Good Wednesday everyone. The long weekend (July 1st – Canada Day) is coming, the sun is shining and the hail stones have all dried up! So, it’s a great day.
Bowness Park is our playground – especially for those of us who are fortunate enough to live close by. It is an unexpected and glorious demonstration of nature, an oasis on the banks of the Bow River. In the book, Bowness Our Village in the Valley, the Park was widely known as “the best feature” of the historic Village of Bowness. As native Calgarians know, Bowness was amalgamated into the City of Calgary in 1964.
My Dad was reminiscing the other day about the late 50’s and 60’s. As he tells it, our family used to “live at Bowness Park” despite the fact that we actually lived in the neighbourhood of Hillhurst. In those days, the park was filled with delightful amusement rides for children – a carousel with big horses, a caterpillar ride that went round and round and a mid-sized Ferris wheel that felt gigantic to me as a young child. The best ride though, hands down, was the Train….little cars that toured the park on the little train tracks that any kid would love to climb aboard. Great days and so much fun.
The little boat ride was exciting too. I fondly remember fighting off my brothers so that I could steer with my right hand and drag my left hand in the water!
Swimmers flocked to the Park in the summer time to swim in the massive pool. I personally have no memories of the pool. Dad tells me that two people lost their lives swimming in that pool via electrocution. I’ve always thought that was just an urban legend, but I was wrong.
I came across a document online entitled Memories of Growing Up in Bowness by Linda Mikkelsen Price. In the memoir, she shares “On hot summer days, the place to be was Bowness Park and the swimming pool. The pool had a huge sandy bottom and a wooden deck, two diving boards, slide, stationery raft, movable raft and a water wheel. My siblings and I were not allowed to go to the pool or park on weekends because Mom did not like all the strangers from Calgary that hung around. (*I would have been one of those strangers!) Maybe that rule saved my life. It was a Sunday when two people were electrocuted in the pool under the slide. I still remember hearing the wail of the ambulance and fire engine sirens”.
The 2013 flood in Calgary permanently changed the landscrape of Bowness Park. The banks of the Bow spilled over devastating much of the Park, and water streamed unabated into all the neighbouring backyards. Standing on the sidewalk watching the water furiously cascade onto the streets was a frightening sight that I hope I never see again.
It’s 2016 and Bowness Park has been renewed, restored and rejuvenated. It’s original beauty and charm may not be evident, but the Park itself feels pristine and new and quite wonderful.
Geese and ducks heartily populate the lagoon. One thing I didn’t know was that geese hide in the tall grass when the temperature rises.
Bowness Park is an enticing backdrop for quilt photography, my new found passion. I’m excited to share with you, photos of a few quilts made by my excellent friend and fellow quilter, Marilyn Wickenheiser. Marilyn and I have been friends since her eldest daughter was 12 years old – for 26 years now. When I was the editor of our neighbourhood newsletter in Silver Springs, Marilyn came to me with an idea of advertising for and beginning a girls hockey team. Although I love everything athletic, I was inwardly sceptical and initially scoffed at Marilyn’s idea. But bless her heart, she persevered, the advertisement went into the newsletter and the rest became history. Who knew….girls liked playing hockey too! Marilyn went on to play a huge role in the launching and development of Girls Hockey Calgary.
Marilyn’s quilt is entirely handmade, including the crochet edging. It is extremely heavy and oh so cozy. (What I’ve recently come to understand about autism and weighted blankets, this quilt would be just perfect) It is called a “promise quilt”…there is no pattern for the quilt, nor are there any written instructions. The “promise” part comes from the maker promising not to write out instructions for others, but to pass on the how-to’s to other quilters verbally.
Kate’s Chenille Quilt by Chi Chi Designs in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan is the inspiration behind Marilyn’s exquisite chenille quilt. I’ve never made chenille from scratch, but Marilyn has and the results are beautiful.
In Marilyn’s huge stack of finished quilts, this quilt top immediately caught my eye. I love the colourful fabrics – it reminds me of a child’s quilt. The pattern for the top is Triple Dash from ModaBakeshop 2014. Marilyn used only scraps to make this delish and charming quilt top. No new fabrics required!
Quilts of Marilyn’s along with My Zen Garden, piled in front of the fire pit on the brand spanking new deck in front of the not-yet-opened Cafe adjacent to the lagoon at the Park. My Zen Garden lies beside a commemmorative plaque on one of the decks’ wooden benches.
The playground is new, the walking/biking path is new and there are new train tracks that run along the river banks. Yes, the little kids’ train is still running, the massive poplar trees are still shading Park visitors and the beauty is intact.
Have a lovely long weekend. Next Wednesday – My Zen Garden quilt pattern.
Historical Bowness Park photos from the book entitled Bowness, Our Village in the Valley, published by the Bowness Historical Society.