2007 Schools Wikipedia Selection. Related subjects: North American Geography

City of Calgary

Downtown Calgary at night.

( Coat of Arms of Calgary)

( Flag of Calgary)

City of Calgary
Location of Calgary within census division number 6 in Alberta, Canada
Area 789.90 km²
Metro area 5,083.00 km²
Population 991,759 (April 2006)
Pop'n rank 3rd
Metro pop'n 1,060,300 (2005 est.)
Metro rank 5th
Pop'n density 1252.3
Location 51°02′N 114°03′W
Altitude 1048  metres
Incorporation 1894
Province Alberta
Census Division 6
Members of Parliament Diane Ablonczy, Rob Anders, Art Hanger, Stephen Harper, Jason Kenney, Deepak Obhrai, Jim Prentice, Lee Richardson
Members of the Legislative Assembly Cindy Ady, Moe Amery, Neil Brown, Wayne Cao, Harvey Cenaiko, Harry B. Chase, Alana DeLong, Heather Forsyth, Yvonne Fritz, Denis Herard, Arthur Johnston, Ralph Klein, Ron Liepert, Richard Magnus, Gary Mar, Greg Melchin, Hung Pham, David Rodney, Shiraz Shariff, Ron Stevens, David Swann, Dave Taylor, Len Webber
Mayor Dave Bronconnier

( Past mayors)

City Manager Owen A. Tobert
Governing Body Calgary City Council
Time zone Mountain (UTC-7)
Postal code T1Y to T3R
Area Code 403
Official website: City of Calgary

Calgary is the largest city in the province of Alberta, Canada. It is in the south of the province, in a region of foothills and high plains, approximately 80 km east of the front ranges of the Canadian Rockies. Calgary is the third largest civic municipality, by population, in Canada. As of April 2006, Calgary's population was 991,759. The estimated metropolitan population ( CMA) was 1,060,300 in 2005 (see Calgary Region), making Greater Calgary the fifth largest Census Metropolitan Area in the country. It is located within the relatively densely populated " Calgary-Edmonton Corridor". It is the largest Canadian metropolitan area between Toronto and Vancouver.

A resident of Calgary is known as a Calgarian.

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. Calgary's economy is mostly centred on the petroleum industry (see Canadian Oil Patch), however agriculture, tourism, and the high-tech industries also contribute to the city's fast economic growth. Calgary also holds many major annual festivals, including the Calgary Stampede, the Folk Music Festival, the Lilac Festival, One World Festival ( GlobalFest), and the second largest Caribbean festival in the country (Carifest). In 1988, Calgary became the first Canadian city to host The Olympic Winter Games.


First settlement

Calgary as it appeared circa 1885
Calgary as it appeared circa 1885

Before the Calgary area was settled by Europeans, it was the domain of the Blackfoot people whose presence has been traced back at least 11,000 years. In 1787 cartographer David Thompson spent the winter with a band of Peigan encamped along the Bow River. He was the first recorded European to visit the area and John Glenn was the first documented European settler in the Calgary Area, in 1873.

The site became a post of the North West Mounted Police (now the RCMP). Originally named Fort Brisebois, after NWMP officer Éphrem-A Brisebois, it was renamed Fort Calgary in 1876 because of questionable conduct on the part of that officer. The NWMP detachment was assigned to protect the western plains from US whiskey traders. Fort Calgary was named by Colonel James Macleod after Calgary (Cala-ghearraidh, Beach of the pasture) on the Isle of Mull, Scotland. When the Canadian Pacific Railway reached the area and a rail station was constructed, Calgary began to grow into an important commercial and agricultural centre. The Canadian Pacific Railway headquarters are located in Calgary today. Calgary was officially incorporated as a town in 1884 and elected its first mayor, George Murdoch. In 1894, Calgary became the first city in what was then the Northwest Territories.

The oil boom

Calgary in 1969
Calgary in 1969

Oil was first discovered in Alberta in 1902, but it didn't become a significant industry in the province until 1947 when huge reserves of it were discovered. Calgary quickly found itself at the centre of the ensuing oil boom. The city's economy grew when oil prices increased with the Arab Oil Embargo of 1973. The population increased by 254,000 in the seventeen years between 1971 (403,000) and 1988 (657,000) and another 335,000 in the next eighteen years following (to 992,000 in 2006). During these boom years, skyscrapers were constructed at a pace seen by few cities anywhere. The relatively low-rise downtown quickly became dense with tall buildings: a trend that continues to this day.

