Calgary is well-known as a destination for winter sports and ecotourism with a number of major mountain resorts near...
Calgary is the largest city in the province of Alberta, Canada. It is located in the south of the province, in an area of foothills and high plains, approximately 80 km (50 mi) east of the front ranges of the Canadian rockies. The city is located in the Parkland region of Alberta. Calgary is the third largest civic municipality, by population, in Canada. As of the 2008 civic census, Calgary's population was 1,042,892. The metropolitan population (CMA) was 1,169,492 in 2008, making Greater Calgary the fifth largest census metropolitan area in the country after Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, and narrowly trailing Ottawa. Because it is located 298 km (185 mi) due south of Edmonton, statisticians define the densely populated area between these cities as the "Calgary-Edmonton Corridor." Calgary is the largest Canadian metropolitan area between Toronto and Vancouver.
Calgary is well-known as a destination for winter sports and ecotourism with a number of major mountain resorts near the city and metropolitan area. Economic activity in Calgary is mostly centred on the petroleum industry; however, agriculture, tourism, and high-tech industries also contribute to the city's fast economic growth. Calgary holds many major annual festivals which include the Calgary Stampede, the Folk Music Festival, the Lilac Festival, One Yellow Rabbit High Performance Rodeo - Calgary's International Festival of the Arts, Wordfest: Banff-Calgary International Writers Festival, Calgary International Spoken Word Festival, One World Festival (GlobalFest), and the fourth largest Caribbean festival in the country (Carifest). In 1988, Calgary became the first Canadian city to host the Olympic Winter Games, and one of the fastest long track speed skating ice rinks in the world was built at the University of Calgary to accommodate these games.
The city of Calgary has only been incorporated since 1904, but it is estimated that the Bow River Valley has been inhabited for the last 10,000 years. At the end of the last Ice Age, the ancestors of the present-day native tribes made their way across the Bering Sea from Siberia, traveling down through Alaska before settling in the Rocky Mountain foothills. There they formed the Blackfoot, Sarcee, Blood, Stoney and Shaganappi nations, and subsisted on the seasonal migrations of American buffalo herds. Their way of life remained relatively unchanged until the late 1870s, when Europeans hunted the buffalo to near-extinction.
With the buffalo gone, the natives began trapping beaver and other fur-bearing mammals for the Hudson's Bay and North-West Trading companies, who set up trading posts in the Bow Valley and at Rocky Mountain House to the northwest. The local furs were especially prized by designers in Paris and New York for their richness and quality, and commanded high prices from the traders.
This lucrative market lured opportunists from the United States, who began selling cheap bootleg whiskey to the traders and native trappers. The resulting anarchy inspired the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to dispatch officers in 1894 to build Fort Calgary and restore order.
Meanwhile, farmers were beginning to move into the fertile Alberta prairies. The first settler in the area of what is now Calgary was a cattle rancher who started a small farm near the junction of the Bow and Elbow Rivers, in an area now known as Inglewood. His ranch was the first of hundreds built by the flood of immigrants that would soon pour into the region.
In the late 1800s, Western Canada was still mostly wilderness and the Canadian government was afraid that the United States might try to annex the as-yet-undefined provinces of British Columbia and Alberta. To unite the nation, a railroad was proposed stretching from the Pacific to the Atlantic. This railroad, which was constructed in 1881, was to drastically change the nature of Calgary, and transform it from a remote frontier outpost into a bustling jumping-off point for the settling of the Western Prairies.
The Calgary townsite had the good fortune to be built at the entrance to the Kicking Horse Pass, one of the few passages through the sheer eastern wall of the Rocky Mountains. The 10,000-12,000 foot-high peaks denied access to a railway all along their thousand-mile length, except for a narrow valley which led from Calgary into the heart of British Columbia. This meant that the railroad had to be routed through Calgary, which became a major supply station during the construction process. Hotels, saloons and shops sprang up to serve the construction workers, and the first train loads of immigrant farmers and ranchers began pouring in. The fertile plains to the west of Calgary made ideal grain farming territory, while the rich and abundant natural grasses also produced a grade of beef unequaled in North America.
