About St. Patrick’s Island

Calgary, Alberta
2016 Great Places in Canada Winner – Great Public Space

Jury Statement
St. Patrick’s Island is one of Calgary’s oldest parks.  Recently revitalized, it is a giant backyard playground for residents of all ages from Calgary’s East Village and surrounding communities. This public space integrates enhanced natural spaces with public art, and urban amenities. The recent redesign focused on connecting people with nature. The island is home to events and festivals including campfire chats and outdoor theatre and movies. A new bridge spans the Bow River and provides an elegant access to the island.

The revitalized St. Patrick’s Island has quickly become a giant backyard playground for East Villagers, both long-time residents and newcomers, and a magnet for all Calgarians eager to explore the natural beauty and family-friendly amenities of this inner city island.

What do you see in this space? How do people in the community enjoy it?:

  • Just a skipping stone away from East Village, across the George C. King Bridge (formerly St. Patrick’s Bridge), St. Patrick’s Island reopened in 2015 after a two-year restoration project, offering EV residents and all Calgarians a beautifully revitalized 31-acre backyard
  • Nature lovers, families and urban explorers alike can revel in the natural beauty that has been restored through mindful renewal and a biophilia master plan – a landscape design approach that nurtures the bond between people and nature
  • A monumental public art installation aptly named Bloom, a kid-friendly Playmound and a fully accessible Picnic Grove provide urban amenities to the wilderness setting
  • It features a fishing cove, a seasonal breach that’s mother nature’s own wading pool, a lowland channel with a boardwalk over naturalized wetlands, wooded areas with meandering pathways
  • It also includes a thoughtfully hardscaped Confluence Plaza that includes an amphitheatre, market pergola and of plenty room for outdoor yoga classes – not to mention The Rise, a 9-metre tall grassy hill that offers some of the best views in the city from its own giant fire pit and a great slope from which to watch movies in the park – St. Patrick’s Island is an island for all seasons, and all people!
  • Prior to restoration, St. Patrick’s Island underwent a BioBlitz, to categorize every species of the island’s flora and fauna. Native plant species were also reintroduced

Events and Festivals:

  • Snow Play on SPI: February 20
  • Earth Hour: March 19
  • Studio Revolution 2nd Anniversary Sweat Sesh: April 9\
  • Patrick’s Island Fun Run: May 7
  • Tot Storytime with Calgary Public Library: Every Wednesday May through September
  • Energy Revolution Fair: May 31
  • Music On the Island: Every Saturday June through August
  • Outdoor Games Station: Every Sunday June through August
  • Run for Water: June 11
  • Calgary Outdoor Club Super Event: June 26
  • Campfire Chats, National Aboriginal Day: June 21
  • Long Weekend Island Escape: July 3, August 1, September 5
  • Boots on the Beach: July 17
  • Shakespeare by the Bow, Hamlet a Ghost Story: July 19-24
  • Board Game Night on SPI: July 25, August 29, September 12
  • Sketching Class: Every Tuesday August through September
  • Movies on the Rise: August 4, 10, 18, 25
  • HIGH Fitness outdoor fitness class: August 9
  • Diner en Blanc: August 11
  • An Afternoon in the Park, Presented by excrsions.fm: August 21
  • BATL Axe Throwing: August 24
  • Movies on the Rise, Pride Edition: September 1

Economic and Retail Activities:

  • None listed

Historic or Heritage Features:

  • One of Calgary’s oldest parks
  • Development for it to be a public space began in the late 1890s, and gained momentum with construction of a bridge to the island in the early 1900s
  • The newly constructed George C. King Bridge which now connects the island park south to East Village and north to Bridgeland was named for Calgary’s second mayor and marking the location which the first Europeans forded the Bow River to settle in what is now Calgary

Memorable or Unique Characteristic(s) :

  • The Seasonal Breach
  • Trout Beach
  • George C. King Bridge
  • The ‘Bloom’ sculpture
  • King’s Hideaway
  • The Rise
  • Nature pathways
  • Playmound
  • Picnic grove
  • Old growth forest
  • New growth forest
  • Pearce Walk
  • Sun deck
  • Confluence Plaza
  • The Cove
  • Public washrooms building
  • Bow River


  • St Patrick’s Island’s rejuvenation was a part of the East Village redevelopment program
  • Virtually abandoned for years, St. Patrick’s Island underwent a multi-year rejuvenation completed in July 2015 under the guidance of the Calgary Municipal Land Corporation (CMLC)
  • Throughout the redevelopment of St. Patrick’s Island, CMLC and the architectural team worked towards retaining as much of the natural landscape as possible. This is highlighted in the restored vegetation throughout the island and preservation of a stand of older trees
  • The completed landscape design features:

– The Seasonal Breach, a newly restored river channel that has become an urban beach where visitors wade into shallow riverwater and venture safely onto a gravel bar.
– The Rise, a nine-metre-high grassy knoll that is used for festivals and community celebrations, performances and movies in the park. During the restoration and drudging of the Seasonal Breach—when the team reinstated an original river channel—the excess earth was used to create The Rise.
– The Playmound, a playground with a variety of familiar and inventive pieces of apparatus.
– Lowland Channel, a seasonal wetlands with an innovative elevated boardwalk in metal that provides no-impact access through the ecosystem.
– Confluence Plaza, a gathering place with a sculptural shade canopy, a sun deck and small amphitheatre that hosts performances and various small to mid-scale programming and dedicated food truck parking.
– Sculptural and whimsical seating.
Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZEHY_bXphR4

Map: http://bit.ly/2dNSdAC
Submitted by: Calgary Municipal Land Corporation