Built before the First World War by John Hextall, Bowness Park was originally used as a weekend retreat for nearby Calgarians. After Hextall gifted the park to The City in 1911, the island was turned into a picnic and recreation area complete with swimming pool, refreshment centre, dance hall and boating lagoon. Regular street car service provided transportation to the park from downtown.
All features of the park were popular, but two made family outings especially memorable: the merry-go-round and the music piped in through an orthophonic device. The merry-go-round was purchased in Winnipeg and now resides at Heritage Park. The orthophonic was a small structure located in the centre of the lagoon. Gaping caverns on three sides contained loud speakers while inside was a phonograph. The park attendant would row out to change the record, a 78, to keep the music playing.
These memories are cherished by many Calgarians as evidenced in public engagement sessions hosted by The City in 2008 to hear what citizens waned for the redevelopment of the park. They said celebrate its history while meeting current needs. We listened. We heard. And now we’re responding.
The $10.5 million redevelopment project recently announced by The City ensures the historical significance of Bowness Park is preserved as modern and up-to-date amenities are installed. The careful balance of old and new assures families will continue to enjoy Bowness Park for generations to come.
The redevelopment is made possible by the community investment fund ($10.1 million) with additional monies from the existing Enmax Legacy Fund ($327,000). Bowness Park is the first of many exciting community investment projects The City will undertake over the next five years through the community investment fund.
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