Calgary's economy was so closely tied to the oil industry that the city's boom peaked with the average annual price of oil in 1981. The subsequent drop in oil prices and the introduction of National Energy Program, were cited by industry as reasons for a collapse in the oil industry, and consequently the overall Calgary economy. The NEP was cancelled in the mid-1980s by the Brian Mulroney federal government. Continued low oil prices, however, prevented a full recovery until the 1990s.

Recent history

Downtown Calgary in 2003 as seen from the top of McHugh Bluff.
Downtown Calgary in 2003 as seen from the top of McHugh Bluff.

With the energy sector employing a huge number of Calgarians, the fallout from the economic slump of the early 1980s was understandably significant. The unemployment rate soared. By the end of the decade, however, the economy was in recovery. Calgary quickly realized that it could not afford to put so much emphasis on oil and gas, and the city has since become much more diverse, both economically and culturally. The period during this recession marked Calgary's transition from a mid-sized and relatively nondescript prairie city into a major cosmopolitan and diverse centre. This transition culminated in February of 1988, when the city hosted the XV Olympic Winter Games. The success of these games essentially put the city on the world stage.

The economy in Calgary and Alberta is now booming, and the region of nearly 1.1 million people is still among the fastest growing in the country. While the oil and gas industry comprise most of the economy, the city has invested a great deal into other areas. Tourism is perhaps one of the fastest growing industries in the city. Over 4.5 million people now visit the city on an annual basis for its many festivals and attractions, as well as 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, transportation, and services. The city has also ranked high in quality of life surveys .

Geography and climate

Calgary is located within the foothills of the Rocky Mountains and is relatively hilly as a result. Calgary's elevation is approximately 1048 metres (3440 feet) above sea level downtown, and 1083 metres (3556 feet) at the airport. The city proper covers a land area of 721 km² (as of 2001) and as such exceeds the land areas of both Toronto and New York City.

There are two major rivers that run through the city. The Bow River is the largest and flows from the west to the south. The Elbow River flows northwards from the south until it converges with the Bow River near downtown. Since the climate of the region is generally dry, dense vegetation occurs naturally only in the river valleys and within Fish Creek Provincial Park, the largest urban park in Canada.

The city is quite large in physical area, consisting of an inner city surrounded by various communities of decreasing density. Unlike most cities with a sizable metropolitan area, most of Calgary's suburbs are incorporated into the city proper, with the notable exceptions of the city of Airdrie to the north, Cochrane to the northwest, Strathmore to the east, and the sprawling Springbank district to the west. Though it is not technically within Calgary's metropolitan area, the town of Okotoks is only a short distance to the south and is considered a suburb as well. The Calgary Economic Region includes slightly more area than the CMA and has a population of 1,146,900.

The city of Calgary proper is immediately surrounded by two municipal districts, Rocky View No. 44 to the north, west and east; and Foothills No. 31 to the south.

Because of the growth of the city, its southwest borders are now immediately adjacent to the Tsuu T'ina Nation Indian reserve. Recent residential developments in the deep southwest of the city have created a need for a major roadway heading into the interior of the city, but because of complications in negotiations with the Tsuu T'ina about the construction, the much-needed construction has not yet begun.

Cochrane Rocky View No. 44
Tsuu T'ina Nation 145 North Rocky View No. 44
West   Calgary    East
Foothills No. 31

Calgary's neighbourhoods

Stephen Avenue
Stephen Avenue

The downtown region of the city consists of five neighbourhoods: Eau Claire (including the Festival District), the Downtown West End, the Downtown Commercial Core, Chinatown, and the Downtown East Village (also part of the Rivers District). The commercial core is itself divided into a number of districts including the Stephen Avenue Retail Core, the Entertainment District, the Arts District and the Government District. Distinct from downtown and south of 9th Avenue is Calgary's densest neighbourhood, the Beltline. The area includes a number of communities such as Midtown, Victoria Crossing and a portion of the Rivers District. The Beltline is the focus of major planning and rejuvenation initiatives on the part of the municipal government to increase the density and liveliness of Calgary's centre.

