ABOUT THE CITY
Calgary is the largest city in the province of Alberta, Canada. Nestled in the foothills of Canada’s Rocky Mountains, Calgary, Heart of the New West, is a place to explore the heritage of the Canadian West. This safe, clean and vibrant city offers the best of all worlds: a cosmopolitan city of over 1 million people and breathtaking outdoor adventure in pristine wilderness.
Economic activity in Calgary is mostly centered on the petroleum industry; however, agriculture, tourism, and high-tech industries also contribute to the city’s fast economic growth. Despite the importance of the oil industry to its economic success, Calgary was ranked the World’s Cleanest City by Mercer Quality of Living in a survey published in 2007 by Forbes Magazine.
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. The wide, blue sky and moderate climate beckons year-round outdoor enthusiasts to golf or hike, fish or mountain bike, ski or dog-sled. You’ll be glad to call Calgary home.
Calgary is the biggest city in the Canadian Province of Alberta, and the third biggest in the country. The metro area is home to about 1.1 million people. The city is about 130 miles north of the US border along the eastern edge of the Canadian Rocky Mountains. While Calgary is a modern city, deep-down it’s proud of its wild-west heritage. In some aspects, Calgary is similar to Texas. You’ll find hints of its western roots everywhere, like the giant rodeo festival held every July. It’s also home to some of the world’s top oil and gas companies, and is noted for having rather conservative politics.
The first settlers of what would become Calgary were the Blackfoot tribes, which were nomadic hunters who moved in at least 11,000 years ago. In 1787, David Thompson became the first European on record to spend time in the area, though it wasn’t until 1873 that Europeans began settling the area in earnest. Ft. Calgary was built originally in the area to guard the area from whisky traders from the United States. The Canadian Pacific Railway put a station in Calgary, which really cemented its development as an up and coming city in the Canadian west. Today, the Canadian Pacific Railway is headquartered in Calgary. The city was incorporated in 1884, the first city in the Northwest Territories.
Calgary is in a position to be a great city for corporations. It has low corporate taxes, and it ranks at the top of Canadian charts for real GDP growth and labor force growth. Because of these factors, many of the country’s biggest companies are run out of Calgary.
Oil and natural gas are the biggest of Calgary’s industries, and have been since the oil boom in the 1940s. Imperial Oil is the largest petroleum company in the country, and it moved its main headquarters here from Toronto in 2005. Imperial Oil is controlled by ExxonMobil. BP Canada also makes its home in Calgary and employs some 1,400 people. ATCO, Encana, Petro-Canada, Shell Canada, and Suncor Energy also all call Calgary home.
Calgary is a city of neighborhoods; 180 of them within the city limits alone. Many of the suburban neighborhoods are built around a lake or park, while the neighborhoods downtown are often shopping areas or house companies in the same industry. Here are a few of the highlights.
Downtown and Stephen Avenue Walk
The Downtown Commercial Core is the most business oriented and has some of the tallest buildings in western Canada. Many of it’s buildings are connected by the +15 system, a network of enclosed walkways that are 15 or more feet off the ground. The Commercial Core is divided into the Government District, Arts District, Cultural District, and Olympic Plaza. It’s home to the Stephen Avenue Walk, the main retail area downtown that has some of the city’s biggest malls. Stephen Ave is also known as 8th Ave, and the walk begins around Centre St.
Calgary is right where the prairie meets the Canadian Rockies, so your view varies considerably just depending the direction you’re facing. To the south and east, it’s flat as a pancake, but if you look west, the mountains tower above the city. Its elevation is about 3400 ft above sea level. Calgary is very large for its population, covering 278 square miles, bigger than Chicago despite having less than a third of the population. Most of the “suburbs” of the city are incorporated into Calgary itself, which helps explain the spread.
The Bow River flows from the west of the city through downtown and then exits to the south. The Elbow River flows into downtown from the south where it converges with the Bow River.
Calgary is a dry, sunny city, but don’t expect that to mean that it’s particularly warm, especially in the winter. Nearly every winter, temperatures drop below -22 degrees Fahrenheit, and the record is -49 degrees. Still, the freezing cold during the winters is regularly broken up by warm Chinook winds that blow in from the Pacific Ocean, and usually provide enough heat to thaw the area. Winter is long, and snow regularly falls as early as September and as late as May.
