March 05, 2021 | Andrea Cox
Ahead by a century: Britannia offers old-world charm and magical aesthetic
Peppered with century-old birch and popular trees, the southwest neighbourhood of Britannia offers old-world charm and a magical aesthetic.
The community is bounded by Elbow Drive to the east, the winding banks of the Elbow River to the north and west, and 50th Avenue to the south. According to Bridget Cronin, who grew up in the area, it's a pocket of goodness.
"It's so pretty. The trees arch over the street, so in the winter it is like a winter wonderland and in the summer it is just this beautiful tunnel of green," said Cronin.
The area boasts a large percentage of park and green space. It is bounded by Riverdale Park, which flows into Sandy Beach Park and River Park. It's a desireable place to walk a dog, go for a run, try your hand at fly fishing or toodle along the banks of the Elbow on your Townie – the area provides easy access to Calgary's connected bike pathway system.
The community was annexed to the City of Calgary in 1910. Prior, the lands were untouched countryside, spilling onto the grounds of the Owen Race Track in Elbow Park, which also doubled as the Calgary Polo Club at the time.
Today, Britannia is an active and connected community. The area is walkable to 4th Street and downtown. The community has access to several highly rated schools including Rideau Park, Elbow Park, Elboya Elementary and Junior High School and Western Canada High School. Both Elboya and Western Canada offer French immersion programs.
"It's so pretty. The trees arch over the street, so in the winter it is like a winter wonderland and in the summer it is just this beautiful tunnel of green." - Bridget Cronin, Britannia resident
According to the 2012 census data, close to 900 residents call Britannia home. Most live in single-family homes that span a variety of styles and decades. Homes closer to the Elbow River were crafted earlier in the 20th century beginning in the 1920's and architecture reflects the old-world genre. Many of the homes, however, were touched by the 2013 flooding and have been reworked or torn down, with new homes sprouting up, but still retaining the façade detailing of the early part of the previous century.
As one moves up the hill towards 50th Avenue, homes exude a mid-century esthetic, from bungalows to ranch-style, but gentrification is occurring everywhere and large contemporary style homes are taking their place.
"There is a lot of diversity here, in both the homes and the people," said Cronin, noting that the sense of community is fantastic and the residents really care about the neighbourhood.
Buyers can expect to spend a pretty penny on a home in this neighbourhood – anywhere from $700,000 for an original 1950's untouched gem, upwards of several million.
Approximately 20 per cent of the community features multi-family designs, mostly along the ridge, close to Britannia Plaza, the area's funky destination shopping district.
The plaza offers lots of free parking and features local businesses such as Sunterra Market, Britannia Wine Merchants, Village Ice Cream, and Owl's Nest Books. There is old-world comfort and charm here and shoppers can find everything from specialty dog food to a great book, groceries and even a fantastic meal with the latest addition – Suzette Britannia, a chic bistro featuring authentic French comfort food, inspired by the seaside region of Brittany in the west of France. It's the sister restaurant to Cassis and Suzette on Fourth Street. Additional retail and office space is currently being constructed on the east side of the plaza.
And of course, the iconic Village Ice Cream, Calgary's iconic ice cream success story, attracts every age group. Cronin says that it's wonderful to just be able to walk for dinner or a sugar cone brimming with the flavor of the day. "It's a beautiful place for people to be outside, " said Cronin.