In 1875, with the onset of a harsh winter, the newly arrived NWMP built Fort Calgary at the confluence of the Bow and Elbow Rivers in less than six weeks. The original fort is long gone, but after much work, the 16-hectare (40-acre) site has been transformed into a two-part historic park (750 9th Ave. SE, 403/290-1875, daily 9 a.m.–5 p.m., adult $11, senior $10, child $5).
Most of the focus is on the interpretive center, housing a replica of 1888 barracks, complete with volunteer RCMP veterans on hand to answer questions. Inside, the lives of Canada’s famous “Mounties,” the legacy of natives, hardy pioneers, and the wild frontier they tamed are all brought to life through convincingly-costumed interpreters. Beside the barracks is an exact replica of the original fort, built using tools and techniques that are more than 100 years old.
History comes alive through a variety of activities and programs, including carpenters at work, a room especially for kids that is filled with games of a bygone era, a museum shop styled on an old Hudson’s Bay Company store, and a canteen selling meals that I imagine are more appealing than those the original officers enjoyed.