The New West – Calgary

Calgary is situated in the foothills of the Blue Canadian Rockies, where the snow-capped mountains often look as though they are painted on the sky for an awesome sight when you have your morning coffee.  The weather is moderate.  Although there is a saying in Calgary ‘If you don’t like the weather – wait 10 minutes and it will change.’

Calgary - Voted Cleanest City in the World

Calgary – Voted Cleanest City in the World

Calgary is situated on the clear, clean waters of the Bow River – which runs out of the glacier fed Lake Louise.  It was originally a popular gathering point for the Blackfoot natives.  The Bow River was a  place where the tree branches were material for bow and arrows.  With a chinook that can blow through often, the temperatures could warm and the snow go away at any time, including the winters.Calgary is Canada’s newest city and in my opinion, by far the cleanest city.  With the head-offices for oil companies galore, it has the largest population of Americans outside the USA in the world. Most people share optimism and a desire to work and thrive.

A fort was established in 1875 by the North-West Mounted Police and the original founder – Sam Livingstone – was already settled in the area;  The fort was called Calgary which is Gaelic for ‘swift waters’.

The settlers of the area were mainly ranchers and often those ‘second-sons’ of aristocrats.  The Canadian Pacific Railroad ran through Calgary and created a settlement of what is known as ‘China Town’ now as well as a landmark hotel made of sandstone – The Palliser, which is still in downtown Calgary.

Palliser Calgary Hotel

Palliser Calgary Hotel

Calgary was a small settlement until oil was discovered in the Turner Valley, Black Diamond area and in the early 1900′s the city started thriving. There has been no looking back.  Calgary is a bustling, thriving city where it always seemed to me – about every 10 years, old dirty buildings/areas are torn down and new, clean buildings replace them. Some people don’t appreciate that – but to me Calgarians definitely understand the difference between old junk and real heritage landmarks.  There are old buildings that are maintained of course.

It is a transient city and may be a reason people are so friendly.  My two sons were born in Calgary but that seems to be a rarity. Most people seem to come to Calgary to work.  My romance story One Dance with a Stranger takes place in Calgary.  My romance story Alberta Wild Rose takes place in Calgary’s fascinating surrounding area (the Lost Lemon Mine) and the story I am working on now Seraphim will mainly take place in Calgary.

Cowboys and country - Background for Sophisticated Cowboy

 

The book – Calgary, Spirit of the West by Hugh A. Dempsey is a great book on the history of Calgary.

 

 

 

Here are a few websites with information on visiting Calgary.

Visit Calgary

Calgary Attractions

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Is everything in Texas bigger? – Travel Memories

I often inserted remarks when talking with people in Texas that some people might not see the humor in.  But Texans did.  It was fun.

I would say something like ‘Alberta is bigger than Texas‘.  A remark that was met with ‘no it’s not‘.  Then I would say ‘Alberta beef is better than Texan beef‘.  After saying ‘No it’s not,’ I often got puzzled looks and a comment ‘You’re not anything like I imagined a Canadian would be like.’  It seemed to be a real ice-breaker.

Calgary

Welcome to Alberta – the New West.

Council Bluff, Iowa – Travel Memories

Council Bluffs 2In a small place in Iowa on one trip, I learned something interesting.  Often Canadians claim Americans don’t know much about Canada.  I didn’t often see that.  But once in Council Bluff, with a just over 60,000 population I did.

Being as it was summer and a busy time for tourists, my husband parked on the side of the highway and had me run into a motel to see if there was a room available with truck parking.  There was, so I booked a room.

The woman looked at my registration and asked, very puzzled.  “A Calgary, what’s a Calgary?”  (Not where’s Calgary, but what’s a Calgary).  Now I was puzzled – surely it said city or town – or had I misread it.  But just laughed and said ‘A city in Canada (no sense saying Alberta I thought) only about 10 times as large as Council Bluff.’

It was funny to me.  I caught a glimpse of not knowing something about a country beside you.

Finding Friday

History in the Canadian West.

Finding Friday are blogs about historical facts as they pertain to Western Canada.

In my travels throughout North America as a Canadian I discovered there is little known about the Canadian West both south of the border or in Eastern Canada.  Originally it appears as though the west was set up as a colony where westerners supplied easterners from their vast resources.

