Tuesday 6 August 2013


Yesterday I wrote a blog about a park in Calgary that should have had everything going for it, but because of poor planning, incompetence or just bad luck, it is a wasteland that will probably never meet its potential. Too bad!

Today I went to a park in Calgary that pushes all of the buttons and is a joy to go to for kids and adults alike. It is truly fun for the whole family. I am talking about Heritage Park.
Heritage Park Historical Village :: Home
It first opened its doors in 1964, on a shoe sting budget and staffed mainly by volunteers. Since then it has become an iconic part of Calgary and anyone visiting should make a point of spending a day here. It has something for everyone. Most large cities have a place like this, but Calgary's is truly remarkable. Trust me...

There is an operating steam locomotive and you can ride around the park on railcars that are 120 years old. There is a paddle wheeler, the S.S. Moyie that you can cruise on every 45 minutes or so. There is also a horse and wagon ride that circles the park and the drivers are fonts of information about all of the attractions. You can and do walk your feet off, but there are lots of benches in the shade to cool off.

It is first and foremost a historical park and there are working exhibits of all aspects of life in the Canadian prairie in years gone by. Look in on a dentist office from 100 years ago, doctors, livery stable, Post Office, Hotel, curling, fire station, farm, school house, private residence and really anything that you can think of. There are knowledgeable staff at all of these places that are dressed in period costume, more than willing to pass on what they know. There is even a class of students from a one room school house that I saw today. I would imagine that they are getting some kind of extra education during the summer at Heritage Park. Pretty cool stuff!

We went with Hurricane and Tornado, so our focus was less on history, architecture and the way of life back in the day, and more on rides, food and candy. There is an amusement area with rides from 50 to 100 years ago. We rode the Ferris Wheel, The Caterpillar, and the Whip, a Carousel, a large Swing like thing and even a two person boat swing. The boys had a ball and even though I turned a little green on the caterpillar, I had fun too. You buy a ride pass and all the rides including the trains, boat, horses and amusement rides are all included.

The food in the Wainwright Hotel was tasty and substantial with a kids menu of hot dogs and grilled cheese to fill little tummies. We went into one of the candy stores, and although I thought it a little expensive, the candy was good and there were no complaints. We passed on the ice cream shop, but many didn’t, and it looked like it would be worth the trip.

By the end of the day, a couple of us had trouble keeping our eyes open, but by the time we got to the car, Louise and I were OK. There were a lot of things that were left undone and I promised myself to return soon and spend the time wallowing in the past. A lot of what I wanted to see and do wouldn’t be fun for kids, so …next time.

Heritage Park is done well. Sure it is expensive, but not more than other comparable attractions in the city. Yeah, I think they are too expensive too and worry that these venues are priced out of reach for lower middle class families. It’s a shame, but it is also the way it is. Price aside, Heritage Park gets a PASS.

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