NO PART OF THE FOLLOWING
ARTICLE AND PHOTOGRAPHS
MAY BE REPRODUCED WITHOUT
PERMISSION FROM THE AUTHOR ©
This park was owned by The City of Calgary and operated by its Street Railway Department, making it a trolley park, that is, one used to promote trolley business during off-peak times. It was located about 12 kilometres from downtown Calgary along Bowness Road.
There is little on its early days yet, but tram service went to the park by the 1910s. A 1920s postcard (below) shows waterways, and paths with bridges beside a boat canal.
A Herschell-Spillman carousel, built in 1904, was installed in the park in 1919 or 1920. It was a 3-row unit with 36 jumping horses and 4 chariots. Some horses also apparently rocked. This unit had come from Winnipeg Beach Park and would stay at Bowness until 1969. It currently resides at Heritage Park in Calgary.
A swimming pool and picnicking are also alluded to for the early days. By the 1940s, a directory lists a dance pavilion, swimming & picnic facilities, boat rentals, miniature golf, a refreshment stand, and one ride (likely the carousel).
It's unknown what caused the park to decline or exactly when that happened, but likely when the park began to fall out of favour, the city revamped it as a recreational day park. A likely time would be 1969, as that's when the carousel was removed.
Today, Bowness is run mostly as a nature park by Calgary's Parks and Recreation Department. It is open year round and in the warm months features boating, children's rides, miniature golf, and picnicking. In winter, cross-country skiing and ice-skating are available.
Dave Price of Calgary says although the park is somewhat run down, it has a snack bar, a miniature golf course, 2 old kiddie carousels - one shaped like rocket ships (possibly a Herschell unit) and he thinks the other is an animal carousel. It also includes an "Astro Jumper" and a scaled version riding railway train & track that apparently extends for about one kilometre. They have non-motorized boats and canoes available for rent.
Anna Ennis has contributed an update: "The Wisconson Train miniature railway is running again, the concessions have been renovated, and the lagoon was dredged and manicured. The park is looking great and the City of Calgary is spending money on it. The "Rocket Flyers" are indeed a Hershell designed and installed ride, and the miniature golf course still uses some Hershell-supplied obstacles. Did anyone know Hershell supplied miniature golf courses in 1948?"
Return to the
Closed Canadian Parks Index