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Cities in the Spotlight: Calgary, Canada

Today we are travelling to Calgary, Alberta.


Calgary City Information

Calgary is a city in the western Canadian province of Alberta. As of 2021, the city had a population of 1,306,784 and a metropolitan population of 1,481,806, making it the third-largest city and fifth-largest metropolitan area in Canada. Calgary is situated at the confluence of the Bow River and the Elbow River in the south of the province, in the transitional area between the Rocky Mountain Foothills and the Canadian Prairies, about 80 km (50 mi) east of the front ranges of the Canadian Rockies, roughly 299 km (186 mi) south of the provincial capital of Edmonton and approximately 240 km (150 mi) north of the Canada–United States border. The city anchors the south end of the Statistics Canada-defined urban area, the Calgary–Edmonton Corridor. Calgary's economy includes activity in the energy, financial services, film and television, transportation and logistics, technology, manufacturing, aerospace, health and wellness, retail, and tourism sectors. The Calgary Metropolitan Region is home to Canada's second-highest number of corporate head offices among the country's 800 largest corporations. In 2015 Calgary had the highest number of millionaires per capita of any major Canadian city. In 2022 Calgary was ranked alongside Zürich as the third most livable city in the world, ranking first in Canada and in North America. In 1988 it became the first Canadian city to host the Olympic Winter Games.


Calgary Historical Significance

Early history

The Calgary area was inhabited by pre-Clovis people whose presence has been traced back at least 11,000 years. The area has been inhabited by the multiple First Nations, the Niitsitapi (Blackfoot Confederacy; Siksika, Kainai, Piikani), îyârhe Nakoda, the Tsuutʼina peoples and Métis Nation, Region 3. As Mayor Naheed Nenshi (A'paistootsiipsii; Iitiya) describes, "There have always been people here. In Biblical times there were people here. For generations beyond number, people have come here to this land, drawn here by the water. They come here to hunt and fish; to trade; to live; to love; to have great victories; to taste bitter disappointment; but above all to engage in that very human act of building community." In 1787, David Thompson, a 17 year old cartographer with the Hudson's Bay Company (HBC) spent the winter with a band of Peigan encamped along the Bow River. He was also a fur trader and surveyor and the first recorded European to visit the area. John Glenn was the first documented European settler in the Calgary area, in 1873. In Spring 1875, Fathers Lacombe, Remus, and Scollen built a small log cabin on the banks of the Elbow River.

In the fall of 1875, the site became a post of the North-West Mounted Police (NWMP) (now the Royal Canadian Mounted Police or RCMP). The NWMP detachment was assigned to protect the western plains from US whisky traders, and to protect the fur trade, and Inspector Éphrem-A. Brisebois led fifty Mounties as part of "F Troop" north from Fort Macleod to establish the site. The I. G. Baker Company of Fort Benton, Montana was contracted to construct a suitable Fort, and after its completion, the Baker company built a log store next to the Fort. The NWMP Fort remained officially nameless until construction was complete, although it had been referred to as "The Mouth" by people at Fort Macleod. At Christmas dinner NWMP Inspector Éphrem-A. Brisebois christened the unnamed Fort "Fort Brisebois", a decision which caught the ire of his superiors Colonel James Macleod and Major Acheson Irvine. Major Irvine cancelled the order by Brisebois and wrote Hewitt Bernard, the then Deputy Minister of Justice in Ottawa, describing the situation and suggesting the name "Calgary" put forward by Colonel Macleod. Edward Blake, at the time Minister of Justice, agreed with the name and in the spring of 1876 Fort Calgary was officially established.

In 1881 the federal government began to offer leases for cattle ranching in Alberta (up to 400 km2 (100,000 acres) for one cent per acre per year) under the Dominion Lands Act, which became a catalyst for immigration to the settlement. The I. G. Baker Company drove the first herd of cattle to the region in the same year for the Cochrane area by order of Major James Walker. The Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) reached the area in August 1883, and constructed a rail station on the CPR owned Section 15, neighbouring the townsite across the Elbow River to the east located on Section 14. The difficulty in crossing the river and the CPR's efforts to persuade residents resulted in the core of the Calgary townsite moving onto Section 15, with the fate of the old townsite sealed when the post office was anonymously moved across the icy Elbow River during the night. The CPR subdivided Section 15 and began selling lots surrounding the station, $450 for corner lots and $350 for all others; and pioneer Felix McHugh constructed the first private building on the site. Earlier in the decade it was not expected that the railroad would pass near Calgary, instead the preferred route put forward by people concerned with the young nation's defense was passing near Edmonton and through the Yellowhead Pass. However, in 1881 CPR changed the plans preferring the direct route through the prairies by way of Kicking Horse Pass. Along with the CPR, August 1883 brought Calgary the first edition of the Calgary Herald published on the 31st under the title The Calgary Herald, Mining and Ranche Advocate and General Advertiser by teacher Andrew M. Armour and printer Thomas B. Braden, a weekly newspaper with a subscription price of $1 per year.

