Calgarians embrace winter.

By Richard White, December 26, 2013

I eagerly looked forward to reading Jeremy Klaszus’ Urban Compass column on what we could learn from Edmonton regarding embracing winter (Calgary’s Metro newspaper on December 23, 2013). However, I was disappointed that while the column talked about Edmonton’s policies and strategies for embracing winter, there was no real evidence they were actually doing so. 

I was expecting to hear about thousands of people skating on quaint neighbourhood ponds evenings and weekends. Maybe about hundreds of people enjoying community toboggan hills with pop-up food trucks, or new ideas for designing playgrounds for year-round use.  Rather I read about a vision of a vibrant winter city that is yet to be realized. 

Read Klaszus' Urban Compass column "Let's do what Edmonton does."

Since Klaszus' column there have been numerous articles in the media about Calgary's winter activities including Annalise Klingbeil's "Backyard rinks make comeback in Calgary" which addresses the many backyard rinks in Calgary inlcuding Snider's curling rink and Rosemont Ice Guys. Read more.

 

 

Calgary's Bowness Lagoon is one of the world's best outdoor skating rinks.  Unfortunately it is closed this winter due to the flood. 

Winter Event Experiments

Calgary has experimented with numerous major winter events over the past 30+ years.  After the 1988 Winter Olympics, annual attempts were made to have a winter carnival in the middle of February.  Several locations were tried – Canada Olympic Park, Olympic Plaza, Prince’s Island and Calgary Zoo - but eventually organizers had to accept there was no support for it. 

This was very disappointing as Quebec City (one of our sister cities) has probably the best winter festival in the world.   You’d think we could learn from them how to plan a major winter festival.

In the past, Calgary has also experimented with a First Night Festival (New Years Eve), which many cities established late in the 20th Century, but again the support for such a winter celebration died a slow death.  

Stephen Avenue with its wonderful winter lights and +15 connections to hotels and office buildings is an indoor outdoor adaptation to winter in Calgary where the temperature can be -30 one day and +10 the next. 

Winnipeg does it best?

Recently, while doing some research on Winnipeg, I discovered they might in fact be the leader in Canada for urban winter activities.  Did you know Winnipeg has the world’s longest skating rink? Yes, longer than Ottawa’s Rideau Canal! 

The Forks, Winnipeg’s equivalent of Granville Island or Calgary’s Stampede Park has numerous outdoor winter activity areas including an Olympic-size skating rink, 1.2 km of skating trails, a snowboard fun park, a toboggan run and warming huts designed by the likes of world renowned architect Frank Gehry.  

They even have Raw: Almond the world’s first pop-up restaurant on a frozen river.  See more winter programming ideas from Winnipeg at the end of the blog.

Thousands of people enjoy the world's longest skating rink in Winnipeg.  Perhaps Calgary could convert some if its pathway system into a skating trail.  (photo courtesy of Tourism Winnipeg) 

Can’t compete with mountains?

I can’t help but wonder if the reason Calgarians don’t embrace winter in large number in our urban parks and public spaces is because we have such a wonderful winter wonderland outside the city.  On any given winter weekend, tens of thousands of Calgarians are in Canmore, Banff, Fernie and Invermere, as well as places in between, skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing and cross country skiing.

While these outdoor winter activities are available in Edmonton, Quebec City and Winnipeg they are not as prevalent, accessible or grand as Calgary’s. 

Camore Nordic Centre is just one of hundreds of places in the Rockies that thousands of Calgarians, Albertans and tourist flock to in winter to embrace winter. 

Livable Winter Cities Movement

In fact, Calgary was one of the early members of the international winter cities movement in the early ‘80s.  I remember chatting with Calgary planner Harold Hanen (I believe he was one of the founding members) about how we could encourage Calgarians to embrace winter.  Yes Hanen, was the same guy who championed Calgary’s +15 walkway system, which was an adaptation to winter, as was Devonian Gardens.  

At that time urban thinkers were focus on how to mitigate winter by allowing for summer activities indoors.  Our regional recreation centres are part of that thinking with their indoor wave pools, gyms, skating rinks and climbing walls.  

In various chats, with Hanen and other planners, as well as 10 years of trying to develop outdoor winter programming on Stephen Avenue, Olympic Plaza and Prince’s Island I came to the conclusion Calgary probably has as much winter outdoor urban vitality as we are going to get.

Winter Patios?

Klasuzus’ article talks about crating a year-round patio culture, which is a great idea in theory, but downtown Calgary with its concentration of office towers doesn’t allow for any sun on sidewalks.  Winnipeg, Edmonton and places like Copenhagen (thought to be the mecca of winter cities by most planners) have few tall buildings so maybe they will be more successful with winter patios.   

Did you know that all downtown office buildings have conducted shadow and wind studies for many years?  While there are some things you can do to mitigate the sun and wind tunnels created by tall buildings there is only so much you can do? 

It is unfortunate The Bow Tower’s southwest facing plaza doesn’t have patio or even some benches would be a welcome addition to those who want to sit and enjoy the sculpture “Wonderland.”

That being said there are some good winter patios in Calgary.  The Ship & Anchor’s south facing patio on 17th Ave is a very popular winter hangout when the sun is shinning and Chinooks blow in.   Similarly on 10th Street in Kensington, the Roasterie’s west facing pocket plaza is a popular place for SAIT and ACAD students to hang out on a sunny winter afternoon.   

In West Hillhurst, Dairy Lane's east facing patio is very popular and is used almost year-round with the help of blankets and heaters.

Olympic Plaza also gets good sun in the winter for skating and would be a great spot for a winter patio; however, it has never attracted large numbers of skaters.

 

The Ship & Anchor patio and 17th avenue are full of people in March 2013.  

Do Calgarians embrace winter more than we think?

Recently I have chatted with a number of people about winter activities in the city and found out there is more happening than I thought. 

A father of three and ringette coach informed me in Cranston they have an outdoor community rink (with an ice plant to allow for longer use), that is so heavily used they could easily use a second one.  He says it is the same for all of the southeast communities.  He was hoping to find some outdoor ice time for ringette practices at one of the local outdoor rinks, but no luck.

Did you know there are over 100 outdoor rinks in Calgary?

The city of Calgary has five major rinks in Marlborough Park, Carburn Park, Olympic Plaza, Prince’s Island and Prairie Winds (Bowness Park rink is closed this year), as well as 34 “adopt-a-rink” in smaller community parks.  Note: Carburn Park has been expanded with larger ice rink and fire pits due to closure of  Bowness Park. 

All of Calgary’s lake communities have outdoor rinks, as do many of Calgary’s over 200 Community Associations.  One hundred rinks at 100 people per day on weekends would be 10,000 people embracing winter – the number could easily be 20,000 on some days! 

In chatting with other friends they informed me Confederation Park has groomed cross- country ski trails.  A quick check of the City’s website and you find out Shaganappi Point, Confederation and Maple Ridge Golf Courses all have groomed trails.  Ungroomed trails can be found in Weaselhead, Edworthy, Fish Creek and North and South Glemore Parks.  There could easily be a couple of a couple of thousand people embracing winter on these trails on weekends and unless you were there you wouldn't know.  I expect snowshoeing also happens in these and other parks.

Tobboggans / Dogs

The City of Calgary website lists 18 toboggan hills in the city, with the St. Andrew’s Heights hill often cited as the best. I expect there are at least 20 unofficial toboggan hills in the city.   If 100 people used say 25 toboggan hills on a Saturday or Sunday that would be 2,500 Calgarians embracing winter.

Calgary’s dog parks are also busy in the winter with literally thousands of people walking their dog morning, noon and night regardless of the weather.  Did you know Calgary has 150 off-leash areas across the city?  If 100 people on average used each dog park per day that would be 15,000 people embracing winter daily.

Then of course there is Canada Olympic Park with it multi-use winter sports activities, which attracts thousands of Calgarians especially in the evenings and weekends. 

A local rink is used by thousands each winter to learn to skate and play hockey. Often they are next to summer playgrounds turning the space into year-round park.  

Last word

Klaszus ends his column with “If you can’t beat winter, join it.”  I am guess there are over 50,000 people embracing winter on any give Saturday or Sunday. I am thinking that many Calgarians indeed do embrace winter, each in our own way.  Calgary is a city of recreation, we like to get out and do things rather than sit on patios and philosophize. 

While some Calgarians complain about the winter roads and sidewalks, most of us are indeed out enjoying winter activities.  The media sometimes gives a distorted view of Calgary by catering to the complainers! 

If you like this blog, you might like:

Does Calgary have an inferiority complex?

Calgary City of Parks & Pathways 

Calgary Dog Park Capital of North America?

This blog also inspired another blog about "winter" by The23rdStory that looks at both Edmonton and Calgary from a more personal perspective.  Great read...Winter

Readers' Comments:

CW writes from Edmonton:  On a plus 2 Celsius Christmas night we walked the seven blocks of Edmonton's Candy Cane Lane up and down. Lots of people out. This year we were surprised that at least 80 percent of the talk on our walk was not English - most commonly Russian/east European, followed by Chinese, and Indian/south Asian. China and India are our biggest sources of immigration, after the Philippines (and they were there too, I think, but not talking as audibly).

To build our winter culture in Alberta, we should look at inviting those of other cultures that have longer traditions of living socially outdoors, and, as you propose, use technology to support the participants. Of course, through Aboriginals, Alberta has the greatest tradition of outdoor living, but I didn't see them out that night.

A parade of dog walker in January, in River Park, in Altadore is a common sight.   

