There are two kinds of emigrants/immigrants; those who are pulled to their new country and those who are pushed from their old. I definitely belonged in the latter category. I was perfectly happy living in Scotland, but then my husband got offered a great job opportunity in Canada so we packed up and moved across the Pond.
It took me a long time to settle here. Getting used to the long – long – winters was a challenge. But over the years Canada, and this city of Calgary where we’ve made our home, have burrowed deep into my heart and now I truly love them both. We are fortunate to live here. When we arrived in Calgary, the population of the city sat at just under half a million. Now it is well over one million, and we’ve seen tremendous changes over those years.
For the next few Wednesdays, I’d like to show you some of my favourite places in this city. Some are well-known while others, like the Reader’s Garden Cafe I spotlighted last week, are unfamiliar to most Calgarians. First up is Prince’s Island Park. Named after Peter Prince who owned a lumber company nearby, the park is located immediately north of the downtown core on an island donated by the Prince family (according to Wikipedia) to the city in 1947. His original office building remains close by. Now known as the 1886 Cafe, it is a popular restaurant serving breakfast and lunch. Peter Prince’s home can been visited in Heritage Park.
Completely surrounded by the Bow River, Prince’s Island Park boasts all the facilities – and more – you could wish for in an urban park. Each year, it hosts the Calgary Folk Festival, Shakespeare in the Park and the Canada Day Celebrations every July 1st. Or enjoy a meal at the trendy River Cafe with its great food and wonderful location. You’ll find plenty of well laid out trails lined with beautiful hanging baskets for bikers, walkers and runners, but there are also off the beaten tracks where you can get up close to the fast-flowing river.
If you love flowers, there are plenty of displays to enjoy. If you fancy a picnic you can bring your own blanket and spread it out on the grass or use one of the many picnic benches dotted around the park. When our kids were young, we used to like to come down on a Sunday morning for a picnic breakfast. After we’d eaten, they’d play for ages at the extensive children’s play park.
Although there are spots in the park where the city can feel a million miles away, there are others where you can see the beautiful glass buildings rising above you, sparkling in the sunlight. It’s a lovely place to visit, whether for a quiet stroll or an ad hoc soccer match or game of frisbee. And if you fancy a coffee, nip in to Eau Claire market on the south side of the park, or stroll across the Peace Bridge and walk along Memorial Drive to Kensington.