Over a century later, the Canadian Pacific Railway headquarters moved to Calgary from Montreal in 1996. Residents of the now eight year old settlement sought to form a local government of their own. In the first weeks of 1884, James Reilly who was building the Royal Hotel east of the Elbow River circulated 200 handbills announcing a public meeting on January 7, 1884 at the Methodist Church. At the full meeting Reilly advocated for a bridge across the Elbow River and a civic committee to watch over the interests of the public until Calgary could be incorporated. The attendees were enthusiastic about the committee and on the next evening a vote was held to elected the seven members. A total of 24 candidates were nominated which equalled 10 per cent of Calgary's male population. Major James Walker received 88 votes, the most amongst the candidates, the other six members were Dr. Andrew Henderson, George Clift King, Thomas Swan, George Murdoch, J. D. Moulton, and Captain John Stewart. The civic committee met with Edgar Dewdney, who was then the Lieutenant Governor of the North-West Territories who happened to be in Calgary at the time, to discuss an allowance for a school, an increase from $300 to $1,000 grant for a bridge over the Elbow River, incorporation as a Town, and representation for Calgary in the Legislative Council of the North-West Territories. The committee was successful in getting an additional $200 for the bridge, and eventually a by-election was held on June 28, 1884 where James Davidson Geddes defeated James Kidd Oswald to become the Calgary electoral district representative to 1st Council of the North-West Territories. As for education, Calgary moved quickly, the Citizen's Committee raised $125 on February 6, 1884 and the first school opened for twelve children days later on February 18, led by teacher John William Costello. The private school was not enough for the needs of the town, and following a petition by James Walker the Calgary Protestant Public School District No. 19 was formed by the Legislature on March 2, 1885.

On November 27, 1884 the wait was finally over as Lieutenant Governor Dewdney proclaimed the incorporation of The Town of Calgary. Shortly after on December 3, Calgarians went to the polls to elect their first Mayor and four Councillors. The North-West Municipal Ordinance of 1884 provided voting rights to any male British subject over 21 years of age who owned at minimum $300 of property. The election was held under multiple non-transferable vote where each elector was able to cast a ballot for the mayor and up to four ballots for separate councillors. George Murdoch won the mayoral race in a landslide victory with 202 votes over E. Redpath's 16, while Simon Jackson Hogg, Neville James Lindsay, Joseph Henry Millward, and Simon John Clarke were elected Councillors. The next morning the Council met for the first time at Beaudoin and Clarke's Saloon. Law and order remained top of mind in the frontier town, in early 1884 Jack Campbell was appointed as a constable for the community, and in early 1885 the Town Council passed By-law Eleven creating the position of Chief Constable and assigning relevant duties, a precursor to the Calgary Police Service. The first Chief Constable John (Jack) S. Ingram, who had previously served as the first police chief in Winnipeg, was empowered to arrest drunken and disorderly people, stop all fast riding in town, attend all fires and council meetings. Calgary Town Council was eager to employ constables versus contracting the NWMP for town duty as the police force was seen as a money-making proposition. Constables received half of the fines from liquor cases, meaning Chief Constable Ingram could easily pay his $60 per month salary and the expense of a town jail.

Turmoil in 1885 and 1886 and "The Sandstone City"

For the Town of Calgary, 1884 turned out to be a success; however, two dark years lay ahead for the fledgling community. The turmoil started in late 1885, when Councillor Clarke was arrested for threatening a plain-clothes Mountie who entered his saloon to conduct a late-night search. When the officer failed to produce a search warrant, Clarke chased him off the premises; however, the Mountie returned with reinforcements and arrested Clarke. Clarke found himself before Stipendiary Magistrate Jeremiah Travis, a proponent of the temperance movement who was appalled by the open traffic of liquor, gambling and prostitution in Calgary despite prohibition in the Northwest Territories. Travis' view was accurate as the Royal Commission of Liquor Traffic of 1892 found liquor was sold openly, both day and night during prohibition. Travis associated Clarke with the troubles he saw in Calgary and found him guilty, and sentenced Clarke to six months with hard labour. Murdoch and the other members of Council were shocked and a public meeting was held at Boynton's Hall in which a decision was made to send a delegation to Ottawa to seek an overruling of Travis' judgement by the Department of Justice. The community quickly raised $500 and Murdoch and a group of residents headed east.

