Calgary: Bears in the ‘Burbs?

My Mom lives in Calgary near the old Canada Olympic Park site on the western side of town. Used to be the edge of the city, but Calgarians have an appetite for expansion, and the city continues to sprawl in every direction. Plenty of flat land and nothing to stop the encroachment.

But there are abundant green spaces in Calgary, with loads of walking and cycling paths and two major rivers running through: the Bow and the Elbow. Mom’s house is just above the Bow River, and a 5 minute walk through the suburb takes you onto a pathway system that leads you down the hill and along the river. So one lovely morning I took a wander down and had a poke around.

Path to the Bow River

Peaceful pathway down to the Bow River

The developers had the foresight to set aside one of only three remaining stands of old-growth Douglas Fir trees in the area. These are the most western ones and some are over 400 years old. They’re not as impressive looking as many old trees such as Cedars, Karris or Jarrahs, but it’s nice to know they’re there.

In 2013, Calgary was hit by a once-in-a-hundred-year flood. It devastated much of low-lying Calgary and left an unbelievable mess in its wake. Most of the damage has been cleaned up and repaired, but reminders of the force of the flood waters remain, such as this twisted and no-longer functional fence:

Some evidence of flood damage remains


As I picked my way over fallen trees and around muddy holes on the track (more destruction from the floods), I happened across an area that used to be home to beavers. I suppose their dam was washed away in the flood, and maybe the beavers were, too. I thought the first tree I saw was an ambitious project for a beaver, being about 15 cm in diameter:

Beavers bit off more than they could chew


But then a bit further along I found this:

Seriously? What were they thinking? Although I was impressed with just how far along they got. But perhaps it was a dare: Beaver 1: “Bet you can’t fall that one!” Beaver 2 responds with a tail slap: “Watch this!”.

Offshoot of the Bow River

Small tributary of the Bow River. Would have been a lovely place for beavers to make a home

So on I walked until I returned to civilization at an education center of some sort. As I turned back to head for home, this was posted on the tree at the start of the path:

Bow River Pathway under the Stoney Trail bridge

In suburbia…people, guard your blueberry and raspberry patches!

Well, huh. There wasn’t a similar sign at the other end of the path where I started, but I thought, well, I ran the gauntlet once, so I could do it again…so I set off back the way I came. About 10 minutes in there was a big rustling in the trees and I could see a bit of a black furry shape among the trees…I stopped cold in my tracks as the adrenaline got my heart pounding.

A few seconds later, a black squirrel clawed its way up the tree, followed by a brown squirrel. Both cheekily flicked their tails in my direction, laughing and chattering away at me. I breathed out a few times, then headed for home at a rapid pace.


4 thoughts on “Calgary: Bears in the ‘Burbs?

    • I hear you and I would much rather see a drop bear! Since this post, I’ve heard about my cousin being charged by a yearling black bear near Banff last week, and a friend who had two adolescent grizzly bears check out his motorbike and tent a few weeks ago–ripping a hole in the tent and in the motorbike panier bag, even though there was no food in either place. So they are out there!

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