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—  City  —
City of Calgary
Calgary skyline


Coat of arms
Nickname(s): Cowtown, The Stampede City
Motto: Onward
Calgary is located in Alberta
Location of Calgary in Alberta
Coordinates: 51°02′42″N 114°03′26″W Coordinates: 51°02′42″N 114°03′26″W
Country  Canada
Province   Alberta
Region Calgary Region
Census division 6
Established 1875
 - Town 

November 7, 1884
 - City January 1, 1894
 • Mayor Naheed Nenshi
( Past mayors)
 • Governing body Calgary City Council
 • Manager Owen A. Tobert
 •  MPs
 •  MLAs
Area (2006)
 • City 726.50 km2 (280.50 sq mi)
 • Metro 5,107.43 km2 (1,971.99 sq mi)
Elevation 1,048 m (3,438 ft)
Population (2006)
 • City 988,193 ( 3rd)
 • Density 1,360.2/km2 (3,523/sq mi)
 •  Metro 1,079,310 ( 5th)
 • Metro density 227.5/km2 (589/sq mi)
Time zone MST ( UTC−7)
 • Summer ( DST) MDT ( UTC−6)
Postal code span T1Y to T3R
Area code(s) 403 587
Website City of Calgary

Calgary (pron.: / ˈ k æ l ɡ r i /) 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 prairie, approximately 80 km (50 mi) east of the front ranges of the Canadian Rockies. The city is located in the Grassland region of Alberta.

In 2006, the City of Calgary had a population of 988,193 making it the third-largest municipality in the country and largest in Alberta. The entire metropolitan area had a 2006 population of 1,079,310, making it the fifth-largest census metropolitan area (CMA) in Canada. In 2009, Calgary's metropolitan population was estimated at 1,230,248, raising its rank to fourth-largest CMA in Canada.

Located 294 km (183 mi) due south of Edmonton, statisticians define the narrow populated area between these cities as the " Calgary–Edmonton Corridor." Calgary is the largest Canadian metropolitan area between Toronto and Vancouver.

Calgary is 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 centered on the petroleum industry. Agriculture, tourism and high-tech industries also contribute to the city's economic growth. In 1988, Calgary became the first Canadian city to host the Olympic Winter Games.


First settlement

Before the Calgary area was settled by Europeans, it was inhabited by pre- Clovis 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 native way of life remained relatively unchanged until the late 1870s, when Europeans, together with natives, hunted the buffalo to near-extinction.

Calgary as it appeared circa 1885

The site became a post of the North-West Mounted Police (now the Royal Canadian Mounted Police or RCMP). The NWMP detachment was assigned in 1875 to protect the western plains from U.S. whiskey traders, and protect the fur trade. Originally named Fort Brisebois, after NWMP officer Éphrem-A. Brisebois, it was renamed Fort Calgary in 1876 by Colonel James Macleod. It was named after Calgary on the Isle of Mull, Scotland. While there is some disagreement on the naming of the town, the Museum on the Isle of Mull explains that kald and gart are similar Old Norse words, meaning 'cold' and 'garden', that were likely used when named by the Vikings who inhabited the Inner Hebrides. Alternatively, the name might come from the Gaelic, Cala ghearraidh, meaning 'beach of the meadow (pasture)'.

With its inception in 1885, Banff National Park slowly grew to become an international tourist attraction, along with the Banff Springs Hotel. At first, the main access to the park was by the Canadian Pacific Railway, who built the Banff Springs Hotel, and the CPR heavily promoted tourism to the area. Today, because it has the closest airport, Calgary is the main staging point for people destined for the park.

The Calgary Fire of 1886 occurred on Sunday, Nov. 7, 1886. 14 buildings were razed and losses estimated at $103,200. Nobody was killed or injured. To ensure this would never happen again, city officials drafted a law that all large downtown buildings were to be built with Paskapoo sandstone.

When the Canadian Pacific Railway reached the area in 1883 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, it was incorporated as "The City of Calgary" in what was then the North-West Territories. After the arrival of the railway, the Dominion Government started leasing grazing land at minimal cost (up to 100,000 acres (400 km2) for one cent per acre per year). As a result of this policy, large ranching operations were established in the outlying country near Calgary. Already a transportation and distribution hub, Calgary quickly became the centre of Canada's cattle marketing and meatpacking industries.