In 1904 the City of Calgary was incorporated with a population of 6,000. It grew slowly until the event occurred that would determine the city's direction for the rest of the century. In 1914, just before the start of the First World War, huge reserves of oil were discovered in the surrounding hillsides. Half the local ranchers became instantly wealthy, and a boom rocked the city. When the demand for oil dried up after the war, recession set in and many residents set off to seek their fortunes elsewhere.
May to September
Telus World of Science, Aero Space Museum of Calgary, Calaway Park, Calgary Stampede, Calgary Zoo, Glenbow Museum, Canada Olympic Park, Calgary Tower, Fort Calgary, Heritage Park Historical Village, Military Museums, Calgary Chinese Cultural Centre, Spaceport, Lougheed House
Telus World of Science: So much to see and do! There is always something new at the TELUS World of Science – Calgary. Explore three interactive exhibit areas, an outdoor Amazement Park, WOWtown, and the multi-media Discovery Dome Theatre. Also, experience the amazing Creative Kids Museum, showcasing extraordinary exhibits and programs that feature music, drama, fine arts, perception and your child’s endless creativity. Don’t miss this amazing hands-on experience designed for curious families!
Aero Space Museum of Calgary: Aero Space Museum — a living history documenting aviation in Canada. Learn the stories of the trailblazers who dreamt of flight. Discover the pioneers who adapted aircraft for trade and recreation. Be inspired by the heroes who fought for Canada from the skies or, by the adventurers who set their sights to outer space.
Did you know that 2009 marks the 100th year of aviation in Canada? In February 1909, the Silver Dart took off from Baddeck, Nova Scotia, becoming the first powered, controlled flight of our country. We invite your family to celebrate the early days of aviation and meet the trailblazers who dreamt of flying. “Take flight” with the pioneers who developed aviation for trade and recreation.
Calaway Park: Calaway Park is Western Canada's largest outdoor family amusement park, with 23 exciting rides and 22 eateries. You can also catch a live rainbow trout or play a round of mini-golf. Musical productions are presented daily by the resident entertainment troupe, "Calaway Live". Calaway Park is only 10 km west of Calgary and offers a great view of the Rockies. It also has an RV park and campground for travelers.
Calgary Stampede: For ten exhilarating days every July, the Old West comes alive with a citywide celebration of true western hospitality and rousing fun! From our world famous, ground shaking Chuckwagon Races, to the richest eight seconds in Rodeo to our spectacular evening Grandstand Show extravaganza, the Calgary Stampede offers non-stop action that’ll keep you on the edge of your seat.
Ditch your city slickers look, grab your western duds and join us for the high steppin’ parade, pancake breakfasts, the hair raising rush of the midway, authentic Indian Village, musical entertainers, hands-on agriculture exhibits and dazzling fireworks. If you thought the West had been tamed...you’re only half right.
Calgary Zoo: From the splendor of the Rocky Mountains to the heart of Destination Africa, The Calgary Zoo takes you to over 1,000 animals from around the world. Trek through the gorilla’s rainforest, safari over the Savannah to watch the hippos swim, crossover to elephant Crossing to visit our elephants or climb the Canadian Wilds for a grizzly bear encounter! Finish your world tour with a trip back in time through Prehistoric Park or treat your senses with a walk through our lush Botanical Gardens.
Glenbow Museum: Visit Glenbow’s exciting art-focused exhibitions. Meet Alberta’s Mavericks and discover the story of the west through the lives of 48 colourful characters. Learn about the Blackfoot people’s traditions and culture told in their own words. Feast your eyes on magnificent Asian sculptures and one of Canada’s most diverse military collections, including medieval armour, Samurai swords, and historic firearms. Take home your own treasure. Shop at the Glenbow Museum Shop, with interesting and eclectic books, jewellery, toys and more.