More lessons from Winnipeg

Perhaps there are some more lessons to be learned from Winnipeg.  Brenda reminded me that a few years back they had a friendly community snowman making competition. Everyone was invited to make a snowman on their front lawn and they wander around looking at each others creation.  I thought it was a great idea at the time and still do.

I couldn't find anything on line to see if it is still happening. Too bad, as it is a simple and inexpensive way to get everyone out embracing winter and meeting their neighbours.  

I have certainly noticed more snowman in Calgary this year with our record December snowfall. I am thinking a Snowman Weekend festival would be easy to organize. Could be an impromptu festival that happens when we have snow and weather permitting.  

This could be the tallest snowman I have ever seen over 15 feet.  Somebody in Calgary was embracing winter. The park across the street from our house now has 3 snowman. 

I found this old relic of a toboggan slide in a playground area with an outdoor rink and summer playing fields in Winnipeg this past November.  I have never seen these anywhere else but Winnipeg. What a great idea to make playgrounds year-round attractions for families. 

Winter photography great fun....mountain or city! This image is from Grassi Lake trail...Canmore AB!

Calgary Civic Art Gallery: Do we dare to be different?

While flaneuring last week I wandered past Calgary’s funky old Science Centre next to Mewata Armouries in downtown Calgary’s West End.  The concrete Brutalist designed by Calgary architect Jack Long has been funked up over the years with some bold yellow and red elements that together definitely give it a modern art gallery look.

One of the proposals for the future of the building is indeed to be a public art gallery - to become Calgary’s Civic Art Gallery.  For over 50 years, Calgary’s visual arts community has lamented the fact that we don’t have a civic art gallery. Even smaller Alberta cities like Lethbridge and Grande Prairie have civic art galleries.  I understand the future of this building will be announced soon.  

The old Science Centre looks like a modern work of art with its crayola colours and mix of angular and dome shapes.  It is like a mega cubist sculpture. 

West Village Catalyst

I would be surprised if the City didn’t choose to convert the Science Centre into an art gallery.  The City has ambitious plans for the creation of West Village utilizing the land to the west of Mewata Armouries.  Using the same thinking as in East Village, the Calgary Civic Art Gallery would function like the National Music Centre and the new Central Library serving as an anchor or catalyst for converting a harsh underutilized urban environment into an attractive place to “live, work and play.”  It could work.  If we could convert Mewata Armouries into a public farmers’ market then we might have something.  Stranger things have happened? 

The Science Centre is easily accessible by transit, by bike and by car.  

Artists Incubators vs. Gallery

I am guessing it will take $150 million to convert the building into a public art gallery, approximately the same cost as building the National Music Centre.  I can’t help but wonder if this is the best use of $150 million to enhance the visual arts or the arts in general in our city.  What else would $150 million buy?

One of the biggest issues facing artists living in Calgary today is affordability.  Artists don’t make much money and Calgary is not a cheap place to live. Calgary has no old tired warehouse areas with cheap rent that artists can use as “studio/apartment” spaces.  Places like Inglewood, Bridgeland, Sunnyside and SunAlta are all becoming more and more upscale as GABEsters (geologist, accountants, bankers, brokers and engineers) move in. 

I can’t help but wonder if we shouldn’t be investing in more spaces like C-Space King Edward that would be incubators for young artists – visuals, performing and literary – to live and work.  Perhaps we could create an artist’s village or better yet what about affordable housing project for seniors and artists – multi-generational. 

What is cSPACE? 

This is a CADA (city's Calgary Arts Development Authority) and Calgary Foundation) project that will see the 100-year-old King Edward School (South Calgary, 1720 – 30th Ave SW) converted into a hub for creativity.  Ten anchor tenants will create a 45,000 square foot space with studios, offices, production, exhibition and rehearsal space.  The cost of this project is expected to be about $30M (land and renovations).

CADA is also partnering with International Ave BRZ to create temporary presentation, studio and workshop space at 1807 42nd St. SE.  

In Beddington, a group of theatre companies have come together and converted the old community centre into a 200 seat theatre, 4 studio spaces and offices for its two resident theatre groups - Storybook Theatre and Front Row Centre Players.    

For $150M we could build numerous artists spaces around the city.  I expect places like Bowness would love to have a multi-purpose arts centre as part of their revitalization plans and I expect it could be done cheaper than $30M.  Land isn’t cheap in South Calgary, nor are renovations of old buildings.

Perhaps we could create fun, funky and affordable “container villages” for young Calgary artists to “live, work and play” across the city.  We are currently experimenting with one in Sunnyside that might help us understand how this might work!

 

Shaw Millennium Park's use could be enhanced by the addition of an art gallery or creative hub that would bring more events and activities e.g. out door art fair, concerts, dance etc.  

Why do we need a Civic Art Gallery?

One of the most often touted reasons we need a Civic Art Gallery is that we don’t have a facility to host block-buster travelling exhibitions that Vancouver, Edmonton, Toronto and Ottawa get.  You know those one’s with the big name artists like – Picasso and Rembrandt!

Another reason would be to have a place to showcase Calgary’s civic art collection, which is an important piece of our history and our sense of place.  Do new Calgarians need another place where they can discover Calgary indeed does have a history - we have the Glenbow, Fort Calgary and Heritage Park?

Do we need a civic gallery to increase the public’s awareness and appreciation of art? The downtown is full of art, there is public sculpture on almost every block, the office lobbies are full of public art, Hotel Arts, the Hyatt and Bow Valley College are like a public gallery with their extensive collections on public display almost 24/7.

It would also give local artists another opportunity to exhibit their work, in addition to Art Gallery of Calgary, MOCA Calgary (old Triangle), Glenbow, as well as galleries at ACAD and University of Calgary and artist-run-centres – New Gallery, Stride and Truck.  

Edmonton's Art Gallery of Alberta and Churchill Square in February. 

Link vision with reality?

The cost of a civic gallery isn’t just to build it - there is significant annual operational cost.  The Art Gallery of Alberta (Edmonton) has had an operational budget deficit since it moved into their new building.  A major civic art gallery needs an operational budget of over $5 million annual if it is going to provide exciting and engaging programming.  And that is a conservative number!

Interestingly, a $150M foundation with a 4% yield would generate a $6M annual rate of return – enough to support public gallery. I can’t help but wonder what the chronically underfunded Glenbow might do in the way of new programming with a $6M increase in its budget. 

The Art Gallery of Calgary and MOCA are struggling to find the ongoing operational funding for their spaces. How do we think we are going to fund the operations of another public art gallery? 

Perhaps the problem is not that we don’t have a civic art gallery, but that we have too many smaller public art galleries.  Are we too fragmented?

Maybe now is the time for the creation of a Calgary Civic Art Galleries, which would include the Glenbow, MOCA and the Art Gallery of Calgary spaces, staff, membership and volunteers.  Perhaps what we need is a good visual arts merger? 

Remember the motto: “working together to make a great city better?”  

Perhaps Calgary could dare to be different when it comes to how we support the arts and our artists.  We were one of the first cities to build a major skate park, perhaps it is now time create something just as edgy for our artists. 

Last word!

Here’s a radical idea!  Maybe we should just turn the Science Center over to art groups and let them see what they can do with it - forgo the huge renovation and operational costs of a major civic art gallery? 

Artists did a great job of turning the old Billingsgate Market building in East Village into a fun, studio, exhibition and event space.  Perhaps with a little seed money visual, performance and literary artists could transform the Science Centre into a wonderful creative incubator/hub.  Do we dare to be different?

If you like this blog you might like:

Poppy Plaza Review

Flaneuring Bow Valley College Art Collection

Olympic Plaza Needs a Mega Makeover

Rise of Public Art / Fall of Public Art Galleries 

Reader Comments:

SB writes: Give it to artists with rules about protecting the building. Perhaps it could be a below-market version of Art Central.

CO writes: Food for thought! 

 

Woodbine is wonderful!

By: Richard White / November 2, 2013

Calgary is blessed with a wonderful array of communities from estate enclaves to urban villages.  City building is not just about attracting the “young and restless” i.e. “creative class” to your city, it is also about attracting and retaining executives and their families who might want a big house and yes a three-car garage. Estate living is every bit a part of city building as is urban villages in the city centre or at transit stations. 

This estate home in Woodbine backs onto Fish Creek Park offering sweeping views of the valley from the back deck.   

Calgary communities built from the ’60 to the ‘90s (established communities) with their big homes, large lots and front car garages are currently not in favour with City Council and planners, yet they are very popular with citizens of Calgary.  

Did you know Calgary boasts 14 million dollar communities i.e. communities with an average selling price of over one million dollars and five are over two million.  Almost all of the million dollar communities were built in the ‘60s to the ‘80s. What does that tell us?

While current urban gurus are touting the importance of walkable communities using community “walkscores” (a rating system that determines how close you are to things like grocery stores, cafes and shopping, transit service, schools, recreation centers and professional services) as a means of measuring a communities desirability. What they are missing is that these amenities are not as important to everyone. 

Estate homes along the Fish Creek north bluff offer homeowners a tranquility that is very desirable for many executive families or young retirees.  For many retirees there is no longer a need to go downtown everyday or functions in the evening.  More and more time is spent at home.

For many, the access to a dog park is the most important amenity; especially given people are now walking their dog two and three times a day. For others, a quiet place to walk in nature several times a week is just as important as a grocery store. Did you know that bird watching is one of the fastest growing recreational activities? Where better to bird watch than near a major park or natural reserve?

Who needs a café when you can create a crema at home better than most baristas in the city? Who needs a street patio with noisy traffic, smelly fumes and hard chairs when you have a quiet deck with sweeping views and soft seating? 

