By Isabelle Morin
Since its opening on July 1, 1964, Heritage Park has been a famous tourist attraction in the city of Calgary. The park is both a registered charity and a museum.
What sets this park apart is the chance to observe and interact with over a century’s worth of historical artifacts, architecture, and automobiles. The place is truly a work of art.
The park now has three main areas: the Heritage Park Historical Village, which is open seasonally only (May to October), Gasoline Alley Museum, and Heritage Town Square.
The Heritage Park Historical Village shows how life was in the 1860’s to 1930’s.
What makes it an even more delightful experience are the interpreters in full costume that adds to the vibe of the place. (Those in acting schools will definitely find that interesting and might learn a thing or two about character internalization.)
In this part of the park, guests can enjoy rides on the antique steam train and paddlewheel boat. For the Gasoline Alley Museum, it’s an indoor museum that showcases vintage vehicles and other related artifacts paraphernalia.
The Heritage Town Square, which was added in March 2009, includes four retail shops, a soda shop, the Railway cafe, and two restaurants.
The park shows evidence of the 1860’s all throughout the 1950’s, where visitors can immerse themselves in the early fur trade and even check out the vehicles of the time. They get to see and connect with Western Canada’s settlement.
It’s one thing to see historical artifacts from afar in galleries, but to interact with the exhibits, look at them up close, and even touch them with your bare hands, is a whole different experience that will definitely resonate with the guests from all over.
However, how did the park come to be? Who are the key players in making sure it’s possible?
The idea of the park was conceptualized in 1961. The trustees of the Woods Foundation and City of Calgary Commissioners discussed the possibility of building and developing a theme park for young people.
The idea was brought to life through the investments of both parties, both of them contributing around 150,000 CAD each to finance the park. The City of Calgary also provided the land to build the park in.
Some citizens of Calgary also pledged around 77,000 CAD to add to that pool of money. Once the funding had been finalized, the foundation was laid out carefully.
Some city officials and the Glenbow Foundation were in charge of the early planning of the park. In 1963, they formed the Heritage Park Society.
The Heritage Park Society became the one pioneering the construction, operations, and overall development of the park. In less than a year, around 24 historical buildings were placed in the park, which is an amazing feat.
They repaired the buildings and placed artifacts in them. The vintage train was also placed inside the park and was restored to operate.
As you can see, the park was the result of so many people’s teamwork, long periods of planning, and continued efforts. Heritage Park is the product of so many people who believed in it and what it stands for.
Heritage Park is a way to connect with the past and immerse yourself in how life was back then. This unique park is definitely a landmark Calgary takes pride in.
We hope we were able to shed light on the early beginnings of the park and help you appreciate it more and where it came from.
Did we miss out on any more facts about Heritage Park’s unique history? Share with us your thoughts in the comments!
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