Calgary is Alberta's largest city and Canada's fourth-largest, and is located near where the prairies end and the foothills begin. That makes it the eastern gateway to the Rocky Mountains and an important center of trade and tourism for the western prairies. It is your best point of access for Banff and Jasper, and a worthwhile destination in its own right. Calgary is the heart of the largest metropolitan area between Toronto and Vancouver, with over 1,210,000 people as of 2011 (1.1 million within city limits), making it Canada's fourth largest metropolitan area.
and Lake Louise. Nearby, well-known winter ski areas and mountain summer escapes.
A 3-hour drive south of Calgary.
A well-known mountain destination about 4 hours drive northwest of Calgary.
The nearest urban, metropolitan centre to the North is host to North America's largest mall and has a vibrant cultural scene. It is a 3-hour drive north of Calgary on Highway 2.
A city with its own list of attractions, located exactly halfway between Edmonton and Calgary.
A 90 minute drive south of Calgary. Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump, one of Alberta's 5 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, is 18 km NW of Fort Macleod with an excellent interpretive centre open year round.
2 hours east of Calgary; a 73 km2 Dinosaur Provincial Park boasts one of the best dinosaur fossil beds in the world.
90 minutes east of Calgary. The world famous Royal Tyrrell Museum houses many palaeontological specimens.
The Remington Carriage Museum houses the largest collection of horse-drawn vehicles in North America with over 250 carriages, wagons and sleighs.
town in Alberta, Canada
town in Alberta, Canada
capital city of the Canadian province of Saskatchewan
city in Alberta, Canada
town in Alberta
town in Alberta, Canada
Calgary was founded by the Northwest Mounted Police (NWMP) in 1875 and was originally called Fort Brisebois. (The name was changed to Fort Calgary in 1876, named after Calgary Bay on the Isle of Mull.) The NWMP was sent west to ensure that Canada would not have an American-style "Wild West". Grave concerns about this were raised after the Cypress Hills Massacre of natives by drunken wolf hunters in 1873. Calgary was one of several forts established in Western Canada by the NWMP to ensure a police presence before the arrival of settlers.
In 1883, the railway reached Calgary. It started to grow in every direction and became an agricultural and business hub. In 1884, Calgary was incorporated as a town in what was then the North West Territories. By 1894, Calgary's population had grown to 3900 people and it was incorporated as a city.
Alberta's first major oil and natural gas field was discovered in 1914 at Turner Valley, 60 km south of Calgary. Subsequent discoveries kept the oil and gas scene active in the Turner Valley area for the next 30 years. When the Turner Valley fields were depleted, the next major oil and gas find was at Leduc (near Edmonton) in 1947. By then, Calgary was already established as a centre of oil and gas business.
During the 1950s, oil became big in Calgary and major American oil companies started heading to Calgary and opening offices. The boom extended into the next twenty years, bringing the city to 720,000 people in the metro area by 1985. The relatively low-key low-rise downtown became filled with a sea of skyscrapers, starting with the Calgary Tower and some other towers in the 1960s. By the 1980s, Calgary's luck turned, and a drop in oil prices sent the Calgary metro economy downward. Unemployment raged, vacancies surged, and growth was slow or even negative in some years.
In 1988, Calgary hosted the Winter Olympics and brought world attention to Calgary. By the 1990s, it was on the rebound and began growing again. Calgary today has become a more cosmopolitan city of over one million inhabitants with genuine attempts to diversify its economy and expand its attractiveness to outside visitors.
Neighbourhoods of Interest
The Beltline and 17th Avenue: 17th Avenue SW is Calgary's première place to see and be seen. It boasts a large and eclectic variety of restaurants, unique shops, boutiques, and bars. This street is where Calgary parties, most notably becoming the "Red Mile" during the 2004 Stanley Cup ice hockey playoffs, where up to 100,000 cheering fans gathered to celebrate victories by the hometown NHL Calgary Flames. While the Beltline spans from the Stampede Grounds and Victoria Park on the east to Mount Royal on the west, the dense nightlife on 17th Avenue starts at about 2nd Street SW and goes to 15th Street SW.
