This city hike takes one through Inglewood. It’s a loop route, using residential and side streets, taking in all they have to offer, peace and quiet among them, and specifically avoiding the hectic core or main street of the community. Let’s enjoy stuff in the neighbourhood that’s not so often seen. Many quaint old homes are passed, and a few that are modern and of dubious design (as always, in our opinion); we’ll see churches too, lots interesting little details, and some trains. Now that’s a good mix. Grabbing a meal at a local truck stop is mandatory if you follow our route. Breakfast time!
Due to bad weather, a mini snowmagedon (even more would fall after we were done), we elected to take trasnit to the “trailhead”. We started at the City Hall LRT station. You can do the same. Or if you drive in, park in the “East Village” or somewhere close and intercept our path where ever you can. Of course, you don’t even need to use the route we put down. Mix it up as you like, or follow it to the letter. Be free thinking! You’ll by no means see all of backwater Inglewood this outing. There’s lots and this is a just a tasting.
From the train platform head east down 7th Avenue (all references are SE quadrant). Pass the new library being built, the LRT tracks passing under it. In the East Village now, on hitting the Fort Calgary site, a large mostly green space just east of downtown, turn right then left on hitting 9th Avenue. Cross the historic Inglewood Bridge, over a century old (when it was built most cars were horses). We’ve heard it’s threatened…
Pass the historic Deane House. Turn left just after it, at 8th Street. Tucked away in behind the building and coming into view, is Calgary’s oldest structure. Dating from the 1880s, or thereabouts, it’s that little white unassuming shed. Now you know! Turn right on 8th Avenue – many fine old homes here. Crossing 12th Street, head north for a bit and take a look at the Zoo Bridge. Looking much like the one crossed earlier and of similar age, it’s being demolished. It’s a much unloved structure. Too narrow they say – the complaint’s a valid one and in fact this author smacked mirrors with another car on the bridge at one time (no damage). We’ll of course lament its passing. Will others? Not many I suspect.
Continue east down 8th, take in the stunning 1911 built St Andrew’s Church then take a side diversion up New Street. Connecting with it are three of Calgary’s shortest roads, New Bow Lane and Major Stewart Lane. Each is essentially an extended quarter block long driveway for the single house that resides along each respectively. It’s called Interesting Inglewood for a reason!
Double back to the pathway and follow it east, passing a park (and Boler) along the way. Right on 15th Street, then left on 14th Avenue, then right again on 16th Street. The houses in this section of Inglewood are generally more modest in nature than those seen earlier. The working class section – where we’d live, if we lived back then. At 17th Avenue turn left, cross the tracks and soon on hit busy Blackfoot Trail.
From here make a bee-line to the Blackfoot Truck Stop on the other side. The tall sign is a welcoming beacon. Come in! Bacon and eggs are waiting. At all hours! And there’s hot-water tank sized urn of fresh steaming coffee, dark and black as space itself – it’s all yours. As much as you want, a bottomless cup. Holding back the tears…I’m home!
The coffee shop is some strange temple to trucking and trucking types. Kitschy, perhaps dated, but always welcoming and the food hearty, tasty, but I dare say old fashioned and perhaps a bit hard on the arteries. They’ve been doing it here for sixty years. Hope for sixty more. Love the place.
Back on the trail, buzzing from all the coffee, cross 9th Avenue and take a look at that old service station building. It’s now a computer store of sorts that never seems open (their website has a kicking selection of 20 gig drives). Dating from the 1940s or 1950s (conflicting data), it appears the building was an old Texaco. Continuing west, duck under the train tracks and on emerging pass the old Calgary Brewery. The step-dad kept it in business – in fact he loved the place so much we once lived across from it. Black Label, an (ahem) “non-premium” brew once made right here, was his thing, which he consumed in great quantity It’s an old building, well some of it is, although the way its clad, it’d be hard to tell. Not sure what’s in store for it. It’s sort of in a state of limbo. Look for the iconic bison on display out front.
Turn left on 14th Street, pass a nice old brick town home block (Hamilton Apartments, 1912) then turn right on 10th Avenue. Continue on past more fine homes. There’s been some construction of new ones here. Not a fan of current home design. The butt-ugly 1960s box-house I live in has more charm than some of these. Up next is Trinity United Church, circa 1913, a fine brick structure. Cross 12th Street. It’s busy so you might want to head to the controlled crosswalk one block north.
Continuing on in an eastbound trajectory, come to the old National Hotel. Now a trendy hangout, it was early on a working man’s hotel and for decades a notorious dive. Sounding a bit repetitive, the step-dad kept the “beer parlour” here in business. He loved his dive bars! Across the road is the Crown Surplus Store, an Inglewood institution. While the community gentrifies around it, it remains as rough and unkempt as ever. It’ll soon look out of place among all the hipster joints.
Read about the hotel here: The Nash aka The Naitonal Hotel.
Take in the alley, keeping parallel to the train tracks that bend in from the left. Here’s the backside of some of old buildings, a rarely seen “different” view! If you’re lucky you might catch a passing freight. We did! And it made our already awesome day.
Right in 8th Street, pass the Deane House again, turn left into the pathway soon after, and cross the Elbow River on a pedestrian bridge. Head in behind Fort Calgary. This was where the city was born but for a long time it was a rail yard and warehouse district. Now it’s an museum with lots of surrounding green space. Hit up with 7th Avenue again and soon on the LRT station. By now you’ve worked off the eggs-benny.
Hope you enjoyed this different take on Inglewood. It’s the lesser-seen parts, but no less interesting than all the fine old structures seen in the business section. And remember we just touched on the what’s there. There’s more to see, a good reason to return.
If you wish more information about this trail, by all means contact us!
Date of adventure: February, 2017.
Location: Calgary, AB.
Distance: 9km loop.
Height gain maximum: Negligible.
Height gain cumulative: Negligible.
NOTE: all distances and heights are approximate.
Technical bits and notes: Nothing more than any other urban walk. Well snow, lots of it, if you do it in early February 2017.
Reference: Inglewood Historical Walking Tours Booklet