The area heats up quickly for summer, where highs average in the 70s. The record high for Calgary is 97 degrees F. Summer is also the time when most of the city’s precipitation falls. Calgary averages 20 days of thunderstorms during the wet months.
|Month||Avg Hi||Avg Lo||Avg Precip|
The car is the main method of transportation in sprawling Calgary, and there are a couple of handy tips that will help you find your way around. Calgary is divided into four quadrants, northeast, southeast, southwest, and northwest. Centre St divides the city east from west, while Centre Ave and the Bow River divide it north from south. Numbers count out from this center point. Streets run north-south and avenues run east-west. Keep in mind when you’re looking for an address that there are two of each street and avenue in the city. For instance, there is 5th Ave north and 5th Avenue south, along with 5th St west and 5th St east.
There isn’t much in terms of highways in Calgary. The Trans-Canada highway runs from Winnipeg in the east to Vancouver in the west. Downtown, it becomes 16th Ave NW. Queen Elizabeth Highway runs north-south and connects Calgary with Edmonton. While in Calgary, it’s known as Deerfoot Trail. Other major north-south roads are Crowchild Trail and Sarcee Trail.
|Drive Times and Distances|
|Airdrie, AB||30 km||30 min|
|Okotoks, AB||40 km||35 min|
|Edmonton, AB||300 km||3 hrs|
|Vancouver, BC||965 km||10 hrs 30 min|
|Great Falls, MT||510 km||5 hrs|
|Spokane, WA||680 km||8 hrs|
Calgary Transit is the city-owned public transportation provider in Calgary. The system uses both buses and light rail trains. The C-train and a couple of bus routes form the backbone of the system, and then buses feed into it from outlying areas. C-trains typically arrive every 5-30 minutes, and bus routes arrive every 15-45 minutes. Service is provided from 5 am till 3 am. The website has a good route planner.
By Foot and Bike
Calgary has plenty of networks of trails and walkways set up to make navigating the city under your own power fairly easy. There are 400 miles of dedicated bike trails along with another 200 miles of on street paths that connect the various neighborhoods and downtown, including the airport. Downtown, there’s a series of elevated walkways called the +15 system. These connect many buildings downtown, plus have their own shops and restaurants. The +15 system is about 10 miles long.
Calgary International Airport (YYC)
2000 Airport Rd NE
Calgary, AB T2E 6W5
Calgary International Airport is the fourth busiest airport in Canada, though really its passenger volume is more comparable to medium-sized airports in the US. It has daily nonstop flights to major cities in Canada, the United States, and Europe. Calgary International is about 15 minutes northeast of downtown Calgary.
The airport has US Border Pre-clearance, meaning that if you’re flying into the United States, you are cleared through US Customs before your flight departs. This saves time when you land, but remember to get to the airport a little earlier to make sure you have enough time to make your flight.
Concourse A is for domestic flights, Concourses B and C are for International flights to the United States and have US Border Pre-clearance facilities, and Concourse D is for other International flights.
Local Phone Numbers
|The area code for Calgary is 403|
133 6th Ave SE
Calgary, AB T2G 4Z1
4124 11th St SE
Calgary, AB T2G 3H2
|City of Calgary
800 Macleod Trail SE
Calgary, AB T2P 2M5
P.O. Box 2100, Station M, #433
Calgary, AB Canada T2P 2M5
|Garbage and Recycling
861 40 Ave. N.E.
Calgary AB T2E 2N1
|Power and Gas|
|Utilities Consumer Advocate
TD Tower Suite 1701
10088 – 102 Ave
Edmonton, AB T5J 2Z1
Energy services in Alberta are deregulated, meaning
there are a few different providers that compete to
provide the service for your home. The Utilities
Consumer Advocate has a complete list of provides
and other information to help you make your decision
for which energy provider to use.