Between 1896 and 1914 settlers from all over the world poured into the area in response to the offer of free " homestead" land. Agriculture and ranching became key components of the local economy, shaping the future of Calgary for years to come. The world famous Calgary Stampede, still held annually in July, grew from a small agricultural show and rodeo started in 1912 by four wealthy ranchers to "the greatest outdoor show on earth".

The oil boom

Oil was first discovered in Alberta in 1902, but it did not 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 272,000 in the eighteen years between 1971 (403,000) and 1989 (675,000) and another 345,000 in the next eighteen years (to 1,020,000 in 2007). During these boom years, skyscrapers were constructed and 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 were cited by industry as reasons for a collapse in the oil industry and consequently the overall Calgary economy. However, low oil prices prevented a full recovery until the 1990s.

Recent history

With the energy sector employing a huge number of Calgarians, the fallout from the economic slump of the early 1980s was understandably significant, and 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 1988, when the city hosted the XV Olympic Winter Games. The success of these games essentially put the city on the world stage.

Thanks in part to escalating oil prices, the economy in Calgary and Alberta was booming until the end of 2008, 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. The city has ranked highly in quality of life surveys: 25th in 2006, 24th in 2007, 25th in 2008, 26th in 2009 and 28th in the 2010 Mercer Quality of Living Survey, and 5th best city to live in according to the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU). Calgary ranked as the world's cleanest city by Forbes Magazine in 2007. Mercer also ranked the city as the world's first-placed eco-city for 2010.

Downtown Calgary in 2010


Map of Calgary: Purple indicates industrial zones

Calgary is located at the transition zone between the Canadian Rockies foothills and the Canadian Prairies. Calgary's elevation is approximately 1,048 m (3,438 ft) above sea level downtown, and 1,083 m (3,553 ft) at the airport. The city proper covers a land area of 726.5 km2 (280.5 sq mi) (as of 2006) and as such exceeds the land area of the City of Toronto.

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, on some north-facing slopes, and within Fish Creek Provincial Park.

The city is large in physical area, consisting of an inner city surrounded by communities of various density. Unlike most cities with a sizeable 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 Springbank and Bearspaw acreages 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 1,251,600 in 2008.

The city has undertaken numerous land annexation procedures over the years to keep up with growth; the most recent was completed in July 2007 and saw the city annex the neighbouring hamlet of Shepard, and place its boundaries adjacent to the hamlet of Balzac and within very short distances of the City of Airdrie and Town of Chestermere. Despite this proximity, there are presently no plans for Calgary to annex either Airdrie or Chestermere, and in fact Chestermere's administration has a growth plan in the works that calls for it annexing the intervening land between the town and Calgary.

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

Calgary's neighbourhoods

New Brighton

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 Connaught, 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, Hounsfield Heights/Briar Hill, Hillhurst/ Sunnyside (including Kensington BRZ), Bridgeland, Renfrew, Mount Royal, Mission, Ramsay and Inglewood and Albert Park/Radisson Heights directly to the east. The inner city is, in turn, surrounded by relatively dense and established neighbourhoods such as Rosedale and Mount Pleasant to the north; Bowness, Parkdale and Glendale 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 suburban communities including Somerset, Country Hills, Sundance, and McKenzie Towne. In all, there are over 180 distinct neighbourhoods within the city limits.

Several of Calgary's neighbourhoods were initially separate towns that were annexed by the city as it grew. These include Bowness, Ogden, Montgomery, Forest Lawn, Midnapore, Rosedale and, most recently in 2007, Shepard.


Northern lights over the City of Calgary

Calgary experiences a dry humid continental climate ( Köppen climate classification Dfb, USDA Plant Hardiness Zone 3a). with long, cold, dry, but highly variable winters and short, moderately warm summers. The climate is greatly influenced by the city's elevation and proximity to the Rocky Mountains. Calgary's winters can be uncomfortably cold; but warm, dry Chinook winds routinely blow into the city from over the mountains 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).

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. 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).

A chinook over Calgary.

As a consequence of Calgary's high elevation and aridity, summer evenings can be very cool. The average summer minimum temperature drops to 8 °C (46 °F). Calgary may experience summer daytime temperatures exceeding 29 °C (84 °F) anytime in June, July, & August, and occasionally as late as September or as early as May. With an average relative humidity of 55% in the winter and 45% in the summer, Calgary has a dry climate similar to other cities in the western Great Plains and Canadian Prairies. Unlike cities further east such as Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa or even Winnipeg, humidity is rarely a factor during the Calgary summer.