Canada Olympic Park: As the premier site of the 1988 Olympic Winter Games, Canada Olympic Park continues to function as a year-round recreation and athletic training facility. Winter season runs from November to March and includes skiing, snowboarding, and authentic bobsleigh rides down the Olympic Track! From May to September, summer fun for all ages offers mountain biking, Skyline at the Park zipline, luge rides in the Ice House, mini-golf, Z-Trip zorb, Eurobungy and a climbing wall! Take in the magnificent view from the Ski Jump Tower - Calgary’s highest vantage point.
Calgary Tower: Start your Calgary adventure 160 metres (that’s 525 feet) in the air! Rising from the downtown core, the iconic Calgary Tower is a must-see experience. On the observation deck you will be greeted to a 360° panoramic view of the bustling city and the spectacular scenery of the prairies rolling to the majestic Rocky Mountains. The glass floor brings the experience to new heights as you are treated to a birds-eye view of the streets below.
Fort Calgary: The heart of Calgary is red... the scarlet red of the North West Mounted Police tunic. When the NWMP built their fort at the confluence of the Bow and Elbow Rivers in 1875, they laid the foundations for the city we enjoy today. Discover the hopes and dreams of the Mounted Police and Calgary from 1875-1914. Be sure to grab a bite to eat at The Deane House restaurant.
Heritage Park Historical Village: Discover How the West was once at Canada’s largest living history museum, Heritage Park Historical Village. Our lively costumed interpreters share the story of the settlement of western Canada (1864-1940s) and its impact on the cultural fabric of the West. Meet fur traders, railway workers and prairie town folk as you explore 127 scenic acres. Ride a thundering authentic steam train, relax in a horse drawn wagon ride or enjoy the thrills of an antique midway!
Military Museums: Here you will experience the victories, tragedies, and sacrifices of the men and women of the Canadian Forces. Walk through a First World War trench, learn about Canadas only active tank unit, and hear the story behind Canada’s victory at Vimy. The Military Museums’ award-winning facility is dedicated to representing Canada’s Army, Air Force, and Navy and to educating the public, particularly youth, about Canada’s military.
Calgary Chinese Cultural Centre: The Calgary Chinese Cultural Centre is in the heart of downtown, beside Eau Claire. The Centre has six-story Great Cultural Hall, modeled after the Temple of Heaven in Beijing, that took 100,000 man-hours to build. The centre includes a cultural museum, an arts and crafts store, and a Chinese restaurant. The Cultural Centre features various exhibitions, festivals and events.
Spaceport: Whether you have an overactive imagination, or one that has maybe gone dormant, Spaceport is the place for an out-of-this-world experience! You can “MORPH” into a rollercoaster, and you’ll “FLIP” when you see what the F-18 Fighter Jet simulators can do! Try a new ride in ‘09! Whether you’re looking for entertainment, an educational field trip, or a child’s birthday party, Spaceport is the place to be!
Lougheed House: Have you ever wondered what life was like for the elite members of Victorian Society? Sir James and Lady Isabella Lougheed were among the most prominent and glamorous figures in early Calgary. Discover the Lougheeds’ story while exploring their magnificent 14,000 square foot mansion.
The Trans Canada Highway runs just north of Calgary giving it a good east - west connections to the rest of Canada by road. Greyhound operates this route which heads east to Regina (764km / 11 hours), and west to Banff (120km / 2 hours) and Vancouver (1057km / 15 hours). A highway also connects Calgary to the north, to the capital of Alberta, Edmonton (299km / 3.5 hours). Greyhound and Red Arrow operate buses on this route.
The national, government owned VIA Rail does not run to Calgary. The only passenger train which uses Calgary train station is the privately owned Rocky Mountaineer Railtours train. The route heads west from Calgary stopping in Banff then continuing through the Rockies to Kamloops and Vancouver.
This is a much more expensive way to travel the route (about 5 times more than the bus) but it is a very scenic, comfortable and relaxed way to experience Canada from a different perspective.
Calgary International Airport is 25 minutes drive northeast of downtown. AirCanada connects Calgary to more destinations across Canada, the USA and the rest of the world direct from here. WestJet flies from Calgary to destinations in western Canada. Many US airlines and European charter flights fly to Calgary.
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