I grew up in SW Calgary, in a neighbourhood tucked between two military bases; Currie Barracks and Harvey Barracks. During the 80s and 90s, Calgary’s local military had a peripheral presence in my daily life. I’d see soldiers out for their morning run in their maroon tracksuits during my morning commute to school, and it wasn’t unusual to spot a military truck or two along 37th street going between bases. Admittedly, we got a bit of a thrill when we saw big tanks on the road.
My family and I always celebrated Canada Day at Currie Barracks, our annual tradition. My brothers and I loved to climb around the trucks and tanks. We’d try our hand at the military training obstacle course but would steer clear of the makeshift medical tents with wound makeup and realistic-looking burn victims. We’d ooh and awe at the musical parade with the enormous horses and uniformed officers. My older brothers cherished the souvenir empty shell casings after handling the heavy rifles. Best of all, we’d eat our weight in ice cream.
The military has been long gone from Calgary, it left in the late 90s, and the land at Currie Barracks is now a Canadian Lands Company development. The community of Currie offers the laid-back charm of a family suburban neighbourhood with proximity to the heart of Calgary. The street names such as Dieppe Drive, Beny-Sur-Mer Road, and Normandy Drive give a nod to its military history.
Feeling more middle class and less military, the neighbourhood holds new houses and quiet avenues; however, some historical buildings are still standing. One such building is the home of The Inn on Officer’s Garden.
This beautiful building was originally an officers’ mess hall and would house visiting officers and special guests, including Queen Elizabeth, during a visit in 1951. Nowadays, the building has been restored and is now home to a boutique hotel and a fabulous farm-to-table restaurant.
With items borrowed from Calgary’s military museum, the lobby, living room and downstairs Snake Pit (pub-style space with billiards and dartboards) feel like a step back in time.
It’s been years since I had been back in this area, but on a sunny afternoon, my family and I enjoyed one of the bike routes Currie launched to celebrate World Bicycle Day. We started our ride in Stanley Park and followed the Easy-Going Route, along the Elbow River, through Sandy Beach Park and into the community of Currie. We wrapped up our ride with dinner at the Inn on Officer’s Garden.
It was a glorious evening when we visited, so we opted to enjoy the oversized patio overlooking the garden. There are massive, shady trees surrounding the building. Two rope-strung wooden swings kept my antsy tween occupied until the main course arrived. The casual but elegant atmosphere and no-fuss food make this place special enough for a memorable evening out or simple enough for a quick bite.
Right outside the building, there is the Airport Playground, an homage to the aircraft landing strip that was part of the military community between the 1930s and 1960s. The park is in a convenient location for a pre or post-meal visit. It’s the perfect spot for kids to blow off a little steam after being on their very best behaviour (hopefully) during dinner.
For more information about the community of Currie, visit: www.currielife.ca