The city is among the sunniest in Canada, with 2,400 hours of annual sunshine, on average. Calgary International Airport in the northeastern section of the city receives an average of 412.6 mm (16.24 in) of precipitation annually, with 320.6 mm (12.62 in) of that occurring in the form of rain, and 126.7 mm (5.0 in) as snow. Most of the precipitation occurs from May to August, with June averaging the most monthly rainfall. In June 2005, Calgary received 248 mm (9.76 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, lasting sometimes for months or even several years. Precipitation decreases somewhat from west to east; consequently, groves of trees on the western outskirts largely give way to treeless grassland around the eastern city limit.

Located in southern Alberta, Calgary can endure several very cold spells in most winters (although they are punctuated by warm spells). Snow depths of greater than 1 cm are seen on about 88 days each year in Calgary, compared with about 74 days in Toronto. However, snowfall (and temperatures) can vary considerably throughout the Calgary region – mostly due to the elevation changes, and proximity to the mountains. The Town of High River (south of Calgary) receives on average 14–15 cm less snow a year than at the Calgary Airport in North-East Calgary (based on 1971–2000 Environment Canada averages), and less than the Toronto area. Temperatures tend to be slightly warmer in the southern areas of Calgary as well.

Calgary averages more than 22 days a year with thunderstorms, with most all of them occurring in the summer months. Calgary lies on the edge of Alberta's hailstorm alley and is prone to damaging hailstorms every few years. A hailstorm that struck Calgary on September 7, 1991, was one of the most destructive natural disasters in Canadian history, with over $400 million dollars in damage. Being west of the dry line on most occasions, tornadoes are rare in the region.

General seasons (not well-defined in Calgary due to highly variable climate)
  • Winter: November through March
  • Spring: April through May
  • Summer: June through August
  • Autumn: September through October
Climate data for Calgary International Airport
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 16.5
Average high °C (°F) −2.8
Daily mean °C (°F) −8.9
Average low °C (°F) −15.1
Record low °C (°F) −44.4
Precipitation mm (inches) 11.6
Rainfall mm (inches) 0.2
Snowfall cm (inches) 17.7
Avg. precipitation days (≥ 0.2 mm) 9 6.9 9.3 9 11.3 13.4 13 11 9.3 6.3 7.6 7.4 113.5
Avg. rainy days (≥ 0.2 mm) 0.23 0.2 1.1 4.4 10.5 13.4 13 11 8.7 3.6 0.97 0.4 67.5
Avg. snowy days (≥ 0.2 cm) 9.7 7.6 9.4 6.3 2.2 0 0 0 1.6 3.8 7.8 8.2 56.6
Mean monthly sunshine hours 117.4 141.4 177.6 218.8 253.7 280.3 314.9 281.9 207.7 180.5 123.9 107.4 2405.3
Source: Environment Canada

Flora and fauna

Numerous plant and animal species are found within and around Calgary. The Rocky Mountain Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii var. glauca) comes near the northern limit of its range at Calgary. Another conifer of widespread distribution found in the Calgary area is White Spruce ( Picea glauca).


Olympic Plaza in the Arts District

Calgary is a modern city that retains much of its traditional culture of hotel saloons, western bars, night clubs, football and hockey. Calgary is the centre for country music in Canada, referred to by some as the "Nashville of the North."

Calgary also has a number of multicultural areas. Forest Lawn is among the most diverse areas in the city and as such, the area around 17 Avenue SE within the neighbourhood is also known as International Avenue. The district is home to many ethnic restaurants and stores.

While many Calgarians continue to live in the city's suburbs, more central districts such as 17 Avenue, Kensington, Inglewood, Forest Lawn, Marda Loop and the Mission District have become more popular and density in those areas has increased. The nightlife and the availability of cultural venues in these areas has gradually begun to evolve as a result.

The Calgary Public Library (CPL) is the city's public library network, with 17 branches loaning books, e-books, CDs, DVDs, Blu-Rays, audio books, and more. Based on borrowing, the CPL is the second largest in Canada, and sixth largest municipal library system in North America. Nonetheless, the CPL ranks 24th in Canadian per capita municipal funding, according to the Urban Libraries Council.

Calgary is the site of the Southern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium 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 2,538-seat auditorium was opened in 1957 and has been host to hundreds of Broadway musical, theatrical, stage and local productions. 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 the provincial government. Both received major renovations as part of the province's centennial in 2005.

