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!

Park #8: Eau Claire Plaza

Date visited: August 21, 2021, September 24, 2021

Location: Downtown Calgary

Best Time of Year To Visit: Any time there’s foliage.

Eau Claire Plaza was right next to Prince’s Island Park. By default, we knocked off two parks at once when we went to Prince’s Island Park. Even so, I knew I HAD to see Eau Claire Plaza again when the foliage started turning. I was sure that I would be missing out if I didn’t and I was right! The photos here are mainly from my visit on September 24 instead of August 21.

I’m only going to say this once. For those of you who don’t know my name, yes, it’s Claire and yes, you can make “Oh Claire” jokes in the comments! Bring it on!

Claire in Eau Claire. Okay, this is SUPER cheesy!

Autumn Porn:

I went nuts with my camera because the trees were GORGEOUS!

Trees with a city background:

There was a garden there which was still looking beautiful. I wonder how it will look in spring?

The park continues onto a river walk, which I didn’t take this time, but it’s good to leave some things for later!

Some Nice Buildings at Eau Claire:

Eau Claire is a nice place to shop and it’s got some nice buildings that make you feel stuck in time. It’s right next to Chinatown too.

Additionally, Happy Earth Day! I thought this was a good post to choose for Earth Day!

Challenges:

I would say that it’s good to know when the Plaza gets busy, and be careful of cyclists. The Peace Bridge makes for some heavy foot and bike traffic.

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!

Park #7: Prince’s Island Park

Date visited: August 21, 2021

Location: Downtown Calgary

Best Time of Year To Visit: This was a good time to go because everything was in bloom, but I do think it’s a good choice for winter or any time the Bow River isn’t high.

Wow! This post is LOOOOONG overdue! This park was kind of selected randomly. Originally, we planned to take a walk through the centre of Calgary on this walkway called the Plus 15. I will do a post on that in the future. It didn’t work out, but we were near Eau Claire, so we decided to check out the area, including Prince’s Island Park (say that three times really fast!). I will say more about Eau Claire later. There were so many trees that I knew I had to go back when the leaves started changing. Plus, there is a park there called Eau Claire Plaza, so that’s another post.

Bridges in the Area:

Peace Bridge:

This was my first time crossing Calgary’s iconic Peace Bridge! I have seen many photos of it, and this cool video a cyclist did with a GoPro Max. So after 10 months living in Calgary, I was DYING to go on the Peace Bridge for myself! I love how there are pedestrian lanes and cycle lanes on it. By the way, don’t look up for too long. You’ll start to think you’re high! Another name for the Peace Bridge is the Finger Trap Bridge because it looks like a finger trap.

Jaipur Bridge:

I thought at first this was a new bridge because of all the construction, but no. It’s being rebuilt because the last one had some structural problems. It’s due to be completed soon, but who knows if I will still see it in its full glory before I move.

Jaipur is one of Calgary’s sister cities and I think it’s quite a touching thing to build a bridge in honour of sister city relations and commemorate what the cities did for each other. You can read more about rebuilding the Jaipur Bridge and the history between Calgary and Jaipur as sister cities here.

Onto Prince’s Island Park:

You would think by now I could pronounce it correctly, but no. I recently went to Eau Claire and I saw a street construction sign that spelled it, Princess Island Park. Glad I’m not the only one who has problems with it!

The air felt particularly fresh with this park since it’s on the river. Summer is clearly the best time to see it in full bloom! I love the balance of city views and river views! It’s a great place for kids and events. There was a stage there, which I figured was used for concerts before the pandemic.

The Sculpture Garden:

Just when I thought this couldn’t get any better, there was a sculpture garden! The first four photos here are pictures made out of marbles. I find that works beautifully with the feather, the fishtail and the dragonfly wings because those are naturally iridescent. I’m not entirely sure if the marbles work for the flower though. I sent the photo of the trilobite to my Dad. He’s so into fossils!

I had descriptions of the other sculptures, but I lost them! So, if you want to know what the other sculptures are, I say, go see them!

Challenges:

Prince’s Island Park is hard to pronounce correctly! Haha! Okay, I’ll stop joking around.

The bridges getting to Prince’s Island were a little weird. I can’t wait until the Jaipur Bridge is complete. Additionally, my Mum found it difficult to navigate the more hilly parts of the park with her mobility issues.

If you end up there at a busy time, save the visit for later. It was semi-busy but manageable. Also, beware of homeless people hanging out there. They are a more common sight than at the other parks I have been to (so far).

Additionally, I had to use the public washroom at the park. This was the first one I had used since 2019. Let’s just say it wasn’t the most hygienic place. I recommend not forgetting your hand sanitizer.

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!

Park #6: Lindsay Park and River Walk

Date visited: August 9, and August 12, 2021

Location: SE Calgary. Or SW? I’m confused about that!

Best Time of Year To Visit: Any time of year.

This park wasn’t selected randomly. I was in the area twice within a few days of each other, so I decided to stop by the park.

Note: I’m reposting this. I had some technical issues with posting it last time.

Park Features and Highlights:

No matter how you enter the park, you can’t do it without seeing the Elbow River. Whether you cross the bridge or enter by this river path, you can’t avoid the river. It’s lovely though, so I don’t care!