Bridgeland (Edmonton Trail on the west, Tom Campbell's Hill on the east, Bridge Crescent NE on the north, and the Bow River/Memorial Drive/Zoo on the south) is an urban revitalization area northeast of the downtown. Although the community has long been Calgary's "Little Italy" (hence the abundance of Italian restaurants in the area), the demolition of the old General Hospital in 1998 sparked a long-term project redevelop much of the era. The area is expected to be a family oriented Pearl District (see Portland, Oregon) and the initial phases are already done. The area includes posh shops, chic apartments, and beautiful lofts, while maintaining the old charm of the distinct houses. Eventually the neighbourhood will have more shops and some high rise buildings. It is a great area to walk through for those interested in architecture and planning. The far eastern end of Bridgeland connects with the Calgary Zoo and the newly opened TELUS Spark science centre.
Inglewood: Inglewood is Calgary's oldest neighbourhood and the site of the city's original downtown. It is also one of Calgary's most culturally influenced and eclectic areas. Inglewood contains everything from stores targeted at bikers, to unique boutiques, antique stores, galleries, and restaurants. It is not as developed as some of the city's downtown districts, but it is quickly becoming one of the city's most popular "urban chic" neighbourhoods. It lies immediately east of downtown (east of 1st Street E) and is concentrated along 9th Avenue SE. Just to the north is the Bow River and the Calgary Zoo.
Forest Lawn International Avenue. Forest Lawn is known for its diverse culture, with the city's best Vietnamese, Lebanese, and Central American eateries lining 17th Avenue SE between 26th St SE and 61 St SE. The nightlife of this area is a place to exercise caution. There are many pawn shops that line the streets, if you're looking for a deal.
Kensington. Kensington is located along the Bow River on the north side of downtown. It is another one of Calgary's notable shopping neighbourhoods, with a somewhat more bohemian feel than 17th Avenue (one particular store specializes in Birkenstocks and futons). It offers a good variety of restaurants, with more of an emphasis on coffee shops than on bars. Kensington runs along Kensington Road NW from 14th St NW to 10th St NW, and also north along 10th St NW to 5 Ave NW.
McKenzie Towne is located on the southeastern outskirts of Calgary (accessible via Deerfoot Trail and McKenzie Towne Boulevard). An exception to the "dull suburb" stereotype, this planned community features parks and classical home facades that come right out of a Norman Rockwell painting. Anchoring the area is High Street, a shopping centre disguised as a classic small-town main street. Worth checking out if you've rented a car to visit Spruce Meadows.
Marda Loop/Garrison Green (east of Crowchild Trail along 33rd Avenue SW), which contains a large number of quaint shops, restaurants, and services and is a real up and comer area and would be a great place to check out. Marda Loop, centered on the intersection of 33rd Avenue and 20th Street SW, is the older of the two areas and in mid-August hosts the Marda Gras Street Festival along 33 Avenue between 19 Street and 23 Street SW. Garrison Green is a newly developed residential/shopping district immediately to the south of 32 Avenue that features its own mix of eclectic shops and old-towne storefronts.
Mission: The Mission district was established as a French and Catholic settlement (later called Rouleauville) at the same time that Calgary was founded. Historic displays at Rouleauville Square and the Elbow River Promenade tell the story of the area. In many ways, Mission acts as an extension of 17th Avenue. Like the Beltline, it is packed full of interesting restaurants and shops. It does not share 17th Avenue's late night reputation, however, and it generally lacks the bars and nightclubs. Mission extends from 4th Street SW to 1st Street SE and from 17th Avenue SW in the north to 26th Avenue and the Elbow River in the south.
Mount Royal is a neighbourhood south of the downtown with charming old homes on winding streets. The area houses some of Calgary's elite. It is a nice area to do a quiet stroll through, admiring old residences. Driving around the community can be challenging due to the preponderance of traffic calming measures and street closures to prevent cut-through traffic.
Parkhill is a neighbourhood south of downtown. It is a quite wealthy area that once had many old homes. Today it is home to a range of modern designs, with few old homes still standing. It's a very interesting neighbourhood to visit.
- Turner Valley Gas Plant National and Provincial Historic Site Sunset Blvd SE, Turner Valley ☎ A pioneering natural gas plant 45 minutes (by car) south of Calgary, where the Dingman No. 1 well's centennial was celebrated on May 14, 2014. See how natural gas from Canada's largest gas field was processed prior to WWII.