Nose Hill Park consists of 1127 hectares of almost untouched prairie in the midst of the built up and paved-over City of Calgary. The city and the park share a common history, with some of the 12,000 year old ice age history still visible in the park.
Nose Hill’s and Calgary’s history began 60 million years ago when the entire area was flat and covered with swamp forests. Around this time the earth crust shifted and the Rocky Mountains were pushed up. The run-off from the growing mountains in the west, created the ancestral Bow River which deposited thick sheets of sand and gravel in this area.
During the last ice age which lasted from 100,000 to 12,000 years ago large sedimentary rock boulders, ripped from the mountains to the west, were transported and deposited all over Southern Alberta, including Nose Hill Park.
Several depressions can be found in the park where the last remnants of the ice sheet melted. Several ice age melt water stream channels can also be found.
There was no fertile soil at that time, just glacial till, a combination of silt, clay and gravel. The retreating Laurentide and mountain ice sheets left behind this glacial debris all over Alberta, in some places 100 meters thick. Calgary is situated where two ice sheets met. As the ice sheets retreated a large glacial lake developed. The Nose Hill gullies emptied into this lake that stretched from roughly the bottom of the hill to the other side of the valley.
June 2, 2016 – Went for a walk to check on wild flowers in Nose Hill Park. Found the Silky Perennial Lupine blooming. The latin name is Lupinus Sericeus Pursh. Sericeus means silky in latin, and refers to the dense covering of long white hairs on leaves and stems. The plant is easily identified by its palmate leaf structure. The leaves radiate out from the centre. The number of leaflets on each leaf, range from 5 to 10.
The plant is considered poisonous to livestock. North American Natives used a mixture of strained, pounded seeds mixed with water as an eye medicine. The plant was also used for bedding and floor covering in sweat-houses. There was a belief that the plant size and bloom size indicated when the groundhogs were fat enough to eat and recognised the plant as being a favourite food of the marmot.