Three words can destroy western Canada almost immediately.  National Energy Program.  It has happened twice – when Canada first started – Sir John A. MacDonald, our first Prime Minister, implemented it – a big reason for Canada’s Civil War and more recently Pierre Elliott Trudeau again tried it in the early 80’s.  I watched houses abandoned, homeless wandering the streets and saw the results of the dreaded National Energy Program. It seems simply a method of punishing the west for prospering.  I hope it won’t happen a third time.

Recently I have read a few articles where Canadian magazines have actually bragged about how Canada didn’t have troubles with their natives like the USA did.  One magazine actually went on to say – Canada had no Indian Wars.  How this article was ever published, by a Canadian magazine to boot, I’ll never know.  It’s simply not true.

I now live in Calgary, Alberta.  There were two states in my travels who seemed to know much about Calgary, Texas and Georgia.  Texans knew that Calgary hosts the largest outdoor rodeo in the world, the Calgary Stampede. Many Texans are participants in this huge event. Combine that with Calgary being the oil capital of Canada and we understand why Texas might know all about Alberta.  When my husband worked in the moving industry, there was a steady flow of Canadians going to Texas and Texans coming to Calgary to work in the oil-field Head Offices.

In 2013 Calgary had the worst flood here in recorded history.  Two weeks before the Stampede the grounds and downtown Calgary were flooded.  Two weeks later everything was ready for the Stampede.  Yeah Calgary.  We are Calgary

Georgia has people who are well aware Calgary purchased their Atlanta Flames hockey team, to become our proud Calgarians Calgary Flames instead.  Calgary also has the largest population of Americans who live outside the United States. Many of the settlers who started ranches near Calgary were originally from the USA.

Join me in reliving and learning about Western Canada’s fascinating past.  Meet individuals as notorious as Jesse James and learn of some legends that appear might be true and not legends at all.

Welcome to Calgary, The New West:

Ah my beautiful home again - Calgary

Calgary Tower – with Murphy

I enjoyed the company of my grandson for a week.  Oddly one of the first things he wanted to do was go up to the top of the Calgary Tower.

Going into the Calgary Tower

As it’s fairly high up, he was a little nervous standing on the glass floor part and looking down.  But as is the way with little boys his curiosity soon overcame his fear. Murphy looking down on Calgary Tower

Looking down from Glass floor - Calgary TowerHe enjoyed his visit and the views were phenomenal.

Calgary Tower - Bow Tower

View from Calgary Tower - East with Bow River

Travelling the Mountains in the Winter

After living in the mountains for a number of years I vowed not to drive the high passes in the winter.  Yet, once again I found myself doing just that.  I was in the ‘big’ truck with my husband and the fear factor was tangible.  As we climbed the highest point on a British Columbia’s highway, my heart was pounding and I braced myself for the inevitable.

The traffic was heavy with many awful drivers, braking on steep hills and many slipping off the road.  The roads were icy and snow-covered.  It was dark.  It was snowing.  But after what seemed like days we made it – thanks to his excellent driving.

A few days we left again.  When we got to Revelstoke – with a loaded pick-up with things I needed in Calgary –  Roger’s Pass was closed due to an avalanche.  They weren’t sure when it would open.  So, not knowing the road, I suggested we go way out of our way to get around the disaster.  George agreed and we ended up driving down a long, narrow winding road.  At one point we crossed a lake on a small ferry.  It was snowing, foggy and dark.  I was terrified.  Finally around midnight we arrived on the #3 and stayed overnight in a motel.  The following morning we left and it was no longer raining, snowing or foggy. We heard the #1 was closed yet again due to a mud-slide in Golden.  But  it was a pleasant drive to Calgary from where we were.  Unfortunately, we no sooner got to Calgary when it started snowing.  After a day of snow it was nearly impossible to drive anywhere in Calgary.

But times can only improve. Sometimes snow can be so pretty – so long as you aren’t driving in it.

Carol's Picture - Skaha Lake December 2012

The Okananogan Valley after snow. Lake Skaha by Malibu Dreams Photography

Christmas 2012 - Shaun's street

Calgary after a snowfall at Christmas.

 

Calgary – a short history

Calgary is situated in the foothills of the Blue Canadian Rockies, where the snow-capped mountains often look as though they are painted on the sky for an awesome picture to view when you have your morning coffee.  The weather is moderate.  Although there is a saying in Calgary ‘If you don’t like the weather – wait 10 minutes and it will change.’

Calgary Skyline

Calgary Skyline

Calgary is Canada’s newest city and in my opinion, by far the cleanest city.  With the head-offices for oil companies galore, it has the largest population of Americans outside the USA in the world. Most people share optimism and a desire to work and thrive.

Calgary is situated on the clear, clean waters of the Bow River – which runs out of the glacier fed waters of Lake Louise.  It was originally a popular gathering point for the Blackfoot natives.  The Bow River was a  place where the tree branches were material for bow and arrows.  With a chinook that can blow through often, the temperatures could warm and the snow go away at any time, including the winters.

A fort was established in 1875 by the North-West Mounted Police and the original founder – Sam Livingstone – was already settled in the area;  The fort was called Calgary which is Gaelic for ‘swift waters’.

The Bow River flooding

The settlers of the area were mainly ranchers and often those ‘second-sons’ of aristocrats.  The Canadian Pacific Railroad ran through Calgary and created a settlement of what is known as ‘China Town’ now as well as a landmark hotel made of sandstone – The Palliser, which is still in downtown Calgary.

Calgary was a small settlement until oil was discovered in the Turner Valley, Black Diamond area and in the early 1900’s the city started thriving.  There has been no looking back.  Calgary is a bustling, thriving city where it always seemed to me – about every 10 years, old dirty buildings/areas are torn down and new, clean buildings replace them. Some people don’t appreciate that – but to me Calgarians definitely understand the difference between old junk and real heritage landmarks.  There are old buildings that are maintained of course.

It is a transient city and may be a reason people are so friendly.  My two sons were born in Calgary but that seems to be a rarity. Most people seem to come to Calgary to work.  My romance story One Dance with a Stranger takes place in Calgary.  My romance story Alberta Wild Rose takes place in Calgary’s fascinating surrounding area (the Lost Lemon Mine) and the story I am working on now Seraphim will mainly take place in Calgary.

The book – Calgary, Spirit of the West by Hugh A. Dempsey is a great book on the history of Calgary.

Here are a few websites with information on visiting Calgary.

Visit Calgary

Calgary’s Five Most Romantic Spots

Calgary Attractions

Calgary – Just Outside the City

North of Calgary is the park-lands.  As you head towards Edmonton the countryside turns into trees and rolling-hills.  Among them are nestled numerous lakes with sandy beaches and campgrounds.

East of Calgary are the flat, barren plains with endless fields of grains to a dominating horizon.  With one surprising exception.  You are traveling along the overwhelming land when suddenly you drop into a canyon of awesome proportions.  You are in Drumheller, the foremost authority on the fascinating dinosaurs.   There you will find an huge, impressive interpretation center with fossils and information.  Go out and explore the cliffs and discover artifacts yourself.  Visit strange and unusual rock-formations and foliage that shouldn’t be there – but it is.

South of Calgary – my favorite.   The famous Fort McLeod North West Mounted musical ride and exploring a genuine fort – the place where the famous RCMP first arrived.  Just north of Fort McLeod is another huge interpretation center – Head Smash ’em In Buffalo Jump (seriously).  This is where you can see native culture in its’ fullest – right back to a time when they didn’t have horses and stampeded buffalo over a gigantic cliff.  You can eat buffalo burgers and other authentic native foods. You can join in – playing drums to dancing.  One of my sons couldn’t get enough and became very proficient in native dancing.  Then go a bit further west of Fort McLeod to another awesome sight – the Frank Slide, where settlers, not believing the natives, built a town below Shaky Mountain to their peril.

Waterton Lakes National Park

Waterton Lakes National Park

Then – somewhere in Crowsnest Pass– the Lost Lemon Mine.  My story Alberta Wild Rose centers around that fascinating legend. For anyone interested, that gold is still out there but beware the curse.  And I can’t forget Waterton/Glacier International Parks.  This is a park – partly in Montana (Glacier) and partly in Alberta (Waterton) – and the only ‘International Park’ in the world.

Moraine Lake in Banff National park

Moraine Lake in Banff National park

West of Calgary –  the gateway to the Rocky Mountains.  From Banff to Lake Louise – you don’t need introductions.  They are very famous places around the world.  Both are National Parks. Lake Louise is classified one of the seven natural wonders of the world.  Just outside Calgary I often took my children for a lunch wiener-roast over a campfire we tended ourselves by Elbow Falls.  They loved it and it was always an enjoyable time for me as well with the soothing sounds of water falling.