Imagine having these trails in your backyard for walking, hiking, snow shoeing or cross-country skiing.  Who needs a recreation centre when you have this just minutes away.  

One hidden gem for estate living in Calgary is the southwest community of Woodbine. While Woodbine is not anywhere near the being a million-dollar community, there are numerous homes along the northern bluff of Fish Creek Park that definitely qualify as a “millionaires row” with spectacular backyard views of the park and mountains. 

In particular, Woodpath Estates in the extreme southwest corner of Woodbine is a county oasis in the city.  I am told rarely do these large three-car garage homes each with million dollar backyard views of Fish Creek Park come up for sale.  Why? Because they are very desirable to Calgarians who want a country-like home in the city.   

Not only do the Woodbine estate home owners have access to Fish Creek but they will also have the 131 km Calgary Greenway at their backdoor. 

While urban gurus would look at Woobine’s walkscore of 27 (best score is 100) and rank its desirability very low.  Woodpath Estates with no sidewalks and further from Woodbine’s great amenities -schools, parks, playing fields, a local shopping centre with a Safeway and a pub – would rank even lower.  However, for some it is the ideal place to live.

City building is about building a diversity of homes and communities that reflects the different values and desires of its citizens.   We need to embrace the development of “estate living” like Woodpath Village, as much as we do East Village. 

Estate living.....

Beltline: North America's best hipster/gabester community?

By Richard White / October 31, 2013 

This blog is from my White House column in the Calgary Herald's Neighbours section. It was published on October 31, 203.

 Upon returning from a recent trip to Chicago and Portland, where I explored several urban villages including Wicker Park and Bucktown (Chicago) and Pearl District (Portland), considered two of the best hipster communities in the USA (Forbes, September 2012), I couldn’t help but reflect upon Calgary’s Beltline community. Shouldn’t it be on the list of best hipster communities in North America? I might even venture to say it may be THE best!

If you don't believe me, perhaps you will believe Josh Noel travel writer for Chicago Tribune who recently wrote: "Calgary pedal to the metal."
 

Beltline hipsters (GABEsters) hanging out on 17th Ave in March. 

New condos Portland's Pearl District are very similar to what you see in Calgary in massing and design.

Eight High Streets

For one thing, the Beltline has not just one, but eight pedestrian streets. First, Fourth, Eighth, Eleventh and Fourteenth Streets all have funky local shops, cafes, pubs, galleries and restaurants as do 11th 12th and 17th Avenues. 

And numerous ones are signature spots - O’Connors (First Street), Rose and Crown, REDS, Boxwood and Sony Store (4th Street), Bonterra, Trepanier Baer Gallery, Mountain Equipment Co-op, Modern Jelly Donut and Kawa Café (8th Street), Gallaxy Diner, Good Earth Café and Katmandu Grocery (11th Avenue) and Heritage Posters and Music and Boyd’s Lobster Shop (14th Street). 

Each of these streets has a very Jane Jacobs (1960s champion of urban street life) feel - lots of little shops, owned and operated by locals.

In addition, the Design district along 10th and 11th Avenues with Bo Concepts, Heavens Fitness, Herringer Kiss, Paul Kuhn and New Zones galleries, Metro Vino and Cookbook Company as its anchors.  

The district also is home to three grocery stores – Calgary Co-op, Safeway and Community Natural Foods (a magnet for hipsters). Lastly, Calgary’s premier urban street, 17th Avenue the Beltline’s southern boundary, is home to Calgary icons like Ship & Anchor pub, Brava Bistro, Café Beano, Rubaiyat and Reids Stationers. 

The Beltline includes five districts - Warehouse district, Victoria Park, Design District,  Gear District anchored by Mountain Equipment Co-op and 17th Ave. 

Calgary's 17th Avenue's "GABEster" corner is a popular place for Calgary's "young & restless" to hang out.  It is full of bistros, cafes, boutiques and new condos.  It is sometimes referred to as the RED Mile for the sea of red shirted sports fans that gather here for hockey celebrations.  It currently has be re-branded as RED which stands for Retail Entertainment District.  

Haultain Park in the Beltline is a busy place with a very active playground and sports field.  Old and new condos surround the park. 

 

Walk 2 Work 

There are very few urban villages in North America where you can walk to 160,000 jobs as easily (10 to 15 minutes) as you can from the Beltline. Separated from Calgary’s dense downtown office core by the Canadian Pacific Railway’s main TransCanada tracks, Beltliners make the grungy trek through the underpasses to and from work.

While plans are in place to beautify the underpasses, part of the charm and history of the Beltline is the urban grit and patina that comes from decades of use.

The 8th Street underpass linking the beltline to the downtown core is a good example of the urban grit that is part of hip urban living. 

New Condos On Every Block

It seems like every block in the Beltline these days have a new condo being built. However, if you walk the streets, you find there is an amazing array of different types of housing – high, mid and low-rise condos, townhouses and single-family homes. 

Every street is a patchwork quilt of old and new, small and large residential structures of different designs and materials, combining to create a rich, residential visual impact. In addition, most of the avenues are lined with mature trees, creating a delightful canopy that is synonymous with quality residential communities in North America.

 One of the benchmarks of a good urban community is diversity of housing which in turn attracts a diversity of people of all ages and backgrounds.

The pool at Hotel Arts is a gathering place for GABEsters in the Beltline.  Does it get any hipper than this? 

The Ship & Anchor is the Beltline's signature hang-out for people of all ages and backgrounds

Density & Diversity 

Today the Beltline is home to 20,000 Calgarians, 40% of whom are between 25 and 34 years of age (more than twice the city average) and 60% have never been married.  Unquestionably, the Beltline is where Calgary’s young hip professions “live, work and play” (36% have a university degree or higher vs. 25% city-wide). 

At the same time, it is also home to two of Calgary’s major social services agencies (Mustard Seed and Alpha House) and a smattering of seniors’ residents. The net result is the Beltline has a wonderful mix of people of all ages and backgrounds who call it home - exactly what an urban village should be!

Just to the north of the Beltline is Calgary's downtown core with over 40 million square feet of office space. It has one of the highest concentrations of corporate headquarters in North America. It is where the GABEsters work. The building in the foreground is the MEC (Mountain Equipment Co-op) which anhcors the Gear District as there are several sporting goods and bike shops in the area. 

History

The Beltline is one of Calgary’s newest communities formed in 2003, when the Connaught (west of 4th Street) first established in 1905 merged with the Victoria Park (east of 4th Street) established in 1914. As such, it lays claim to some of Calgary’s best heritage sites - Central Memorial Library, oldest library in Alberta, Haultain School, Calgary’s first school, Memorial Park, one of the oldest urban parks in Canada and Lougheed House one of Calgary’s first mansions. 

The Beltline name comes from the No. 5 trolley which in the first half of the 20th century circled back and forth on the avenues the Beltline and connected it to downtown in belt-line like manner in the first half of the 20th century. For more information on Beltline history go to www.beltline.ca.

New +/- 20 storey condos are popping up on almost every block in the Beltline. 

GABEsters

Calgary’s hipsters are unique as they are more likely to be clean shaven, Armani suit wearing, geologists, accountants, bankers, brokers and engineers, than bearded, skinny jeans and plaid shirt artists, writers and musicians. 

But let it be understood they definitely love their Saturday music jams, bowling alley, craft beer drinking, gallery strolls, food trucks and festival fun as with any hipster. Perhaps we need to coin a new term  “GABEsters” (Geologists, Accountants, Bankers/Brokers and Engineers).

Future GABEsters also love playing in the Beltline. Does it get any better than this?  

Not only are there 8 pedestrian streets but there is also alley shopping.   

The Beltline's Design District is a fun place to flaneur on weekends.  

Chicago's Bucktown is much older and as a result has much more urban grit than Calgary's Beltline.

The Beltline's Victoria Park district has a mix of old and new, high-end fashion shops and funky pubs and clubs. There 100+ historical buildings and sites in the Beltline. 

Inn from the Cold is just one of several major social agencies that call the Beltline home.

No hipster village would be complete without at least one thrift store.  The IODE thrift store has been in the Beltline for a long as I can remember 20+ years?

The Beltline's warehouse district is getting a major makeover with old buildings being renovated and expanded and new ones being built.  What hipster wouldn't want to work in the Biscuit Block? 

Comments:

 HH writes: "I like the way you describe the beltline but here is a question for you- why doesn't this area have the reputation some similar areas have in other cities?  What does it need to have a place identity that attracts visitors?  The Red Mile was developing that kind of identity but then of course they shut it down because it was too uni-dimensional.  What is needed to make it a true gathering place and destination for residents elsewhere in the city or tourists?  I think you uncover very interesting stuff that most Calgarians either take for granted or do not even recognize but the place has no identity that is widely recognized.  We need more people like you to point all this out to us."

JM writes: "Great read! It's got some interesting perspective to it, one that probably eludes lots of folks."

CW writes: "I remember Beltline when I moved to Calgary from Ontario in '81: there was a diner intact from the 40s, but not celebrated as retro, called the Lido, I think; a couple of used record shops; the IODE thrift shop that sold vintage western clothing that I could no longer fit into (if I still had the items); the Muttart Gallery, of course; and a bit later an artists' co-op where they showed godawful art videos, as well as a folly of a record store 100% devoted to jazz. It was all good enough for me to buy a condo alongside the Beltline three years later.