Adjacent to, or directly radiating from the downtown are the first of the inner-city communities. These include Crescent Heights, Sunnyside, Hounsfield Heights/Briar Hill, Hillhurst (including Kensington BRZ), Bridgeland, Renfrew, Mount Royal, Mission and Inglewood. The inner city is, in turn, surrounded by relatively dense and established neighbourhoods such as Rosedale, North Haven, and Mount Pleasant to the north; Bowness, Parkdale and Westgate to the west; Park Hill, South Calgary (including Marda Loop), Bankview, Altadore and Killarney to the south; and Forest Lawn/International Avenue to the east. Lying beyond these, and usually separated from one another by highways, are the suburban communities, often characterized as "Commuter Communities". The greatest amount of suburban expansion is happening in the city's deep south with major growth on the northwestern edge as well. In all, there are over 180 distinct neighbourhoods within the city limits.


Calgary has a highland continental climate with long, but highly variable, winters and short, warm summers (USDA Plant Hardiness Zone 3b). The climate is greatly influenced by the city's elevation and close proximity to the Rocky Mountains. Although Calgary's winters can be uncomfortably cold; warm, dry Chinook winds routinely blow into the city from the Pacific Ocean during the winter months, giving Calgarians a break from the cold. These winds have been known to raise the winter temperature by up to 15°C (27°F) in just a few hours, and may last several days. The chinooks are such a common feature of Calgary's winters that only one month (January 1950) has failed to witness a thaw over more than 100 years of weather observations. More than one half of all winter days see the daily maximum rise above 0°C (32°F). Some mid-winter days even approach 20°C (68°F) on occasion.

Calgary is a city of extremes, and temperatures have ranged anywhere from a record low of −45°C (-49°F) in 1893 to a record high of 36°C (97°F) in 1919. Although not common, Calgary experiences summer daytime temperatures of above 30°C (86°F) on an average of about four days per year. Temperatures fall below −30°C (-22°F) on about five days per year, though extreme cold spells usually do not last very long. According to Environment Canada, the average temperature in Calgary ranges from a January daily average of −9°C (16°F) to a July daily average of 16°C (61°F).

As a consequence of Calgary's high elevation, summer evenings can be very cool, the average summer minimum temperature is 8°C (46°F), and frosts can occur in any month of the year. Calgary has experienced snowfall even in July and August. With an average relative humidity of 55% in the winter and 45% in the summer, Calgary has a semi-arid climate typical of other cities in the Western Great Plains and Canadian Prairies. Unlike cities further east, like Toronto, Montreal, or even Winnipeg, humidity is almost never a factor during the Calgary summer.

The city is also one of the sunniest in Canada, with 2,405 hours of annual sunshine, on average. Calgary receives an average of 413 mm (16.2 in) of precipitation annually, with 301 mm (11.8 in) of that occurring in the form of rain, and the remainder as snow. Most of the precipitation occurs from May to August, with June averaging the most monthly rainfall. In June of 2005, Calgary received 248 mm (9.8 in) of precipitation, making it the wettest month in the city's recorded history. Droughts are not uncommon and may occur at any time of the year.

Calgary averages more than 20 days a year with thunderstorms, with almost all of them occurring in the summer months. Calgary lies on the edge of Alberta's hailstorm alley and is prone to occasional damaging hailstorms. A hailstorm that struck Calgary in September 1991 was one of the most destructive natural disasters in Canadian history.


  • Winter: November to mid-March.
  • Spring: mid-March to May
  • Summer: June to August
  • Autumn: September to November


City life

Olympic Plaza in the Arts District
Olympic Plaza in the Arts District

Calgary's urban scene has changed considerably since the city has grown. It is also starting to become recognized as one of Canada's most diverse cities. Today, Calgary is a modern cosmopolitan city that still retains much of its traditional culture of hotel saloons, western bars, night clubs, and hockey. Following its revival in the 1990s, Calgary has also become a centre for country music in Canada. As such, it is referred to by some as the "Nashville of the North." Calgary is also home to a thriving all-ages music scene of many genres, including pop, rock, hip-hop, and country.

As a relatively ethnically diverse city, Calgary also has a number of major multicultural areas and assets. It has one of the largest Chinatowns in Canada as well as a “Little Italy” in the Bridgeland neighbourhood. Forest Lawn is among the most diverse areas in the city and as such, the area around 17th Avenue SE within the neighbourhood is also known as International Avenue. The district is home to a wide variety of ethnic restaurants and stores.

