Last week Canada Post announced the release of an exclusive collection of stamps memorializing several iconic Canadian carousels, including our very own Bowness Carousel, which has called Heritage Park home since 1969!
The Bowness Carousel is the only carousel from Alberta, and only one of two in Western Canada, to be chosen for the one-of-a-kind collection. The other featured carousels come from British Columbia, Quebec and Ontario.
While the Bowness Carousel only arrived at Heritage Park in 1969, it has a long and rich history. Originally built in 1904 by the Herschell-Spillman Company in New York, it spent its first two years in Louisville, Kentucky before making its way across the border to Winnipeg Beach, MB and then finally sold to the Calgary Railway Corporation in 1919, where it would call Bowness Park home for 50 years! The carousel was acquired by Heritage Park in 1969.
Being one of the oldest, working carousels in Canada is not easy! When it first arrived to Heritage Park, it immediately had to have a unique twelve-sided pavilion constructed around its structure in order to protect it against the elements. This pavilion is only one of many ways that Heritage Park has worked to protect both the structural and historical integrity of the Carousel.
The carousel’s well-maintained condition is also thanks to the multiple restorations that have been performed on it since its arrival to the Park. These restorations and the special pavilion have contributed greatly to the Carousel’s life span of over 100 years, which is even more impressive when considering that it has had near continual seasonal operation the entire time!
In addition to the upcoming stamp collection, the Carousel has also had its historical significance recognized in 2021, when it was awarded the Historic Carousel Award by the National Carousel Association. This award is given in recognition of historical significance and innate quality of character. In order to be given this prestigious award, the chosen carousel must also have a proven program of restoration and maintenance, a regular schedule of operation, as well as a support group that is likely to ensure that the carousel will continue to be available to the public as an operating machine.
Over the course of its long life, the Bowness Carousel has had a positive community impact despite having several different homes throughout the past century. By spending the majority of its life in Calgary, the Carousel has become an iconic and interactive piece of history, allowing long-time Calgarians and visitors alike to reminisce about how times have changed, but also about what has stayed consistent. The Bowness Carousel has remained one of the most consistent attractions at Heritage Park and contributed to countless memories and will continue to do so for the years to come.
If you’re interested in purchasing the Vintage Carousel stamp collection, check out your local Canada Post or visit their website.