For as long as I can remember, I have been going to Calgary on an almost yearly basis. Growing up, my family would either go out there for a visit in the summer or over Christmas. Calgary is where my mom grew up, and where that whole side of the family remains. Some have come and gone from the city, but they have all been there consistently for many, many years. We never travelled much as a family growing up, but it seemed to be a given that we would go to Calgary every year.
When we went to Calgary in the summer my parents would leave my sister and me with my grandparents for a week or so and then they would take us back to Saskatchewan. Some of my memories from my time there are very distinct, whereas others are really spotty. I remember the old house. The sunken in room that I loved to watch TV in. Watching shows that we didn’t get at home like Ninja Turtles, Tarzan (the real-life one with Wolf Larson), Sister Sister, Pokemon, Full House..there was so many! The wood panelling, that to this day I still someday want somewhere in my house. The cupboard type thing with sliding doors that the picnic set was kept in. The Smurf puzzle. The little storage area under the stairs, and some toys that were in storage in the basement that I was allowed to sometimes play with. The Stampede breakfast/block party type of thing. My uncles yellow truck.
I remember things that would change. The people we saw every time we went to Calgary, some would slowly fade away. When one of my uncles would be living in my grandparents’ house, or move out, or move away. The Australian girl that stayed there for a bit. My uncle heading off on a bike trip. I remember when my uncle got married, when they renovated the house when my grandparents moved into a rental, when my uncle, aunt, and cousins moved into a new place.
I remember random little events. Like when my grandpa would take my sister and I shopping and let us pick out a new toy. Going to the mall at Christmas time and loving how it seemed just like in the Christmas movies, it seemed so much different than Christmas at any mall in Saskatoon. Driving over a meridian in the yellow truck rather than waiting. The craft sale that happened every so often. Going with my uncle on the bus. Driving around singing Christmas carols on a bus. Some of these memories are so vague I don’t even know if they really happened, or if it’s some memory that just got twisted over time.
I remember the things that didn’t change. The places we would go. Family being there. Until that changed. I remember when I found out that my grandpa had a heart attack. Then later being at the hospital hearing that he has passed away. Knowing that things would never be the same. The trips to Calgary after that don’t stand out to me. I don’t even recall how often we went after my grandpa passed away as most of the memories I have are from when he was there. I remember trying to go to some of the old places after he passed away and it just wasn’t the same.
So many different memories of places we visited in Calgary.
I remember Easy Street. It was a giant arcade. I remember playing some games there and getting tickets for prizes. What I remember most from there are the tunnels. It had the giant play centre for kids. You’d climb throughout all the brightly coloured tunnels, slide down into the ball pit. I loved going there. It closed eventually, that was a sad time. I remember when we found another place that was the same idea, but it wasn’t the same. There was something about Easy Street. I remember having food there, though I don’t remember what I ate, I just remember eating. That all changed when it closed though.
I remember the science centre. Going there with my uncle and grandpa. Exploring the building and trying out every setup. The Imax theatre. I remember when my uncle told us to pick anything we wanted out of the gift shop. I remember wanting something really bad and my uncle being happy to get it for me. It was a sunken ship that you put into a jar and you grow seaweed. I remember my grandma being mad that I had him spend that much money on me and my sister scolding my grandma because he really wanted to get it for me. This has now changed. It’s in a new building and I have never been in it. I’m sure it’s very different.
I remember finding out about Bourbon Street Grill which continues to be on my ‘must do’ list every time I still go to Calgary, and always have to go with the same uncle. This hasn’t changed, it will be a sad day if it closes.
I remember Heritage Park, another place I still go. I remember my grandpa, and sometimes grandma, taking my sister and I. We would go early in the morning for breakfast and then my sister would have a plastic fork (forky) that she would use to punch out each place that we visit. I remember cheese buns. I remember all the pocket change we got to buy ourselves some treats. I remember riding the bus and imagining what it was like back in the day to travel that way. I remember looking at the trains being my grandpa’s favourite thing.
I remember going to Calaway Park with another uncle. I loved all the rides, especially the log ride and the strawberry. I remember my cousins going with us. It’s been a long time. I would love to go back.
I remember Sikome Beach. Sitting in the sand. Making castles. Using a raft to go from one end of the small body of water to the other. I remember the sour Popsicle I would get there, or if they were out of that then I would get the Firecracker Popsicle. I remember going for a walk/hike with my sister and grandpa at Fish Creek Provincial Park, which was surrounding Sikome. I remember that was the first time I had LunchStackers and they were delicious and genius. The beach was closed when we were there. It looked so empty and strange through the fence.
I remember Bowness Park. Going on the paddle boats, the rides. Having a picnic.
I remember going to Elbow Falls, seeing a bunch of relatives there. Driving into the mountains. Ian and I still do this. We have gone to Elbow Falls, and now instead of just driving through the mountains we also climb them.
A number of years back I went to Calgary for the first time alone. I loved the drive, all the places I remembered. Places like Cactus Corner, the truck stop that has a giant cactus outside. The tourism centre in Oyen, different town names. Horseshoe Canyon. It was all becoming familiar. I relied heavily on the GPS because I had never driven there before. I had spotty memories of where to find things, but no idea where they actually were. Year after year, I kept going back. I would stay at my grandma’s and go to all the old places. I would see an area that sparked a memory and drive until I found what was familiar. I would go to the mall, zoo, Heritage Park, by the old house, the parks we used to go to. I’d add new places to my list too. Even went out to Calgary once with 2 friends on a quick 24-hour trip just to do a few things.
Then I met Ian. I remember the first time Ian went to Calgary with me. We drove a different way and I saw lots that I never remembered seeing. The Hoo Doos. The small village of Wayne, that was once booming and is now tiny. They have a great restaurant though that we love to go to. That’s now a new tradition that the two of us can do. I took him to my favourite places in Calgary. Then we went back the next year, and we will continue to go back. Each time we add something new to our memories. Getting delicious milkshakes. Getting an old-fashioned photo taken.
This latest trip was even more about memories for me. Going to places that I had basically forgotten about, like Fish Creek. It was just a memory that popped into my head. We will also continue to make new memories there. I look forward to one day, hopefully, taking our kids to Calgary and being able to share so many of these experiences with them. And I hope one day they will also remember.
(Thank you to my husband for the pictures that are good 🙂 )