The Exaggerated Peninsula: Prince's Island Park
Snug up against the business district and Chinatown, Prince’s Island Park is a d-spot that can be packed to the brim for a concert, or a beacon of solitude. A skip away from the hubbub, this exaggerated peninsula (it’s not really an island, since there is some land connection on the west edge) is packed with art, sophistication, and fun. More photos and facts under the fold...
On a nice day, it’s not unusual to see interesting social activities going on in the fields. On this particular day, I found a group of LARP’ers busy attacking each other with foam swords. Even if you don’t participate in the action, it’s fun to watch.
There’s also art littered all over the island, such as Lori Sobkowich’s “An Auspicious Find”, which is four steel frames that use glass marbles to make out a design. I’m not sure if you’re allowed to touch it, but it was quite fun rolling the marbles around in the frame.
The park has dodged quite a few bullets in its history. In 1964, the city entertained having a road go right through the center of the island. In 1913, it was almost turned into a faux Venice. Thankfully, for the most part the city has left it the hell alone, since the park is big enough that there’s never enough money to implement something on a grand-scale.
The children’s playground in the park is a gentler, smaller Calgary. Complete with cowboy-hat swingsets and a Lil’ Fort Calgary, the only thing missing is a Lil’ Cecil Hotel. According to the signs, there was once plans to put in little cottages and pools - a nice foreshadowing of Calgary’s cancerous sprawl.
There’s a fancy cafe, but I’ve yet to try it. From what I’ve heard and read, they’re expensive - when I’ve got a bit more money I’ll make a reservation and try it out.
The Jaipur Bridge was dedicated in 1994 in recognition of how much Calgary digs Jaipur, India. At least, that’s what I can make out from the plaque at the front of the bridge. I have a feeling if this bridge had been dedicated to Theoren Fleury, there’d be postcards and commemorative plates of the bridge.
I had a great experience on the island last year. The calm of winter had settled over the park, and walking down the gritty snow-packed paths for an hour brought me to the realization that I was alone on the island. The sky then started to turn pink, tumbling into violet, into night. Standing on my private island, nose and toes numb, I watched the most glorious sunset I had ever seen since moving to Calgary.