The punishment of Clarke did not escape Hugh Cayley the editor of the Calgary Herald and Clerk of the District Court. Cayley published articles critical of Travis and his judgment, in which Travis responded by calling Cayley to court, dismissing him from his position as Clerk, ordering Cayley to apologized and pay a $100 fine. Cayley refused to pay the fine, which Travis increased to $500, and on January 5, the day after the election, Cayley was imprisoned by Travis.

Murdoch returned to Calgary on December 27, 1885, only a week before the upcoming election to find the Town in disarray. Shortly before the 1886 election, G. E. Marsh brought a charge of corruption against Murdoch and council over irregularities in the voters' list. Travis found Murdoch and the councillors guilty, disqualifying them from running in the 1886 election, barring them from municipal office for two years, and fining Murdoch $100, and the councillors $20. This was despite the fact Murdoch was visiting Eastern Canada while the alleged tampering was occurring. Travis' disqualification did not dissuade Calgary voters and Murdoch defeated his opponent James Reilly by a significant margin in early January to be re-elected as Mayor. Travis accepted a petition from Reilly to unseat Murdoch and two of the elected Councillors, and declare Reilly the Mayor of Calgary.

Both Murdoch and Reilly claimed to be the lawful Mayor of the growingly disorganized Town of Calgary, both holding council meetings and attempting to govern. Word of the issues in Calgary reached the Minister of Justice John Sparrow David Thompson in Ottawa who ordered Justice Thomas Wardlaw Taylor of Winnipeg to conduct an Inquiry into the "Case of Jeremiah Travis". The federal government acted before receiving Taylor's report, Jeremiah Travis was suspended and the government waited for his official tenure to expire, after which he was pensioned off. Justice Taylor's report which was released in June 1887 found Travis had exceeded his authority and erred in his judgements.

The Territorial Council called for a new municipal election to be held in Calgary on November 3, 1886. George Clift King defeated his opponent John Lineham for the office of Mayor of Calgary. Calgary would only have a couple days peace following the November election before the Calgary Fire of 1886 destroyed much of the community's downtown. Part of the slow response to the fire can be attributed to the absence of functioning local government during 1886. As neither George Murdoch or James Reilly was capable of effectively governing the town, the newly ordered chemical engine for the recently organized Calgary Fire Department (Calgary Hook, Ladder and Bucket Corps) was held in the CPR's storage yard due to lack of payment. Members of the Calgary Fire Department broke into the CPR storage yard on the day of the fire to retrieve the engine. In total, fourteen buildings were destroyed with losses estimated at $103,200, although no one was killed or injured.

The new Town Council sprung into action, drafting a bylaw requiring all large downtown buildings were to be built with sandstone, which was readily available nearby in the form of Paskapoo sandstone. Following the fire several quarries were opened around the city by prominent local businessmen including Thomas Edworthy, Wesley Fletcher Orr, J. G. McCallum, and William Oliver. Prominent buildings built with Sandstone following the fire include Knox Presbyterian Church (1887), Imperial Bank Building (1887), Calgary City Hall (1911), and Calgary Courthouse No. 2 (1914).

1887 to 1900

Calgary continued to expand when real estate speculation took hold of Calgary in 1889. Speculators began buying and building west of Centre Street and Calgary quickly began to sprawl west to the ire of property owners on the east side of town. Property owners on both side of Centre Street sought to bring development to their side of Calgary, lost successfully by east sider James Walker who convinced the Town Council to purchase land on the east side for a stockyard purposes, guaranteeing meat packing and processing plants would be constructed on the east side. By 1892 Calgary had reached present-day Seventeenth Avenue, east to the Elbow River and west to Eighth Street, and the first federal census listed the boom town at 3,876 inhabitants. The economic conditions in Calgary began to deteriorate in 1892, as development in the downtown slowed, the streetcar system started in 1889 was put on hold and smaller property owners began to sell. The first step in connecting the District of Alberta happened in Calgary on July 21, 1890 as Minister of the Interior Edgar Dewdney turned the first sod for the Calgary and Edmonton Railway in front of two thousand residents. The railway was completed in August 1891 and immensely shortened travel time between the two communities, previously stagecoach passengers and mail could arrive in five days and animal pulled freight anywhere between two and three weeks, the train was able to make the trip in only a few hours.