615 Macleod Tr SE Suite 1000
Calgary, AB T2G 4T8
The consulate is open to the public from
8:30 am to 11:30 am weekdays. There’s a line
in the lobby of the building, and then a security
guard escorts visitors to the consulate. You
can’t bring electronics and many other items,
including cell phones, with you, so leave them in
the car or rent a locker in the building to store
them. American citizens don’t need an appointment to visit.
|Calgary Public Library
616 Macleod Tr SE
Calgary, AB T2G 2M2
The Calgary Public Library has 17 branches
in Calgary with millions of materials on reserve
for education and entertainment. There’s a small
fee to get a library card for Calgary residents,
but it can get downright expensive if you don’t
pay taxes in Calgary. Checkout times are
normally 3 weeks for materials. There’s also
public internet access and interesting classes.
|2 (Cable 7)||CICT||Global|
|4 (Cable 3)||CFCN||CTV|
|5 (Cable 8)||CKAL||Citytv|
|9 (Cable 6)||CBRT||CBC|
|13 (Cable 13)||CIAN||Access Alberta|
|16 (Cable 11)||CBRFT||SRC|
630-3rd Ave SW
Calgary, AB T2P 4L4
Shaw is the cable television provider in the Calgary area. Shaw also has digital phone and internet services. US network programming is available through cable, although it comes from Spokane, WA. Spokane is on Pacific Time, while Calgary is in Mountain Time, so the show times will be off by an hour.
215-16th St SE
Calgary, AB T2E 7P5
The Calgary Herald is the largest paper in the city. It tends to lean toward the conservative side, and is more world focused than its main competitor, the Calgary Sun. It was founded in 1883, and is currently part of the CanWest Global Communications empire. The Herald also publishes Dose, a free daily newspaper aimed at 20 somethings and Swerve, an arts and entertainment magazine.
2615-12th St NE
Calgary, AB T2E 7W9
The Calgary Sun is a tabloid paper published daily that takes a strongly conservative point of view and tends to write short, sensational stories. It’s been in print since 1980, and is owned by Sun Media, a company based in Quebec.
Aero Space Museum of Calgary
4629 McCall Way NE
Calgary, AB T2E 8A5
The Aero Space Museum was founded by pilots in the 1970s, so you know that it knows its stuff. The museum promotes the stories of Western Canada’s contributions to flight technology. There are flight simulators to practice on and plenty of planes to get close to. Education tours are available by appointment.
130-9th Avenue SE
Calgary, AB T2G 0P3
141-18 Avenue SW
Calgary, AB T2S 0B8
The Alberta Ballet is the third largest in Canada and has been in existence since 1966. The company’s season runs from September to May and performs for thousands of Albertans each year, including favorites like the Nutcracker Suite during the holidays. The Ballet also has educational outreach programs and a dance school.
Alberta Theatre Projects
220-9 Avenue SE
Calgary, AB T2G 5C4
101 9th Ave SW
Calgary, AB T2P 1J9
Calgary Tower is a 600 ft tall tower with a revolving restaurant and scenic views of downtown Calgary. There’s also a glass walkway encircling the tower, so you can look and see straight below you. The top has a natural gas flame that burns for special occasions.
1300 Zoo Road NE
Calgary, AB T2E 7V6
Calgary Downtown Association
702, 304-8th Ave SW
Calgary, AB T2P 1C2
The Calgary Downtown Association’s website has information on the thousands of businesses and events happening downtown. It’s a great first stop to see what’s going on in downtown Calgary.
3rd St and 7th Ave SW
The Core is a combination of two shopping venues, the Calgary Eaton Centre and TD Square. They’re connected by Plus 15 walkways, so even it’s perfect in inclement weather.
555 Saddledome Rise SE
Calgary, AB T2G 2W1
The Calgary Flames play hockey in the National Hockey League in the Western Conference. The team’s main rivals are the Edmonton Oilers, and they often play in the Battle of Alberta to determine the top team in the province. Calgary fans are known to swamp 16th and 17th Ave after games and cover the whole area red.
1817 Crowchild Trail NW
Calgary, AB T2M 4R6
Golf might just be the most popular sport in Calgary. More than half the population here plays golf, more than any other city. Here’s a list of some of Calgary’s fine courses.
Pinebrook Golf &Country Club
RR 12, Site 32
Calgary, AB T3E 6W3
Pinebrook is an equity club for members only. The original course on the site was built just after WWII, though it’s been redone since then. The current course covers 6,581 yards from the long tees and has a par of 71.
Redwood Meadows Golf Club
100 Tsuu T’ina Drive
Redwood Meadows, AB T3Z 3G6
Calgary Board of Education
515 Macleod Trail Southeast
Calgary, AB T2G 2L9
About 97,000 students attend K-12 in the 215 schools that make up the Calgary Board of Education. It’s the largest school board in the city, more than twice as big as the Calgary Catholic District. In Canada, junior high is grades 7-9 while high school covers grades 10-12.