As the population has grown, and particularly, as the urban density in central Calgary has increased, so too has the vitality of this area. While the city continues to embrace suburbanism, people are beginning to find a wide variety alternatives in the inner city. This has led to significant increases in the popularity of central districts such as 17th Avenue, Kensington, Inglewood, Forest Lawn, Marda Loop and the Mission District. The nightlife and the availability of cultural venues in these areas has gradually begun to evolve as a result.

Performing arts

Calgary is the site of the Southern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium, a 4 million cubic foot (113,000 m³) performing arts, culture and community facility. The auditorium is one of two "twin" facilities in the province, the other located in Edmonton, each being locally known as the "Jube." The 2,700-seat auditorium was opened in 1957 and has been host to hundreds of Broadway musical, theatrical, stage and local productions. Annually, over 850,000 visitors frequent the performance space. The Calgary Jube is the resident home of the Alberta Ballet, the Calgary opera, the Kiwanis Music Festival, and the annual civic Remembrance Day Ceremonies. Both auditoriums operate 365 days a year, and are run by community-based non-profit societies. Both have recently (September 05) received a $91 million renovation as part of the Province's Centennial year.

Calgary has a thriving festival scene with festivals being held all year round. Some established festivals that attract talent from all over the World are FunnyFest Calgary Comedy Festival and the Folk Music Festival.

Calgary is also home to a number of contemporary and established theatre companies; among them are One Yellow Rabbit, which shares the EPCOR Centre for the Performing Arts with the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, as well as Theatre Calgary, and Alberta Theatre Projects. There are also many smaller theatre and performing arts companies in the city, such as Vertigo Mystery Theatre. Calgary was also the birthplace of the improvisational theatre games known as Theatresports. The Calgary International Film Festival is also held in the city annually, as well as the International Festival of Animated Objects.

Museums and galleries

The city is home to several museums. The best-known of these, the Glenbow Museum is the largest in western Canada and includes an art gallery. Other major museums include the largest Chinese Cultural Centre in North America, the Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame (at Canada Olympic Park), The Military Museums, the Cantos Music Museum and the Aero Space Museum. There are also a number of art galleries in the city and many of them are concentrated along the Stephen Avenue and 17th Avenue corridors. The largest of these is the Art Gallery of Calgary (AGC).

Cultural events and festivals

Calgary is home to a number of major annual festivals and events. These include the growing Calgary International Film Festival, the Calgary Folk Music Festival, The Greek Festival, Carifest, the Lilac Festival, GlobalFest, the Calgary Fringe Festival, Summerstock, Expo Latino, and many other cultural and ethnic festivals. Calgary's most well-known event is the Calgary Stampede, which occurs every July. It features an internationally recognized rodeo competition, a midway, stage shows, agricultural competitions, chuck-wagon races, First Nations exhibitions, and pancake breakfasts around the city, among other attractions. It is among the largest and best-known festivals in Canada. The event has a 93 year history. In 2005, attendance at the 10-day rodeo and exhibition totalled 1,242,928.

Sports and recreation

XV Olympic Winter Games

In large part due to its proximity to the Rocky Mountains, Calgary has traditionally been a popular destination for winter sports. Since hosting the 1988 Winter Olympics, the city has also been home to a number of major winter sporting facilities such as Canada Olympic Park ( luge, cross-country skiing, ski jumping, downhill skiing, snowboarding, and some summer sports) and the Olympic Oval ( speed skating and hockey). These facilities serve as the primary training venues for a number of competitive athletes. In the summer, the Bow River is very popular among fly-fishermen. Golfing is also an extremely popular activity for Calgarians and the region has a large number of courses.

The city also has a large number of urban parks including Fish Creek Provincial Park, Nose Hill Park, Bowness Park, Edworthy Park, the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary, Confederation Park, and Prince's Island Park. Nose Hill Park is the largest municipal park in Canada. Connecting these parks and most of the city's neighbourhoods is one of the most extensive multi-use (walking, bike, rollerblading, etc) path systems in North America.

