Bowness Park has been a destination in Calgary for more than 100 years. From the time that John Hextall convinced the city to run a streetcar out to the park, to the long-gone amusement park and pony rides to the Great Bow River Raft Race, also a distant memory, Bowness Park is a treasured Calgary resource.
Even the floods of 2013 weren’t enough to keep people away. Improvements and redevelopment of the park continues, ensuring that the park will come back better than ever. In just a few weeks’ time, a new restaurant – the first in many years – will open its doors in Bowness Park.
Seasons of Bowness is on track to open in the former Parkside Café kiosk right on the lagoon. If you’re familiar with the building, it has lots of windows and a deck, the perfect spot to enjoy a cup of your favourite hot beverage. Seasons of Bowness has been brought to life by Alex Solano of Inglewood’s Salt and Pepper fame, as well as Lolita’s Lounge. His partners are Anna Ennis and Melanie Martzoukos.
The trio has signed a lease and renovations on the new team room started in December. It’s hoped that Seasons of Bowness will open at Easter this year.
Ennis told Avenue Magazine that the tea room will offer a refined picnic-style experience. The interior will be modern with room for 50 guests inside and another 50 on the patio when weather permits. It will be casual dining with lunch and dinner available as well as weekend brunch. This generation of the building will be licensed for beer and wine, unlike the previous establishment.
There will be a take-away section with ready-made sandwiches, muffins and juice that patrons can enjoy in the park. Current plans are to have a hot dog and burger stand outside.
If you’re a fan of the River Café on Princes Island downtown, Seasons should be a similar experience. However, with reverence to the history of Bowness Park, Seasons will almost be like a museum. There will be old pictures on the walls, images of days gone by on coasters as the owners want people to understand the importance of the park and the sentimental value it has for Calgarians.
About Bowness Park
The 75-acre Bowness Park is on the south banks of the Bow River west of 85 St NW in the residential community which bears the same name. It was built before World War I by John Hextall, a land developer who was attempting to lure wealth British immigrants to his country-estate community. After building a country club, the park and a few mansions his plan was thwarted by the city got a great park out of the deal. There is a shallow lagoon which is where the tea room will open and upon which skating and pleasure boating is allowed seasonably. Personal boats and watercraft aren’t allowed on the lagoon; however you can rent paddle boats from the University of Calgary’s Outdoor Centre facility at the Boat House.
Picnics have been the primary activity in Bowness Park for the past century. There are shelters, fire pits, barbecues, public washrooms and starting this summer when the west side of the park opens, there will be a spray park.