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November 01, 2015

Historic fun

Storied neighbourhood provides new tales for a young generation

Shelley Boettcher

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If you truly want to know Calgary, you need to explore Victoria Park.

Named in honour of Queen Victoria, this under-the-radar neighbourhood is one of the city’s oldest and most interesting communities.

Located on the eastern part of Calgary’s Beltline district, it is bordered by the Stampede Grounds and roughly includes 10th Avenue S.E. to 17th Avenue S.E.

Although it often gets forgotten in the rush to get to flashier neighbourhoods, it is a hidden gem, one that offers a charming and eclectic mix of independent and thriving businesses — fitness facilities, architects and designers, small oil companies, wine shops and food purveyors.

Add in the neighbourhood’s vintage warehouses and upscale condos, and you’ll find plenty of good reasons to explore Victoria Park.

Just ask Calgary architects Kevin and Mairi Nyhoff, partners at Nyhoff Architecture. Last year, the award-winning duo — whose projects include the King Edward Arts Hub, the St. Louis Hotel conservation and private homes — moved their offices to Victoria Park. The inner-city community offered affordable, funky space for them to expand, and yet still be close to downtown. And there’s still easy access to the rest of the city, too.

“We are really pleased with our decision to move our office to Victoria Park,” says Mairi Nyhoff. “We feel connected to the most significant architectural projects in the city. It is an exciting place to be, and we are enjoying its evolution.”

So are the rest of us. These days, Victoria Park is the cool older brother you’d like to hang out with more often. The one with stories to tell. The one that knows where to go for a good deal, where to find the next best thing, where to eat and where to live.

Take a good look around. Stay for a while. We think you’ll like what you find.

Walk around the Warehouse District
Victoria Park includes Calgary’s Warehouse District, a collection of architecturally and historically interesting buildings that are slowly being restored and revitalized. These buildings housed the city’s industrial heart and many date back more than 100 years. Go to beltline.ca for a more in-depth look but long-time favourites amongst Calgarians include the Pilkington (402 11th Avenue S.E.), the Imperial Tobacco warehouse (220 11th Avenue S.E.) and the Ribtor warehouse (318 11th Avenue S.E.).

Find Dining
For the past decade, Hotel Arts (119 12th Avenue S.W.) has been one of the city’s top hotels. It’s also home to two of the city’s finest restaurants: Yellow Door Bistro and Raw Bar. Stop by for breakfast in Yellow Door, check out the hotel’s acclaimed art collection, enjoy a poolside cocktail or book a private event in one of the banquet halls.

Sunterra has stores around the city, but for awesome groceries in Victoria Park, this large location (200 12th Avenue S.E.) is your best bet. You’ll find produce, dry goods, a restaurant and prepared meals to take home, too.

Haru Sushi (227 11th Avenue S.E.) is a great place to find sushi, whether you’re looking to eat out or get takeout.

Manuel Latruwe (1333 First Street S.E.) is a small Belgian bakery that offers a small seating area so you can enjoy waffles or a sandwich for brunch or lunch. Or pick up a baguette and pastries to take home to enjoy.

Located in a vintage house that dates back to 1909, Ed’s restaurant (202 17th Avenue S.E.) has been a favourite amongst chicken wing fans since 1986.

And the lovely La Vita é Bella (401 12th Avenue S.E.), located by the Stampede Grounds, offers excellent Italian-inspired cuisine.

Last but not least, stop at Village Ice Cream (431 10th Avenue S.E.) Everything is made here in Calgary, with a focus on local and seasonal ingredients. (Dairy-free options are available, too.) Get a cone and eat it outside on the little patio, or buy a couple pints for your next dinner party. Be sure to try the Toasted Coconut. And the Salted Caramel. Best. Ever.

Shop
Truvé Wines (422 11th Avenue S.E.) just may be Calgary’s prettiest wine shop. Check out the gorgeous tasting room, with its crystal chandeliers and long harvest-style table.

Then head to Chocolaterie Bernard Callebaut/Cococo (1313 First Street S.E.); this is the main location, where the factory is located and where the head offices for all of Canada are. Pick up a chocolate initial or a box of handcrafted treats. And make sure you include a Leopold — rum and milk chocolate ganache — in the mix.

A couple of doors down, L’Epicerie (1325 First Street S.E.) is a charming little French deli, offering French-inspired takeaway and a small selection of groceries: quiche, beautiful olives and olive oils, cheeses.

Getting married? Check out the beautiful selection at Novia Mia (229 17th Avenue S.E.), on the edge of Victoria Park.

Fix your car
Had a fender bender? You can’t miss the uber-cool vintage sign outside Superior Paint and Body Services (112 17th Avenue S.E.). Started in the 1950s, it’s still going strong seven decades later — and it’s still family-owned.

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