I don't know if you're correct to say that Beltline doesn't have the past of the Chicago district, it would be correct to say that a good part of it has been diminished - the folly part of it. I think your column nails it when it says the it's professional population distinguishes this district. There's no reason that Calgary should be the same as Chicago or Portland, and I am looking forward to seeing the "place identity" (sought by the commentator) that this population produces."

GG writes: "I like the term Gabesters."  

ST writes: "Not sure about Beltline being the hippest in N. America, but it feels good when I read your stuff...and yes, most people do not have a clue what good stuff we have, so keep reminding the public with your good blogs.

Was wandering in the Beltline today and came across this sign which I thought illustrates just how hip the Beltline is.   The neighborhood is full of historic churches which have become community centers for various ethnic and arts groups including Calgary Opera. Jane Jacobs would have loved the Beltline.

During the 1988 Winter Olympics 11th Avenue was branded as "Electric Avenue" for its concentration of bars.  Today it is a mix of bars, shops, restaurants and galleries.   It is a GABEster hang-out!

GABEsters love their bikes even if it means hanging them over the balcony! 

Public Art: Love it or hate it!

By Richard White, October 30, 2013

This blog was written for the Calgary Herald's Insight section and published on Saturday, October 26th with the title: "Public Art best when it spurs debate."  I have added different photos with text to help illustrate the essay. 

When is comes to public art, it seems everyone has a love or hate opinion.  The love/hate debate raised its ugly head recently with the installation of “Travelling Light” aka the “Blue Circle” on the Airport Trail bridge at Deerfoot Trail. This time the debate is not just the usual conservative vs. liberal community dichotomy, but also within the arts community as well with respected artist/curator Jeffrey Spalding and Mayor Nenshi (both arts champions) have publicly stating they don’t like it.

Debate aside, I think most would agree public art enhances the urban environment when done right. However, doing it right is difficult and subjective. Having served on numerous public art juries over the past 30 years, I know how hard juries try to find an artist who can create an artwork that will capitalize on the place where it will be installed, as well as engage the public in a meaningful way.  Unfortunately, juries are not always successful.  No city has found a formula to guarantee every piece of public art will be critically acclaimed by professions and adored by the public.

Cloud Gate by Anish Kapoor is one of two major public artworks in Chicago's Millennium Park that attracts thousands of visitors everyday.  There are successful because they capture the public's imagination and allow them to interact with them.  They are fun!

I recently began serving on a City of Calgary public art jury and it was the most professional, rigorous and open jury process I have experienced. We were given the applications weeks in advance to independently review, then spent an entire day discussing them as a group before choosing three artists to submit more in-depth, site-specific proposals.  In the new year, the same process will be repeated to choose the artist and artwork.  It should be noted the jury note only has equitable representation from the two communities impacted, the City and art professionals but despite the diverse backgrounds, our three short-listed choices were unanimous. 

I smiled when the debate regressed to “why wasn’t a local artist chosen?” Local artists were invited to submit their portfolio, but were not chosen. That is how the process works, like any RFP (Request For Proposals) process that most Calgarians have experienced at one time or another.  I believe it is important local artists are given a chance to submit, but I don’t think we should limit our public art solely to local artists.  Artists from other cities and countries see our city differently and more objectively adding new dimensions to our understanding of our sense of place. 

Wonderland by famous Spanish artist Jaume Plensa is a wire sculpture of the head of a young girl on the plaza in front of the Bow office tower by renown architect Norman Foster.  This ghost-like representational figure piece has been widely praised by professionals and public.  It is a fun piece to go inside and look at the downtown skyline through the maze of lines created by the skull form.  One local businessman, in his street shoes and clothes decided to climb it, turning it into a playground climbing sculpture for adults. 

Similarly Calgary artists are often creating public art for other cities.  Calgary’s Derek Besant, for example has numerous pieces in New York City, Toronto and Edmonton, as well as Calgary. Calgary artists and the public are served best when we have open competitions for public art.

As a member of Calgary’s arts community in many different capacities, I am well aware of the ongoing debate re: the need, value and role of public art. Historically, public art has been something found mostly in the downtown as part of new public buildings or office buildings. Over the past 30 years, downtown Calgary has become an art park with100+ sculptures, murals and paintings commissioned for plazas, parks, sidewalks, lobbies, LRT stations and +15 walkways.

My favourite public art project was the “Colourful Cows for Calgary” in summer 2000 which saw 100+ cows (painted by professionals and amateurs) temporarily placed throughout the downtown (including one in the lagoon at Prince’s Island).  I believe it was the city’s most successful public art project because it captured the public’s imagination and engaged thousands of people to venture downtown to see and discuss the statements each cow made about Calgary’s sense of place.  Yet there were some who thought it was too populist.  

Utterly Art: Colourful Cows For Calgary took place in the summer of 2000, with 100+ cows being placed in parks, plazas, sidewalks and even in the Prince's Island lagoon.  The project capture the imagination of Calgarians young and old.  It add a lot of fun to the downtown's sense of place that summer.  Several of the cows can be found in the Legacy Pasture on the second floor of the Centennial Parkade on 9th Avenue SW. 

To me, public art must engage the public. It must motivate them to think outside their everyday box and look at the world we share in a different way.  The best public art I have encountered has always been a “pedestrian” experience where people can stop, interact with the art, reflect on it, discuss it with friends and take pictures in close proximity.  One of the reasons most Calgarians love William McElcheran’s two businessmen “Conversation” on Stephen Avenue is that you can walk right up to it, view it at different angles and relate it to the real businessmen walking the street.

On the other hand, “Travelling Light” doesn’t allow you to walk around or through it; it’s a drive by art experience. Yes, there will be a public pathway in the area, but even then you will still only see it from a distance.  This is not a good public art location.

Similarly, I have questioned the location of Julian Opie’s (British) Promenade 2012 next to the Fifth Avenue flyover bridge in East Village. It too is mainly a “drive by” experience.  A great piece, but it would be more engaging if placed on the sidewalk in East Village or along Riverwalk where pedestrians could interact with it.   

In contrast Ron Moppett’s (Calgary) 33 meter long by 4 meter high ceramic mural on the retaining wall for the LRT tracks only a block away from Opie’s piece is far more successful partly because pedestrians are invited to sit and ponder the piece in a comfortable setting.  Good public art has a synergy between the art, its surroundings and the pedestrian.

William McElcheran's bronze sculpture of two business men in conversation is on the sidewalk of downtown's Stephen Avenue Walk, pedestrian mall where it is viewed by thousands of pedestrians every day.  Often people will add scarfs, a cup of coffee or other items to the piece. It is a popular photo op for tourist. 

Julian Opie's video is placed on a plinth next to the 5th Avenue Flyover exit from downtown.  The video is of people of all ages and backgrounds walking quickly around the cube.  It is an attractive piece but would me more effective if place next to the sidewalk so pedestrians could interact with it. 

In 2004, the City of Calgary adopted a “1% for public art for all City capital projects: policy. As a result, public art is now popping up everywhere - from LRT stations to recreation centers and yes, even bridges. Calgarians, more than ever, are experiencing public art as part of their everyday experience so it is not surprising they are also commenting on it.  Debate is healthy and I am glad Calgarians care enough about their city’s evolving sense of place to comment.

The time to judge a work of art is not 10 days, not 10 weeks but 10 years after it is installed (the Eiffel Tower was hated at first).  It will be interesting to see in 2023 what Calgarians think of “Travelling Light” versus say “Wonderland” (the “child’s head” sculpture on the plaza of the Bow office tower) or the Peace Bridge.

I believe the majority of Calgary’s new public art projects have been well received and I don’t believe the selection process is flawed.  Urban design and creating Calgary’s unique sense of place is an ongoing experiment.  We should not be surprised that some of our “experiments” in public art, architecture and public space design fail to please everyone.  However we should learn something from every experiment on how best to link our diverse visions with the reality as we transform space into place.

This is the infamous "Travelling Light" sculpture which is a functioning lamppost on the bridge over the railway tracks next to Deerfoot Trail, Calgary's busiest freeway and at the gateway to the Calgary Airport. (photo: Calgary Herald)

Crown Fountain is Jaume Plensa's signature public artwork in Chicago's Millennium Park.  Even into the evening hundreds of people of all ages are playing in the water and glow of the artwork.  This is public art at its best. 

A few blocks away from Millennium Park are several signature public artworks (Picasso) that sit on plaza's in front of office buildings.  While there were highly popular when installed over 30 years ago, today they are just part of the urban landscape.  Is this the fate of all public art? 

Understanding Calgary's DNA

By Richard White, October 16, 2013

Recently, a neighbour lent me an old, tattered book titled “Calgary,” thinking I might enjoy reading it.  There was no date or author’s name in the book, just the name of the general editor, S. L. Bensusan.  However, a bit of web research turned up that the book was published in 1912 and that Samuel Levy Bensusan (born in London, 1872 to 1958) was probably the author too given he had written similar books on life in Spain, Paris and Morocco.  The cover has a foreshadowing illustration (no credit given) of Calgary complete with high-rises, smoke stacks, railway bridge and street-car that paints a picture of Calgary as a modern, industrial commercial city.  At the bottom of the cover is a reference to “Twentieth Century Cities” so I am thinking this book was part of a series on different cities at the turn of the century.  However, I was unable to find out if this is true.

I quickly found this book to be a fascinating read about what Calgary was like 100 years ago, from the perceptive of an outsider.  The book is written I suspect as a propaganda piece to entice Brits to immigrate to Calgary.  It is not unlike what Tourism Calgary and Calgary Economic Development are producing today to attract tourists and workers to Calgary.  However, recent monikers like “Calgary: The New West” and “Calgary: Be Part of the Energy” pale in comparison to the bold statement “Calgary The Phenomenal” which is how the 1912 book brands Calgary.