Smallpox arrived in Calgary in June 1892 when a Chinese resident was found with the disease, and by August nine people had contracted the disease with three deaths. Calgarians placed the blame for the disease on the local Chinese population, resulting in a riot on August 2, 1892. Residents descended on the Town's Chinese-owned laundries, smashing windows and attempting to burn the structures to the ground. The local police did not attempt to intervene. Mayor Alexander Lucas had inexplicably left town during the riot, and when he returned home he called the NWMP in to patrol Calgary for three weeks to prevent further riots. Finally on January 1, 1894, Calgary was granted a Charter by the 2nd North-West Legislative Assembly, officially titled Ordinance 33 of 1894, the City of Calgary Charter elevated the frontier town to the status of a full-fledged city. Calgary became the first City in the Northwest Territories, receiving its Charter a decade before Edmonton and Regina, the Calgary Charter would remain enforce until it was repealed with the Cities Act in 1950. The Charter came into effect in such a way as to prevent the regularly scheduled municipal election in December 1893, and recognizing the importance of the moment, the entire Town Council resigned to ensure the new City could choose the first Calgary City Council. Calgary's first municipal election as a City saw Wesley Fletcher Orr garner 244 votes, narrowly defeating his opponent William Henry Cushing's 220 votes, and Orr was named the first Mayor of the City of Calgary.

By late 19th century, the Hudson's Bay Company (HBC) expanded into the interior and established posts along rivers that later developed into the modern cities of Winnipeg, Calgary and Edmonton. In 1884, the HBC established a sales shop in Calgary. HBC also built the first of the grand "original six" department stores in Calgary in 1913; others that followed are Edmonton, Vancouver, Victoria, Saskatoon, and Winnipeg. In October 1899 the Village of Rouleauville was incorporated by French Catholic residents south of Calgary's city limits in what is now known as Mission, the town would not remain independent for long, and became the first incorporated municipality to be amalgamated into Calgary eight years later in 1907.

Turn of the 20th century

The turn of the century brought questions of provincehood the top of mind in Calgary. On September 1, 1905, Alberta was proclaimed a province with a provisional capital in Edmonton, it would be left up to the Legislature to choose the permanent location. One of the first decisions of the new Alberta Legislature was the capital, and although William Henry Cushing advocated strongly for Calgary, the resulting vote saw Edmonton win the capital 16–8. Calgarians were disappointed on the city not being named the capital, and focused their attention on the formation of the provincial university. However, the efforts by the community could not sway the government, and the University of Alberta was founded in the City of Strathcona, Premier Rutherford's home, which was subsequently amalgamated into the City of Edmonton in 1912. Calgary was not to be left without higher education facilities as the provincial Normal School opened in the McDougall School building in 1905. In 1910, R. B. Bennett introduced a bill in the Alberta Legislature to incorporate the "Calgary University", however there was significant opposition to two degree-granting institutions in such a small province. A commission was appointed to evaluate the Calgary proposal which found the second university to be unnecessary, however, the commission did recommend the formation of the Provincial Institute of Technology and Art in Calgary (SAIT), which was formed later in 1915.

Built-up areas of Calgary between 1905 and 1912 were serviced by power and water, the City continued a program of paving and sidewalk laying and with the CPR constructed a series of subways under the tracks to connect the town with streetcars. The first three motor buses hit Calgary streets in 1907, and two years later the municipally owned street railway system, fit with seven miles of track opened in Calgary. The immediately popular street railway system reached 250,000 passengers per month by 1910. The privately owned MacArthur Bridge (precursor to the Centre Street Bridge over the Bow River) opened in 1907 which provided for residential expansion north of the Bow River. The early-1910s saw real estate speculation hit Calgary once again, with property prices rising significantly with growing municipal investment, CPR's decision to construct a car shop at Ogden set to employ over 5,000 people, the projected arrival of the Grand Trunk Pacific and Canadian Northern Railways in the city and Calgary's growing reputation as a growing economic hub. The period between 1906 and 1911 was the largest population growth period in the city's history, expanding from 11,967 to 43,704 inhabitants in the five-year period. Several ambitious projects were started during this period including a new City Hall, the Hudson's Bay Department Store, the Grain Exchange Building, and the Palliser Hotel, this period also corresponded to the end of the "Sandstone City" era as steel frames and terracotta facades such as the Burns Building (1913) which were prevalent in other North American cities overtook the unique sandstone character of Calgary.

