History

The Bow River and topography of the land defined the first use of the locality known as Bowness.  The valley’s first visitors found rich resources and sheltered wintering grounds for cattle.  Because of this, the area was inhabited as a ranch in the mid 1890s.  Only the railroad track and twin bridges intruded upon the pastoral landscape until the real estate boom of 1911.

It was the entrepreneur and visionary, John Hextall whose subdivision plans, registered in 1911, became the framework for the village and town.  Bowness Park and the streetcar are also closely associated with his legacy.

Hextall’s grandiose plans faded with the beginning of World War One.  The land sat primarily vacant until after the Second World War when a settlement of veterans, as well as Dutch and German immigrants, grew.  The Bowness community quickly grew into a village in 1948, then as a Town in 1952 and finally into part of the city of Calgary in 1964.

The leisure areas of Bowness Park and Bowness Golf and Country Club, the Alberta Ice Company and the Baker Memorial Sanatorium, helped to shape the identity of Bowness.

The stories and achievements of the families who have lived in the valley are rich and diverse.

A few interesting facts:

  • Prior to 1941, the area west of the railway tracks, where the Bowness Ranche had been located, was known as Bowness, and the area east of the tracks was known as Critchley.   Critchley was named after the Critchley family who owned a large tract of land in what is now the Montgomery area.
  • Main Street Bowness (now Bowness Road) was originally Highway 8
  • Some of the earliest aviation activity in the Calgary area occurred in and around the Bowness Flying Field, from 1914 to 1929.  The Flying Field was located in the area of Bowness High School.
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