Though full of interesting factoids, what makes it really interesting is that many of the characteristics that define Calgary today existed or were being ingrained into our collective psyche a hundred years ago.  For example, there are constant references to Calgary being a place where a strong work ethic and individuality prevail, a sense of freedom exists for everyone and opportunities are abundant.  Comments like “all are free”, “captain of his own fate” and “master of his own soul” are found throughout the text.

As well, comments similar to former Mayor Klein’s infamous 1982 “creep and bums” comments are present in the book.  “He who will not work shall not eat, and he whose favourite task is to watch the toil of others will look in vain for a job, until he feels the contagion of endeavor and enter the ranks of the men who matter.”  Or the observation, “for the shirker, the idler and the man who was born tired, there is no place…”  

Cover photograph shows downtown Calgary in 1912 as a bustling place with street car, passenger train, smoke stakes and high-rises.  

This is an early postcard of the First Baptist Church and an early 20th century mansion on 13th Ave. SW. 

 

Stephen Avenue: Piccadilly Circus on the Prairies

Even 100 years ago, Calgary was being touted as “the city most progressive and up-to-date of the Western Canadian Plains.”  There are several references to Calgary’s multi-cultural population; “streets are full of Englishmen, Yankee, Hindu, Indian, Chinese and Japanese.  There is even an observation that the “Eighth Avenue shopping street is as congested as Piccadilly Circus on Saturdays.”  Further on, Stephen Avenue is described as an “ever-changing kaleidoscope throng of human beings from all over the world.” I am not making this stuff up!

Bensusan is quick to point out Calgary boasts “more automobiles in proportion to its population than any other city on the continent,” as evidence of the city’s prosperity and modernity.  He says he was “astonished at the sight of so many smart and luxurious private cars, ” noting that 1,000 cars were registered in Calgary on January 1, 1912.

He also states Calgary is a very cosmopolitan modern city with police and fire departments, schools, hospitals, shops, a great public library, as well as excellent waterworks and lighted streets.  Calgary with its four theatres and eleven motion picture houses, “insures to Calgary the opportunity of seeing the best class of theatrical entertainments…there shall be no lack of variety.”

Particular note is made of Calgary having 40 places of worship, obviously seen as a key to attracting new immigrants back then.  “Religious animosities are unknown, and nobody asks what a man believes in or fails to believe in, nor even what he has been, or who his father was. If he be a good citizen, the rest does not matter.” He goes on to say “the countries that have welcomed good citizens of whatever faith have lived and thrived, while those that have indulged in violent religious persecutions have failed signally to progress.”  Sounds a lot like Richard Florida’s observation that prosperous cities are tolerant places, welcoming creative young people from all walks of life.  It has always struck me when flaneuring our city centre how many churches there are; I had no idea there were 40.

Bensusan also tells readers Calgary is “not a winter city” as the warm Pacific Ocean winds called “Chinooks” moderate the temperature and keep the snow away. There are also many many references to the fact that Calgary gets over 300 days of sun, deemed I suspect very appealing to those living in Britain with its cool, damp and drab winters.  No mention is made that the temperature can get down to -30 degrees or that spring blizzards are very common.  But why let the facts get in the way of a good story!

Today Stephen Avenue is a pedestrian mall by day and a narrow one way street by night.  It is home to some of Calgary's tallest buildings and links the Financial District with the Cultural District.  It is one of North America's best restaurant rows.  

Stephen Avenue at night in the winter is a special place with lighting effects like this on the block with The Core shopping centre, Bankers Hall and TD Square complex and Devonian Gardens.  With over 200+ floors of offices and 200+ stores and restaurants it is one of the most dense mixed-use blocks in North America. 

 

Mansion Mania

Even in the early 20th century, Calgarians already loved their big homes.  One of the photographs shows 20th Ave SW in Mount Royal with a parade of large homes all sitting high above the road with a rock wall.  There is not a tree in sight.  It looks very much like a scene from a new estate community in today’s suburbs – think Aspen Woods or Riverstone.  As I have said before, don’t judge a community before the trees are taller than the houses.  It is amazing the effect larger trees can have on softening and enriching the streetscape over time.  

This is an image of the Lougheed House the first grand mansion built in Calgary and the beginning of the southwest quadrant as the preferred home to Calgary's rich and famous. 

Bushels to Barrels

From an economic development perspective, “bushels to the acre” was the benchmark of prosperity in early 20th century, similar to how barrels of oil serve as a key benchmark today. The development of the Western Irrigation project was the “oil sands” of its time, with CPR being the corporate giant investing millions in the city with their new Natural Resources building on 9th Avenue and new locomotive repair shop in Ogden which was touted as going to employ 5,000 people. It is interesting to note that CPR eventually moved its headquarters to downtown Calgary in the ‘90s, with plans now to relocate it to soon to be complete building in at its Ogden yards.  

The grain elevators along the CPR tracks were to downtown Calgary 100 years ago as the office towers are today.  Calgary companies controlled practically all of the elevators in Alberta says Bensusan.  Indeed, Calgary was already well on its way to becoming a corporate headquarters city, citing it being ranked fifth in Canada as a commercial centre.

There is even reference to the fact the City purchased most of the land around the CPR railway to develop a manufacturing and industrial district.  This was the beginning of the City of Calgary being a land developer, a role which continues today. 

However, one thing has changed, in 1912, labour was well organized with 90% of Alberta’s workers being members of trade unions (today, only about 20% of Calgarians belong to a union).  Bensusan notes in Calgary labourers often start their own businesses and become employers, which in turn make demand for labour almost always exceed supply.  Sound familiar? Calgary, it appears, has been fostering entrepreneurs for over 100 years.

 

Pittsburg of Canada

Bensusan predicted Calgary would become the “Pittsburg of Canada” because of its abundance of natural gas, coal and electricity nearby and the strong network of 20 railway lines.  He envisaged the population west of the Great Lakes would equal that of Great Britain and Ireland someday, with Winnipeg, Calgary and Vancouver becoming the three greatest cities of the continent.  (Note: In 1911, Winnipeg’s population was 136,000, Vancouver’s 121,000 and Calgary’s 44,000.)

He points out Calgary enjoys three postal deliveries a day, has 5,000 telephone subscribers who have unlimited calls for $30/yr  – something even London the capital of the British Empire, cannot compete with.  Calgary was also said to have 50 miles of street railway track accommodating 8,838,057 passengers per year and making a $100,000 profit (this is not a typo).  He goes on to say the expectation is that, in time, “public services will cover civic expenses and that a general tax levy will become a thing of the past.” We wish!

The early 20th century was a time when the British Empire was still strong and many young men left to seek their fortune in one of the many countries controlled by Britain.  Bensusan notes that, in the case of Calgary, “people move there to make money and establish homes, not abandon it “as they do in South Africa where new immigrants make what they can and get out.”

In many ways, that remains true today.  Young people flock to Calgary from across Canada and around the world, often thinking they will take advantage of the career opportunities the city presents and then return home or move on.  However, more often than not, newcomers stay, raise a family and retire here.  Bensusan observes,  “Calgary’s charm must be felt to be appreciated, and once felt, you become a Calgary enthusiast like those who live there.” So true!

Already in 1912 Calgary is referred to as a business centre, industrial centre, agricultural centre, sporting centre and rapidly becoming an educational centre.  Plans were already in place for the establishment of a university with a McGill College affiliation.  

While this photo is older it captures the tremendous growth of Calgary as one of North America's economic engines with one of the greatest concentrations of corporate headquarters in the world.  It also captures the city's beauty, its parks, trees and beautiful blue sky.  Calgary has come a long way from a being bald-ass prairie land. 

This photo juxtapositions the old and the new. The downtown Hudson Bay store was the icon of Calgary's position as a major commercial center in the early 20th century.  The Scotia Tower represents the late 20th and early 21st century economic engine that includes banking, oil & gas and other office tower based businesses. 

 

Pleasure-seekers

While Bensusan didn’t use the current popular moniker “live, work and play” in the book, these three elements of urban life were the focus of his discussion.  Banff and the Rockies are referred to as “Calgary’s Sunset Playground.” He notes Canada’s Alpine Club was very important to the “pleasure-seekers” of the time and that Calgary’s proximity to the Rockies was a huge asset. 

“Calgary has an added claim, for no city is quite so pleasant to work in as that which can offer, in return for a few hours’ journey, access to one of the finest health resorts known to mankind.”

He chronicles the development of Calgary as an urban playground, beginning in 1908 with the $50,000 Carnegie’s donation to build the Memorial Park Library at a cost of $70,000.  At the time, Calgary also had 10 parks totally 500 acres.  The city was home to the Turf Club (horse racing), Hunt Club (coyote hunting), Calgary Golf and Country Club and the Calgary Amateur Athletic Association with 50 clubs and several thousand members. 

This is the 2012 Blues Festival in Shaw Millennium Park. Today Calgary offers one of the most comprehensive festival schedules of any city of its size in North America.  

 

Calgary the phenomenal

Bensusan concludes it is ultimately the hopes, enthusiasm and ideals of its people and the fact that every man/woman/child has a fair chance that is the “vital matter of measuring a city.”  While these benchmarks are hard to measure, I think most intuitively figure this out when we visit or move to a new city.  Ultimately, these are the reasons we stay or move on!