Stampede City

The growing City and enthusiastic residents were rewarded in 1908 with the federally funded Dominion Exhibition. Seeking to take advantage of the opportunity to promote itself, the city spent CA$145,000 to build six new pavilions and a racetrack. It held a lavish parade as well as rodeo, horse racing, and trick roping competitions as part of the event. The exhibition was a success, drawing 100,000 people to the fairgrounds over seven days despite an economic recession that afflicted the city of 25,000. Calgary had previously held a number of Agricultural exhibitions dating back to 1886, and recognizing the city's enthusiasm, Guy Weadick, an American trick roper who participated in the Dominion Exhibition as part of the Miller Brothers 101 Ranch Real Wild West Show, returned to Calgary in 1912 to host the first Calgary Stampede in the hopes of establishing an event that more accurately represented the "wild west" than the shows he was a part of. He initially failed to sell civic leaders and the Calgary Industrial Exhibition on his plans, but with the assistance of local livestock agent H. C. McMullen, Weadick convinced businessmen Pat Burns, George Lane, A. J. McLean, and A. E. Cross to put up $100,000 to guarantee funding for the event.

The Big Four, as they came to be known, viewed the project as a final celebration of their life as cattlemen. The city constructed a rodeo arena on the fairgrounds and over 100,000 people attended the six-day event in September 1912 to watch hundreds of cowboys from Western Canada, the United States, and Mexico compete for $20,000 in prizes. The event generated $120,000 in revenue and was hailed as a success. The Calgary Stampede has continued as a civic tradition for over 100 years, marketing itself as the "greatest outdoor show on earth", with Calgarians sporting western wear for 10 days while attending the annual parade, daily pancake breakfasts.

Early oil and gas

While agriculture and railway activities were the dominant aspects of Calgary's early economy, the Turner Valley Discovery Well blew South-West of Calgary on May 14, 1914 marked the beginning of the oil and gas age in Calgary. Archibald Wayne Dingman and Calgary Petroleum Product's discovery was heralded as the "biggest oil field in the British Empire" at around 19 million cubic metres, and in a three-week period an estimated 500 oil companies sprang into existence. Calgarians were enthusiastic to invest in new oil companies, with many losing life savings during the short 1914 boom in hastily formed companies. Outbreak of the First World War further dampened the oil craze as more men and resources left for Europe and agricultural prices for wheat and cattle increased. Turner Valley's oil fields would boom again in 1924 and 1936, and by the Second World War the Turner Valley oilfield was producing more than 95 per cent of the oil in Canada. however the city would wait until 1947 for Leduc No. 1 to definitively shift Calgary to an oil and gas city. While Edmonton would see significant population and economic growth with the Leduc discovery, many corporate offices established in Calgary after Turner Valley refused to relocate north. Consequently, by 1967, Calgary had more millionaires than any other city in Canada, and per capita, more cars than any city in the world.

1960s to 1970s

Only a little over a decade after shuttering the municipal tram lines Calgary City Council began investigating rapid transit. In 1966 a heavy rail transit proposal was developed, however the estimated costs continued to grow rapidly, and the plan was re-evaluated in 1975. In May 1977 Calgary City Council directed that a detailed design and construction start on the south leg of a light rail transit system, which opened on May 25, 1981 and dubbed the CTrain. The University of Calgary gained autonomy as a degree granting institution in 1966 with the passage of the Universities Act by the Alberta Legislature. The campus provided as a one dollar lease from the City of Calgary in 1957, had previously served as a satellite campus of the University of Alberta.

