Calgary’s Rivers & Creeks – Bow River

Lisa C. Community, Daily Life, Newcomer Information

Large rivers have been important to people throughout history. Many large cities develop and thrive along them. Rivers provide us with

  • water for drinking and cooking
  • useful travel corridors
  • abundant resources, such as game animals

Generally, archaeologists consider the land around rivers to have very high potential for archaeological sites.

The Bow River’s headwaters is located at Bow Lake in Banff National Park.

It flows 587 km (365 mi) south through the town of Banff and east through Canmore and the foothills, through the city of Calgary and on through the prairies to join the Oldman River.

The river probably got its name from the Cree, referring to the excellent bow-making wood along its banks.

The Bow River valley was ideal for larger winter habitation sites. The archaeological record suggests it became a common seasonal habitation pattern approximately 3,500 years ago.

At various points along the river the landscape is ideal for different methods of hunting. Numerous killsites have been found in Calgary that take advantage of the landscape features within the Bow River Valley.