One of the most touching stories Bensusan tells is about Calgary’s strong sense of community, specifically how Calgarians support the YMCA. The YMCA functioned in the early 20th century much like United Way does today, helping those who are less fortunate.  Calgary’s YMCA fundraising goal was 7,000 pounds, which the community raised in one day. At the same time in London, England, the YMCA’s goal was 100,000 pounds, but after two weeks the city with 100 times the population of Calgary, had only raised half of that.  Fast forward 100 years - today, Calgarians donate more money per capita to United Way than any other Canadian city.  Clearly, Calgary’s sense of community has had a long history! 

 

Last Word

The book ends with “For we can but regard Calgary as one of the most significant cities of our twentieth century, and its triumphant endeavor as one of the most hopeful signs of the old order changes, giving place to the new.  It is with good and sufficient reason that it has chosen for title the proud name of ‘CALGARY THE PHENOMENAL’.”  Guess that says it all!

An edited version of this blog was published in the Calgary Herald's Condo Living section as a two part column.  Part one was titled "Calgary's attitudes have century old roots" on September 28, 2013 and part two titled  "Calgary's Work/Play culture part of the City's DNA" on October 5, 2013. This is the unedited version with my own photos to illustrate some of the ideas discussed. 

If you like this blog you might like:  

Does Calgary have an urban inferiority complex? 

Discouver Calgary's Secret Heritage Trail 

What is Calgary's iconic image to the world  

The Famous 5 at Olympic Plaza

By Richard White, September 19, 2013

Last week I had some time to kill before a morning coffee meeting so decided to flaneur a bit and ended up at Olympic Plaza and the Famous Five sculpture.  The morning sun was just rising about the buildings to the east and casting a wonderful spotlight on the ladies. 

I love the way the sculptures invite pedestrians both locals and tourists to stop and interact with them.  There is a chair to sit on if you wish, or you can just go up to them and have a chat.  Getting up close you can see how artist Barbara Paterson has created realistic portraits that capture a sense of the personality of each of the in figures.

I quickly grabbed my phone aka camera and started shooting. 

Once home I thought it would be fun to share the artwork and history with my readers. I had some superficial knowledge about the role of the five ladies in lobby for women’s rights early in the 20th century but I should know more. I also knew that the sculpture had been commissioned by the Famous 5 Foundation and was spearheaded by Calgarian Francis Wright.  I also knew that there is an identical installation in Ottawa on Parliament Hill. 

I hit the jackpot on my first click on Famous 5 Foundation website. Rather then retyping the details click here and you can find out the history of the Famous 5.  Some more search told me that there is also different Famous Five sculpture at the Manitoba Legislature by artist Helen Granger Young. 

What captured my interest most on the Famous Five site the quotes selected to represent each of the five ladies.  

 

 

This is the Famous 5 sculpture by Edmonton sculptor Barbara Paterson in Calgary's Olympic Plaza.  Paterson captured the five women at the moment they reunited over a cup of tea to celebrate their victory. 

Nellie McClung 1873 – 1951

“Canada is destined to be one of the great nations of the world and Canadian women must be ready for citizenship.”

Nellie McClung is holding up the newspaper with the announcement that in 1929 that they had won the "Persons" case in 1929. 

Louise McKinney 1868 – 1931

“What, after all, is the purpose of a woman’s life? The purpose of a woman’s life is just the same as the purpose of a man’s life: that she may make the best possible contribution to the generation in which she is living.”

Louise McKinney sitting looking at McClung holding up the newspaper hands folded. The artist has captured a sense of pleasure, pride and/or satisfaction in her face. 

Emily Murphy 1868 – 1933

“ I believe that never was a country better adapted to produce a great race of women than this Canada of ours, nor a race of women better adapted to make a great country.” 

Emily Murphy is standing by a chair gesturing to pedestrians to come and sit and think about how the world has changed?  

Henrietta Muir Edwards 1849 – 1931

“If women had the vote there would be no need to come twice asking for better legislation for women and children, no need to come again and again for the appointment of women inspectors where women and children are employed; we would not ask in vain for the raising of the wage or consent.” 

Henrietta Muir Edward sits next to McKinney holding up her cup of tea as if she is toasting the victory.  People love to interact with the sculptures often leaving their coffee cups or other artifacts on the table. 

Irene Parlby 1868 – 1965

“If politics mean…the effort to secure through legislative action better conditions of life for the people, greater opportunities for our children and other people’s children…then it most assuredly is a woman’s job as much as it is a man’s job.”

Irene Parlby standing next to McClung gesturing to the newspaper with the headline that Women are Persons. 

I think these quotes nicely sum-up the issues of the time and serves to illustrate how the world has evolved over the past 100 years, in part as a result of the diligent efforts of these five women.  Isn’t it ironic that today Alberta has a female Premier.  

Downtown Calgary is blessed with several memorial bronze sculptures but none are as accessible or as fun at the Famous Five.  The best time to judge the success of public art and public spaces is not immediately after they are completed, but 10 years later to see if they have continued to capture the public's imagination and truly created a sense of place. 

The Famous 5 Foundation is planning a fun event at the sculptures on October 18th to celebrate "Persons" Day. Everyone is welcome!  

Reader comments: 

  • JH writes: "your piece on the ladies is awesome, informative and to the 'point'"
  • BB writes: "A great salute to Alberta's progressive past. Here is hoping that this past will influence its future."
  • SM writes: "I like The Conversation" the two guys talking on Stephen Avenue. It's timeless.
  • FB writes: "Surprisingly this barely TOUCHES the surface when it comes to public art in Calgary.
  • MW writes: "I love this sculpture and always visit it when I go to Calgary and Ottawa. I sit on the chair and thank these ladies. Hope you like reading ti as much as I did." 
  • RP writes: "I did enjoy this...read every word. The sculptures are great. It is like those warrior statues of the heroes of Hungry...they each have personality."  

If you like this blog you might like:

The Rise of Public Art / Decline of Public Galleries  

Olympic Plaza Needs A Mega Makeover

Putting the public back into public art

 

 

 

Dogs as a catalyst for healthier happier city?

By Richard White, September 9, 2013

Dog Parks and Disneyland

I am again dog sitting for friends and learning more about the how cities need to evolve to the every changing needs of the people who live in them.  I am not a dog owner, but I am fascinated about how dog ownership has changed since I had a dog 50 years ago.  

Just had a wonderful conversation with a man who told me getting a dog has significantly improved his and his wife's life as they get out and walk more.  Another couple told me how they love coming to the dog park every night just to watch the animation.  The lady said "it is like Disneyland for dogs."  

A summer evening stroll in the dog park is enjoyed by people and dogs of all ages and sizes. 

Catalyst for healthy living

Indeed, the dog park is as important to the humans as it is to the dogs.  In our urban mostly sedentary lives we need a reason to get out and walk.  Every time I dog sit I find myself saying "I must get up in the morning and just go for a walk to my neighbourhood dog park - I don't need a dog." But, I never do it!  

The dog as a catalyst for healthy living will become even more important with our aging population.  Seniors perhaps benefit most from walking a dog, not only for the physical exercise, but the people contact.  It is not very often that I go to the dog park that I don't chat with someone.  It isn't a long conversation, and I don't think I will meet my next "new best friend," but it is a nice friendly chat.  

This is why dog parks are better for socialization (dog and humans) than just walking your dog on the street, as there is a much greater probability that you and your dog will interact with others.  And, isn't that what is great about urban living i.e. interacting with others.  Not sure if it is just me, but people at the dog park seem happier and friendlier than people in the streets.  What's with that? 

Below is an article I wrote back in 2007.  I am now thinking it is not just downtown that needs to be more dog-friendly but the entire cities.  In fact, I am now thinking that all new communities should have a dog park as a key element of their master plan.  It is a great way to meet your neighbours in the new urban world.  

The dog park is the the new town square - all urban villages should have a dog park!  The dog park is used seven days a week year-round, unlike playing fields and many non dog parks. The dog park is as important to many, as the recreation centre or library is to others.  

Everybody needs a drink after a long day and a good walk.

Downtown needs to be more dog-friendly.

This blog was originally published in the Calgary Herald's Condo Living section March 3, 2007.  

It always amazes me who is out walking in the coldest, darkest days of winter.  It is largely people out exercising their dog or dogs. Even in the dark at 6 a.m., when I’m heading to work, there always seems to be someone out walking his or her pet.

As a non-dog owner, the increasing importance of dogs in our contemporary urban culture continues to amaze me.  I think this is especially true for groups like the young professional and empty nester cultures — which, coincidentally, are also the primary markets for urban living. I guess it shouldn’t be surprising then that we are seeing more dogs along our urban side- walks and pathways and in our parks and plazas.

Literally thousands of Calgarians are in dog parks every evening walking their dogs and chatting with fellow citizens.

In its 13th annual housing survey conducted by Ipsos Reid, RBC Royal Bank said last year that 56 per cent of Canadians have pets in their homes. Experts say that probably works out to about five million dogs and seven million cats. The total market size of the Canadian pet industry was estimated at $3.8 billion in 2001.

City officials have estimated there are as many as 100,000 dogs in Calgary. As many as 2,000 may use the Southland Natural Park area alone on busy days.

“Pets are the new children. It’s the bottom line,” said Michael Bateman, of Chasin' Tails, a Calgary doggie day-care centre, in a recent Herald story.  Such centers offer everything from overnight boarding to boutique areas. In some ways, dogs are to urban living what children are to suburban living.

I appreciate that owning a dog in an urban centre presents a unique set of challenges.  How is housebreaking accomplished in a high-rise building?  Where and how can a large, energetic dog be exercised?  How can a dog be taught to ignore distractions such as traffic congestion and noise, crowded sidewalks, bicycles, roller bladers, interesting trash, back alleys, roadways — and, of course, other dogs?