Lake Louise

Lake Louise

Lake Louise

The view inside the Chateau Lake Louise


Calgary – The Stampede

Voted as one of the four best places to party – in the world; The Calgary Stampede. During the stampede you can enjoy pancake breakfasts all over the city – every business, mall or even individuals have them and everyone is welcome.  Nearly everyone dresses in western garb – even when going to work.  If you go into any bar or nightclub you may enter alone – but you’ll never be alone.  Everyone appears happy, tourist and resident alike.  It is a short time of complete goodwill and friends – stranger or friend.

The grandstand rodeo is the largest outdoor show in the world. The feeling of awe, admiration and sight of bucking broncos, barrel races is only surpassed by the amazing site of the chuck-wagon races.  The anticipation and beauty of competition and horses racing is unsurpassed.  The perfect physically fit forms of cowboys and beautiful horses all come together at the Calgary Stampede.

The midway is a feature as well.  Rides, games and food is all available in abundance.  The Stampede brings of memories of fun and good times with my children and with friends.  The Stampede offers top caliber entertainment from the most famous singers of all genres to a native village, native dancing and interpretation of old times.

My  15 seconds of fame was at the Calgary Stampede.  I agreed to take my friend’s daughter through the cow barn.  Ashley at three years old, spotted a baby calf and went running up to it to pet him.  I was approached by a reporter (I believe he was from the Global News covering the stampede events).  That night I was on TV with Ashley and the calf with the caption – come visit our blondes at the Stampede.  I was blond, Ashley was blond and the calf was blond. It was a thrilling moment – but I forgot to tape it.    

Calgary – Night life

There are some interesting statistics about the people of Calgary.  This applies especially to the airplane pilots.  A few years ago a USA scientist in the Antarctic got sick and needed to be air-lifted out in the winter.  It was a nearly impossible feat and even the USA army failed in the mission.  But two pilots from Calgary managed to get him out. This is definitely a story I have been tossing around that needs to be told.

When I was getting my weather observing certificate I found that a Calgary pilot has been the only survivor when flying through a CB cloud (Nimbus Cumulus).  The wind power in these clouds is unbearable.  His plane was trashed, but he survived.  The statistics make it very important for weather observers to locate and identify these dangerous clouds.

Sports:  For sports lovers Calgary offers many professional teams including the Calgary Stampeders football team and the very much loved Calgary Flames hockey team.  Calgary’s people offer friendly rivalry but never hostility.  The people are gracious without violence.  They worship their teams and join in street festivities whether the team wins or loses.

Calgary’s Saddledome – the hockey arena.

Nightclubs: – A horseshoe bar, a dance hall and a restaurant with excellent food and live famous country singer dinner shows, Ranchman’s country bar is a place to meet real cowboys as well as enjoy time with friends..  Although there are a variety of clubs with various types of entertainment, Ranchman’s is an authentic taste of Calgary’s culture and the roots of – ‘Cow town”. In my book One Dance with A Stranger, my hero – a country music star – sings at Ranchman’s.

There have been many movies done in and around Calgary.  It is not odd to see famous people on the streets.  Clint Eastwood, (Unforgiven); Charles Bronson and Donald Sutherland (The Mad Trapper), Christopher Reeves (Superman) and even Anthony Hopkins and Brad Pitt (Legends of the Fall).  As is their way, most Calgarians leave them in peace to enjoy Calgary.

Theaters: – There are many theaters in Calgary including Live Theatre.  I watched Phantom of the Opera in the Jubilee Auditorium and had to see it twice.  Stage West – has a dinner/live play show.  Again in One Dance with a Stranger, my couple goes to Stage West.  In the downtown Theater Live,  you can go to many popular shows of the time.

Dining: – Dining in Calgary is an experience as well.  Although there is an immense variety of international and national cuisines I would recommend Smugglers – and have an authentic Alberta Grade A steak.  There is nothing like it.  Visit China Town and try Dim Sum for authentic Chinese delight.  It was an enjoyable experience also.  

 

And on every street corner try my favorite: – First thing in the morning,  a refreshing break any time and a must after nightclubbing.  Try Tim Horton’s coffee.