Calgary is also home to a number of 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, Alberta Theatre Projects and Theatre Junction Grand, culture house dedicated for the contemporary live arts. 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.

Visual and conceptual artists like the art collective United Congress are active in the city. There are a number of art galleries in the downtown, many of them concentrated along the Stephen Avenue and 17 Avenue corridors. The largest of these is the Art Gallery of Calgary (AGC). Calgary is also home to the Alberta College of Art and Design.

Suncor Energy Centre

A number of marching bands are based in Calgary. They include the Calgary Round-Up Band, the Calgary Stetson Show Band, the Bishop Grandin Marching Ghosts, and the two-time World Association for Marching Show Bands champions, the Calgary Stampede Showband, as well as military bands including the Band of HMCS Tecumseh, the Regimental Band of the King's Own Calgary Regiment, and the Regimental Pipes and Drums of The Calgary Highlanders. There are many other civilian pipe bands in the city, notably the Calgary Police Service Pipe Band.

Calgary hosts a number of annual festivals and events. These include the Calgary International Film Festival, the Calgary Folk Music Festival, FunnyFest Calgary Comedy Festival, the Folk Music Festival, the Greek Festival, Carifest, Wordfest Banff-Calgary International Writers Festival, the Lilac Festival, GlobalFest, the Calgary Fringe Festival, Summerstock, Expo Latino, Calgary Gay Pride, Calgary International Spoken Word Festival, and many other cultural and ethnic festivals. Calgary's best-known event is the Calgary Stampede, which has occurred each July since 1912. It is one of the largest festivals in Canada, with a 2005 attendance of 1,242,928 at the 10-day rodeo and exhibition.

Several museums are located in the city. The Glenbow Museum is the largest in western Canada and includes an art gallery and first nations gallery. Other major museums include the Chinese Cultural Centre (at 70,000 sq ft (6,500 m2), the largest stand-alone cultural centre in Canada), the Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame and Museum (at Canada Olympic Park), The Military Museums, the Cantos Music Museum and the Aero Space Museum.

The Calgary area also draws filmmakers. Numerous motion pictures have been filmed in the general area. The Tom Selleck picture Crossfire Trail was shot on a ranch near Calgary though the stated setting of the film is Wyoming.

The Calgary Herald and the Calgary Sun are the main newspapers in Calgary. Global, Citytv, CTV and CBC television networks have local studios in the city.

Sports and recreation

Canada Olympic Park

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. Also, Canada Olympic Park serves as a mountain biking trail in the summer months.

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.

Calgary hosted the 2009 World Water Ski Championship Festival in August, at the Predator Bay Water Ski Club which is situated approximately 40 km south of the city.

Scotiabank Saddledome

As part of the wider Battle of Alberta, the city's sports teams enjoy a popular rivalry with their Edmonton counterparts, most notably the rivalries between the National Hockey League's Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers, and the Canadian Football League's Calgary Stampeders and Edmonton Eskimos.

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.

A founder of the city's professional wrestling tradition was Stu Hart, patriarch of one of the most prominent families in the history of the business.

Professional sports teams
Club League Venue Established Championships
Calgary Stampeders Canadian Football League McMahon Stadium 1945 6
Calgary Flames National Hockey League Scotiabank Saddledome 1980 1
Calgary Roughnecks National Lacrosse League Scotiabank Saddledome 2001 2
Calgary Vipers North American League Foothills Stadium 2004 1
Amateur and junior clubs
Club League Venue Established Championships
Calgary Canucks Alberta Junior Hockey League Max Bell Centre 1971 9
Calgary Mustangs Alberta Junior Hockey League Father David Bauer Olympic Arena 1990 1
Calgary Speed Skating Association Speed Skating Canada Olympic Oval 1990 10
Calgary Hitmen Western Hockey League Scotiabank Saddledome 1995 2
Calgary Oval X-Treme Western Women's Hockey League Olympic Oval 1995 4
Calgary Mavericks Rugby Canada Super League Calgary Rugby Park 1998 1
Calgary United F.C. Canadian Major Indoor Soccer League Stampede Corral 2007 0


Downtown Calgary seen from Prince's Island

Downtown features an eclectic mix of restaurants and bars, cultural venues, public squares (including Olympic Plaza) and shopping. Notable shopping areas include such as The Core Shopping Centre (formerly Calgary Eaton Centre/ TD Square), Stephen Avenue and Eau Claire Market. 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 (1.01  ha), 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 " 17 Avenue", which is known for its many bars and nightclubs, restaurants, and shopping venues. During the Calgary Flames' playoff run in 2004, 17 Avenue was frequented by over 50,000 fans and supporters per game night. The concentration of red jersey-wearing fans led to the street's playoff moniker, the " Red Mile." Downtown is easily accessed using the city's C-Train light rail (LRT) transit system.