One solution occurring in places such as Atlanta, Houston, Dallas and Phoenix (who knew these were hot spots for urban living?) is the creation of “bark parks.” These differ from “off-leash” areas in that they are parks solely for the use of dogs and their owners.

They are often small parcels of land that are too small for development. They are fenced off and self-governed by a set of rules, much like a daycare (for example, dogs must behave, dogs must be accompanied by an owner, dogs must be healthy and owners must clean up after their dogs).  Some bark parks also have playground-like equipment for dogs to jump over, climb up and so on.

Though Calgary has over 300 “off leash” areas — which may be the most of any major city in Canada— it, to my knowledge, has no “bark parks.”  But you have to think someone is working on a “bark park” in Calgary!

Current policy in Calgary is “if there are no signs indicating it is an “off leash” area, assume it is strictly an on-leash only park.”  It is also surprising that I haven’t yet seen a Calgary condo listing that promotes dog- friendly amenities.

I have seen it many times in Vancouver listings, including one, which read, “just steps to George Wainborne Dog Park, Seawall and Granville Island.” It was amazing to me that not only did the dog park have a name, but that it was listed ahead of two of Vancouver’s biggest urban living attractions.

I am wondering when the first Calgary condo will be built with its own mini “bark park” on site — maybe already one exists?  While “bark parks” and “off leash” areas are great, there is still a need for both dog owners and non-dog owners to learn to share our public spaces including sidewalks. As a non-dog owner, I didn’t appreciate the importance of off leash activities until I started to do a little digging (no pun intended).

I didn’t know “off leash” time is important for dogs to learn to socialize with humans and other dogs. I didn’t know it makes dogs less aggressive and helps reduce neurotic activities such as barking, two benefits which are in the best interests of non-dog owners.

I also discovered dogs are part of urban socialization for humans, especially those who are single or new to the area — as having a dog helps people make friends

There is also research that says dog owners are more physically active than non-dog owners as they are more motivated to get out every day and take their dog (or dogs) for a walk.

I learned there are now “woof and hoof ” outings where dog owners get together on a regular basis to walk their dogs and chat about life (sounds like the Running Room’s programs for joggers and walkers).

Last Word

It used to be that urban planners were primarily interested in making urban areas more pedestrian-friendly places, but now they also have to ensure they are also dog friendly.

As a Calgary urbanite for 20 years, I have certainly seen this evolution happening on my street, in the park across from my house and at the “off leash” area a few blocks away.

Comments:

RJ writes: 100, 000 dogs in Calgary alone huh? I can believe it, maybe even more....I'd say at least one in every ten homes has a dog. Now what we need is playgrounds built within a dog park (none that I have found)....if I could run both my four legged and two legged children at the same time that would be awesome!

Ann Toohey, PhD student, Community Health Science, University of Calgary writes:  My MSc research indicated that older adults (+50) who walk their dogs 4 times/week or more had a higher sense of community than those who walked their dogs less frequently, or non-dog owners. And of course they were much more likely to get 150 min/week of moderate, neighbourhood-based physical activity (as per public health recommendations). For more information on Tooley's MSc research

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Does Calgary need an urban beach?

By Richard White, September 7, 2013

Comments:

JT writes:

How about a "pop-up beach." Next summer after spring run-off people could just bring their own chairs, coolers, blankets, yoga mats etc and we could convert the gravel bars into beaches.  Could be impromptu or could be organized like a community garage sale.  Sometimes the best things are spontaneous rather than planned.

 Everyone loves the beach

'Recently, a friend suggested to me that Calgary should have an urban beach and with the recent flood reconfiguring both the Bow and Elbow Rivers there are lots of new gravel bars that would make great beaches.  Calgary’s inner city has traditionally had two rock beaches that are popular summer playgrounds – Edworthy Park and Sandy Beach. The latter is a misnomer as there is no sand, but perhaps that speaks to the fact that Calgarians are so desperate for a beach anything that resembles a beach will do.

Edworthy Park on the west side of the Calgary's city centre is a very popular gravel beach. 

Edworthy Park on the west side of the Calgary's city centre is a very popular gravel beach. 

Sandy beach is at the southern edge of Calgary's city centre and is a very popular summer picnic area.  

Everyone else has one!

But Paris has perhaps the most famous river beaches.  Initiated by Mayor Bertand Delanoe in 2002, the “Paris Plage” program has been a huge success.  In 2013, there were three temporary beaches, each open to the public at no charge from 8 am to midnight in the summer months.  There is also a popular free summer concert program associated with the beaches.  The beaches attract thousand of locals and visitors every day in the summer.

An urban or city beach is defined by most as an existing open space that is artificially transformed into a beach with the use of sand, umbrellas and seating elements.  It does not included swimming or any natural slopping to the water’s edge.  The urban beach often is part of the “urban surprise” as it is inserted into the urban fabric in an unexpected but pleasant way. While urban beaches are often at the waters edge they can be over a parking lot, road or town square.  They are most often temporary. 

In Frankfurt, we experienced what we call the “green beach,” which extended the length of the river through the city centre.  The “green beach” was a simple, open lawn adjacent to the river and pedestrian bike path.  It is a great place where people of all ages love to sit, have a picnic and people watch.  It was a great gathering place for locals and tourists alike.  We were also able to watch the barges go by, as well as boaters of all types.  There was even a place to grab a beer - in a glass stein nonetheless - and go back to the beach to enjoy the animation.  How civilized! 

One of Paris' popular beaches.  Note it is beside the river not on the river's edge.  It is more like a huge patio. 

Frankfurt's green beach with beer vendor is just a narrow lawn area between the road above and the pathway along the water.  

Green Beach

Does Calgary needs/deserves an urban beach. I understand the plans for St. Patrick’s Island redevelopment call for many exciting amenities to be added to the park but there are no plans for an urban beach.  Missed opportunity? 

Maybe, like Paris we need three beaches – Edworthy, Eau Claire and East Village.  However, given the dramatic changes in our rivers I am thinking we should look at Frankfurt’s “green beach” concept which would keep our urban beaches well away from the water’s edge, but with good view lines to the pathways and water.  

The Crowchild Trail gravel bar has the look of a white sand beach complete with its own lagoon and blue/green water. 

Lots of fun things can happen on the beach.  Just happened to catch this couple either getting married on the Edworthy beach or having their wedding pictures taken. 

Who needs Bermuda, Barbados or Bahamas when you have Bowview?

By Richard White, September 4, 2013

When walking to yoga recently, I passed by the Bowview Pool in West Hillhurst. People of all ages were enjoying the water and sunning themselves along the grassy edges.   I was immediately struck by how this scene resembled that of a pool at a swanky hotel in some Caribbean or Mediterranean hotel (ok, so I have a good imagination).

As I continued walking, I began to think of other fun things nearby that would be touristy.  Milkshakes and ice cream are something that I associate with vacations.  Dairy Lane, located just a few blocks away on 19th street has been serving up old fashion milkshakes for over 60 years.  Or I could wander a bit further to Amato Gelato on Kensington Road where I’d have a choice of over 72 different gelato flavours. 

 

Bowview Pool is a hangout for babes of all ages.  It is a great family spot.  

Dairy Lane has been an institution in the Bowview Pool area for over 60 years.  It is a very popular breakfast spot. 

Amato Gelato is a little bit of Italy in Calgary.  Yum Yum!

Sure, I couldn’t walk a white sand beach in the morning or evening, but I could walk the nearby Bow River with its crystal clear, every changing turquoise water.  In the evening, I could walk along the Bow River Bluff, which offers spectacular views of the river valley and a Downtown skyline that glitters like gold at sunset.  It doesn’t get more romantic than that.  Looking for a hike instead of a walk, the Douglas Fir Trail is an authentic forest trek in the middle of the city.  Yes there are no banana boats or skidoos, but I could go rafting, canoeing or kayaking on the river – there is a rental shop no far away.  I could easily have a river adventure everyday for a week.

And maybe there isn’t a hotel spa nearby, but there is the lovely Bodhi Tree yoga studio that certainly is spa-like. Tennis, a typical tropical vacation activity, is available at the West Hillhurst Recreation Centre.  Deep-sea fishing, common another hotspot vacation activity can be replaced by fly-fishing in the Bow River (one of the best fly-fishing rivers in the world).

 

Rafting along the Bow River has become a very popular summer activity for Calgarians and tourists.  On a hot summer day hundreds maybe thousands of rafters enjoy one of the world's great urban rivers. 

While parts of the Bow River north-side bluff walk are open offering spectacular views, other places are more forested and offering a more intimate and contemplative space. 

Downtown skyline from the Bow River bluff with the iconic Calgary blue sky. 

People of all ages love to walk and cycle along the Bow River from one end of the City Centre to the other. 

Want to sit and relax with an espresso or latte? Central Blends not only serves up some of the best coffee in the city, but their morning muffins are to die for.  Try the cranberry oatmeal, my favourite.

If seeking some shopping and a little bartering with the locals, the Sunday morning flea market at the Hillhurst community centre is just the ticket. 

 

Central  Blends has a wonderful tropical feel. It is not hard to imagine this being next to a beach in Mexico.  

So who needs Bermuda, Barbados or Bahamas when you have so many vacation-like things to see and do in and around the Bowview Pool.  If only our summers came earlier and lasted longer. 

