Today we know Nose Hill as a well-loved urban park—its 11 square kilometers surrounded by 12 communities. Nose Hill became a City park in 1980, and has a long and varied history predating its role as an urban playground and retreat.
In 1882 the Dominion granted the first recorded land occupancy on Nose Hill for cattle and even sheep grazing. A land survey at the time extolled the virtues of the land for grazing: “The grass is very luxuriant, and wild pea was found in many places. The township is admirably suited for grazing, the hills and coulees affording the shelter for stock.” Well-financed ranchers, such as Patrick Burns, quickly moved in and purchased large range leases.
In 1907, farmers began cultivating wheat, barley, oats and rapeseed on the hill—a practice that continued for decades. In 1961, as Calgary grew in leaps and bounds, Nose Hill’s gravel deposits were discovered and mining began. In 1969 the City turned to Nose Hill’s plateau as a possible annex to house up to 30,000 members of Calgary’s growing population. Citizen protest in the late 1970s saved Nose Hill from development and created the park we know and love today.
Indigenous people including the Siksikaitsitapi (Blackfoot) used Nose Hill as a vantage point to survey the surrounding plains and foothills for hundreds of years. Today you can still find circles of stones (“tipi rings”) that were used to anchor buffalo skin tipis. Its elevation made it a sacred place for ceremonies and burials. And it remains a sacred place today; in 2015 the Siksikaitsitapi built a medicine wheel on Nose Hill as part of the Siksikaitsitapi (Blackfoot Confederacy) conference. Nose Hill's medicine wheel and tipi rings are living testaments to its long and varied history.
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