Bow Valley Ranch, Fish Creek Park (Calgary, AB)

The weather is kind of cooperating here in Alberta, so I decided to go on an outing with Gunnar. He has been addicted to riding his strider bike lately, so I wanted a place where he could “run free” without fear of vehicles and such. So I decided to go to Fish Creek Park in Calgary. It is a short drive from our current residence and there are so many pathways and fields where Gunnar could ride his bike. 

One of my favourite areas of Fish Creek is where Bow Valley Ranch is located. I had the opportunity to hold an archaeological permit by Bow Valley Ranch after the 2013 Flood in Southern Alberta. It was only a monitoring permit as the work being done was already in the existing utilities corridor. But since it was so close to a historical resource, the regulators wanted to ensure that nothing would be impacted. 

Bow Valley Ranch was first settled by Europeans in the 1870s by John Glenn, who farmed the area. He built barns, set up an irrigation system (the first in Alberta), and cleared 9 acres for farmland. The Ranch was purchased by the Alberta government to become an instructional farm, but after a few years, the program was phase out, and the property sold to William Roper Hull and his brother John in 1884. Numerous improvements were made to the property, including the brick farmhouse. In 1902, Patrick Burns, purchased Bow Valley Ranch, and saw the importance of conservation. He built fences around groves of trees, protecting them from cattle and clearing. The Ranch stayed in the Burns family until 1970, when it was leased to a Calgary stockbroker. Through the work of the provincial government, 1400 acres of the ranch was bought. In 1975, Peter Lougheed declared that the area was now part of Fish Creek Park.

The brick farmhouse has now been converted into the Bow Valley Ranche Restaurant. While I have not had the pleasure to dine there, it is on my list! 

Another house that was for the farmhands, was moved next to the restaurant, and is now Annie’s Cafe. Again, I have not been into the cafe, I will make a point to get there next time as it was not open for the season yet.

Numerous outbuildings are still on the property, and Gunnar had a great time riding his bike around them.

There is also an Information Centre run by Alberta Parks, so that visitors can get information on the trails, day use areas, and the Ranch. This area is worth visiting as there are plenty of family friendly activities!

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