Curious Calgary #5: Refinery Park

The unusual story of a short-lived neighbourhood.

Curious Calgary is a mini-comics series by Sam Hester that can be read online and/or printed at home and folded into a zine. The entire comic fits onto a single page of 8 ½ by 11 paper. All you need is a printer.

Download this comic, print it out and follow these instructions for how to fold and cut it. A how-to video is at the bottom of this page.

Additional notes from the editor

Sam's comic got me curious (which is the point!) and I couldn't resist pulling some historic images. Check out the aerial view of the land in 1975, with the Imperial Oil refinery still on the site:

Here's the site 20 years later, in 1995, with the refinery long gone and the new subdivision on the ridge south of the site. You can also clearly see Philip Sprung's distinct hydroponic greenhouse (hydroponics is a way of growing plants without soil):

Here's the view in 2013 after years of health concerns about the toxic site. The Sprung greenhouse is gone and so are the houses on the ridge, with just trees remaining along the streets:

And here's the place in 2022, remediated as Old Refinery Park:

If you want to nerd out further on this, check out the City of Calgary's online gallery of historic aerial imagery, which lets you view images from different years and swipe to compare them.

But be warned. Once you start playing around with this, it's hard to stop.

It's especially fun to pull up your own neighbourhood, and your street, to see how it has changed over the years. Try it.

Sam Hester is a Calgary-based graphic recorder and longtime indie comics creator. Jeremy Klaszus is editor-in-chief of The Sprawl.

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