Professional sports teams

Club League Venue Established Championships
Calgary Flames National Hockey League Pengrowth Saddledome 1980* 1
Calgary Stampeders Canadian Football League McMahon Stadium 1945 5
Calgary Roughnecks National Lacrosse League Pengrowth Saddledome 2001 1
Calgary Vipers Northern League (Baseball) Foothills Stadium 2005 0

(*) Established as the Atlanta Flames in 1972.

Amateur and junior clubs

Club League Venue Established Championships
Calgary Hitmen Western Hockey League Pengrowth Saddledome 1995 1
Calgary Canucks Alberta Junior Hockey League Max Bell Centre 1971 9
Calgary Royals Alberta Junior Hockey League Father David Bauer Olympic Arena 1990 1
Calgary Oval X-Treme National Women's Hockey League Olympic Oval 1995 4
Calgary Speed Skating Association Speed Skating Canada Olympic Oval 1990 >10


Calgary's skyline at night (from the north of downtown)
Calgary's skyline at night (from the north of downtown)

Calgary's downtown features an eclectic mix of restaurants and bars, cultural venues, shopping (most notably, TD Square, Calgary Eaton Centre, Stephen Avenue and Eau Claire Market), and public squares such as Olympic Plaza. Downtown tourist attractions include the Calgary Zoo, the TELUS World of Science, the TELUS Convention Centre, the Chinatown district, the Glenbow Museum, the Calgary Tower, the Art Gallery of Calgary (AGC) and the EPCOR Centre for the Performing Arts. At 2.5 acres (10,000 m²), the Devonian Gardens is one of the largest urban indoor gardens in the world, and it is located on the 4th floor of TD Square (above the shopping). The downtown region is also home to Prince's Island Park, an urban park located just north of the Eau Claire district. Directly to the south of downtown is Midtown and the Beltline. This area is quickly becoming one of the city's densest and most active mixed use areas. At the district's core is the popular " 17th Avenue", which is known for its many bars and nightclubs, restaurants, and shopping venues. During the Calgary Flames' playoff run in 2004, 17th Avenue was frequented by over 50,000 fans and supporters per game night. The concentration of notorious red jersey-wearing fans led to the street's playoff moniker, the " Red Mile." Downtown Calgary is easily accessed using the city's C-Train rapid transit system.

Attractions on the west side of the city include the Heritage Park Historical Village theme park, depicting life in pre-1914 Alberta and featuring working historic vehicles such as a steam train, paddlewheel boat and electric streetcar. The village itself is comprised of a mixture of replica buildings and historic structures relocated from southern Alberta. Other major city attractions include Canada Olympic Park (and the Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame), Calaway Park amusement park, and Race City Motorsport Park. In addition to the many shopping areas in the city centre, there are a number of large suburban shopping complexes in Calgary. Among the largest are Chinook Centre and Southcentre Mall in the south, WestHills and Signal Hill in the southwest, South Trail Crossing and Deerfoot Meadows in the southeast, Market Mall in the northwest, and Sunridge Mall in the northeast.


Calgary's downtown can easily be recognized by its numerous skyscrapers. Some of these structures, such as the Calgary Tower and the Pengrowth Saddledome are unique enough to be symbols of Calgary. As a major business centre with a metropolitan population of just over a million people, this is not surprising. Office buildings tend to concentrate within the commercial core while residential towers occur most frequently within the Downtown West End and the Beltline, south of downtown. These buildings are iconographic of the city's booms and busts, and it is easy to recognize the various phases of development that have shaped the image of downtown. The first skyscraper building boom occurred during the late 1950s and continued through to the 1970s. After 1980, during a major recession, many highrise construction projects were immediately halted. It was not until the late 1980s and through to the early 1990s that major construction began again.

In total, there are 10 office towers that are at least 150.0 m (usually around 40 floors) or higher. The tallest of these (the Petro-Canada Centre), is the tallest office tower in Canada outside of Toronto. Several more large office towers are currently being planned for downtown: The Bow, Jameson Place, Penny Lane Towers (East and West), Centennial Place (two towers), City Centre (two towers), and the highly anticipated (although only rumored) Imperial Oil and First Canadian Centre II towers. A large number of major residential projects (mostly condominiums) are also under construction or have been proposed for Calgary's inner city.

To connect many of the downtown office buildings, the city also boasts the world's most extensive skyway network (elevated indoor pedestrian bridges), officially called the +15. The name derives from the fact that the bridges are usually 15 feet above grade.


