Last week I found myself in North West Calgary wondering through Queen’s Park Cemetery. It was a warm summer’s day with hints of eminent rain and big billowing clouds commanding attention. I recall feeling a sense of “life” and activity in a place that is really considered a “final resting place”. The cemetery is huge, covering vast swaths of land with rolling hills and panoramic views. Created in 1940, Queen’s Park Cemetery, is actually considered to be one of Calgary’s newer cemeteries, yet some of it’s sections still evoke a sense of history and time of a bygone era. It is a place that perhaps many Calgarians have yet to experience and I encourage those who like to explore our great city to take some time this year to enjoy one of Calgary’s urban cemetery parks.
A wonderful bike pathway runs (north to south) through Queen’s Park Cemetery connecting The Community of Highwood on the north, to Mt Pleasant Community to the south via the Confederation Park Pathway System. The cemetery is flanked by the Communities of Cambrian Heights to the west and Highland and Tuxedo Park to the east.
It is a wonderful place to sit and wander and enjoy the day. Along the pathways, you will see lunch -time joggers running along their route. Dog walkers, with little puppies in tow can be spotted off in the distance. I saw a father and son breeze by on their roller blades happily enjoying some time together. And as I continued on up the road, a couple (on bikes) rode past telling me how much: “They love riding their bikes through the cemetery because it was so peaceful and tranquil.”
And of course, there are the “traditional visitors” (those we expect to see) when wandering through the cemetery. I watched an elderly man cleaning a monument with tender loving care. I noticed a couple, off in the distance standing silently, engaged in a quiet, retrospective moment. Cars were slowly driving around with passengers searching for specific graves or memorials. Close to the park entrance I noticed a large gathering for a memorial service at The Scattering Garden’s Memorial Wall . And off in the far south- west corner, I could see another group of family members and friends walking amongst the field of headstones to gather at a burial site for a final interment.
For the nature lover, Queens Park Cemetery has a wonderful canopy of old established trees to enjoy. Beautiful elm trees line the roadway entrance. Old weeping birch trees are interspersed amongst the gravestones. Giant poplar trees and columnar aspens command attention from a distant view. And rows of majestic spruce trees vie for attention amongst the hills and monuments. Green foliage attracts an abundance of city wildlife, birds and insects to the park. So be prepared to enjoy an abundance of nature at Queen’s Park Cemetery.
Let’s not forget that The Queens Park Cemetery is also part of The City’s Urban Parks System. So don’t be surprised if you see parks maintenance trucks spotted throughout the cemetery. City crews can be seen busily readying burial sites. Lawn mowers can be heard off in the distance. And The City Parks’ employees are everywhere tending to the entrance flowers and flowerbeds throughout the cemetery. The cemetery is actually a busy, yet peaceful place to wander if you are searching for some calm and reflection. This vast open park is a great place where one can be alone, find solace, yet feel the presence that others are still around and see that life carries on.
So if you feel the need to regroup and would like to wander amongst big trees in a peaceful setting, consider a stroll amongst the beautiful monuments and memorials of Queen’s Park Cemetery. Learn a little more about The City of Calgary’s history and make a conscientious effort to read the names and wonder about the lives and stories of those who have come before us. Explore one of Calgary’s most beautiful and sacred urban parks, because Calgary cemeteries are also a place for the living.