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Inglewood Bird Sanctuary

Art meets science with the addition of a functional art component at the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary as part of park upgrades to improve the health of the lagoon, celebrate the history of the site, restore fish habitat, and prevent erosion in this delicate and important area.

Over a period of three years, artist Tim Knowles worked closely with the project team of engineers, hydrologists and ecologists to help design the path of a new channel flowing from the Bow river into the currently stagnant lagoon and out through a water meadow. This and other control measures now reconnect the lagoon to the Bow river. The design has involved landscaping, habitat creation and a new crossing.


The crossing is a hybrid structure, part bridge, part flood control mechanism, bird blind and log jam. It allows visitors to cross over a stream to the island in the north eastern section of the park. The design incorporates natural lumber sourced from the site (tree trunks that had to be cleared from the path of the new water channel) and is comprised of a cantilever timber deck with benches and screened viewing areas for bird watching.

The crossing also helps to join existing pathways and trails, creating a series of interconnected concentric loops within the park.


As part of the design a pool with a small island and wood debris has been formed on the upstream side of the crossing, creating natural habitats for wildlife and the perfect opportunity for visitors to observe nesting and perching birds, beaver, fish and other animals from the screened vantage point of the bridge above.

Log jam

The log jam feature mirrors the way in which fallen trees are sometimes adopted as crossings by both human and wildlife. The lumber used for the project consists of both natural fallen trees and machined timber. The combination of both natural with manufactured is a nod to the site’s historical use as a sawmill.

Additional woody debris is likely to be captured over time, providing additional wildlife habitat. 


Prior community outreach by Calgary Parks highlighted the community’s desire to reconnect the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary with some historical aspects of the site around the time that city founder, Colonel Walker, occupied the area. One of the key elements identified was reconnecting the river to the lagoon, reimagining the timber mill site that Colonel Walker used, and also to reintroduce the island feel of the core sanctuary area.

Over a period of three years, artist Tim Knowles worked closely with experts, staff and visitors to to understand the landscape, wildlife, and people that visit the park.

Tim also created eight large drawings which traced the movement of wildlife within the sanctuary. The drawings were exhibited in the Dynamic Environment exhibition at Contemporary Calgary.

Great care was taken to reduce impact on habitat and wildlife.

About the artist

Tim Knowles is a world-renowned, UK-based artist whose work spans drawing, installation, photography, film, events and public art. He has worked over decades creating art and artistic experiences in cities such as Sydney, Toronto, London and Boston. His work has been widely exhibited across Europe and around the world from Iceland to Brazil.

Artist Tim Knowles and Mayor Gondek join the project team at the reopening of the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary.