Alberta is the province that lies on the east of the Rockies, with parts of the Rockies being in Alberta, including the towns of Banff and Jasper.
Alberta is the oil state in Canada, with mining and oil, oil sands (Shale Oil), gas, refining bringing lots of wealth to the province. The price of oil fell in 2015 and this had a big effect on the economy here. Alberta's other main industries are tourism, agriculture and cattle, with Calgary best known for the Calgary Stampede that is held here each year at the beginning of July.
While most tourists will come to see the Rockies and ski in the winter or experience the beauty of the Rockies in the spring, summer and fall months, visiting Banff and Jasper, many will also come to Calgary to experience 'Cowtown' Calgary and its western hospitality and atmosphere.
Edmonton is the capital of Alberta and the most northerly big city in Canada, with Edmonton roughly 280 kilometres (170 miles) north of Calgary. What is most striking about travelling across Canada through the Prairies is just how flat the countryside is – miles upon miles of flat plains and not much else.
The further north, or the higher in the mountains you travel, the colder it will be, and in winter most of Alberta will have days when temperatures fall below freezing. Summer temperatures are much more pleasant with days usually around 70⁰F + (20- 25⁰C) again depending on where in the Province you are.
Certainly the best time to come to Calgary is in the summer months and particularly in July for the Calgary Stampede – when the Rodeo riders, chuck wagon races, music and food bring the whole city to life. You need to book early to secure accommodation with Calgary making the claim that this is "the greatest outdoor event in the world". They may well be right!
The City of Calgary has a real western flavour, but is very much a modern Canadian City with high rise buildings, under cover shopping malls and around 1 million people living in the city.
In the early days, Alberta was the home of the Cree, Blackfoot and Chipewyan First Nations people who hunted buffalo on the plains, fished and trapped birds for food. The Hudson Bay Company (see History of Canada section on this website) in 1670 under a Royal Charter granted by Charles II of Britain claimed all of the river catchment areas that drained into Hudson Bay as being their land "Rupert's Land"– and this included much of the eastern side of today's Alberta.
Southern parts of Alberta were also for a time part of Louisiana – variously owned by French, Spanish and then Americans and Britain when in 1818, the 49th parallel was proclaimed as the border between British territory to the north of the border and United States territory to the south. Rupert's Land was then purchased from the Hudson Bay Company in 1870 and then Alberta became part of the North West Territories, before becoming a Province of Canada in 1903.
From the early days of fur trading, it was the desire to build the Canadian Pacific Railway that transformed Calgary into a rail town, and then from the days of horse and carts to the automobile and eventually with the building of the Trans-Canada Highway that passed through Calgary, creating a Highway that crosses over Canada from the east coast to the west coast. This is one of the longest highways in the world crossing over from St John's Newfoundland in the east to Victoria on Vancouver Island in the west. Believe it or not while construction began in 1950 it was only completed in 1962.
Today people fly into Calgary's International Airport (YYC) that is around 20 minutes from the City centre. There are taxis, shuttle buses and hire cars to take you to the City.
In the City centre, there is also a LRT (Light Rail Train) that runs along 7th Avenue.
Things to see in Calgary include –
- Heritage Park – 1900 Heritage Drive SW. See www.heritagepark.ca This park re-creates a Village with an 1860's Fur trading post, settlement buildings from the 1880's, a Prairie Rail town around a heritage Town Square. There is a lot to see here including Gasoline Alley, cafes and entertainment during the summer months.
- Fort Calgary – 750 9 Avenue SE. See www.fortcalgary.com The Fort was first built by the North West Mounted Police in 1875 with the barracks built in 1888. It is right here on 40 acres of grounds where the Bow and Elbow Rivers come together.
- WinSport – 88 Canada Olympic Road SW. See www.winsport.ca This is where you can ski in the winter or head down the Skyline Luge Track (See www.skylineluge.com )and in summer bike or hike on the slopes. Professional skiers train here too. This is one of the best places to come to in Calgary, particularly during the winter months.
- Canada Sport Hall of Fame – 169 Canada Olympic Road SW. see www.sportshall.ca
- Whitewater Rafting – there are a number of companies organising day trips on the rivers near Calgary. Kananaskis River is about 45 minutes from Calgary in the Rockies and is a favourite place for whitewater rafting. See www.chinookrafting.com 4520 70 Street NW Calgary. Also www.canadianraftingadventures.com and www.insideoutexperience.com who also have other adventure activities too.
- Calaway Park – 245033 Range Road 33. See www.calawaypark.com Calaway Park is a large Theme Park about 10 kilometres from Calgary on the Trans-Canada Highway. Lots of action rides and things to enjoy.
