A Bad Day With A Camera

Back to Bowness Park

I managed to find time to sneak out to Bowness Park after checking out of our Airbnb. I lived in one of the poorer sections of the community of Bowness as a kid and I spent a lot of time in the park as a result, especially during the warmer parts of the year.

Main Lagoon, Bowness Park, Calgary, Alberta, 2024-02-23
Tea House, Bowness Park, Calgary,
Alberta, 2024-02-23
Bridge over the waterway, Bowness Park, Calgary,
Alberta, 2024-02-23

The lagoon pictured at the top was a big part of my childhood. I caught bugs in it. I swam in it when we weren’t supposed to. I have boated on it. I skated on it rather badly in the winter. It has been fancied up since I moved away from Calgary. An original fountain in the lagoon, which had been removed, is now restored. The tea house at the bottom left is a new addition as far as I remember. The bridge over the waterway hasn’t changed, however. I am sure I rode my bike over that hundreds of times over the years.

Boat Rentals, Bowness Park, Calgary, Alberta, 2024-02-23

The boat rental shack is where I remember it being, but the building is brand new. My understanding is that the park was badly damaged in the 2013 Calgary flood and that much of the existing infrastructure was damaged beyond repair. There were also redevelopment efforts underway at the time that were also undone by the flood. Hopefully, they got some new boats to rent as well. Their old plastic pedal boats were horrible. You’d pedal for ten minutes and move ten inches. Complete junk.

Don’t cross me, Bowness Park, Calgary,
Alberta, 2024-02-23
A railway runs through it, Bowness Park, Calgary,
Alberta, 2024-02-23

The miniature train that ran through the park was an amazing thing to me when we moved to Calgary back in 1977. At least until I got a ride on it and realized the loop was small and boring. The train itself was very uncomfortable. The train was one of the features of a small amusement park that was still there back in the seventies, but it was long in the tooth and very tired and unsafe looking. My mom wasn’t blind yet but was getting there and I remember her moving close enough to get a good look at a few of the rides with the sight she had left.

“You’re not going on those. I don’t want to attend your funeral.”

I guess it’s nice that the train is still there and running, albeit with a new engine and cars as the last ones got washed away by the flood. I hope the new passenger cars have more comfortable seating.

Crokicurl ice, Bowness Park, Calgary, Alberta, 2024-02-23

The amusement park was closed shortly after I moved to Calgary and I remember it slowly rotting away until one summer it disappeared and was replaced by a freshly sodded field. It has been an area for playing sports and throwing down a blanket for a picnic during the summer ever since.

I do remember one fall back in 1986 when the movie Rad was shot in Calgary. The movie was horrible, but some stands and a small BMX bike racing track (the Hell Track) were thrown up in that area. The filmmakers were Yanks who had no idea how early the leaves turned in Alberta, so the locals were treated to the sight of all of the yellow trees having their leaves frantically spray-painted green to maintain continuity in the film. If you do watch the movie (I don’t recommend it) you’ll notice the trees go from being lush to bare with a sprinkling of green leaves and then back to lush again. That was hilarious.

The only recent change that I can see is the addition of what is called Crokicurl courts in the winter. Crokicurl is a portmanteau of Crokinole and Curling. The former is a game where you can put out someone’s eye and the latter is a game where you can put out your own back. The idea of Crokicurl is to play Crokinole on a large patch of ice shaped like a Crokinole board using curling stones. To me it looks like just another excuse for someone to drink a lot of beer, so I’ll give it a pass.

Skate your heart out, Bowness Park, Calgary,
Alberta, 2024-02-23
Skating pathway, Bowness Park, Calgary,
Alberta, 2024-02-23

You can skate on any part of the lagoon that runs through the entire park now as before in my youth as seen on the left. This is provided the ice is in good shape, of course. A new and welcome addition is the skating pathways, shown above and on the right. These are new paths that are designed to be flooded to allow the public to skate along the river and through other parts of Bowness Park where one would have just walked before. Pure genius. Especially if they have mini-Zambonis to maintain them. How cool would that be???

Bow River, Bowness Park, Calgary, Alberta, 2024-02-23

The one part of Bowness Park that has remained constant through all of my years is the Bow, the river that runs past it. I loved it as a kid and I still love it now. I have dipped my toes in it, waded in it, fished in it, ridden a tube down it, and jumped off a railway trestle into it with the railway cops shouting at me not to. There are all kinds of good memories for me there and I’m glad to see that the Bow River will still keep making new ones for the generations that follow me.

Note: All images in this diary entry were created with a Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra as it was all I had time to pull out. There’s nothing like having the shoot you planned two hours for turn into a twenty-minute shoot instead.

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© 2024 Sean D. McCormick

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