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Grassi Lakes Trail Treasure Hunting

By Richard White, September 2, 2013

Today we did something we don't do very often - we hiked in the mountains. For us hiking is almost always in the city, the closest we get to nature normally is walking along the Bow River near our house or maybe we might venture to Glenmore Reservoir for a walk with friends.  

However, an invite from friends to come out to Canmore for our regular first Sunday dinner and hike the next day was something we couldn't refuse. 

After a hearty breakfast, a couple of cups of coffee, water bottle filled and sandwiches made we headed out and were on the trail by 10 am.  Lucky for us as who knew how busy the trail would get by noon hour.  

 

No we didn't climb this mountain but we found people who were climbing up rock faces like this one.  It was a beautiful day in Rockies. 

Grassi Lakes was designated as one of Alberta's Special Places in 2000.  It is named after Lawrence Grassi who emigrated to Canmore in 1912.  While he worked in the coal minds his real love was mountain climbing.  He is said to have been the first person to climb Mount Assiniboine in 1925.  He was an avid trail builder, moving huge stones single-handley to construct steps, bridges or simple stepping stones.  Grassi Lake trail is his signature mountain trail and evidence of his work can be found in several places along the trail. 

A view of the trail and one of the rustic benches along the way.  It is hard to imagine how Lawrence Grassi could have envision a trail up to the lakes through the virgin forrest a 100 years ago. Let alone build it! 

Grassi Lakes trail is a moderate walk with a 250 meter elevation gain and a round trip of 3.8 km.  Along the route you get to enjoy spectacular views of the Bow River valley at Canmore and the Canadian Rockies.  At the top are two colourful crystal clear lakes which make a great place for a picnic.  

The rock cliffs surrounding the upper lake is a very popular spot for rock climbing which is fun and amazing to watch. A short scramble above the upper lake takes you to a short canyon hike and  a very close look at two genuine petroglyphs on a large boulder.   

I have to admit you don't get this kind of scenery or animation walking along the Bow River.    

 

 

A view of the lower lake takes your breath away. It is magical, surreal and enchanting all at the same time. You can see why this was named an Alberta Special Place in 2000.  What took them so long? 

A postcard view of the upper Grassi Lake with its crystal clear aquamarine colour water.  Yes it looks surreal. 

A group of rock climbers at the upper Grassi Lake.  This was just one of about five or six groups showing off their death defying skills. 

The start of the trail up the canyon to the top. 

This is the better of the two petroglyph images.  There was lots of speculation about how it got there and who did it by the people looking at it.  To me it looks like a drum dancer. 

We were lucky we got to top before the lunch crowd as the trail was extremely busy as we descended.  People and dogs of all shapes and sizes where heading up as we headed down. On the way up I had identified a piece of weathered wood that I thought would make a great addition for the garden back home.  I don't think my hiking companions thought I would carry it out - wrong. I knew where it was and I knew how to carry it out.  I got lots of funny looks and comments as I headed down with the wood wrapped around my head, but it was worth it.  I have to have a great souvenir of the day.  I love to get a souvenir from each and every trip we take. I am addicted to the "thrill of the hunt."  

Yes this is me carrying my piece of wood down the trail to take home for our garden.  Who could pass up a treasure like this one?

As part of the climb we got very close to this waterfall and there are several places where you have to cross small streams / waterfalls.  For a moderate walk, easy climb Grassi Lakes has a lot to offer.   

This photo gives you a sense of the wonderful vistas you get of the town of Canmore, the  mountains and the valley along the trail.  

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Calgary's Newest Urban Village?

BH wrote:

Richard. I’m pleased to see that someone is interested in and writing about urban villages. They do contribute to the quality of life at the neighborhood or community scale. Yet so  much of planning is focused on other  issues , residential land uses, parking, density, development charges, growth management etc. I’m not sure planners or developers  really understand what makes an urban village successful. While planners and architects  may have drawn some pretty pictures of streetscapes, they have not really studied how urban villages developed, and how they survive.

The City of Victoria has some excellent examples of urban villages, particularly in the older areas-Cook Street, Oak Bay Village, James Bay, Cadboro Bay Village, as well as locations for big box retail in the Greater Victoria area. The ingredients are small scale, service businesses-usually a restaurant or pub, coffee shop, food and flowers, bank, pharmacy, wine store, etc. Contrary to popular belief, while they are surrounded by residential development it is not high density. Indeed the infrastructure required for high density development-major streets, parking structures, security etc, would probably overwhelm their profile , compromise their image, and frustrate their success. The City of Victoria Official Community Plan has a focus on encouraging and supporting urban villages and town centers. (Growth Management is not a major concern for the city).

The blog originally appeared in the Calgary Herald's Neighbours publication on August 29, 2013 as part of a series of community profiles.  Some of the text has been changed and additional images have been added. 

I’m guessing you don’t know where Shouldice Terrace is; I didn’t - until I did some digging into the history of Montgomery and uncovered that that was Montgomery’s original name.  The “Terrace” part of the name makes sense given the entire community is built on the south facing Bow River escarpment.  The gradual slope offers almost everyone in the community a view of the majestic Douglas fir tree forest (the most eastern stand in Canada, with some being over 400 years old) on the other side of the Bow.

The “Shouldice” part comes from James Shouldice who purchased 470 acres west of the Calgary city limits in 1906 so he could farm. After farming he land until his death in 1925, the land was slowly developed as its own town. Fifteen years before he died, he donated 100 acres along the Bow River for a park (land today that would be worth multi-millions of dollars for condo development), obviously thinking that someday Calgary would grow and need more park space. 

A view from the north side of Montgomery looking across to the stand of Douglas Fir trees.  

Montgomery's Main Street with new condo development, just one of the many new infill projects that will transform this community into an attractive inner-city urban village. 

But why the name change to Montgomery? In 1943, the post office had an issue with the name as there was also a town in Alberta called Shouldice (it still exists today, as a hamlet about 85 km SE of Calgary). They requested a name change to prevent confusion.  Montgomery was subsequently chosen to celebrate Bernard Law Montgomery of Alamein a celebrated Great Britain military leader who played an important role in WWI and WWII.  Montgomery annexed into the City of Calgary in 1963, is celebrating its 50 anniversary this year.

Today, Montgomery’s boundaries are Shaganappi Trail to the east; 32nd Avenue and Market Mall to the north and Bow River to the south and west.  Like many older inner city communities, it has seen its ups and downs, but today it is on an up swing! It is one of the city’s top 10 infill communities with numerous new houses and condos being built.  It is also home to Calgary’s newest Business Revitalization Zone, an indication that local businesses are working together to create a sense of place and a brand for the community.  Montgomery’s population rose to 3,860 people in 2012, a 4.7% increase compared to 2011, an increase twice the city’s average. A very healthy sign!

Montgomery's new town square.  It is a modest beginning, but this space could become a wonderful pocket park. 

Shouldice Athletic Park consists of several football, soccer and baseball fields.  It is used by people from across the city. 

Montgomery is the gateway into Calgary as you drive in from the west on the TransCanada Highway. It is here you see the funky Alberta Children’s Hospital on the bluff, the cluster of new buildings at Foothills Medical Centre and your first good look at downtown’s shiny skyline.  It is not surprising then that Montgomery has its own motel village along the TransCanada highway, as mid-century travellers would have been looking for a place to stay as soon as they entered the city.

Montgomery has some of the best recreation facilities of any community in the city with Shouldice Park offering football, baseball and soccer fields, a batting cage, tennis courts, indoor pool and a wonderful picnic area on the Bow River.  It also has its own shopping center anchored by a Safeway grocery store – Bridgeland, Inglewood and East Village can’t match that.  And then there is Market Mall, its neighbour to the north.  From a shopper’s perspective, it doesn’t get much better. From an employment perspective Montgomertonians can walk, cycle or drive in minutes to two hospital complexes, the University of Calgary and downtown.

Looking at the community’s demographic it’s clear to see Montgomery is in transition.  Seniors over 75 make up 11.2 percent of the population, almost 3 times the city average of 4.3%; this it the result of several seniors’ lodges in the community.  At the same time, 26.7% of the population is between 20 and 34 years old (vs. Calgary’s 24% average). This is a very healthy sign as they are the one’s who will give the community the energy and investment needed to transform it into a 21st century urban village.  

Notable is one of Calgary's premier restaurants and the fact that it is located on Montgomery's Main Street is a testimony that the community is becoming more trendy. 

This is Montgomery's Safeway mall, but I decided to use this image as it speaks to the smaller mom and pop shops that are indicative of an urban village i.e. a sushi bar, liquor store, Donair shop, Loonie Store and Massage Therapy.  Around the corner is a Vietnamese Sub shop and hair salon. The mall also has the neighbourhood pub.  

One of the young newcomers to Montgomery is Kristina Groves, former Olympic speedskating medalist and now a University of Calgary grad student who, is in the process of building a small, affordable, sustainable home on a “tear down” lot she purchased.  “I love the charm and character of the community. It has history, is affordable and is located close to both the Oval and Canada Olympic Park,” exclaims Groves.  She also notes that several other current and former Olympians are living in Montgomery.  Hmmm….maybe the name should be changed to “Olympic Village?”

Montgomery, like Bowness has its own Main Street, currently experiencing signs of beautification with new banners, a pocket park and the recently completed four-storey condo building with retail at the street. Montgomery is home to over 100 businesses including its own lumberyard (Timbertown), its own boat dealer (Hyperactive Watersports – what a great name – in 2010 it was the largest Tige Boat dealer on the planet) and one of Calgary’s top restaurants (Notable).

Montgomery has all of the ingredients to become one of the city’s top ten inner-city communities in the not too distant future.  

 

 

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