The City of Calgary created Memorial Drive after WW1 and from 1922 to 1928, poplar trees were planted along Memorial Drive—one for each soldier from Southern Alberta who died in the Great War. The living memorial was designed to bring solace to grieving families who did not have graves to visit. Some of the Memorial Drive trees have been removed from the corridor over the years but clones of the original poplars have been replanted to continue the concept of life over death. The area has also been revitalized into a “landscape of memory”, and the linear park between the road and the river remains a popular route for pedestrians, cyclists, and all movements of life.
“Memorial Drive is one of Calgary’s most cherished corridors in terms of history, location, proximity to the Bow River, and its relationship with both the communities adjacent to the Drive and the larger community of Calgary.” The living memorial of the poplar trees, Soldiers Memorial, Poppy Plaza, the Field of Crosses, and the red dresses/ribbons representing Awareness for Missing, Murdered and Exploited Indigenous People, and the Peace Bridge are all found along the Memorial Drive project area. All of these focus on the themes of remembrance, legacy and history and what they mean to Calgarians.
Memorial Parkway Program
We're investing in Sunnyside, Hillhurst and along the Memorial Park Corridor to increase flood resiliency and create spaces that enhance the connection with the river, natural environment and commemorate our heritage.
We are doing this by combining flood mitigation with new spaces for commemoration, vibrant and dynamic public spaces, and opportunities for a reimagined Memorial Drive with enhanced mobility options into one program – the Memorial Parkway Program.
The first step in this new program is updating the guiding vision for the area. This vision will help guide future development in the area including the flood barrier and the Memorial Parkway.
PHASE 1 ENGAGEMENT
This phase of engagement is focused on updating the mission and principles for the Landscape of Memory. In 2005 first engaged with the public and worked together to establish values that were an important part of the vision statement and principals.
Over the last 5 years, The City of Calgary has worked on a number of projects in the Hillhurst Sunnyside community. From these projects we have gathered information how participants view, work, and recreate in the area. We have taken that information to update the Landscape of Memory Vision and Principles. This update will allow future projects to build on work being done so the experience for all users of the space is improved.
Original Vision (2004)
“The Memorial Drive corridor is both a Major Street in Calgary’s road network, and a unique urban landscape that is shaped by an understanding of its social and physical role, and by a deep respect for its commemorative history. Integral to this vision is a landscape that is supportive, safe, accessible and active, and is enriched by a unifying identity, trees and meaningful places to observe individual and collective memory.”
Program Mission (2022)
The Memorial Parkway program will create a universally accessible, vibrant, and sustainable public realm. We will prioritize place-making and experience; incorporating a flood barrier and providing multi-modal movement while preserving the living memorial and providing new spaces to gather and celebrate the natural setting. Inclusivity for all ages and abilities is an integral piece of the Parkway while developing adaptable opportunities for the future needs of Calgarians.
The Memorial Parkway is unique urban, natural and cultural landscape along the City’s most important ecological corridor, the Bow River. The following key principles will be used to guide future projects along the Memorial Parkway:
- A complete experience
Sensory and visual experience of the river will be celebrated through creative flood protection, ecological strategy, high-quality landscape, and urban design. Functional, beautiful, inclusively designed, and safe places will foster positive social interaction, a variety of recreation opportunities for everyone.
- Flood Protection
Long-term flood protection will encourage neighbourhood prosperity. A balance of engineering and nature will protect citizens and their homes and create a unique public realm and conserved natural environment.
The Bow River is an important environmental corridor and the health of the natural area is a priority. The program will be guided by ecological and landscape design strategies and a commitment to minimizing and mitigating climate change impacts.
- Balanced access and circulation
Build and plan for multi-modal movement, including pedestrians, mobility devices, bicyclists, and cars. The project will account for local transportation needs and how it all connects to the greater transportation network through a lens of universal accessibility.
- Living Memorial
Memorial Parkway will celebrate the rich cultural landscape of the area. Visitors will experience culture and history, including the living memorial of the Poplars. Three-dimensional storytelling and interpretation will enhance place-making and the overall experience of the evolving “Landscape of Memory.”
- This is Treaty Land
The Memorial Parkway Program will look to integrate Indigenous perspectives from Treaty 7 Nations and the Metis Region 3 guided by learnings, including those from the forthcoming Calgary River Valleys project and the Traditional Land Use studies for Calgary's park land.