed
Five Fish Creek Park stormwater quality retrofit ponds have been completed or are under construction in the park including Fish Creek East, the Flats, Marshal Springs, Burnsmead and Heron Colony and Acadia Natural Area. The ponds were developed as part of a strategy to reduce sediment entering the Bow and Elbow Rivers from Calgary’s stormwater system. Removing sediment improves the quality of water entering the city’s rivers.

Fish Creek Sports Club
Minutes off Macleod Trail and Shawnessy Boulevard, the Fish Creek Sports Club offers up fitness activities including cardio equipment, free weights, nautilus circuit and personal training as well as being a racquet club. The club is open seven days a week and also offers up classes such as boot camp, spin classes and power sculpt. For the younger crowd, there’s junior squash and racquetball programs available.

What is your favourite part about Calgary’s open spaces?