- Calgary Tower – 101 9 Avenue SW in the city. See www.calgarytower.com The tower is 160 metres high (525 feet) so has great views over the city.
- Calgary Zoo – 1300 200 Road. See www.calgaryzoo.com The Calgary Zoo was first built in 1929 and continues to develop with new park areas including the Penguin Plunge, Pre-Historic Park and Canadian Wilds exhibits.
- Royal Tyrrell Museum – 1500 N. Dinosaur Trail, Drumkeller (about 138 Kilometres eastwards from Calgary. See www.tyrrellmuseum.com Alberta is world renowned for its finds of dinosaurs, and here in the 'Canadian Badlands' you will find a museum with around 130,000 fossils and live size dinosaurs to see. It is worth the drive to come here.
- Dinosaur Provincial Park – off Trans-Pacific Highway, 48 Kilometres NE from the small town of Brooks, and 18 Kilometres from the Village of Patricia. This park is where dinosaurs once roamed, and it remains pretty rugged today. See www.albertaparks.ca/dinosaur
- National Music Centre – 134 11 Avenue SE. See www.nmc.ca This is an exciting place to visit and see over 2000 rare instruments, great photos of famous Canadian musicians and singers, see both old and new recording equipment and more, as well as hear some great music being played. If you love music, this is the place to come.
- Chinese Cultural Centre – 197 First Avenue. See www.culturalcentre.ca Chinese workers first came to Canada to work and build the Canadian Pacific Railway in the 1880's. This centre was built to showcase some of the history that the Chinese people played in building today's Canada.
- Glenbow Museum – 130 9 Avenue SE. See www.glenbow.org This is a history museum about Calgary and Alberta State History.
- Scotia Bank Saddle Dome – 555 Saddledome Rise SE. See www.scotiabanksaddledome.com This is the big stadium used for sporting and cultural events throughout the year. Check to see what's on when you are coming to Calgary.
- Telus Spark Science Centre – 220 St Georges Drive NE. See www.sparkscience.ca This Centre is dedicated to showing both children and adults, how science plays such an important role in the world, with interactive displays and lots of interesting things to see.
- Aerospace Museum of Calgary – 4629 McCall Way NE. See www. Learn about space adventure and exploration from the early 1900's to today.
- The Military Museums – 4520 Crowchild Trail SW. See www.themilitarymuseums.ca See and learn about Canadian Military history, with lots of interesting memorabilia to see.
- Arts Common – 205 8 Avenue SE. See www.artscommon.ca This is where you will find many stage and arts events happening in Calgary.
- CF Chinook Centre – 6455 MacLeod Trail SW. See www.cfshops.com This is a large shopping Centre with all the amenities that you find in big malls.
- MICRO BREWERIES – there are a number of Micro-Breweries in Calgary. See www.minhasbrewery.com 1314 44 Avenue NE; www.bigrockbeer.com 5555 76 Avenue SE; www.wildrosebrewery.com AF 23, 2-4580 Quesnay Wood Drive SW.
- Stage West Theatre Restaurants – 727 42 Avenue SE. See www.stagewestcalgary.com Box Office Tel: 403 243 6642.
- Food Tour – see www.calgaryfoodtours.com Tel: 403 968 2783
- CASINOS – see Cowboys Casino www.cowboyscasino.ca 421 12 Avenue SE where you will also find the Cowboys Dance Hall Bar; Grey Eagle Casino, see www.greyeagleresortandcasino.ca 3777 Grey Eagle Drive SW; Casino Calgary www.purecanadagaming.com 1420 Meridian Rd NE.
- Rocky Mountain Show Jumping – 100, 64031 226 Avenue W. See www.rmsj.ca This Arena complex has over 20 tournaments a year. There is also the 'Spur of the moment' boutique here too.
- Pathways and wetlands areas – Calgary has many parkland areas, and 800 kilometres of bikeways and walking trails to enjoy. Also see the Ralph Klein Wetlands area with its viewing towers to see migratory birds at 12350 84 Street SE.
- LaCrosse Games – See the Roughnecks, Hornets, Axemen and other teams play LaCrosse. LaCrosse has been played in Calgary since 1879. It's a great game to watch and definitely something quite different to see. Check out information on games at www.calgarylacrosse.com
One of the great pleasures of being in Canada is being outdoors in the summer months, though sometimes you may need to have an insect repellent for mosquitoes and black flies. The forest areas, lakes and wilderness areas are really quite special. One of the activities that you should also try if you can is fly fishing, and in winter ice-hole fishing – and one of the organisers of this can be found at www.icefishingalberta.com A day out with these guys will be a day to remember as special in your time here in Alberta.