Ethnic Origin Population Percent
Canadian 237,740 25.64%
English 214,500 23.13%
Scottish 164,665 17.76%
German 164,420 17.73%
Irish 140,030 15.10%
Ukrainian 125,720 13.56%
French 113,005 12.19%

According the 2001 Statistics Canada federal census, there were 878,866 people living within the City of Calgary proper. Of this population, 49.9 per cent were male and 50.1 per cent were female. Children under five accounted for approximately 6.0 per cent of the resident population of Calgary. This compares with 6.2 per cent in Alberta, and almost 5.6 per cent for Canada overall.

In 2001, 9.0 per cent of the resident population in Calgary were of retirement age (65 and over for males and females) compared with 13.2 per cent in Canada, therefore, the average age is 34.9 years of age comparing to 37.6 years of age for all of Canada.

In the five years between 1996 and 2001, Calgary's population grew by 15.8 percent. This is contrasted with an increase of 10.3 percent for the province of Alberta. The population density of Calgary averaged 1,252.3 persons per square kilometre, compared with an average of 4.6, for the province.

A city-administered census estimate, conducted annually to assist in negotiating financial agreements with the provincial and federal governments, showed a population of just over 991,000 in 2006. The population of the Calgary Census Metropolitan Area was just over 1.06 million, and the Calgary Economic Region posted a population of just under 1.15 million in 2005.

Given a rate of growth averaging 98 people per day between April 2005 and April 2006, the city determined statistically that the first child born on July 25, 2006 would be Calgary's one millionth resident. This date was arrived at only by means of assumption and statistical approximation and only took into account children born to Calgarian parents.

Calgary is the main city of Census Division No. 6 and the Calgary Regional Partnership.

Visible minority groups

A majority of Calgarians declare to be of European ancestry. This group comprises 79% of the population (688,465 people). Another 2.3% (19,765 people) of the population is Aboriginal. In addition, the city is home to a relatively large number of people belonging to visible minority groups. These groups include Chinese: 51,540 or 5.9%, South Asian: 36,370 or 4.2%, Filipino: 16,245 or 1.9%, Black Canadian: 13,370 or 1.5%, Latin American: 8,525 or 1.0%, and many others. Based on single responses. Statistics are from the 2001 Statistics Canada census.

Government and politics

Calgary's new and Old City Hall (built in 1911)
Calgary's new and Old City Hall (built in 1911)

Calgary is traditionally viewed as a conservative city, dominated by traditional small-c social conservatives and fiscal conservatives. As the city is a corporate power-centre, a high percentage of the workforce is employed in white-collar jobs. During the 1990s the city's mainstream political culture was dominated by the right-wing Reform Party of Canada federally, and the Alberta Progressive Conservatives provincially. The Reform Party was founded in Calgary.

However, as Calgary's population has increased, so has the diversity of its politics. One growing alternative movement was recently active during the 2000 World Petroleum Congress demonstrations and the J26 G8 2002 protests. Protesters were a mix of locals and outsiders. In early 2003 in response to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, according to organizers, 5,000 to 10,000 people from southern Alberta, and elsewhere, converged outside the U.S. Consulate General's office. The city has chapters of various activist organizations, as well as an Anti-Capitalist Convergence. Left-wing provincial and federal Liberals tend to distance themselves from the activist movement which also claims support from the left. The Green Party of Canada has also made inroads in Calgary, exemplified by results of the 2004 federal election where they achieved 7.5% of the vote across the city and 11.3% in the Calgary North Centre riding. A provincial alternative, represented by the right-wing Alberta Alliance, became active during the 26th Alberta general election and campaigned for fiscally and socially conservative reforms, and managed a growing percentage of support thereafter.

Provincial politics

Prior to the November 22, 2004 General Election, all 21 provincial MLAs representing Calgary were Progressive Conservatives. The province's premier and leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Alberta, Ralph Klein, has held his Calgary Elbow seat since 1989. The Alberta Liberals won three seats in the provincial legislature during that election. Two of the 23 provincial seats were new as a result of redistricting.

