Not long ago, I spent a cozy, winter morning chatting with Britney Wilson and Lisa Gonzalez from Great Events to learn what makes a Bow Valley Ranche wedding so special. Lisa, who is the event coordinator at Bow Valley Ranche (BVR), has a true passion for this slice of Calgary history, nestled in the heart of Fish Creek Park. If you’re looking for a Calgary wedding venue (with a past 😉 ), this is the post for you.
The Grand Salon
Tell us about the background of Bow Valley Ranche and what makes it a unique part of Calgary culture.
1896 The house was built for William Roper Hull, a rancher originally from England, in 1896. “The house was an excellent example of the Queen-Anne style in a rural setting. Its doorway was flanked by whale ribs, string quartets played on the lawn during extravagant garden parties, and upper-crust English gentlemen were frequent visitors”.
1902 The property was sold to Senator Patrick Burns who first dubbed the property, Bow Valley Ranch. Burns was a member of the “Big Four”, a group of local businessmen who founded the world-famous Calgary Stampede.
1973 The property was acquired by the Government of Alberta and became a part of Fish Creek Provincial Park.
1995 The Ranche at Fish Creek Restoration Society was formed by local residents Larry and Mitzie Wasyliw, to restore BVR.
1999 Restorations were complete and the house opened to the public as a restaurant in 1999.
2014 Great Events officially opened its doors as the new Bow Valley Ranche Restaurant.
Thanks to Lisa who is a BVR aficionado.
Who are your ideal bride and groom?
Couples who choose a Bow Valley Ranche wedding typically appreciate the classic, rustic elegance of the property. It doesn’t require much embellishment as the house is filled with antiques and décor in the style of the home. Did I mention Lucky? He’s attended many a wedding and you’ll find him above the stone fireplace in the Grand Salon.
Their couples are usually looking for a fine dining experience and Executive Chef Jenny Kang provides just that. The menu includes ingredients that are in-season and locally-gown, including organic, sustainable meat, game, fish, poultry, vegetables and grains. During the summer, they even cultivate their own herb garden in the backyard.
Charlie’s lounge, named for Charles Yuen, the handyman-turned-cook who worked for both William Roper Hull and Senator Patrick Burns.
What are some features that set it apart?
BVR is located on the edge of a meadow in Fish Creek Park, a favorite spot for locals. Although it’s surrounded by Calgary on all sides, it feels like an escape from the city. Plus it’s the perfect location for wedding photos.
At BVR, a couple can have their ceremony, cocktail hour and reception all in one place, making it most convenient for wedding guests. The Tsuu T’ina Bride’s Room and John Glenn’s Wolf Den are available for the bridal parties and their final preparations.
Tsuu T’ina Bride’s Room
John Glenn’s Wolf Den
Weather permitting, Bow Valley Ranche wedding ceremonies can take place on the grounds or indoors. BVR hosts one wedding per day and the fenced area surrounding the house is reserved for you and your guests only.
Planning a Bow Valley Ranche wedding
Tell us about the menu options that are available to couples?
Couples planning their Bow Valley Ranche wedding may select two meat entrees and a vegetarian option. Lisa tells me that the beef tenderloin is a wedding favourite. After dinner, couples can delight their guests to a dessert buffet including treats like mini-maple crème brûlée and mocha mousse cups. Yum!
Lisa recommends booking a wedding tasting which includes:
A tour of the house
Wine small pours
Your choice of 3, 4 or 5 course
3-Course tasting | 60 per person
4-course tasting | 75 per person
5-course tasting | 90 per person
Is there availability for 2016 couples?
At present, there are a few wedding Saturdays available in June 2016. Be sure to contact Lisa at [email protected] to ask about Friday and Sunday availability too. Bow Valley Ranche is currently running a winter promotion…no facility rental on any bookings. Lisa will fill you in on the particulars.
A big thank you to Britney and Lisa for the coffee and the tour. I’m looking forward to a Bow Valley Ranche wedding or two this year.
Bow Valley Ranche wedding captured by Calgary Wedding Photographer – Tara Whittaker