Attractions on the west side of the city include the Heritage Park Historical Village historical 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 comprises a mixture of replica buildings and historic structures relocated from southern Alberta. Other major city attractions include Canada Olympic Park, and Spruce Meadows. In addition to the many shopping areas in the city centre, there are a number of large suburban shopping complexes in the city. 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, Sunridge Mall in the northeast, and the newly built CrossIron Mills just north of the Calgary city limits, and south of the City of Airdrie.

Stephen Avenue

Downtown can be recognized by its numerous skyscrapers. Some of these structures, such as the Calgary Tower and the Scotiabank Saddledome are unique enough to be symbols of Calgary. 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 the recession, many high-rise construction projects were immediately halted. It was not until the late 1980s and through to the early 1990s that major construction began again, initiated by the 1988 Winter Olympics and stimulated by the growing economy.

In total, there are 10 office towers that are at least 150 metres (500 ft) (usually around 40 floors) or higher. The tallest of these is the Suncor Energy Centre (formerly known as the Petro-Canada Centre), which is the tallest office tower in Canada outside Toronto. Calgary's Bankers Hall Towers are also the tallest twin towers in Canada. Several larger office towers are planned for downtown: The Bow, Jamieson Place, Eighth Avenue Place (two towers), Centennial Place (two towers), City Centre (two towers), and the highly anticipated (although only rumoured) Imperial Oil and First Canadian Centre II towers. As of 2008, there were 264 completed high-rise buildings, with 42 more under construction, another 13 approved for construction and 63 more proposed.

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 (4.6 m) above grade.


Ethnic Origin
Ethnic Group Population Percent
Canadian 233,470 26.80%
English 228,435 26.22%
Scottish 171,755 19.72%
German 140,305 16.11%
Irish 139,600 16.03%
French 85,450 9.81%
Ukrainian 59,770 6.86%
Chinese 56,100 6.44%
Calgary Stampede grounds.

The population of the City of Calgary according to its 2010 municipal census is 1,071,515, a 0.57% or 6,060 resident increase over its 2009 municipal census population of 1,065,455.

According the 2006 Statistics Canada federal census, there were 988,193 people living within the city 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. This compares with 6.2 per cent in Alberta, and almost 5.6 per cent for Canada overall.

In 2006, the average age in the city was 35.7 years of age compared with 36.0 for Alberta and 39.5 years of age for all of Canada.

In 2001, the population was 878,866, while in 1996 Calgary had 768,082 inhabitants.

Between 2001 and 2006, Calgary's population grew by 12.4 percent. During the same time period, the population of Alberta increased by 10.6 percent, while that of Canada grew by 5.4 percent. The population density of the city averaged , compared with an average of for the province.

A city-administered census, 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 1.1 million, and the Calgary Economic Region posted a population of just under 1.17 million in 2006. On July 25, 2006, the municipal government officially acknowledged the birth of the city's one millionth resident, with the census indicating that the population was increasing by approximately 98 people per day at that time. This date was arrived at only by means of assumption and statistical approximation and only took into account children born to Calgarian parents. A net migration of 25,794 persons/year was recorded in 2006, a significant increase from 12,117 in 2005.

Christians make up 67% of the population, while 25% have no religious affiliation. There are also Muslims (2.7%), Buddhists (1.8%), and Sikhs (1.4%).

Visible Minorities and Aboriginal Peoples

Calgary CMA is the third most diverse in Canada in terms of visible minorities after Toronto and Vancouver when considering only CMAs with population greater than 200,000.

