My Calgary: A Walk with Mark Tewksbury

Walk like an Olympian: Take the 6,000 Metre Stroll with Mark Tewksbury

Lace up your shoes and head out for an urban adventure on foot with Olympian and Canada’s Chef de Mission for the 2012 games, Mark Tewksbury.

Stephen Avenue
Stephen Avenue
Two years ago, swimmer Mark Tewksbury packed up his Olympic medals and moved back home to Calgary. After nearly 20 years living in central Canada, he loves rediscovering his hometown with fresh eyes (that aren’t wearing swim goggles) and good walking shoes.

Growing up and training in the city, Mark’s favourite Calgary spots were the University of Calgary pool, the University of Calgary pool and the University of Calgary pool. Today, however, he spends much of his leisure time exploring the city.

“I am a big walker,” says the three-time Olympic medalist (gold for the 100 metres backstroke 1n 1992, and a silver and bronze as part of the Canada’s relay swim team in 1988 and 1992 respectively).

“I live close to 17 Avenue and 8 Street, and I like to walk the whole downtown corridor all the way over to Prince’s Island Park and then over to Kensington.”

Mark’s Excellent Cross Calgary Urban Adventure usually begins with a locally-roasted coffee at Café Beano just north of 17 Avenue at 9 St. Once he’s suitably caffeined up, it’s east on 17th to check out the funky stores and even funkier people.

Next stop: Stephen Avenue Mall.  Heading north at 4 Street to downtown, Mark likes the feel of historic Stephen Avenue Mall – named for George Stephen, the first president of the Canadian Pacific Railway. “I really appreciate older architecture and I like walking down Stephen Avenue Mall with all the old buildings that show a little bit of historic Calgary,” Mark says.

A more modern structure on the mall, the sculpture “the Trees,” is designed to please the eye and help cut down on wind gusts between high rises. “I think it looks like a dinosaur, but whatever it is, it is beautiful amongst all this glass,” Mark says of the tall white shapes reaching up through the mall at 3 St.

Epcor Centre  for the Arts
Epcor Centre for the Arts Outside

A little further east, across from the Epcor Centre for the Arts, you can’t mistake the sculpture honouring the group of Alberta women who fought all the way to the Supreme Court to have women declared “persons.” 

“I love the Famous Five statue that represents a pretty amazing milestone of the women who really pushed for the right of women to vote in Canada and who came from Alberta,” Mark says. (If you have déjà vu all over again looking at the Famous Five, it’s probably because the identical sculpture sits outside the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa. Or, you need to sit down.)

After the history lesson, it’s off to Chinatown, a vibrant community a few short blocks away, offers dozens of restaurants with delicious dim sum. (Mark recommends you try the Silver Dragon).

couple at Princes Island Park
Relaxing at Prince's Island Park

Next, a short walk to Prince’s Island Park, one of Calgary’s best loved green spaces on the northern border of downtown, where you’ll see ducks swimming, kids playing and sweethearts strolling hand in hand. You may also see Mark heading into the lovely River Café, one of his favourite restaurants.

Head for Kensington by crossing the footbridge to the north side of the river and then walking west to 10 Street, here you can get another coffee at Higher Ground, or pop into Puccinella for real Italian pizza before calling it a day (and a hike through Calgary).

The Olympian and Chef De Mission for the 2012 Canadian Summer Olympic team isn’t in training anymore, although he does admit to dropping into Winsport's Canada Olympic Park (the site of ski jumping, luge and other events at the Calgary 1988 Winter Olympics) for the occassional round of mini golf.