There are beautiful parks and great amenities in every quadrant of the city and Calgary’s South East is no exception. The area east of the Bow River and south of Memorial Drive has its share of industrial areas and business parks but hidden in some of the fabulous residential communities are some real gems that even the most seasoned Calgarian might not know about.
Inglewood Wildlands – 9 Ave SE & 17 St SE
This 34-hectare area of land in Inglewood began as a homestead for Colonel James Walker, whose home still stands on the eastern edge of the property. It changed hands and in a municipal tax dispute it became city property until it was told to British American Oil who built a refinery on the site in 1939. It was closed in 1979 and the land sat idle for many years while people wondered what to do with it. The land was contaminated but through the hard work of many civic groups has been cleaned up and reclaimed. Now the Inglewood Wildlands, on the south side of 9 Ave SE is a good friend and neighbour of the adjacent Inglewood Bird Sanctuary providing a natural green space and environment programs for Calgarians. It’s still a work-in-progress.
Elliston Park – 1827 – 68 Street SE
This 415-hectar park at the edge of the community of Forest Lawn was named for the Ellis Family that once lived in the area. Globalfest, an annual fireworks and multicultural event, is held at this City of Calgary operated park. There’s a storm water pond, picnic shelters, washrooms open seasonally, an off-leash dog area and two playgrounds. One is for small children and another is specially constructed for kids aged 10 to 15 years.
Carburn Park – 67 Riverview Drive SE
On the west side of the community of Riverbend lies Carburn Park on the east banks of the Bow River. It has ponds, fishing, walking trails and is one of the best places in Calgary to watch birds. Once owned by noted Calgarian Senator Patrick Burns, the area was mined for gravel by Carburn Aggregates and is now a prime example of a riverine deciduous woodland with Balsam Poplars and significant examples of shrubs such as Saskatoon, Canada Buffaloberry and American Silverberry bushes.
Sue Higgens Park – Southland Drive & Deerfoot Trail SE
Formerly Southland Dog Park, it was renamed in honour of Sue Higgens who served this area of Calgary as a councillor for many years. It is still a dog park – the largest fenced off-leash park of its kind in the city. Community groups fought to keep this park as natural as possible when a golf course was proposed for this location 25 years ago. The grass still evident throughout most of the park is from homesteaders who farmed the land more than 80 years ago. There are washrooms and picnic areas in this park on the west side of the Bow River.
Bow River Escarpment in McKenzie Lake
The pathway along the ridge between the community of McKenzie Lake and the Bow River is under constant construction due to soil erosion but the interruptions are worth the views. The pathway actually starts in Quarry Park and travels several kilometres along the north/south flow of the Bow River. It winds at the bottom of the value along the river bank with a gradual incline to the top of the ridge. There are fantastic views out of the river towards the mountains, with some pretty scenic views of the upscale homes along the way.
Fish Creek Provincial Park
This is Alberta’s largest urban park with hundreds of kilometres of walking and cycling paths. It runs along Fish Creek as it flows east to the Bow River. The portion of the park in the South East quadrant is of particular interest because of the original Bow River Ranche Homestead once owned by Senator Patrick Burns which still stands. The large historic home has been lovingly restored and is now a high end restaurant, and the nearby cottage once occupied by farm hands has been turned into Annie’s Bakery Café. The park has day use areas which can be booked by groups. Sikome Lake, a man-made swimming facility is open from June to August. Fish Creek is full of wildlife including beavers and is a great place to see these remarkable animals in action.