Inglewood: Slow down and enjoy Calgary’s original main street.

Inglewood: Slow down and enjoy Calgary’s original main street. on Where Rockies

Damian Lamartine

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Inglewood is a historic neighbourhood east of downtown that served as the original main street for Calgary. It’s situated between the Bow and Elbow Rivers, and it’s near many large attractions including the Wilder Institute/Calgary Zoo. Even in the middle of the city, Inglewood has the feeling of a friendly village steeped in art, theatre, music, food, and the good things in life.

The land surrounding the Elbow and Bow Rivers, including what is now known as Inglewood, began as the home to Blackfoot Confederacy. The area was utilized by around 10,000 people including Sarcee, Blood, Peigan, and Blackfoot people. As Europeans began to travel west, the convergence of the Bow and Elbow Rivers became a trading post for settlers who travelled from Montana for buffalo robes and furs.

The arrival of the RCMP in the late 1800s meant a civilian settlement was built in the area. Two of the Metis cabins built in this era still exist today: the Hunt House and the Calgary Brewery Shanty. In 1884, the town developed around Atlantic Avenue, now known as 9 Ave SE, into a neighbourhood known as East Calgary or Brewery Flats.

As the Canadian Pacific Railway made its way across the country, the area was about to expand. It was anticipated this would be a station for the railway, and the town was laid out. It still follows the original plan to this day. The bulk of the town ended up on the other side of the river, but while this neighbourhood was no longer the centre of town, it was still included within town limits.

Today, Inglewood is a trendy neighbourhood that has something for everyone. For the history buff, it has some of Calgary’s earliest architecture including a long, continuous stretch of Edwardian buildings. Inglewood was declared a Special Heritage Character Area in 1991 by the City of Calgary. Self-guided walking tours uncover the history of various buildings and provide a sense of place for visitors and locals alike.

For the shopper, Inglewood has the biggest cluster of independent, local retailers in the city. There are all kinds of unique businesses selling specialty clothing, funky curated consignment, music, and so much more. Shops in Inglewood include the politically feminist Madame Premier, the cozy Next Page Books and Coffee, the crafty, and the vibrant Plant.

Visit the professional fashion stylists at espy Experience and discover the perfect look for all genders and body types. Find your essential groceries, locally sourced and handpicked, at Bite. Find herbs, essential oils, and zero waste lifestyle goods at The Apothecary in Inglewood for a true local experience.

For the music enthusiast, Inglewood is home to That Old Retro Store and Recordland. It’s also a great place to catch a performance. Find live music at The Attic Bar & Stage, The Blues Can, and many of the restaurants, cafés, and bars in the area. It’s also the headquarters for the popular Calgary Folk Festival, which runs during the summer.

Inglewood is known as the arts district in Calgary. It’s home to performance spaces such as the Ironwood Stage and Grill and The Kinkonauts as well as art galleries including Esker Foundation and Vivianeart. Stop by Circa Vintage Art Glass for mid-century modern art glass that will blow you away. Inglewood has also been the backdrop for many movies and television shows, including the Fargo anthology series, which features Inglewood Pizza standing in for Norm’s Pizza in the pilot episode.

For the foodie, Inglewood is home to many unique, popular, and delicious places to grab a meal at any time of day. From the elegant award-winning Rouge to the ever-popular Spolumbo’s, the vintage Inglewood Drive In, and the heartwarming Bea's Café in Bite Grocer, there’s something for every palate and budget. There’s also a growing number of plant-based eateries in the neighbourhood, including Vegan Street and Canela Vegan Bakery and Café. If you’re simply looking for a cup to coffee to start your day, or a cocktail or glass of wine to finish it off, stop by Gravity Espresso and Wine Bar to taste their excellent selections.

The outdoorsy adventurer will fall in love with the parks and green spaces in Inglewood, including the Inglewood Wildlands, the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary, and the Bow Habitat Station. There are also excellent trails along the Bow River for walking, biking, or just taking in the fall scenery. With spectacular views of the city centre, this area has the best of both worlds for anyone looking to spend time outdoors.

While Inglewood is known for its summer events, including the night markets and car-free Sundays, autumn brings its own unique set of festivities to the neighbourhood. Ghost Walks are a popular way to interact with the area’s heritage around Halloween, and the Jazz Walk in November features free jazz music in venues throughout the main street. Christmas comes alive in Inglewood with street action that includes stilt walkers, hot chocolate, outdoor activities for the whole family, and so many more winter celebrations.

The neighbourhood of Inglewood invites you to slow down and enjoy the progressive small-town vibe. The pedestrian oriented main street invites visitors and residents alike to explore the excellent local businesses and just enjoy the neighbourhood, its people, and everything it has to offer.

Kate Barker