A Suitable Shelter

By Emily Tipping

The most memorable parks go beyond the standard, cookie-cutter offerings to provide a little something extra. Often, a unifying aesthetic can go a long way toward "tying the room together." Shelters, site furnishings and so on can be selected for the way they highlight certain aspects of your site, your community's history or some other theme.

Many manufacturers—from those creating picnic shelters to those fabricating picnic tables and playgrounds—can work with you to customize the amenities you add to your sites. These customizations can be as simple as a clock tower or cupola atop a shelter, or something seemingly more complex.

The small hamlet of Chard in the far northern reaches of Alberta, Canada, will soon be home to one of these more complex, customized shelters.

Chard is home to the Dene First Nation, an Athabascan-speaking people. The "Dene," which means "The People," have been in the Athabasca region for thousands of years, and were once hunters and gatherers who migrated with the caribou they hunted. Eventually some of the Dene migrated south into what is now the United States, becoming part of what are now the Apache and Navajo nations, located largely in Arizona.

In celebration of its storied past, Chard will soon be home to the largest fully covered tepee in North America.

Conceived by Pat Zelenak of Edmonton-based Playworks Inc. and crafted by Classic Recreaiton Systems Inc., an all-steel, 60-foot diameter and 60-foot tall, 12-sided tepee will soon be located in Chard. Once installed, it will serve as a focal and destination point for the Chipewyan Prairie Dene First Nation tribe. The tepee will serve as a picnic shelter, entertainment pavilion and pow wow area, with a large fire pit located near the front. Native scenes are planned to be painted on the steel walls and roof of the tepee.

Ultimately, it's a grand celebration of the community's history and culture, and the perfect example of how to apply the concept of theming to park design.

Classic Recreation Systems Inc.: www.classicrecreation.com
Playworks Inc.: www.playworks.ca

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