City of Calgary 2006
Source: Statistics Canada 2006
Population  % of Group  % of Total Population
Visible minority group Chinese 65,365 28.1 6.7
Black 20,540 8.8 2.1
Filipino 24,915 10.7 2.5
South Asian 56,210 24.2 5.7
West Asian 5,930 2.6 0.6
Arabs 11,245 4.8 1.2
Latin American 13,120 5.6 1.3
Southeast Asian 15,410 6.6 1.6
Korean 6,710 2.9 0.7
Japanese 4,490 1.9 0.5
Multiple minorities 6,605 2.8 0.7
Not Included Elsewhere 1,920 0.8 0.2
Total Visible Minorities 232,465 100 23.7
Total Aboriginal Identity Population 24,425 2.5
Not A Visible Minority or Aboriginal 722,600 73.8
Total population 979,485 100
Population History
Year Population  % Change
1884 506 -
1891 3,876 666.0
1901 4,091 5.5
1911 43,704 968.3
1921 63,305 44.8
1931 81,636 29.0
1941 87,267 6.9
1951 129,060 47.9
1961 249,641 93.4
1971 403,320 61.6
1981 591,857 46.7
1991 708,593 19.7
2001 879,003 24.0
2006 988,193 12.4
2010 (civic census) 1,071,515 8.4

Government and politics

Calgary's New City Hall and Old City Hall

Calgary is generally considered 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. The high concentration of oil and gas corporation led to the rise of Peter Lougheed’s Progressive Conservative Party in 1971. During the 1990s the city's mainstream political culture was dominated by the right-wing Reform Party of Canada federally, and the Progressive Conservatives provincially.

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. The right-wing Alberta Alliance became active during the 26th Alberta general election and campaigned for fiscally and socially conservative reforms. However, the Alberta Alliance and its successor, the Wildrose Alliance, did not manage to make inroads in the 2008 provincial election.

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. The city has chapters of various activist organizations, as well as an Anti-Capitalist Convergence.

Municipal politics

Calgary is governed in accordance with Alberta's Municipal Government Act (1995). Calgarians elect 14 ward aldermen and a mayor to Calgary City Council every three years. The next election is scheduled for October 2013, at which point the title of alderman will be changed to councillor. Naheed Nenshi was elected mayor in the 2010 municipal election.

The city has an operating budget of $2.1 billion for 2007, supported 41% by property taxes. $757 million in property taxes are collected annually, with $386 million from residential and $371 million from non-residential properties. 54% of expenditures are for city employee salary, wages, and benefits.

Two school boards operate independently of each other in Calgary, the public and the separate systems. Both boards have 7 elected trustees each representing 2 of 14 wards. The School Boards are considered to be part of municipal politics in Calgary as they are elected at the same time as City Council.

Provincial politics

Calgary is represented by 23 provincial MLAs including 16 members of the Progressive Conservatives, four members of the Alberta Liberals, two members of the Wildrose Alliance and one Independent. For exactly 14 years (from December 14, 1992, to December 14, 2006), the provincial premier and leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Alberta, Ralph Klein, held the Calgary Elbow seat. Klein was elected to the Legislative Assembly of Alberta in 1989 and resigned on September 20, 2006. He was succeeded as provincial premier and leader of the Progressive Conservative Party by Ed Stelmach, MLA for Fort Saskatchewan-Vegreville. Following this leadership change Calgary saw its leadership and representation on provincial matters further reduced as its representation on the provincial cabinet was reduced from eight to three with only one Calgary MLA, Greg Melchin, retaining a cabinet seat. In June 2007 Ralph Klein's old riding, a seat the PC Party held since it took office in 1971 fell to Alberta Liberal Craig Cheffins during a by-election. In the run up to the 2008 general election pundits predicted significant Tory losses in traditional stronghold that many felt was being taken for granted and ignored.

The 2008 election saw the Liberals increase their seat count in the city by one to five. While the results in Calgary were not particularly surprising given the grievances especially in Central Calgary with the Stelmach administration, the fact that they happened in the face of significant PC gains in Edmonton was. The Liberals were reduced to nine seats overall, meaning for the first time ever the majority of their caucus represents Calgary ridings.

Federal politics

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 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 prime ministers, two have represented a Calgary riding while prime minister. The first was R. B. Bennett from Calgary West, who held that position from 1930 to 1935.


Headquarters of WestJet
Employment by industry
Industry Calgary Alberta
Agriculture 6.1% 10.9%
Manufacturing 15.8% 15.8%
Trade 15.9% 15.8%
Finance 6.4% 5.0%
Health and education 25.1% 18.8%
Business services 25.1% 18.8%
Other services 16.5% 18.7%

Calgary's economy is decreasingly dominated by the oil and gas industry, although it is still the single largest contributor to the city's GDP. In 2006, Calgary's real GDP (in constant 1997 dollars) was C$52.386 billion, of which oil, gas and mining contributed 12%). The larger oil and gas companies are BP, EnCana, Imperial Oil, Suncor Energy, Shell Canada, and TransCanada, making the city home to 87% of Canada's oil and natural gas producers and 66% of coal producers.