There’s an area where you can get closer to the river and other areas with benches overlooking the river. It’s a great way to relax if you have walked a lot. There are spaces to go wading in the river (if that’s what you’re into). I tried wading when I was there, and it’s getting to be that time of year when the water goes from refreshing to cold!

There is a gym near the park, which is a cool look. You can work out and then chill in the park afterwards. Additionally, there is a playground for kids and picnic tables nearby.

The bridges are even cooler! You get some great views of the city on the bridges, especially in the summer because clearly, the greenery is blocking the city!

Park Surrounding Area:

The area nearby is known as the Mission district. It was initially settled by French missionaries. If you look closely, you can see signs of its French history. For instance, the street signs say what the original names of the streets were and those original names are all French! There are more clues to look out for as well. It’s one of the most vibrant areas I have seen in Calgary! There are lots of local businesses on 4th St SW, and the Beltline Murals are there on 17th Ave SW. I will do a post about the Beltline Murals someday. It’s a great place to get together with people and try different foods!

Additionally, the Calgary Stampede takes place nearby. I don’t know whether Stampeders go to the park to chill out, but I hope they do!

Challenges. What Challenges?:

This is the most accessible park ever! Yes, there are dips and hills, especially around the bridges, but overall, it’s a wonderful place for everyone to enjoy!

One Last Thing:

I have been rather busy of late because I am applying for permanent residence and starting a business. I am still visiting parks when it’s not smoky, but I don’t have much time to post about them. Additionally, I might not comment on your posts as often either, but it doesn’t mean I haven’t read them. Thanks for reading!

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!

Park #5: Bowmont Park

Date visited: July 14, 2021

Location: NW Calgary

Best Time of Year To Visit: This looks like a good year-round park.

This park wasn’t selected randomly. We were in the area, so we decided to check out this park. I think this park was near the outskirts of the city. We had to go pretty far out to get there. Additionally, we heard the Snowbirds were going to fly over Calgary. For those of you who don’t know, the Snowbirds are the air stunt team for the Royal Canadian Air Force. You can read more about them here. At first, I thought it was for the Calgary Stampede. I found out later that it was to honour healthcare workers, so the flight path went over certain hospitals. Did we see them? Read on to find out.

Park Features and Highlights:

Bowmont Park is yet another park that is next to the Bow River. I love the number of bridges around, especially when a train went over one of them. There’s another park across the river called Bowness Park. It’s one of the gems of Calgary, which I hope to see before the summer is over. We also managed to see traces of beaver life nearby. There was a tree that was clearly chewed by a beaver and we saw evidence of a new beaver dam, but no beavers this time! I still haven’t seen one yet, but that’s okay. Some of the trails allow dogs off the leash, which is pretty cool. The trails have a lot of shade from trees and you can find spaces overlooking the river. It’s a great place to cycle at too.

We arrived at the park at the start of the hour where the Snowbirds were expected to fly over. We heard helicopters flying over and thought there were checking the airspace. Later, we found out it was to monitor the air quality. You know how when you’re anticipating something and you keep your eyes and ears peeled and wonder about whether you’re going to miss it? We had that because we thought we should have made an effort to be near the Stampede safely that day, so we had more chance of seeing the Snowbirds.

And Then…

We stayed near the river as long as we could and then decided to carry on walking. We figured we might not see the Snowbirds, but I still kept my ears peeled. Suddenly, I heard the roar of an airplane that was not a passenger jet! We looked towards the river and we saw the Snowbirds in the distance! We waited to see if they would turn around. They did and flew directly over the trail we were on! It was too fast for me to catch a photo. But also, I wanted to enjoy the moment without worrying about a good photo. The Snowbirds were in a maple leaf formation, and the angle was such that we couldn’t see all the planes. I saluted as they flew over!

Other people on the trail were just as excited as we were to see them. I loved feeling this calm Canadian pride and patriotism that I have noticed is common here. I have had the pleasure of seeing other Air Force stunt teams like the Red Arrows during London 2012 and the Blue Angels flying into San Francisco for an airshow. But none of those experiences compared to seeing the Snowbirds fly over where I was standing! I admit I do have some qualms about militaries in general, but I have to admit the stunt teams are cool! Third Culture Kid, Third Culture views of Air Force stunt teams! Anyway, back to the park.

Some Challenges:

I found that sometimes the trails separate from the main trail were a little confusing. Plus, there were A LOT of biting insects! I recommend insect repellant for this park. Also, it was kind of weird trying to enter the park. There was a bridge over the river, but for a while, we weren’t sure whether we were supposed to cross it. Plus, there was only one way to walk across the bridge, and we had to find a way to get to that path. Eventually, we got there, but it was super weird. When we got to one end of the park, it was clear there was some sewage treatment going on and it wasn’t pleasant.

If you see this, you’re in the sewage treatment area

I have been taking a little break from going to parks because of the amount of smoke that’s been in Calgary. There’s nothing like wildfire smoke to ruin a park experience, and it’s rather unpleasant to be out anyway. Whenever it clears, I will go to a new park.

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!