Favorite thing: I love the many beautiful and large parks around the city, one of them being the bird sanctuary along the river Bow. A great place to see different kind of birds and deers in the 34-hectare park located in a federal migratory bird sanctuary in Calgary. The site is dominated by a mature, riparian forest.
Favorite thing: A couple of times a year, the snow comes down in Calgary but there isn’t any wind. The effect is that all of the trees and fences are coated with a glossy white coating. When the sun comes out the world is fresh and clean and peaceful. Perfect for pictures or some outdoor winter activity.
Favorite thing: When oil was first discovered in 1902 Calgary developed slowly. In 1973 the city found itself at the centre of the Arab oil embargo. During this period of prosperity skyscrapers were rapidly constructed creating a modern cosmopolitan city attracting people from all over the world.
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Favorite thing: The University of Calgary has an extensive collection of outdoor, camping, climbing, kayaking, etc etc. gear available for a good price to rent. Also - they host lots of outdoor programs and classes from beginner - advanced year round, according to season.
Favorite thing: For many years, Calgarians and Edmontonians have had a sort of rivalry. Although they are only 21/2 hours apart and looking as an outsider probably seem very similar, when the Calgarians hear you went to Edmonton or live there, there is always a sneer or snide remark...and vice versa. I think it started with the Hockey teams, Flames and Oilers, and just escalated from there. Although it is mostly in clean fun, be careful of singing Edmonton's praises in the company of Canadians. you may find yourself starting a riot...
Our last day in Alberta (Calgary ) in 2003 was the first day of the Calgary Stampede.
Someone just had to see the chuck wagon races . Although the Stampede Schedules did not say there were chuck wagon races on day one , we did go to the Stampede and found out that there were races.. We were able to get seats , cheap ones but a bit high up in the stands. It is probably better to get more expensive seats closer to the track to better hear the rumble of the wagons and horses at the start .
There are ten races ( four wagons per race ) each night followed by a stage show. We skipped the stage show . Thet start of the races are exciting but once the teams get established on the track it is just a horse race . No one comes from behind in these races .
Every year in Calgary people sell a treasure chest book, which is about 600 pages of coupons of everything from ski waxing, to pedicures, to free meals, to hotels in Banff...guaranteed you will find a Calgarian who either has one or knows someone who does. These books are $40, but no one uses all the coupons in there, especially the ones catered to tourists, so if you have some connections, you can get a hold of one of these babies and save a pretty penny...most people would be glad to give you the coupons to hotels in Banff or Gondola rides...turst me, these books are huge...
My friends and I used a coupon for a hotel in Banff one time, and ended up spending $13 Canadian a night for a hotel right by the main strip...it paid for itself right there...
As well, it has coupons for fast food to casual to elegant dining, and it is always buy one entree, get one free...
so, if you are coming this way, and you aren't a Carney or have a mullet, I can make sure to hook you up with a coupon or two (first ones free, then once you are hooked it gets pricey)...:)
Cochrane Ranche was "the biggest operation in the Dominion" in 1881, and you can still visit this historic ranch today, as it is a designated heritage site. It is no longer a working ranch, but a small part of it remains, located on a pretty creek, and you are free to wander the area on interpretive paths and trails. An old cabin serves as an interpretive centre, and you learn why even though the ranch started as a huge, successful, operation that it failed.
Cochrane Ranche is located outside the town of Cochrane, destination for generations on a summer Sunday -- for ice cream. For 50 years, MacKay Ice Cream has been an institution in the town. Sure, there are much better commercial ice creams to be had out there, but it's all in the ritual.
Fondest memory: The process of getting to Cochrane was the fun of coasting down the big hill into the town. The hill is known as The Cochrane Hill, once called "Manachaban" by the Stoney Indians. There is a new subdivision being terraced there, but the views are still impressive of the prairie and mountains beyond, as you head down the hill.
While eating your ice cream, wander through the town. It's now known more as a bedroom community for Calgary, but it still has retained it's charm and western theme. There are some quaint shops here, and you can get good coffee at Cochrane Coffee Traders.
Directions: Cochrane is located about 20 minutes west of Calgary. Take Highway 1A west, and don't forget to gear down on "Manachaban". Cochrane Ranche is located just west of town, keep following Highway 1A, until you see the sign.