1970s and 1980s: economic boom and bust

The 1970s energy crisis resulted in significant investment and growth in Calgary. By 1981, 45 per cent of the Calgary labour force was made up of management, administrative or clerical staff, above the national average of 35 per cent. Calgary's population grew with the opportunity the oil boom brought, the 20-year period from 1966 to 1986 saw the population increase from 330,575 to 636,107. Population growth became a source of pride, the June 1980 Calgary Magazine exclaimed "Welcome to Calgary! Calgary almost specializes in newcomers...". The economic boom saw a number of high-rises popup on the Calgary skyline. The flurry of construction saw Calgary open more office space in 1979 than New York City and Chicago combined. While the end of the oil boom can be tied with the National Energy Program implemented by Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau's government, the end of the construction boom was tied to the completion of the Petro-Canada Centre in 1984. The two tower granite Petro-Canada Centre, commonly referred to by locals as Red Square alluding to the city's hostile view of the state-owned petroleum company, saw the larger 53-storey west tower rise to 215 metres and become the largest building in Calgary for 26 years, and a smaller 32-storey east tower rise 130 metres. The City further expanded the CTrain system, planning began in 1981 and the northeast leg of the system was approved on to be operational in time for the 1988 Olympics.

The boom could not last forever. The 1980s oil glut caused by falling demand and the National Energy Program marked the end of Calgary's boom. In 1983 Calgary City Council announced service cuts to ease the $16 million deficit, 421 city employees were laid off, unemployment rose from 5 to 11 per cent between November 1981 and November 1982, eventually peaking at 14.9 per cent in March 1983. The decline was so swift that the city's population went down for the first time in history from April 1982 to April 1983, and 3,331 homes were foreclosed by financial institutions in 1983. Low oil prices in the 1980s prevented a full economic recovery until the 1990s. Amongst the most invigorating news of the decade came on May 21, 1980 when Nelson Skalbania announced the relocation of the Atlanta Flames hockey club to become the Calgary Flames. Skalbania represented a group of Calgary businessmen that included oil magnates Harley Hotchkiss, Ralph T. Scurfield, Norman Green, Doc and Byron Seaman, and former Calgary Stampeders great Norman Kwong. A last-ditch effort to keep the team in Atlanta fell short, and Atlanta team owner Tom Cousins sold the team to Skalbania for US$16 million, a record sale price for an NHL team at the time. The team was successful right away making the playoffs each year in the first 10 years in Calgary. The Flames fell short of the Stanley Cup in 1986 to the Montreal Canadiens, but finally won the team's only Stanley Cup in 1989.

Olympic legacy

Public concern existed regarding the potential long-term debt implications which had plagued Montreal following the 1976 Olympics. The Calgary Olympic Development Association led the bid for Calgary and spent two years building local support for the project, selling memberships to 80,000 of the city's 600,000 residents. It secured CA$270 million in funding from the federal and provincial governments while civic leaders, including Mayor Ralph Klein, crisscrossed the world attempting to woo International Olympic Committee (IOC) delegates. Calgary was one of three finalists, opposed by the Swedish community of Falun and Italian community of Cortina d'Ampezzo. On September 30, 1981, the International Olympic Committee voted to give Calgary the right to host the 1988 Olympic Winter Games, becoming the first Canadian host for the winter games.

The Games' five primary venues were all purpose-built however, at significant cost. The Olympic Saddledome was the primary venue for ice hockey and figure skating. Located at Stampede Park, the facility was expected to cost $83 million but cost overruns pushed the facility to nearly $100 million. The Olympic Oval was built on the campus of the University of Calgary. It was the first fully enclosed 400-metre speed skating venue in the world as it was necessary to protect against the possibility of either bitter cold temperatures or ice-melting chinook winds. Seven world and three Olympic records were broken during the Games, resulting in the facility earning praise as "the fastest ice on Earth". Canada Olympic Park was built on the western outskirts of Calgary and hosted bobsled, luge, ski jumping and freestyle skiing. It was the most expensive facility built for the games, costing $200 million. Despite Canada failing to earn a gold medal in the Games, the events proved to be a major economic boom for the city which had fallen into its worst recession in 40 years following the collapse of both oil and grain prices in the mid-1980s. A report prepared for the city in January 1985 estimated the games would create 11,100 man-years of employment and generate CA$450-million in salaries and wages. In its post-Games report, OCO'88 estimated the Olympics created CA$1.4 billion in economic benefits across Canada during the 1980s, 70 percent within Alberta, as a result of capital spending, increased tourism and new sporting opportunities created by the facilities.