Labour force (2006)
Rate Calgary Alberta Canada
Employment 72.3% 70.9% 62.4%
Unemployment 4.1% 4.3% 6.6%
Participation 75.4% 70.9% 66.8%

In 1996, Canadian Pacific Railway moved its head office from Montreal to Calgary, and, with 3,100 employees, is among the city's top employers. Imperial Oil moved its headquarters from Toronto in 2005 in order to take advantage of Alberta's favourable corporate taxes and to be closer to its oil operations. This involved the relocation of approximately 400 families.

Some other large employers include Shaw Communications (7,500 employees), NOVA Chemicals (4,900 employees), Telus (4,500 employees), Nexen (3,200 employees), CNRL (2,500 employees), Shell Canada (2,200 employees), Dow Chemical Canada (2,000 employees).

In October 2006, EnCana announced the construction of the Bow, a 58-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.

As of 2005, the city had a labour force of 649,300 (a 76.3% participation rate). In 2006 the unemployment rate was amongst the lowest of the major cities in Canada at 3.2%, and as a result, there is an extreme shortage of workers, both skilled and unskilled. It is common to see signing bonuses for workers in the service industry as well as starting wages for grade school students up to $15 per hour at local fast food eateries. Downtown hotels have had to shut down floors due to a lack of staff to clean all the rooms. The area'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 labour force.

WestJet is headquartered close to the Calgary International Airport, and Enerjet has its headquarters on the airport grounds. Prior to their dissolution, Canadian Airlines and Air Canada's subsidiary Zip were also headquartered near the city's airport.


SAIT Heritage Hall

In the year 2009 99,491 students attended K-12 in 223 schools in the English language public school system run by the Calgary Board of Education. With other students attending the associated Chinook Learning Service adult schooling, the total student enrollment is 102,917 students (2010). Another 43,000 attend about 95 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 Mountain View Academy, Rundle College, Rundle Academy, Clear Water Academy, Chinook Winds Adventist Academy, Webber Academy,Delta West Academy, Masters Academy, Menno Simons Christian School, West Island College and Edge School.

Calgary is also home to Western Canada's largest public high school, Lord Beaverbrook High School, with 2241 students enrolled in the 2005–2006 school year. Currently the student population of Lord Beaverbrook is 2013 students (2009) and several other schools are equally as large; Western Canada High School with 2035 students (2009) and Sir Winston Churchill High School with 1983 students (2009).

Calgary is the site of five major public post-secondary institutions. The University of Calgary is Calgary's primary large degree-granting facility, and enrolled 28,807 students in 2006. Other post-secondary institutions include Mount Royal University, with 13,000 students, granting degrees in a number of fields; and SAIT Polytechnic, with over 14,000 students, provides polytechnic and apprentice education, granting certificates, diplomas and applied degrees. SAIT's main campus is in the Northwest quadrant, just north of downtown.

Smaller post-secondary institutions include Bow Valley College, Alberta College of Art and Design, and Columbia College.

There are also several private liberal arts institutions including Ambrose University College, official Canadian university college of the Church of the Nazarene and the Christian and Missionary Alliance and St. Mary's University College. As well, Calgary is home to DeVry Career College's only Canadian campus.


Calgary's C-Train system.

Calgary is a transportation hub for much of central and western Canada. Calgary International Airport (YYC), in the city's northeast, is the third largest in Canada by aircraft movements and is a major cargo hub. Non-stop destinations include cities throughout Canada, the United States, Europe, Central America, and Asia. Calgary's presence on the Trans-Canada Highway and the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) mainline (which includes the CPR Alyth Yard) also make it an important hub for freight. The Rocky Mountaineer and Royal Canadian Pacific operates railtour service to Calgary; VIA Rail no longer provides intercity rail service to Calgary.

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. Until 1904 the streets were named; after that date, all streets were given numbers radiating outwards from the city centre. 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. However, it is a developer and city convention in Calgary that non-numbered streets within a new community have the same name prefix as the community itself so that streets can more easily be located within the city.

Calgary Transit provides public transportation services throughout the city with buses and light rail. Calgary's rail system, known as the C-Train was one of the first such systems in North America (behind Edmonton LRT and San Diego Trolley) and consists of three lines (two routes) on of track (mostly at grade with a dedicated right-of-way carrying 42% of the downtown working population). In the fourth quarter of 2009, the C-Train system had an average of 266,100 riders per weekday, the third busiest light rail system in North America behind the Monterrey Metro, and the Toronto streetcar system. The bus system has over 160 routes and is operated by 800 vehicles.

