Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Value for Money:
Personality Types that Like it Best
Did you know … ?
- The Calgary Stampede, billing itself the world’s richest rodeo, offers $1.75 million in prizes.
- The Olympic Hall of Fame in Calgary is the world’s largest Olympic museum.
- The largest collection of dinosaur bones was found in the Alberta Badlands near Calgary.
- Calgary has Canada’s youngest residents; the median age is 35.7 years.
- The first Calgary Stampede was staged in 1912, the brainchild of American Guy Weadick.
Cowboys — and trendy shops
Calgary is known for its rodeos, Indian heritage and picture-postcard scenery. The principal urban area in the province of Alberta, Calgary flaunts its Wild West past with a wide selection of outdoor attractions, forts and living history museums.
At the same time, this rapidly growing modern city has taken on a sophisticated edge, thanks to trendy hotels, restaurants and shops and a thriving cultural and business scene.
Looking at the mountains and prairies that provide the backdrop for Calgary, it is hard to imagine that the land under this bustling city of about 1 million inhabitants lay at the bottom of the sea several million years ago. In fact, dinosaurs once roamed the area. In considerably more recent times, the terrain changed drastically during a series of ice ages, the most recent of which was only 10,000 years ago.
The earliest human settlers were North American Indians — generally referred to in Canada as First Nations — including the Blackfoot and Blood tribes. Fur traders followed, but it was the coming of the Canadian Pacific Railroad, immortalized by Canadian singer Gordon Lightfoot, that put the city on the map and opened it up as an important junction on a trade route to the Pacific coast.
It is hard to overstate the importance of the oil industry in the rapid expansion of the city in the latter part of the 20th century, spurred by shortages of oil from the Middle East. As a result, construction in Calgary has struggled to keep pace with the influx of new residents.
The oil industry notwithstanding, Calgary is known as a green city and, in fact, was named the cleanest city in the world in 2007 by Forbes Magazine.
The abundance of outdoor activities is another draw for visitors and would-be residents. These include area ski facilities and the nearby Banff National Park, with its hot springs and world-famous scenery. Those attractions became even more prominent at the time of the 1988 Winter Olympic Games, when Calgary was the host.
The city’s most famous tourist attraction is the 10-day Calgary Stampede and Exhibition, held each year in the first full week of July.
Things to do for Venturers
- Test your tolerance for heights at the Calgary Tower glass-floor experience, where visitors seem to step into space on a 36-foot glass-enclosed glass platform 525 feet above the ground.
- Then, fly off Calgary’s Ski Jump Tower at Skyline at the Park, billed as the fastest zipline in North America with speeds of 84 miles an hour.
- Tour the Big Rock Brewery and create a six pack of your favorite beers to take home. Note: If you are flying, the beer cannot be part of your carry-on luggage.
- See the sights from a helicopter from Springbank Airport, where outings can range from half an hour to a whole day.
- Compete in the Chinook Half Ironman Triathlon in June.
- Wallow in virtual sports, dinner and a frothy brew at Flames Central, an interactive sports bar dedicated to the Calgary Flames hockey team. Tip: This is fun for men and women, provided they are sports fans.
Things to do for Centrics
- Watch the zany Chuckwagon Races during the Calgary Stampede, followed by the Grandstand Show, live music and fireworks.
- Tuck into free breakfast (before 10 a.m.) at Heritage Park Historical Village, a 66-acre living-history village of the pre-1914 era.
- Catch a Minor League Calgary Vipers baseball game; this is a team that plays 50 home games per season.
- Brave a Calgary Ghost Tour, a walking tour of so-called haunted sites downtown and in Inglewood.
- Rent a GyPSy Guide, a device that plugs into your car radio and automatically points out some 3,500 places of interest as you drive around Calgary and into the Rockies.
- Try on a Canadian Mounted Police uniform at Fort Calgary, a reconstructed site that depicts life from 1875 to the1940s. Also, see the Deane House Historic Site and Restaurant and the 40-acre riverside park.
Things to do for Authentics
- Join a guided tour into the Rocky Mountains, departing from downtown Calgary daily year-round.
- Get into the Christmas spirit during December at the Airdrie Festival of Lights about 13 miles from Calgary; the event also offers ice skating and train rides.
- Amuse small fry at the Creative Kids Museum, where interactive art programs are the order of the day.
- Save your appetite for a two-hour dine-around at five Calgary restaurants on Urban Safari Tours.
- Laugh while you eat at the Jubilations Dinner Theatre, which combines interactive musical comedy with a four-course dinner, or try dinner and a show at Theatre Junction at the Grand, Western Canada’s oldest theater.
- Enjoy a performance by the Calgary Opera company at the Southern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium or the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra at the Jack Singer Concert Hall.
For more information, consult Tourism Calgary at www.tourismcalgary.com