Parks #10: Sue Higgins Park

Date visited: October 7, 2021

Location: SE Calgary

Best Time of Year To Visit: Any time, especially for dogs!

Arriving at the Park:

I particularly wanted to mention how we got to Sue Higgins Park. We were walking along Blackfoot Trail. The intersection between Blackfoot Trail and Deerfoot Trail is near the park, and it was a trip down memory lane. When we arrived in Calgary, we took Uber from the airport and drove through this intersection. I mean, rolling prairie with a city view? What’s not to like?

A Note About the Trails:

If you see any street feature that ends in “trail” in Calgary, you can pretty much guarantee it’s going to be either a main road or a freeway. The freeway trails are the intersection between the suburbs and the city and you can use them to connect to freeways that lead to other parts of Canada.

Deerfoot Trail is the butt of everyone’s jokes!

Crusty Like Rush Hour on Deerfoot

I have found many more jokes like that on Reddit and social media!

Although, there are common warnings about safety on Deerfoot. Revisiting this intersection between Blackfoot and Deerfoot affirmed to me that it’s challenging to drive in this area. I still haven’t driven in Calgary yet, but I’m going to get my bearings in the city first before I attempt the trails!

Another thing I wanted to mention is the trails are an indicator that Calgary is an oil and gas town. Oil and gas industries deliberately put transportation infrastructure in areas where do most of their work. It’s good quality infrastructure, but with population growth, it doesn’t seem to have kept up with the times. I have heard so much about accidents on the trails and complaints of traffic that reminded me a lot of California. The same thought pops into my head about both places, which is, “Isn’t it time for an update here?” I am wondering with the shift to working from home more often if changes will happen.

Anyway, back to Sue Higgins Park!

THE Park to Take Your Dog!:

Dogs react to their living areas in a certain way. You cannot get Calgary dogs out of the water! They LOVE the rivers! Plus, they have a certain spring in their step if they have been in the water. If it weren’t for the wet coat, you would know a Calgary dog has just been in the river. In general, Calgary is a dog-friendly city. Cities are just as stressful for dogs as they are for people and it’s nice to see dogs more relaxed in the city.

There are on-leash and off-leash areas in this park. I couldn’t believe how the off-leash areas had more than enough space for large dogs to run.

River Fun!:

The Bow River is right next to the park. Nothing indicates that better than a dog that just came out of the river with that look on its face.

It’s nice to have a bridge over the river, but there are these trails in the park where it’s easy to take your dog down to the river.

  • Sue Higgins Park
  • Sue Higgins Park

Challenges:

Keep an eye out for wild animals, especially if you have a dog! There are signs up reminding you to exercise caution. After all, we are guests on wild animals’ territory.

If you miss any of my future posts on my challenge or want to reread my past posts, you can go to my page Calgary Parks Challenge. You can also find more photos from the parks on my Instagram page here.

See you at the next park in my challenge!

From Monarchy to Republic

I’m going to assume you all know about Barbados removing the Queen as the head of state. It seems there is a ripple effect of Commonwealth countries in the Caribbean gaining independence from the English monarchy! Jamaica is the latest country to start the process of removing the Queen as its head of state. The latest news is that Jamaica plans to become a republic on its Independence Day this year, which is on August 6th. I am excited for them! I hope they become a republic after being a “constitutional” monarchy for 60 years and being subject to colonization and enslavement long before that. Even though it may take a lot longer, I do hope Jamaica and other countries that are demanding reparations from the monarchy will receive them.

Why Am I Putting Air Quotes Around Constitutional?:

I have learned from living in the UK that you can call the English Monarchy constitutional all you want. Newsflash: It doesn’t change anything. The monarchy has led to systemic inequality within the UK for almost 1,000 years and abroad for about 500 years. It’s been almost 1,000 years since the Normans invaded the UK in 1066. More than 80% of the wealth in the UK is still owned by the descendants of the Normans. They imposed the nobility and gentry system that still exists today. It didn’t just disappear with the Renaissance, the English Civil War, or the end of the British Empire. Its role today is far more subtle, but it’s there if you look harder. I believe in calling a spade a spade. If you put constitutional in front of monarchy, you’re putting lipstick on a pig.

On a Personal Note:

As you can probably tell from the flags in my display name and bio, I have a connection to Jamaica. I know what you’re thinking:

People’s Reaction when I say I have a connection to Jamaica

OMG Karen! You can’t just ask people why they are white!

