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'Always special': Decades of memories recalled as Heritage Park celebrates 60 years


In 1964, the city's population was less than 300,000 people and the Calgary Tower hadn't even been thought of, but another landmark debuted and now, Heritage Park is celebrating its 60th anniversary.

"It tells so many stories, it evokes so many memories. It's just been that place for 60 years," said Dominic Terry with Heritage Park

When it opened on July 1, 1964, there were only 20 buildings, 20 staff members and about 100 volunteers.

Now, there are 183 buildings, 230 staff members and around 800 volunteers.

As the park gets set to open for its 60th year, families are recounting their own histories with the site.

"I remember how much it means to me from 50 years ago when Joyce and I stood on those steps," said George Eynon, who believes he and his wife were the first people to hold a wedding reception at Heritage Park, back in 1973.

They had a wedding photo taken outside their venue, the Wainwright Hotel, and have been able to return to those same steps every year, including last year for the 50th anniversary.

Joyce Eynon volunteered as a docent, educating guests about the history of the park.

Their two daughters attended summer camp.

"I loved Little House on the Prairie, so to dress up and come and do the summer camp was really fun," said daughter Tirian Eynon.

"My mother attended a one-room schoolhouse as a kid in Saskatchewan, and my grandmother taught in one, so getting to sit in the seats and learn about that was always special."

And it's always on their itinerary when friends and family visit.

"There's a bit of magic here, for sure," said Trevor Matheson, artistic production co-ordinator with Heritage Park for the past 20 years.

He said they always try to deliver tradition with a new twist each year.

Heritage Park estimates there have been about 4,000 weddings at the historical village since it opened.

While the park is always evolving, it's always familiar as well.

"There's some additions and things like that but it's basically the same," said George Eynon.

"It's just one of those special things that is constant in Calgary," said Tirian Eynon.

Last year, 618,000 people visited Heritage Park.

"From the smell of the cinnamon buns to the sound of the midway, people have this connection to the park," said Terry.

It usually opens for the season on the Saturday of the May long weekend but for the first time, it will happen a day early, this Friday. Top Stories

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