October 31, Halloween. The day when children dress up in costumes and go door to door begging for candy from strangers. But it’s not just people dressing up. Some of the houses get dressed up too. In addition to the usual pumpkins and skeletons, these days you’re liable to find ghosts, graveyards, witches and spiders. Many of the witches must have been into their brew because an unusual number seem to have collided with trees, houses and even the ground. As for the spiders, you may not always see them, but you know that they’re around because of the giant (human-sized ?) webs strung between the trees and the house.
Albertan’s are justifiably proud of the beef produced in the province. And while you’d be correct in assuming that there are plenty of great steak and hamburger restaurants, it might surprise you to learn that Chinese restaurants have also gotten into the act.
Ginger beef, marinated beef deep-fried in batter and coated with a sweet and sour sauce. No it’s not authentic Chinese cooking but it is based on a northern Chinese (Schezwan) dish that is much drier and less sweet than the restaurant version. While it’s been a staple for local restaurants for decades, it surprised me to learn when some friends moved away that they couldn’t find any restaurants that served ginger beef. Even today, it is difficult, although not impossible, to find Alberta-style ginger beef outside the province.
For a quick taste, order some at a food court. Great with lemon chicken and fried rice, it’s also commonly combined with steamed vegetables and rice.
Those grey traffic light boxes are getting a make-over. Local artists are being paid and provided with supplies to show off their work on utility boxes. The idea is to beautify the neighborhood and deter vandalism. So far it seems to be working. If you're heading along a major road way (e.g. 16th Avenue North), chances are you'll see some interesting art.
It is a Calgary Tradition to welcome important visitors to the city by giving them a white cowboy hat. This white cowboy hat is both a symbol a Calgary's history and hospiltality.
The tradition of giving a white cowboys to visiting dignitaries began shortly after WWII. In 1946, local hat maker Morris Shumaitcher of Smithbilt Hats decided produce pure white cowboy hats. However, he ended up having to send away to Russia to buy the white felt to make his hats. The family of oilman Bill Herron debuted the white hats in the Stampede Parade of 1947. They ended up winning the "best dressed" prize with their matching black and white outfits, horses, saddle and bridles.
The same year, the Calgary Stampeders made it to the Grey Cup final in Toronto to play Ottawa. The unofficial costume of the fans were white cowboy hats and western style scarves worn around the neck. The mayor of Toronto was also presented with a 10 gallon white cowboy hat.
In 1950 Don MacKay was elected mayor of Calgary and began giving the hats as gifts. And this began the tradition of the White hat!
This nice chap approached us while we were looking at some statues. He told us he was the Prime Minister and gave us his papers.
We had a good laugh together while he tried to sort out the world.
Hope he gets reinstated because he promised us a free holiday.
We found this comical and nearly life sized statue on 8th. Avenue. Caricature in appearance and a bit out of body shape it depicts two elderly gentlemen shaking hands - I have search the web but still can't find any information on its history. It probably has none and is just a fun statue of two old bankers shaking hands on a closed deal. If I'm wrong feel free to tell me!!
What a surprise to find these little creatures not far out of a city. The Gophers like to live alone maybe this is why we only saw the one. These little critters build complex underground tunnels using their front legs and strong front teeth pushing the dirt to the surface creating great mounds of freshly dug earth. The little ground breaker was captured near a restaurant but can you imagine if he got into your garden - creating such a mess of your lawn not to mention the damage to your shrubs, plants and trees.
The Crest of Calgary was adopted in 1902 it shows the City's Motto "Onward" with the dates 1884 when Calgary became a town and 1894 when the town grew into a city. The Crest features the Canadian Maple leaf - the Leek of Wales - the Shamrock of Ireland - the Rose of England and the Thistle of Scotland a nice design of unification.