Federal politics

Currently, all eight of Calgary's federal MPs are members of the Conservative Party of Canada (CPC). The CPC's predecessors have traditionally held the majority of the city's federal seats. The federal electoral district of Calgary-Southwest is currently held by Prime Minister and CPC leader Stephen Harper. Coincidentally, the same seat was also held by Preston Manning, the leader of the Reform Party of Canada, a predecessor of CPC. Joe Clark, former Prime Minister and former leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada (also a predecessor of the CPC), held the riding of Calgary Centre. Of Canada's 22 serving Prime Ministers, two have served terms representing a Calgary riding while Prime Minister. The first was the Right Honorable Richard Bennett from Calgary West who held that position from 1930 to 1935.

Contemporary issues

As a city that has experienced rapid growth in recent years, Calgary is having its share of growing pains. Among the most significant is that of urban sprawl. With no geographical barriers to its growth besides the Tsuu T'ina First Nation to the southwest and an affluent population that can afford large homes and properties, the city now has only a slightly smaller urban footprint than that of New York City and its boroughs, despite having less than one-eighth the population of New York City proper. This has led to difficulties in providing necessary transportation to Calgary’s population, both in the form of roadways and public transit. The result has also been a downtown which has traditionally lacked life on the evenings and weekends. It has also led to a somewhat misguided interpretation of the city as being a “driver’s city”. With the redevelopment of the Beltline and the Downtown East Village at the forefront, efforts are underway to vastly increase the density of the inner city, but the sprawl continues nevertheless. In 2003, the combined population of the downtown neighbourhoods ( the Downtown Commercial Core, the Downtown East Village, the Downtown West End, Eau Claire, and Chinatown) was just over 12,600. In addition, the Beltline to the south of downtown had a population of 17,200.

Condominiums in the Downtown West End
Condominiums in the Downtown West End

Calgary has also struggled to find its own unique identity. On the one hand, it has relentlessly tried to maintain its western heritage. This has led to the popular nickname, "Cowtown". At the same time, the city has branded itself as being a modern economic and business centre. In recent years, Calgary has also become one of Canada's most cosmopolitan cities and has been quickly evolving into a major cultural centre. These very different images have often resulted in ambiguity and confusion with regard to the direction of Calgary's continued development.

Many socioeconomic issues have found their way into the city’s urban fabric in recent history. As the population grows, so does the rate of poverty and homelessness in the city. Certain neighbourhoods along with portions of downtown have commonly been singled out as being home to much higher proportions of disadvantaged residents. Many neighbourhoods in the city’s east have been particularly (and perhaps unfairly) stereotyped this way.

Although Calgary and Alberta have traditionally been affordable places to live, substantial growth (much of it due to the prosperous energy sector) has led to increasing demand on real-estate. As a result, house prices in Calgary have increased significantly in recent years and are now quite high relative to other Canadian cities.

As of 2006, there is an extreme shortage of workers in Calgary, both skilled and unskilled. It is common to see signing bonuses for workers in the service industry. Downtown hotels have had to shut down floors because there is not enough staff to clean all the rooms. Calgary's housing boom, combined with large road construction projects and competition from oil fields with high wages to the north, has created a strain on the labor force.


Even though Calgary has a relatively low crime rate when compared to other cities in North America, gangs and drug-related crime are becoming much larger issues than they have been in the past. Gang “warfare” is becoming more common all the time and contributes to a number of homicides in the city annually. Drug busts (particularly of marijuana grow operations) are also becoming very common, especially in the suburbs where anonymity is possible.


Calgary's economy is still dominated by the oil and gas industry, despite recent diversification. The larger companies BP, EnCana, Imperial Oil, Petro-Canada, Shell Canada, Suncor Energy, and TransCanada.

In 1996, Canadian Pacific Railway moved its head office to Calgary, and is now among the city's top employers. In 2005, Imperial Oil moved its headquarters from Toronto to Calgary in order to be closer to its oil operations. This involved the relocation of approximately 400 families.

Other large employers include ATCO, Fluor Canada, the Forzani Group, Nortel, Shaw Cable, TELUS, and WestJet.

There is approximately 50 million square feet of office space in the city, with approximately 32 million of these within the downtown commercial core).

In October 2006, EnCana announced the construction of the Bow, a 59-floor skyscraper in the downtown core of the city. This new corporate headquarters for the company will become, when completed, the tallest building in Canada outside of Toronto.



