A special combination of adventure, spirit and western hospitality makes the Canadian city of Calgary and its surrounds one of the world's best destinations.
Calgary’s vibrance and beauty is breathtaking. It is a cosmopolitan city of nearly one million, with outstanding outdoor adventure and pristine wilderness only an hour away in the spectacular Canadian Rockies.
Nearly five million visitors each year share in the wealth of cultural attractions, award-winning restaurants, parks, specialty shops and great nightlife on offer in and around Calgary. Its wide, blue sky and moderate climate (the area enjoys an average of 333 sunny days per year) beckons year-round outdoor enthusiasts to golf or hike, fish or mountain bike, ski or dog-sled, skate, snowboard, snowmobile or just relax.
The region’s parks offer some of the finest natural areas in North America, and some of the best flyfishing in the world is to be found on the Bow River, which flows right through downtown Calgary. Today, more than 40 guiding and outfitting companies rely on the Bow River as a source of tourist product. Apart from brown trout, rainbow, bull and brook trout, as well as rocky mountain white fish are all prized catches. Some 3,000 flyfishers visit the Bow River annually, contributing more than $30 million to the local economy.
Calgary’s rich history has seen the city build upon its western roots and pioneering spirit to shape today’s innovative and energetic metropolis. With eyes locked firmly on the future, Calgarians have a passion for life that has evolved from this rich past. Western values and a spirit of adventure form the foundation for today’s lifestyle – positive elements of a historic image set in changing times.
Calgary and the surrounding area’s history spans a full range, from prehistoric times to the founding of Calgary in 1875, with the construction of the fort at the junction of the Bow and Elbow rivers. Calgary was incorporated into a city in 1894. These deep and varied historical underpinnings include dinosaurs, indigenous culture, ranching, farming, agriculture and oil and gas.
This area awaits the adventurous visitor who wants to explore and experience the heritage of the Canadian West. Here you will discover the colourful lives of soldiers and whiskey traders, Mounties and cowboys, ranchers and entrepreneurs, as well as everyday people.
Calgary’s museums and historical sites preserve Western heritage with imagination and flair. Learn about the rich cultural traditions of the Blackfoot people at the Glenbow Museum. Try on a Mountie uniform at Fort Calgary Historic Park and stroll along pioneer streets at Heritage Park Historical Village.
With a growing interest in experiencing not only natural splendour, but local culture and arts, and historic and heritage activities, travellers are enjoying Calgary’s vibrant tourism scene. A rich cultural life provides exciting choices of live performances all year long: from ballet, opera, philharmonic orchestra and musicals to cutting-edge theatre and dance. Indulge your passion for art with a visit to Calgary’s many sophisticated galleries and museums. Festivals and events enliven Calgary’s celebration of film, jazz, art, antiques, music, wine and food, artisans and much more.
And then there is the world-famous Calgary Stampede. The first-ever Calgary Stampede and Wild West Show was held in September, 1912. Over the years, the show has expanded significantly and gained a worldwide reputation as ‘The Greatest Outdoor Show On Earth’. Today, more than 1.3 million people pass through the gates in a 10-day period.
The highlight of Calgary’s archytypal event (held every July) is a $1.6 million rodeo tournament that attracts competitors from around the world, including Australia. The winning combination of action-packed entertainment also includes the thrill of chuck wagon races, agricultural exhibits, events and exhibits, stampede pancake breakfasts, top-name entertainment, midday rides and an evening grandstand show.
All of this combines to ensure Calgary is one of the world’s great cities. It is in the uncommon energy of a people inspired by a magnificent landscape and a unique combination of adventure, spirit and Western hospitality that makes Calgary and beyond one of the world's great destinations.
This story excerpt is from Issue #58
Outback Magazine: Apr/May 2008