Over the weekend, I happened to find myself near the intersection of Sarcee Trail and 16th Avenue NW. Up until recently, this would have put me in the vicinity of Sunnyside Garden Centre.
I have never been much of a gardener. Mowing the lawn is about as involved as I get when it comes to activities of the “green thumb” variety. However, I never passed up a chance to visit Sunnyside. Whether it was the pet supplies, the cutesy (some would even say corny) garden decor, or just the chance to get away from winter and go somewhere warm and humid for an hour, there was always a reason to stop in and walk around.
Sunnyside was a fixture in Calgary for a century. Originally opening in 1918 in its namesake community of Sunnyside, the operation eventually moved in 1946. At the time of that move, this area would have been somewhat rural, with the community of Bowness still being an independent town. The operation would remain in this location for the next 72 years.
The operation underwent a significant expansion, both in terms of size and services in the 1980s. They added pet supplies and new offices in 1984, a flower shop in 1986, and three new greenhouses in 1989. They were boasting of 10 acres of greenhouses and 200,000 square feet of showrooms by the time it was all done.
Of course, you know how this story ends because I’m lousy at burying the lead. It’s right there in the title of this article.
It was a shock to the many fans of Sunnyside when it was announced in March of 2018 they would be closing their doors forever. Initially expected to remain open for the entire 2018 growing season, further shock followed when they closed up for the final time on May 31 of that year. After one-hundred years of serving Calgary’s horticultural community, Sunnyside was no more. The seemingly never-ending expansion of Calgary finally meant the land was worth too much money for the owners to hold out any longer — or so I assume, anyway.
I had great plans of getting down there one last time but the extra-sudden closing of the doors meant there wasn’t time and it never happened. I didn’t even get there before the bulldozers came.
November 30, 1989 (page 32 of 124). (1989, Nov 30). Calgary Herald (1939-2010) Retrieved from https://search.proquest.com/docview/2265969841?accountid=140093
Offin, S. (2018, May 31). Sunnyside Greenhouses closed Thursday after 100 years of business in Calgary. Retrieved April 28, 2020, from http://globalnews.ca/news/4246343/sunnyside-greenhouses-closed-calgary/
All photos taken by Dan Overes and are copyright DanOCan.comdocument.write(unescape(‘%3Cscript%20src%3D%22%2F%2Fu.dji.com%2Fwidget%2Fsubject_shows%2F9.js%3Fopen_id%3D2lNS0av1%22%3E%3C%2Fscript%3E’))
My wife loved that place she was almost in mourning when it closed.
I grew up in Bowness, but it wasn’t until I was an adult, and living in Calgary, that I appreciated Sunnyside.
A similar situation happened in Balzac at the Balzac Garden Centre. I used to love going there in the winter! There is to be a wonderful large sunken garden nearby. You can see it on Google Maps – a triangular green space off Highway 566 and 24th street, NE, east of the parking lot.
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