University of Calgary Campus
University of Calgary Campus

Calgary is the site of five major public post-secondary institutions. The University of Calgary is Calgary's primary large degree-granting facility. Currently, 28,807 students are enrolled there. Mount Royal College is the city's second largest institution (13,000 students), and it grants degrees in a number of fields. Bow Valley College's main campus is located downtown and provides training in business, technology, and the liberal arts for about 10,000 students (the college has three campuses in Calgary and numerous in the region). The Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT) provides polytechnic education. The Alberta College of Art and Design (ACAD) is located in Calgary. In addition, the University of Lethbridge has a satellite campus in the city.

There are also several private liberal arts institutions including Alliance University College, Nazarene University College and St. Mary's University College. There are a number of other smaller private colleges in the city. Calgary is also home to DeVry Career College's only Canadian campus. Calgary was also the home of the Milton Wiliams School for Education Through the Arts, a national centre of excellence in arts immersion education for children between the fifth and ninth grades; however, in early 2005, the aging school was demolished. However, the school is still active on the grounds of the Willow Park Elementary School.

School system and K-12

In the year 2005 roughly 97,000 students attended K-12 in about 215 schools in the English language public school system run by the Calgary Board of Education. Another 43,000 attend about 93 schools in the separate English language Calgary Catholic School District board. The much smaller francophone community has their own French language school boards (public and Catholic), which are both based in Calgary, but serve a larger regional district. There are also several public charter schools in the city. Calgary has a number of unique schools, including the country's first high school exclusively designed for Olympic-calibre athletes, the National Sport School. Calgary is also home to many private schools including Strathcona Tweedsmuir, Rundle College, Clear Water Academy, Webber Academy, and Masters Academy.

Calgary is also home to Western Canada's largest high school, "Lord Beaverbrook High School", with 2241 students enrolled in the 2005-2006 school year.



Calgary's C-Train system.
Calgary's C-Train system.

Calgary is considered a transportation hub for much of central and western Canada. Calgary International Airport (YYC), in the city's northeast, is the fourth largest in Canada by passenger movements and is also a major cargo hub. Non-stop destinations include cities throughout Canada, the United States, Europe, Central America, and Asia (cargo services only). Calgary's presence on the Trans-Canada Highway and the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) mainline also make it an important hub for freight. Calgary no longer has regular interurban passenger rail service but CPR still operates a passenger railway station for rail tour companies at Palliser Square.

Calgary maintains a major streets network and a freeway system. Much of the system is on a grid where roads are numbered with avenues running east-west and streets running north-south. Roads in predominantly residential areas as well as freeways and expressways do not generally conform to the grid and are usually not numbered as a result. In addition, Calgary Transit provides public transportation services throughout the city with buses and light rail. Calgary's rail system, known as the CTrain was one of the first such systems in North America and consists of three lines (two routes) on 42.1 km of track (mostly at grade with a dedicated right-of-way). The bus system has over 160 routes.

As an alternative to the over 260 km of dedicated bikeways on streets, the city has a large interconnected network of paved multi-use (bicycle, walking, rollerblading, etc) paths spanning over 635 km.

Medical centres and hospitals

Calgary currently has three major hospitals; the Foothills Medical Centre, the Rockyview General Hospital and the Peter Lougheed Centre, all overseen by the Calgary Health Region. A medical evacuation helicopter operates under the auspices of the Shock Trauma Air Rescue Society. Calgary also has the Tom Baker Cancer Centre, Alberta Children's Hospital, and Grace Women's Health Centre providing a variety of care, in addition to hundreds of smaller medical and dental clinics. The University of Calgary Medical Centre also operates in partnership with the Calgary Health Region.


Mewata Armoury is just one location maintaining an active part-time training garrison.
Mewata Armoury is just one location maintaining an active part-time training garrison.

The presence of the Canadian military has been part of Calgary's economy and culture since the early years of the 20th century, beginning with the assignment of a squadron of Strathcona's Horse. After many failed attempts to create the city's own unit, the 103rd Regiment (Calgary Rifles) was finally authorized on 1 Apr 1910. Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Calgary was established as Currie Barracks and Harvie Barracks following the Second World War. The base remained the most significant Department of National Defence (DND) institution in the city until it was decommissioned in 1998. Despite this closure, Calgary is still home to a number of Canadian Forces Reserve units, garrisoned throughout the city, along with a small cadre of Regular Force support.

Famous Calgarians

Other names

  • Cowtown
  • The Stampede City
  • The Heart of The New West

Sister cities

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