Calgary Catholic School District
1000 5th Ave SW
Calgary, AB T2P 4T9
The Calgary Catholic School District is the second largest school district in Calgary, and serves around 44,000 students in 96 schools. The school is affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church, but is under the province of Alberta’s control. The CCSD serves both Catholic and non-Catholic students.
Community colleges exist for two major purposes. The first is to serve as a bridge from high school to college by providing courses for transfer toward a bachelor’s degree. Four out of 10 collegebound high-school graduates start their college education this way.
The second function of community colleges is to prepare students for the job market by offering entry-level career training as well as courses for adult students who want to upgrade their skills for the workplace. They often offer programs that are not available at four-year schools, like fashion design.
Liberal Arts Colleges
Liberal arts colleges offer a broad base of courses in the humanities, social sciences, and sciences. Most are private and focus mainly on undergraduate students. Classes tend to be small and personal attention is available.
Recent years have witnessed the rise of online degree programs, to allow the busy professional a chance to work at their own pace from the comfort of their home on the path to getting a degree. The costs to students are typically the same as for traditional classes— and financial aid is equally available—while the cost to the institution can be much less.
There are online universities ranging from legitimate distance learning systems to fly-by-night degree-mills. It’s important to research a particular institution before deciding to enroll in their system. Generally, brick-and-mortar schools that also offer online classes are the safest, though there are plenty of fully accredited online universities out there.
Nearly 3 million students are believed to be taking online classes at institutions of higher education in the United States this year. That number has been growing about 25% a year recently. Now, virtually all public higher education institutions, as well as a vast majority of private, for-profit institutions, now offer online classes. By contrast, only about half of private, nonprofit schools offer them. Online schools offer everything from Associate’s degrees to Doctoral programs with available emphases in everything from Business Administration to Criminal Justice to Nursing. Some programs require students to attend some campus classes or orientations, but many are delivered completely online. Online courses generally require a computer with a broadband connection, but are now a serious option for the busy professional.
Public vs. Private
Public colleges are usually less expensive, particularly for in-state residents. They get most of their money from the state or local government. Private colleges rely on tuition, fees, endowments, and other private sources. Private colleges are usually smaller and can offer more personalized attention and often more prestige.
Generally, a university is bigger than a college and offers more majors and research facilities. Class size often reflects institutional size and some classes may taught by graduate students.
Upper-division schools offer the last two years of undergraduate study, usually in specialized programs leading to a bachelor’s degree. Students then generally transfer to an upper-division college after completing an associate degree or after finishing a second year of study at a four-year college.
University of Calgary
2500 University Dr NW
Calgary AB T2N 1N4
Founded in 1966, the University is one of the top research universities in Canada. It’s a public university with about 28,000 students. The university is consistently ranked in the top 10 in Canada, and the Haskayne School of Business is one of if not the finest business schools in the country.
Mount Royal College
4825 Richard Rd SW
Calgary, AB T3E 6L1
Mount Royal College is the second largest school in the city with 13,000 students, all undergrads. It is currently undergoing the transition to becoming a university. Public transportation is currently inadequate to the campus, but it is being addressed by Calgary Transit.
Bow Valley College
332 6th Avenue SE
Calgary, Alberta T2G 4S6
Bow Valley College is a vocational college located downtown. The school serves about 10,000 students and focuses on business, technology, and some liberal arts. There are also 17 satellite campuses around Calgary and southern Alberta.
Southern Alberta Institute of Technology
1301 16th Ave NW
Calgary, AB T2M 0L4
The Southern Alberta Institute of Technology is a polytechnic undergraduate college that 70 different applied degrees and certificates. It’s known as SAIT locally, and it provides training to about 75,000 students annually. There are 3 campuses around the city.
Alberta College of Art and Design
1407 14th Ave NW
Calgary, AB T2N 4R3
The Alberta College of Art and Design is on of the finest art schools in Canada and one of only 4 degree-granting public schools. Programs are offered in Graphic Design, New Media, Fine Arts, and Crafts.
University of Lethbridge
Faculty of Management
Room N104 Senator Burns Building
1301 16 AV NW
Calgary AB T2M 0L4
The University of Lethbridge is a research university located in Lethbridge, AB. While that’s a 2 hr drive south of Calgary, there is a satellite campus in Calgary that allows students to earn a business degree and is designed for working professionals.