Calgary is the largest city in the province of Alberta, Canada. It is located in the south of the province at the confluence of the Bow River and the Elbow River, in an area of foothills and prairie, approximately 80 km (50 mi) east of the front ranges of the Canadian Rockies.
In the 2011 census, the City of Calgary had a population of 1,096,833 and a metropolitan population of 1,214,839, making it the largest city in Alberta, and the third-largest municipality and fifth-largest census metropolitan area (CMA) in Canada.
Because it is located 300 kilometres (185 mi) due south of Edmonton, statisticians define the narrow populated region between these cities as the "Calgary-Edmonton Corridor".
A resident of Calgary is known as a Calgarian.
In 1988, Calgary became the first Canadian city to host the Olympic Winter Games.
Calgary is divided into four quadrants.
Northwest Calgary is in general the region West of Center Street and North of the Bow River with the exception of several neighbourhoods South of the Bow River on the western edge of the city which are also considered to be part of the Northwest.
Northeast Calgary is the region east of Centre Street and North of Memorial Drive.
Southwest Calgary is, in general, the region South of the Bow River and West of Centre Street/Macleod Trail with the exception of several communities found South of the Bow River that are considered to be part of the Northwest.
Southeast Calgary is the area South of Downtown and Memorial Drive and East of Macleod Trail.
Calgary Real Estate Districts
For the purpose of the Calgary Real Estate Board (CREB®) the city is divided into eight districts;
• City Center
• North East
• North West
• South East
Calgary is located at the transition zone between the Canadian Rockies foothills and the Canadian Prairies, and is relatively hilly as a result. Calgary's elevation is approximately 1,048 metres (3,440 ft) above sea level downtown, and 1,083 metres (3,553 ft) at the airport. The city proper covers a land area of 825.29 km² (318.65 sq mi) (as of 2011) 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 at the historic site of Fort Calgary near downtown.
The city is 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 bedroom cities of Airdrie to the north, Cochrane to the west, Chestermere to the east, and Okotoks to the south
Calgary has a semi-arid, highland continental climate with long, dry, but highly variable, winters and short, moderately warm summers. 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 winter days even approach +20 °C (68 °F) on occasion.
According to Environment Canada, the average temperature in Calgary ranges from a January daily average of −9 °C (15.8 °F) to a July daily average of +16 °C (60.8 °F).
Calgary has the most sunny days year round of Canada's 100 largest cities, with just over 332 days of sun; it has on average 2,396 hours of sunshine annually.
Before the arrival of Europeans, the area was inhabited by the First Nations peoples, all of which were part of the Blackfoot Confederacy. In 1787, cartographer David Thompson spent the winter with a band of Peigan encamped along the Bow River. He was a Hudson's Bay Company trader and the first recorded European to visit the area. 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 Royal Canadian Mounted Police or RCMP). The NWMP detachment was assigned in 1875 to protect the western plains from US whisky traders, and to protect the fur trade. Originally named Fort Brisebois, it was renamed Fort Calgary in 1876 by Colonel James Macleod.
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.
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 Northwest Territories.
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, was started by four wealthy ranchers as a small agricultural show in 1912. It now known as 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 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.
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.
Economic activity in Calgary is mostly centred on the petroleum industry; however, agriculture, tourism, and high-tech industries also contribute to the city's fast economic growth.
The economy in Calgary and Alberta is now booming, and the region of nearly 1.1 million people is 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 such as tourism and high-tech manufacturing. Over 3.1 million people now visit the city on an annual basis for its many festivals and attractions, especially the Calgary Stampede.
Other modern industries include light manufacturing, high-tech, film, transportation, and services.
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.
The economy of Calgary includes activity in the energy, financial services, film and television, transportation and logistics, technology, manufacturing, aerospace, health and wellness, retail, and tourism sectors. The Calgary CMA is home to the second-most corporate head offices in Canada among the country's 800 largest corporations.
The publicly-funded University of Calgary (U of C) is Calgary's largest degree-granting facility. Mount Royal University also grants degrees in a number of fields. SAIT Polytechnic, provides polytechnic and apprentice education, granting certificates, diplomas and applied degrees.
