The Bow River is a river in the Canadian province of Alberta. It begins in the Rocky Mountains and winds through the Alberta foothills onto the prairies where it meets the Oldman River, the two then forming the South Saskatchewan River. These waters ultimately flow through the Nelson River into Hudson Bay. The Bow River runs through the city of Calgary, taking in the Elbow River at the historic site of Fort Calgary near downtown. The Bow River pathway, developed along the river's banks, is considered a part of Calgary's self-image.
First Nations peoples made varied use of the river for sustenance before settlers of European origin arrived, such as using its valleys in the buffalo hunt. The name "Bow" refers to the reeds that grew along its banks and were used by the local First Nations peoples to make bows; the Peigan name for the river is "Makhabn", meaning "river where bow reeds grow".
The river is an important source of water for irrigation and drinking water. Between the years 1910 and 1960, the Bow River and its tributaries were engineered to provide hydroelectric power, primarily for Calgary's use. This significantly altered the river's flow and certain ecosystems.
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