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Calgary History

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.

The city’s population slowly grew for the next 60 years until a huge oil reserve was discovered in Alberta in 1947.  Calgary was in an ideal position to take advantage of the discovery.  The population surged, and Calgary became a bonafide metro area with skyscrapers and a significant downtown.  The city continued to flourish through the spike in oil prices in the 1970s, but the subsequent drop sent the economy crashing in the early 1980s.

The crash may have been a blessing in disguise, because the economy was diversified as the city recovered, leading it to become a world class city that had another population boom in the 1990s.  In 1988, Calgary hosted the 15th Olympic Winter Games, which put the city on the world stage.  In the decades since, it has continued to grow and diversify, not just economically but culturally as well.