There are hundreds and hundreds of natural environment parks and city parks in Calgary; most likely there is one close to where you are staying.
The most popular ones in the city are: Nose Hill Park, Prince's Island Park, Fish Creek Park, Riley Park, and Edworthy Park.
Fondest memory: When I was very small, my parents used to take my brothers and I to Riley park for picnics and to the wading pool there. Now, we take my little nieces and nephew; it's funny how things never change -- everything still looks the same.
Riley park is an oasis and a child's delight near downtown Calgary; there are huge elms and poplars just right for climbing or resting under during a hot day, a playground, botanical gardens and that wading pool. You can even catch a cricket match here as well. My husband and I had our wedding photos done in the park. To me, Riley Park means Summer.
Just when you think winter will never end, all of the sudden, a weather front will move into Calgary called a Chinook.
A chinook is basically a warm, westerly wind coming over the mountains from the Pacific. When the moisture-rich pacific air hits the subarctic cold air over an area, such as Calgary, the moisture in the Pacific air condenses, and forms a distinctive arch in the sky called a Chinook Arch.
The temperature can rise as much as 20 degrees overnight, and we get double digit temperatures in the middle of winter. I've seen the temperatures get as high as 14 or 15C one New Year's.
Fondest memory: Chinooks just seem to lift people's spirits -- you'll see a lot more smiles on people's faces. Also, always carry extra windshield washer fluid in the car -- all that melting snow turns cars into mud balls. Some Calgarians even take to wearing shorts!!
Sounds like hair care products or vitamins, right? Actually the Plus 15 System is 16 km system of enclosed walkways around downtown Calgary, roughly about 15 feet off the ground, the first one being built in 1970. There are higher levels, subsequently called Plus 30 and Plus 45.
They are extremely useful, as in the dead of winter, you can stay nice and cozy walking to your destination.
Fondest memory: My favorite one is attached to the Civic Parkade on 9th Ave. SW and 5th St. SW. The walkway will take you through Penny Lane Mall (upscale shopping) into Eaton Centre and TD square (see shopping tips). So convenient as in the winter you can leave your stuff in the car and your hands are free while you shop.
Heritage Park is Canada's largest historic village and recreates prairie life in the early 1900's. The exhibits are mostly historic homes and buildings that have been moved from various areas in Southern Alberta or from Calgary and have been restored.
Even though it has a tourist-trap feeling to it, it still is a charming place to see. The most interesting exhibits are the tiny church, the opera house, and the general store. The Prince House (see Prince's Island under "must see" tips), is known to be haunted -- not surprising as the man had four wives. A must-do acitivity is a ride around the Glenmore Reservoir on the large old-fashioned paddle boat, the SS Moyie.
Call (403) 268-8500; or go to www.heritagepark.ca
The Calgary Stampede started in 1912 and "The Greatest Outdoor Show On Earth" has been going strong since then. This is the only time of year you can find free food every day on the street corners of Calgary. For 10 days, there is a free pancake breakfast somewhere in the city, with two huge ones at Chinook Shopping Centre and at Market Mall Shopping Centre. Sometimes, if you look hard enough you can even find a free dinner somewhere.
The Stampede is basically a mix of midway, rodeo, and entertainment with a huge western theme, and it overtakes Calgary for 10 days. The whole business world almost shuts down for a week, with people wearing jeans every day to work --a pair of jeans being their only nod to the "dress western" theme--and heads being turned the other way as people leave work early to go to the bar or come stumbling in hung over at 10:00 am.
Being born and raised in Calgary and having gone to the Stampede for 15 years straight, I rarely go any more; however, I do get nostalgic feelings about it and will tune in to the televised Stampede Parade or get a craving for a corn dog and a watered down lemonade. If visiting Calgary, it is worthwhile to go once and see what the fuss is about. Try to eat before or after you leave the fairgrounds, as you can end up paying $10.00 for that corn dog and lemonade.
Favorite thing: A typical day in Calgary can start with Blue sky and end up with snow in any month of the year. The challenge is dressing for the weather... you can't. A popular local saying is "if you don't like the weather, wait 5 minutes." Unfortunately this can work for both good and for bad.
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