Not every building reaches for the sky in Calgary it was delightful to see some older buildings still vie for your attention. One such building is the Bank of Nova Scotia situated at 125 8th. Avenue south west in Calgary's downtown district. This beautiful building was constructed in 1929 - 1930 - not old by European standards but old here amidst the equally stunning glass and steel skyscrapers. The architect involved with the design was John McIntosh Lyle of Toronto. The construction team were H.G. Macdonald and Company. I like the look of this older building which seemed to have a new one atop - but no it is behind
The Chinese Culture Museum is located at 197 1st. Street South West Calgary. The museum has been open since September 1992 and attracts around a quarter of a million visitor per year. A visit here explains the Chinese Culture dating back through six thousand years. The museum is open all year with free admission and is run by a non profit making organisation.
I’m not sure when it happened, but there are banners hanging from the streets and bridges in Calgary. It used to be before Stampede, they’d decorate the city by hanging red and white banners of horses from light polls around the city. After Stampede, they’d take the banners down. Now the city is using banners to spruce up some of older but newly revitalized streets. Why they’re decorating the bridges escapes me.
Here’s a list of where you’ll see some banners:
(1) 17th Ave S between 2nd and 14th St W. (a.k.a. The Red Mile after a play-off hockey game). There are a large number of bars, restaurants and art gallery’s for the 20-30 year-olds. There is even a website .
(2) Scarth Street (a.k.a. 1st St W) between 12th and 14th Ave S. Bars, clubs and restaurants usually only busy at night with the 18-25 year-olds.
(3) 4th St W between 14th and 26th Ave S. A mix of restaurants and coffee shops most likely to be visited by the 25-45 year-olds.
(4) Kensington from 10th to 14th St and along 10th St from Memorial to 3rd Ave. Probably the trendy district that started all this banner waving. There are more coffee shops packed into this small area then common sense should allow. Also some restaurants and stores for the yuppies (are they still called that?).
(5) Barclay Mall from the river to 8th Ave on 3rd St. A cobble stoned street that gets you from the downtown core to the river and back. Not much to do along the way.
(6) Stephen Ave Mall at 1st to 3rd St on 8th Ave. A street in the downtown core given over to pedestriana during the daytime. With restaurants, stores and open air carts, this street really hits its stride during Stampede. Frequented by office workers at lunch time, it’s popular with the homeless in the evening and on weekends.
(7) Inglewood along 9th Ave from 11th to 14th St E. One of Calgary’s oldest districts, it has a collection of interesting stores with, dare I say, antiques and other unusual items.
Some Canadian cities tunnel underground to avoid winter weather. Calgary has taken to the air. Regardless of the weather outside, Calgarians can still get to their favorite lunch spot without even putting on a coat. These tunnels in the sky get their name, +15’s (pronounced “Plus Fifteens”) from the fact that they’re supposed to be at least fifteen feet above the road to allow trucks to pass underneath. City planners have encouraged new buildings to incorporate Plus 15’s in their design with the result that most of Calgary’s downtown buildings are now connected via the second floor. Because these walkways are so popular with pedestrians, entire communities of stores, food courts and services have grown up on this level. If you keep to the street level, you’ll miss half of downtown. Currently, there are 57 bridges and 15 kilometers (9.3 miles) of public walkways. For the directionally challenged, there are blue signs over each walkway entrance giving the name of the street being crossed and a picture of the direction being traveled (North: Fish for the river, East: Wheat for the prairies, South: A Train for the Railway and West: Mountains for the Mountains). As well, there are blue maps of the system periodically available on pedestals within the buildings.
We have a local newpaper, that is free and widely distributed through the city. They are found in silver news stands everywhere, and the publication is called FastForward (FFWD). They have great entertainment news and articles, plus a very comprehensive listing of all events, festvals, shows, galleries, etc etc going on in Calgary, and they usually list all of the contact info for them too!
People in Calgary tend to be very friendly. Much more than some of the other places in Canada. It is quite normal to pass someone on the street and just say hi. MOST will make eye contact and return the greeting. Calgary is a really friendly place so feel free to say hi to strangers.
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