1990s to present

Thanks in part to escalating oil prices, the economy in Calgary and Alberta was booming until the end of 2009, and the region of nearly 1.1 million people was home to the fastest growing economy in the country. While the oil and gas industry comprise an important part of the economy, the city has invested a great deal into other areas such as tourism and high-tech manufacturing. Over 3.1 million people now visit the city annually for its many festivals and attractions, especially the Calgary Stampede. The nearby mountain resort towns of Banff, Lake Louise, and Canmore are also becoming increasingly popular with tourists, and are bringing people into Calgary as a result. Other modern industries include light manufacturing, high-tech, film, e-commerce, transportation, and services. Widespread flooding throughout southern Alberta, including on the Bow and Elbow rivers, forced the evacuation of over 75,000 city residents on June 21, 2013, and left large areas of the city, including downtown, without power.


Travel to Calgary

*taken from Lonely Planet*

Calgary will surprise you with its beauty, cool eateries, nightlife beyond honky-tonk, and long, worthwhile to-do list. Calgarians aren’t known for their modesty; it’s their self-love and can-do attitude that got them through disastrous flooding in 2013 and, in 2016, saw them helping residents of wildfire-stricken Fort McMurray with unquestioning generosity. We mustn’t forget – Calgary also hosted the highly successful 1988 Winter Olympics, elected North America’s first Muslim mayor, and throws one of Canada’s biggest festivals, the Calgary Stampede. The city is waking up and smelling the single-origin home-roasted coffee, too, with top-notch craft bars, boutique shops, restaurants and entertainment venues exhibiting more color and experimentation. Long stretches of riverside jogging and even a lone surfing spot make for outdoor activities that other cities can't hold a candle to. The longer you stay, the more there is to surprise you.


Must see Sites

Heritage Park Historical Village; Want to see what Calgary used to look like? Head down to this historical park (the largest in Canada!) where all the buildings are from 1915 or earlier. There are 10 hectares of recreated town to explore, with a fort, grain mill, church and school. Go for a hay ride, visit the antique midway or hop on a train. Costumed interpreters are on hand to answer any questions. You can ride on the steam train, catch a trolley and even go for a spin on the SS Moyie, the resident stern-wheeler, as it churns around the Glenmore Reservoir. Heritage Park has always been a big hit with the kiddies and is a great place to soak up Western culture. To get there, take the C-Train to Heritage station, then bus 502. The park is 10km south of Calgary's downtown. It is a registered charity, so your money is going to a good cause.

Glenbow Museum; With an extensive permanent collection and an ever-changing array of traveling exhibitions, the impressive Glenbow has plenty for the history buff, art lover and pop-culture fiend to ponder. Temporary exhibits are often daring, covering contemporary art and culture. Permanent exhibits bring the past to life with strong historic personalities and lots of voice recordings. Hang out in a tipi, visit a trading post and walk through the railcar of a train.

Calgary Zoo; More than 1000 animals from around the world, many in enclosures simulating their natural habitats, make Calgary's zoo one of the top rated in North America. The zoo's well-regarded conservation team study, reintroduce and protect endangered animals in Canada. Besides the animals, the zoo has a Botanical Garden, with changing garden displays, a tropical rainforest, a good butterfly enclosure and the 6½-hectare Prehistoric Park, featuring fossil displays and life-size dinosaur replicas in natural settings. There's also a captive breeding program for whooping cranes. Picnic areas, concessions and cafes dot the zoo. During winter, when neither you nor the animals will care to linger outdoors, the admission price is reduced.

Calgary Stampede; The Calgary Stampede is a not-for-profit community organization that preserves and celebrates our western heritage, cultures and community spirit. Supported by over 2,500 passionate volunteers, our year-round events, programs and initiatives invest in youth, support agricultural programs, celebrate western culture and make a lasting economic impact in our city.

National Music Centre; Looking like a whimsical copper castle, this fabulous new museum is entirely entertaining, taking you on a ride through Canada's musical history with rotating exhibits, cool artifacts (like the guitar Guess Who used to record 'American Woman') and interactive displays. Test your skill at the drums, electric guitar or in a sound-recording room and even create your own instruments. Don't miss the Body Phonic room or the solar-powered Skywalk with its repurposed pianos destroyed in the 2013 flood. You don't need to be a music junkie to enjoy yourself here, but you'll probably leave as one. There's an excellent cafe and shop on-site.


Must Try Food & Drink

Most of these are just typical Canadian foods to try with a few that are specifically created in Calgary.

