Downtown Parks (Part 1 of 2)

  • Parking: Street Parking (metered 9:00-5:00 Monday - Saturday)
  • Washrooms: None
  • The grounds of the Lougheed House are aptly named
    Beaulieu Gardens, which means "Beautiful Place".
  • Paved Paths and Sidewalks
Pockets of Peace

Downtown Calgary is a loud and busy place, congested by traffic,  hurried pedestrians and the noise of never-ending construction.  But I've often been fascinated by glimpses of flowers, sculptures and water features as I hurry through by car or train, so today I decided to get out of the vehicle and take a look.  I went to the City of Calgary Parks website to plan my route and was shocked to find a list of eighteen official parks in the downtown core, not to mention the countless plazas and courtyards tucked between the office towers.  I had no idea there was so much green space in the concrete and steel center of our city!

East facade of the Lougheed House.

I started at the south edge of downtown at the grounds of the Lougheed House (707 13 Ave SW), a beautiful sandstone mansion built in 1891, and now designated as a national and provincial historic site.  The 2.8 acre grounds are enclosed by an ornate white balustrade and contain a series of themed gardens throughout its tiered lawns.  The building itself is open for tours by costumed interpreters, and houses a restaurant in the back.

Water cascades over brutalist structures . . . 
From there I walked east and north to Century Gardens (826 8 Ave SW), an odd juxtaposition of the classic "lawn and tree park" with a stark concrete water feature designed in the "brutalist" style. Waterfalls cascade over large, aggressive shapes piled high above the people below, symbolising Alberta's rivers and mountains, and finally winding their way along a short creek to rest in a reflecting pool in the center of the park.  Although smaller than a city block, this little enclave is filled with even more surprising details, including a log retaining wall and several sculptures. 
. . . and flows into the central pond of Century Park.

These downtown oases offer a welcome respite from the hustle and bustle of downtown life.  But space is at a premium in the core, so each one is jam-packed with it's own unique features.  

In fact, these tiny parks have so much to offer, I couldn't fit them all into one post.  So stay tuned for one more park, and some of the interesting quirks I discovered while walking between them.

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