An urban oasis north of downtown Calgary, Prince's Island Park on the Bow River is one of the city's most popular green spaces and a personal favourite of mine. Never crowded, except during a festival, the park provides somewhere for families to play, city workers to de-stress, joggers and bikers to explore, and residents to sit and watch the world go by.
As well as plenty of wide open grassy spaces, trees and some landscaped areas, the park includes a lagoon inhabited by large numbers of Canada geese and ducks, a children's swing park, the fine dining River Café Restaurant and a constructed wetlands area and interpretive trail at the east end of the island. There is also a sculpture walk in the same area, featuring art works by Enzo DiPalma, Ben Mcleod, Katie Ohe and Stanislaw Wyspianski.
Children's playground at Prince's Island Park, Calgary
I am a frequent visitor, cycling through the park on the way to downtown, jogging around the pathways, sitting at one of the picnic tables to eat my lunch in the sunshine or reading a book on one of the park benches.
Accessed by three foot bridges on the southern, city-side and one on the north side, the 20 hectare park is home to a number of events in the summer months, including the Calgary Folk
During the winter months skating on the lagoon is possible if it freezes over and cross-country skiing when there is snow cover in the park's open spaces.
The Park was named after Peter Anthony Prince, founder of the Eau Claire Lumber Mill, who created the island in 1886 when he dug a channel (now the lagoon) to allow logs from the Kananaskis region, west of Calgary, to travel more easily downstream to his sawmill. A few years later, Prince formed the Calgary Water Power Company to supply the city with electric streetlights, initially using steam generators fuelled by sawdust. He then built Calgary's first hydro-electric plant at the east end of the lagoon.
After Prince's death and following the demise of the mill in 1944, the City acquired the land and developed it as a public park in the 1950s.
Whether you're visiting Calgary, looking for somewhere to go on the weekend or disembarking nearby from a Lazy Day Raft trip on the Bow River, drop into Prince's Island Park for a visit - you won't be disappointed .