Spreading 20 km from the Tsuu Tina Nation reserve on the west side of Calgary to the Bow River in the east is the well-known natural area of Fish Creek Provincial Park.
The park is one of the largest urban parks in Canada and has remained a protected natural area as Calgary’s communities grow around it.
“People come for the nature appreciation, to watch the birds and other animals in the park,” said Chris Lalonde, Calgary resident and member of Friends of Fish Creek Provincial Park Society. “Recreation is another thing people come for, cycling and use of the mountain bike trails and people will ride their bikes to and from work.”
Fish Creek Provincial Park has an extensive line of history, which started in 13,000 BC when the valley was covered by a glacier. In 1873 the Glenns arrived as the first European settlers in the Bow River-Fish Creek Valley to 1975 when the area officially opened as a provincial park.
While stretching through a city of more than one million people, the area offers the peace and tranquility of escaping the big city hustle and bustle. The park has multiple access points for visitors to park their vehicles, walk from transit or walk from their homes to use of various trails the park has to offer.
Walking, running or biking one of the many pathways isn’t the only thing the park has to offer, there is also the Sikome Aquatic Facility – a man-made beach. The facility is only open during the summer months, making it a great way to cool off on a hot summer day. Lalonde said the park attracts over 3 million visits per year, and Fish Creek reminds him of Central Park in New York City.
Fish Creek Provincial Park also offers areas for groups to use, and day use areas making it the perfect location for a family reunion or a picnic with the little ones. The various group use areasare
available for rent and have a shelter with various other amenities. Day use areas vary with what amenities they are equipped with, but most offer picnic tables and a fire pit, which is perfect for a hot dog roast.
“It is nice, because there are so many access points, there are 11 or 12 parking lots and a lot of walking trails from the communities surrounding the park,” said Lalonde. “The city would not be the same without it.”
Bow Valley Ranche Restaurant & Annie’s Bakery
The historical Bow Valley Ranche Restaurant was built in 1896 by cattle rancher and businessman William Roper Hull. In 1902 the house and property was purchased by Patrick Burns, a cattle rancher who eventually became a senator. Over the years the house underwent some renovations, and in 1973, the Alberta government bought Bow Valley Ranche. For the next 20 years the house sat empty, and in 1999 it was transformed into a restaurant. After recently being closed for renovations the restaurant has reopened to offer a variety of carefully prepared meals for lunch, dinner and brunch. Annie’s Bakery, a little farmhouse west of the restaurant, makes for the perfect stop when out on a stroll for a cup of coffee, ice cream or a fresh baked treat. The bakery is currently closed for renovations, but is expected to re-open this spring. Both the restaurant and the bakery are located in Fish Creek Provincial Park at 15979 Bow Bottom Trail SE.
McKenzie Meadows Golf Club
While the fairway is currently covered with snow, the start of golf season is only a few short months away. The course caters to all levels of golfers, featuring seven lakes, white sand bunkers and four tee boxes designed by golf course architect Gary Browning. As well as the 18-hole golf course there is a driving range, and the club offers a wide range of courses from beginner to experienced. After playing a round of golf, the restaurant is available to sit down and relax with an ice cold beverage and a favourite meal. For those golfers going through withdrawals the Pro Shop is open over the winter months to satisfy all your equipment and apparel needs. The McKenzie Meadows Golf Club is a public course located in the Bow River Valley in Fish Creek Provincial Park at 17215 McKenzie Meadows Drive.
No, this isn’t a shop that sells fridges. Selling neat kitchen gadgets, home-cooked food and goodies from across the world, The Fridge keeps everything from Italian gluten-free pasta, cool BBQ toys and sauces and salsas from Guy Fieri, host of The Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. When shopping for all this food, it’s hard not to get a little hungry, so why not stop and have a bowl of home-made soup and their hot lunch feature. If you want to learn to cook like a pro, The Fridge also offers cooking classes. Located at 111 – 755 Lake Bonavista Drive SE, The Fridge is open Monday to Friday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Don’t forget to check the website to see what’s for lunch, www.seewhatisinthefridge.com.