A homeless man, the city’s first chief medical officer of health and a longtime champion of LGBTQ rights in Calgary are among those whose names now adorn city parks.
On Monday, Mayor Naheed Nenshi announced that six previously unnamed green spaces around the city would be named in recognition of notable Calgary residents.
The names were chosen from submissions from the public recognizing citizens who have made a long-lasting positive impact on people, local communities and businesses.
Dr. Leslie Allan Park
Dr. Leslie Allan worked for the city for 26 years, and served as its medical officer of health from 1960 to 1973.
“It feels very right to name a park after Dr. Allan at this moment,” Nenshi said. “Among his many accomplishments was his leadership of the polio vaccination program … guess what, we don’t have any more polio, so that is a great example for us to follow today.”
Dr. Leslie Allan Park is located north of the traffic circle at Shawnee Boulevard and Shawnee Street S.W.
Mary & Catherine Barclay Park
The Barclays, Mary and Catherine, were sisters and teachers, who were instrumental in founding the Canadian Youth Hostels Association (now HI Canada), and set up the first official North American youth hostel in a tent near Bragg Creek. Their home became the first headquarters of the Canadian Hostelling Assocation, which now has more than 50 hostels across the country.
Mary was later recognized with an Order of Canada for her work.
“They were both teachers, and they were inspired by the learning opportunities of travel and connection to nature,” Nenshi said.
Mary & Catherine Barclay Park is located at the north side of the intersection of Crescent Road and Third Street N.W.
Craig Reid Park
Craig Reid represented Ward 11 as a councillor for 15 years, from 1977 to 1992.
He served as a radar technician during the Second World War, and had a long career as a social worker in the criminal justice system before his time in office. He was executive director of the John Howard Society of Alberta, and president of the International Prisoners’ Aid Society, where he played a part in establishing the international convention for repatriation of prisoners.
He received the Confederation Medal, among many other awards, for his service to the community.
Craig Reid Park is located on the southwest corner of 46th Avenue and 17th Street S.W. — a few blocks west of the park named after his wife of more than 60 years, Verna Reid.
Verna Reid Park
“Dr. Verna Reid was a notable Calgarian and a trailblazer for women in the field of arts and arts education,” said Nenshi.
Reid was one of the first women to be hired as an instructor at SAIT, where she worked for 18 years in the communication arts department, before becoming an instructor at what was then the Alberta College of Art and Design.
She sat on a number of arts boards across the city.
Verna Reid Park is located on the south side of the 1600 block of Acton Avenue S.W.
Lois Szabo Commons
Lois Szabo is the last surviving member and one of the founders of Calgary’s first gay club, Club Carousel, which was launched in 1970.
“Club Carousel provided a community hub for social activities and political activism, bringing about a platform for organized human rights efforts,” Nenshi said.
WATCH | Lois Szabo tells her story of coming out in 1960s Calgary:
Nenshi said Szabo’s work for the LGBTQIA2S+ community has had an immense positive impact.
Lois Szabo Commons is located on the northeast corner of Ninth Street and 16th Avenue S.W.
Paul (Smokey) Wilkinson Park
“(Smokey) was probably not the kind of person who ever thought a park would be named after him,” Nenshi said. “But he was an impressive community participant with his outreach to others and was a compassionate and kind soul.”
Paul Wilkinson was homeless — but Nenshi said he considered the community of Hillhurst to be his home.
Hundreds turned out for his funeral after his death from a drug overdose in 2017.
Paul (Smokey) Wilkinson Park is located on the northwest corner of 14th Street and Memorial Drive N.W.
Nenshi thanked those who submitted nominations for the park namings, and said he hopes these Calgarians serve as an inspiration to others.
“I hope that everyone who has an opportunity to use any of these parks … stops for a minute and thinks about how everyday people can make extraordinary change in other people’s lives,” the mayor said.
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