Well, I am going to tell you part of the reason why I have a connection to Jamaica, but I won’t say everything. It’s not because I’m ashamed of it. It’s because there are others who could be impacted if I reveal the whole truth.

I grew up in an area outside London that had people from India, Pakistan, Africa (mainly Nigeria and Ghana) and the Caribbean (mainly Jamaica). My parents and I became quite close with Jamaicans, mainly because we were from a similar area of the world. We went to lots of Jamaican parties and participated in discussions of social issues with Jamaicans. I can honestly say Jamaicans are the most socially aware people I have ever met. I heard people’s firsthand stories of the Windrush Generation and moving to the UK because of the lack of jobs in Jamaica. Still, the ones who moved from Jamaica talked about how much they loved it and they taught their kids about their Jamaican heritage. Something else happened that had a significant impact on my life, and that’s where I will stop.

When I saw the 60 Reasons for Apologies and Reparations from Britain and its Royal Family, I was slow-clapping Jamaica. If you don’t know Jamaican history, the above link is a good starting point. Additionally, I am happy that word has gotten out about how Jamaicans have been treated in the UK and that has been included in the reasons.

And Now Kenya is Speaking Out:

When I was writing this post, I found out the Talai Clan in Kenya is petitioning Prince William for reparations. They were evicted from their land so that tea plantations could be grown. Seems like the ripple effect of demanding accountability is going beyond the Caribbean! Go Kenya!

Book Recommendation:

I would like to take the opportunity to give a shoutout to Rosaliene Bacchus from Three Worlds One Vision. She gave me a copy of her book The Twisted Circle during this time when I can’t afford to buy books. I have been slowly reading her book for a few months and absorbing the thoughtful writing that makes me feel like part of the story. Lately, I have been rereading the parts that are related to colonization because of Barbados and Jamaica standing up to the English Monarchy. If you want to learn more about colonization in the Caribbean, particularly in British Guiana, this is the book to read! It makes me recall my Jamaican friends’ stories with both fondness and sympathy.

Could Canada Become a Republic?:

When Barbados made the leap from a “constitutional” monarchy to a republic, there was a discussion on Reddit if Canada could do the same thing. The answer: not any time soon. In the past year, public opinion of the monarchy in Canada has become quite negative, especially after Harry and Megan’s interview. Although, here’s the problem. Canada’s constitution states that it must have a monarch. If they were to remove the Queen, approval of all provinces and territories is needed, which could take years. It’s tough to get provinces to agree on changing the constitution, to say the least. Let’s just say the monarchy has got its claws into Canada. It’s going to take a while to get them out.

It’s common to say here that it would be easier for the UK to remove the monarchy than for Canada to do so. I would say that’s true for Canada since it’s far away from the UK. However, getting rid of the monarchy there would cause serious upheaval in the UK. I’m going to write a post about what I have learned about the monarchy from living in the UK. What I am saying in this post is only the tip of the iceberg.

Will Reparations Happen?:

Truth: I don’t think it will happen any time soon. There’s still denial on the part of the Royal Family about the atrocities they committed. I do think if Barbados, Jamaica and Kenya keep up the pressure, it could happen. However, public opinion in the UK is that reparations aren’t needed for Commonwealth countries. On one side, the UK has a long way to go to even admitting racism and xenophobia are problems in their culture. The denial is rampant! Then again, anyone in the UK who is not nobility is also entitled to reparations after almost 1,000 years of Norman nobility and gentry keeping them “in their place”. I’ll say more about that later. The Royal Family have 1,000 years of oppression in their history. It’s time they owned up to it!

Even though it’s tiring for Commonwealth countries to demand reparations, I have a feeling that they will be more successful at it than people in the UK. There’s too much groupthink in the UK that’s led to racism and xenophobia, but I believe that can be traced back to the propaganda the monarchy created during the Age of Exploration. When you’re talking about an entire nation with a groupthink narrative embedded in the culture, it’s tough to kick it.

Let me know what your thoughts are in the comments! Go Barbados, Jamaica and Kenya! πŸ‡§πŸ‡§πŸ‡―πŸ‡²πŸ‡°πŸ‡ͺ

Park #9: Reader Rock Garden

Date visited: September 5, 2021

Location: SE Calgary (at least this one is clear!)

