Calgary’s Cenovus Legacy Trail connects the city’s western heritage with the whole country
Whether you’re a monarch, a Hollywood celebrity, a tourist or a local Albertan, you have not lived until you’ve experienced the energy and excitement of the Calgary Stampede, or as it is billed, “The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth.”
With more than a million visitors each year, the Stampede is an iconic event as much associated with Canada as it is with the western city where it was conceived and first hosted more than a century ago. The 2013 flood didn’t stop it, despite the fact that Stampede Park itself, not to mention the first ten rows of seats in the Scotiabank Saddledome, was submerged only a week before.
And now, the Stampede is putting its mark on the Trans Canada Trail.
In Calgary, where the TCT’s Elbow River Trail runs along the eastern edge of Stampede Park, a section 650 metres long is going to be widened, refurbished and transformed into the Cenovus Legacy Trail, an open-air museum about Canada’s vibrant western heritage. It will be a journey through time, with public art pieces and interactive displays telling the histories of Calgary, the Stampede and the First Nations people of Alberta.
The Cenovus Legacy Trail is part of a $100-million project that includes a state-of-the-art facility for agricultural community events, a youth education and arts training campus, and a new Riverfront Park – an inner-city space that will house Stampede events as well as civic celebrations and public recreation year-round. All this is being built thanks to a $1.5-million gift from Canadian oil company Cenovus Energy Inc.
"I love the idea of connecting the Cenovus Legacy Trail and, really, the Calgary Stampede, to a broader, national idea like the Trans Canada Trail," says Sarah Hayes, executive director of the Calgary Stampede Foundation. “The Stampede is not just about Calgary or Alberta, it’s also about Canada’s West. By connecting the Stampede to the Trans Canada Trail, we’re connecting that western heritage with the whole country.”
Ms. Hayes says the refurbished Trail is scheduled to open in September 2015, with full programming expected in 2016. Building the trail – a process that involves reclaiming land under a gravel parking lot and planting 200 trees and 800 shrubs and native grasses – will start this summer.
Here are just a few special places and ways that the Trail connects with Canada’s history and heritage.