Being born and raised in High River, I never got the full Calgary experience until I was old enough to drive a car. Even then – my ‘experience’ consisted of being a student at SAIT and driving Deerfoot back and forth between the two places.
Once COVID-19 hit Alberta and the province was put into lockdown, I found myself feeling even more stuck in High River – further missing out on what the city has to offer. Looking for something to keep us entertained during the first summer lockdown, my best friend and I decided to drive to the city one random Friday night. Trying to figure out what to do in a big city during a full lockdown was not an easy task, but we managed to end up on 17th Avenue.
We all have them. Places in the city that bring us joy, big and small. In an era of chaos, Calgary Journal editors are taking time this year to reflect on the public spots that bring us happiness and peace.
You can read the whole series here.
You may hear 17th and think to yourself ‘A street is her happy place? How silly!’ but I still so vividly remember our first time driving up and down that street that seems to run on forever. Being in full lockdown, you would assume the streets would be dead – why would someone be outside at 11 pm when everything is closed? But boy, were we wrong! Every point of 17th was packed. There were 100s of people walking up and down, communicating with others, busking on the side of the road, eating takeout together and more.
Although people were still cautiously distant at that point due to the pandemic, it was nice to see so many people come together on one street just to escape from what was going on in the world. After that first night of driving up and down, we probably paid 17th a visit every weekend for the rest of the summer. It is hard to put into words how we managed to entertain ourselves on one street full of closed businesses for a full summer, but we did – and we loved it.
I will forever hold that street close to my heart. Although I do not spend nearly as much time there anymore, I will always remember the joy 17th Ave gave me during such a tough time that we were all going through together. Getting to escape from what was going on in the world and spending time on a busy street full of people – which truly seemed so foreign at the time – was a feeling I will never forget and am forever appreciative of.