Best Time of Year To Visit: Any time there is greenery out, otherwise you just get rocks, bare deciduous trees, snow and ice. I don’t recommend going when the Calgary Stampede is on though. You won’t get any peace and quiet if you do.

What does Reader Rock Garden have to do with the Calgary Stampede? It’s right across the street from Stampede Park.

Reader Rock Garden

History:

This garden has an interesting history. If you can’t read the photo below, here’s a synopsis of it. William Reader was an English professional gardener and landscaper who turned Calgary into a green space. He experimented with 4000 different plant and flower species and designed gardens for important clients, such as the Prince of Wales. He also founded the Calgary Horticultural Society and the Calgary Vacant Lots Garden Club. The garden was left to deteriorate after his death, but then it was restored. All I can say is I’m sure glad it was restored!

Reader Rock Garden History

We didn’t go into William Reader’s house. We figured with COVID-19 it was safer not to do so. Plus, there was an event going on. Still, we got some lovely photos of the garden outside his house. I would love to see this garden when it’s blooming in the spring, but early autumn is still a lovely time to see this garden.

More From the Rock Garden:

This is where things get steep and slippery. There are advisories to wear proper footwear and go in small groups. Dogs are not permitted either. Trust me, that’s good for everyone. Even though things had been pretty dry for a while, it was still good to be attentive where I stepped. I was impressed my Mum was able to manage with her cane, but I’m glad we did this park early enough in our challenge so she could see it too.

Who else likes rock gardens that have little waterfalls and rock pools? Me too!

  • Little Waterfall
  • Rock Pool

I don’t know why I love seeing flowers growing among rocks. There’s something beautiful and special about it. Maybe it’s because rocks tend not to be associated with green living things. Then, when I do see green, living things next to rocks, it’s special!

  • Reader Rock Garden
  • Reader Rock Garden
  • Reader Rock Garden
  • Reader Rock Garden
  • Reader Rock Garden
  • Reader Rock Garden

It was a lovely, cool walk with great shade from the trees. Even though Reader Rock Garden is at the intersection of two main roads, you don’t hear the traffic too much. I still wouldn’t go visit it when the Calgary Stampede is on. I went near Stampede Park when the Stampede was on last year and there is a lot of noise! Garbage is a problem during the Stampede too. I don’t want to know if Reader Rock Garden gets trashed then.

Stampede Park:

I got some great views of Stampede Park from Reader Rock Garden. It’s a great way to view some of Calgary’s other iconic features as well.

There’s a reason why I got so many pictures of the Saddledome. It’s going to be torn down someday! NOOOOOOOOOO!!!!

I find it shocking because it’s a major part of Calgary’s iconic skyline. Any city can have skyscrapers or towers, even if they have a different look. When my Dad visited, he called Calgary Tower the Space Needle. I haven’t seen the Space Needle, but my point about towers still stands. Not all cities have a stadium that looks like a horse’s saddle! I hope the new stadium has a similar look, but right now, I don’t know if it will.

Usually, I am all for city skylines changing. Soon after I arrived in London, the Gherkin was born. The Shard and its hype happened before I left. Both of those were cool additions to the London skyline, even if some other feelings were going on.

I feel particularly hurt that the Saddledome is going to be gone someday. Sometimes, I feel that way when I’m new to a city and something iconic disappears. I feel like saying, “I just got here! Let me enjoy it!”

Anyway, sorry for going off on a tangent about unique city skylines.

One Last Feature:

The Union Cemetery is right next to Reader Rock Garden. A diverse group of people are buried there: Protestants, Catholics, Jews and Chinese. I have gone past the Chinese section, but haven’t walked around it. The cemetery includes war veterans from the two World Wars and the Boer War. I think that one needs a special invitation to go to that part. I noticed they do a ceremony on Remembrance Day as well. This is the one hill in Calgary I haven’t seen people go sledding on in the winter, but that’s okay. There are plenty of other good sledding spaces.

Challenges:

It’s not the most accessible park there is. It’s all on a hill. Make sure you also go on a dry day or the rocks get slippery. At least the garden in front of Reader’s house is pretty flat.

If you miss any of my future posts on my challenge or want to reread my past posts, you can go to my page Calgary Parks Challenge. You can also find more photos from the parks on my Instagram page here.

See you at the next park in my challenge!