As an alternative to the over of shared bikeways on streets, the city has a network of multi-use (bicycle, walking, rollerblading, etc.) paths spanning over .

Health care

Medical centres and hospitals
Alberta Children's Hospital
Rockyview General Hospital overlooking the Glenmore Reservoir

Calgary has three major adult acute care hospitals and one major pediatric acute care site; the Foothills Medical Centre, which is the largest hospital in Alberta, the Peter Lougheed Centre, the Rockyview General Hospital, and the Alberta Children's Hospital, which is the largest hospital in the prairie provinces for sick kids, respectively. They are all overseen by the Alberta Health Services: Calgary Health Region. Calgary is also home to the Tom Baker Cancer Centre, the leading cancer centre in Alberta (located at the Foothills Medical Centre), the Grace Women's Health Centre, which provides a variety of care, and the Libin Cardiovascular Institute. In addition, the Sheldon M. Chumir Centre (a large 24 hour assessment clinic), and the Richmond Road Diagnostic and Treatment Centre (RRDTC), as well as hundreds of smaller medical and dental clinics operate in Calgary. The University of Calgary Medical Centre also operates in partnership with the Calgary Health Region, by researching cancer, cardiovascular, diabetes, joint injury, arthritis and genetics.

The four largest Calgary hospitals have a combined total of more than 2,100 beds, and employ over 11,500 people.


The presence of the Canadian military has been part of the local 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 April 1, 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, when most of the units moved to CFB Edmonton. Despite this closure there is still a number of Canadian Forces Reserve units, and cadet units garrisoned throughout the city. They include the HMCS Tecumseh Naval Reserve Unit, The King's Own Calgary Regiment (RCAC), The Calgary Highlanders (and band), 746 Communication Squadron, 14 (Calgary) Service Battalion, 15 (Edmonton) Field Ambulance Detachment Calgary, 41CER detachment Calgary (33 Engineer Squadron), along with a small cadre of Regular Force support.

Contemporary issues

The economic boom and rapid growth recently experienced in Calgary has led to issues such as urban sprawl and an infrastructure backlog. With no geographical barriers to its growth besides the Tsuu T'ina First Nation, the city has seen suburbs spread increasingly further out at an accelerated rate. This has led to difficulties in providing necessary transportation infrastructure to Calgary’s population.

Condominiums in the Downtown West End

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 this has not stopped the rate of sprawl. 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, for a total of around 30,000.

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 demand 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 construction has not yet begun.

The city has many socioeconomic issues including homelessness. Certain portions of downtown core and inner city have been singled out as being home to much higher proportions of disadvantaged residents, as well as some neighbourhoods in the city’s east. The share of poor families living in very poor neighbourhoods increased from 6.4% to 20.3% between 1980 and 1990.

Although Calgary and Alberta have traditionally been affordable places to live, substantial growth (much of it due to the prosperous energy sector and the northern oil sands projects) has led to increasing demand on real-estate. As a result, house prices in Calgary have increased significantly in recent years, but have stagnated over the last half of 2007, and into 2008. As of November 2006, Calgary is the most expensive city in Canada for commercial/downtown office space, and the second most expensive city (second to Vancouver) for residential real-estate. The cost of living and inflation is now the highest in the country, recent figures show that inflation was running at 6% in April 2007.


In March 2008, City Council approved a pilot project to test closed circuit television surveillance cameras. A total of sixteen CCTV cameras are being installed in three downtown locations. They are being deployed in the East Village and along the Stephen Avenue Mall. The project began in early 2009, primarily being led by Animal & Bylaw Services.

Although the city has a relatively low crime rate when compared to other North American cities, gangs and drug-related crime have increased along with the recent economy growth. In 2009, 62 additional police officers were deployed as foot patrols in the downtown area.

Sister cities

The City of Calgary maintains trade development programs, cultural and educational partnerships in twinning agreements with six cities:

City Province/State Country Date
Quebec City Quebec  Canada 1956
Jaipur Rajasthan  India 1973
Naucalpan Mexico State  Mexico 1994
Daqing Heilongjiang  People's Republic of China 1995
Daejeon Chungnam  South Korea 1996
Phoenix Arizona  USA 1997
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