Ginger Beef; Ginger beef is a Canadian dish influenced by Chinese cuisine. It was invented in the 1970s by George Wong at the Silver Inn restaurant in Calgary. The dish consists of marinated slices of beef that are battered, deep-fried, then coated with a sweet and spicy dark sauce. The sauce is made with soy sauce, mushroom soy sauce, white vinegar, Chinese wine, sugar, water, and crushed chili peppers, while the batter consists of eggs, water, cornstarch, flour, and white pepper. The sauce is enriched with the addition of vegetables such as carrots, bell peppers, garlic, and, of course, ginger. When served, ginger beef is often accompanied by white rice.

Caesar; Caesar is a Canadian cocktail made with a combination of vodka, clam-infused tomato juice, hot sauce, and Worcestershire sauce. The cocktail is typically served with ice in a large glass with a celery salt rim, garnished with a lime wedge and a celery stalk. It is believed that Caesar was invented in 1969 in Calgary by a restaurateur named Walter Chell, who made it to celebrate the opening of a new Italian restaurant. The drink got its name after Chell’s Italian ancestry. Although the cocktail hasn’t gotten much love beyond the Canadian borders, it is considered a great hangover cure and nowadays it is a staple at Canada Day celebrations and informal gatherings.

Angry Canadian; Angry Canadian (sometimes called The Angry Beaver) is a variety of the classic Old Fashioned cocktail. It is made with a combination of Canadian rye whiskey, bitters, club soda or water, and pure maple syrup, which replaces the sugar used in the Old Fashioned. This modern twist on a famous classic was invented in Calgary in 2013 by a man named Steve Johnston.

Poutine; Even though its name stems from the French boudin—a word that usually refers to the pudding-like fillings of sausages—this soppy treat originating from the French Canadian province of Quebec consists of french fries drowned in a thick, brown gravy dotted with clumps of pale, soft, semi-creamy cheese curds. The potatoes are more coarsely cut than regular fries, and they are sometimes even fried twice so that the exterior remains crispy while the interior remains soft, whereas the cheese does not melt but just softens, adding that special squeakiness to the dish, and the gravy is made with either beef or chicken stock with the addition of vinegar. Since its rise to stardom from the 1950s onwards, poutine has spread all over Canada and became popular in many parts of the USA where it's considered the ultimate late-night snack. Many Canadians consider poutine a true national dish. It is found anywhere from food trucks to fancy restaurants, and even at Canadian McDonald's. Poutine connoisseurs claim that the best versions are served at small roadside stands where the curds are fresh, rubbery, and melt easily. Interestingly, in 2007, poutine was placed at number 10 of an online survey about the greatest Canadian inventions, conducted by CBC.

Hawaiian Pizza; Despite its name, Hawaiian pizza is a Canadian invention, a classic American-style pie topped with cheese, ham, and pineapple chunks. It was originally created by Sam Panopoulos in Ontario in the mid-1960s, when he added pineapple to the dish and started serving it to the customers of his Satellite Restaurant. The customers loved it, and Hawaiian pizza soon made its way to the rest of Canada and the United States of America.

Windsor Style Pizza; Windsor style-pizza is a unique Canadian pizza originating from Windsor, Ontario. The pizza has a medium-thin crust, and it's most often topped with oregano-spiked tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese that's produced by Galati, canned mushrooms, and sticks of shredded pepperoni, so that every bite of the pizza has the flavor of pepperoni, no matter which part of the pizza you bite into. The toppings always go on top of the cheese, never under it. There's also the option of adding more toppings such as green peppers and bacon. The pizzas are cooked on cornmeal on stone deck ovens, making the crust crispy in the process. According to Windsor's Community Museum, the inventor of this pizza is unknown, but the main contenders for the title are Sam's Pizzeria, Volcano Pizzeria, and Mario's Restaurant. In Windsor, this pizza is used to celebrate all kinds of festive occasions, from birthdays to weddings.

Garlic Fingers; Garlic fingers is a popular food item throughout Atlantic Canada. Even though it looks like a pizza, garlic fingers are cut in strips or fingers instead of being cut into slices like a regular pizza. The dish consists of pizza dough that is topped with cheese, garlic butter, and parsley. It is baked until the cheese melts, and it can then be additionally topped with dill, vegetables, or pieces of bacon. Garlic fingers are often consumed with regular pizza as a side dish, and they are typically accompanied by dipping sauces such as Donair or marinara. Apart from pizza joints, garlic fingers can be found in many grocery stores.


Hope you enjoyed today's post. This is the first Canadian city I have covered on Cities in the Spotlight (unless I'm mistaken). Should I do more Canadian cities?


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