Other publicly-funded post-secondary institutions based in Calgary include the Alberta College of Art and Design, Ambrose University College (associated with the Christian and Missionary Alliance and the Church of the Nazarene), Bow Valley College and St. Mary's University. The publicly funded Athabasca University, Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT), and the University of Lethbridge also have campuses in Calgary.
School system and K-12
More than 100,000 K-12 students are enrolled in more than 220 schools in the English language public school system run by the Calgary Board of Education (CBRE).
Another 43,000 plus students attend approximately 95 schools in the separate English language Calgary Catholic School District (CSSD).
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, Clear Water Academy, Calgary French and International School, Chinook Winds Adventist Academy, Webber Academy, Delta West Academy, Masters Academy, Calgary Islamic School, Menno Simons Christian School, West Island College and Edge School.
Calgary holds many major annual festivals and events which include the Calgary Stampede, the Folk Music Festival, the Lilac Festival, Banff-Calgary International Writers Festival, One World Festival (GlobalFest), and the second largest Caribbean festival in the country (Carifest).
Other festivals include the growing Calgary International Film Festival, FunnyFest Calgary Comedy Festival, the Greek Festival, the Calgary Fringe Festival, Summerstock, Expo Latino, Calgary Gay Pride, and many other cultural and ethnic festivals.
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.
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 Spark, the Telus Convention Centre, the Chinatown district, the Glenbow Museum, the Calgary Tower, the Art Gallery of Calgary (AGC), Military Museum and the EPCOR Centre for the Performing Arts. The Devonian Gardens is one of the largest urban indoor gardens in the world, and it is located on the 4th floor of The Core Shopping Centre (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 cities densest and most active mixed use area. At the district's core is the popular 17 Avenue, 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.
Additional attractions include the Heritage Park Historical Village, depicting life in pre-1914 Alberta and featuring working historic vehicles such as a steam train, paddle steamer 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, which features Canada's Sports Hall of Fame, 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 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.
Downtown can be recognized by its numerous skyscrapers. Other 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.
In total, there are 14 office towers that are at least 150 m (490 ft) (usually around 40 floors) or higher. The tallest of these is The Bow, which is the tallest office tower in Canada outside Toronto. Calgary's Bankers Hall Towers are also the tallest twin towers in Canada. The Guardian twin towers located in Victoria Park in Calgary’s beltline are the tallest residential towers at 44 floors each.
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 ft (4.6 m) above grade.
Calgary International Airport (YYC), in the city's northeast, is a transportation hub for much of central and western Canada. In 2013 it was the third busiest in Canada by passenger movement, and third busiest by aircraft movements, is a major cargo hub, and is a staging point for people destined for Banff National Park. Non-stop destinations include cities throughout Canada, the United States, Europe, Central America, and Asia.
Calgary/Springbank Airport, Canada's eleventh busiest, serves as a reliever for the Calgary International taking the general aviation traffic and is also a base for aerial firefighting aircraft.
Calgary's presence on the Trans-Canada Highway and the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) mainline also make it an important hub for freight. The Rocky Mountaineer and Royal Canadian Pacific operates rail tour service to Calgary.
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. Light rail transit use within the downtown core is free and The C-Train is also North America's first and only LRT to run on 100% renewable energy
The bus system has over 160 routes and is operated by 800 vehicles.
As an alternative to the over 260 kilometres (162 mi) of dedicated bikeways on streets, the city has a large interconnected network of paved multi-use (bicycle, walking, rollerblading, etc) paths spanning over 635 kilometres (395 mi).
The Peace Bridge provides pedestrians and cyclists, access to the downtown core from the north side of the Bow River. The bridge ranked among the top 10 architectural projects in 2012 and among the top 10 public spaces of 2012.
Calgary has four major adult acute care hospitals, the Foothills Medical Centre, the Peter Lougheed Centre, the Rockyview General Hospital, the South Health Campus and one major pediatric acute care site: the Alberta Children's Hospital.
Calgary is also home to the Tom Baker Cancer Centre, the leading cancer centre in Alberta (located at the Foothills Medical Centre).
Additionally there are other health care facilities such as the Sheldon M. Chumir Centre (a large 24-hour assessment clinic), Richmond Road Diagnostic and Treatment Centre (RRDTC), as well as hundreds of smaller medical and dental clinics operated throughout Calgary.